Want to ensure you get the most value for your car when it comes time to sell? Don’t do these things…
By PAUL CHOI for Driving
Some of us buy a car with the intention of keeping it until it’s run into the ground. But, inevitably, real life gets in the way and we’re forced to sell, whether it be trading in for a bigger vehicle for an expanding family or just upgrading for status’s sake. It’s in times like these that your car’s condition suddenly comes to the fore, and you may not be prepared for the harsh realities.
What you end up getting for your vehicle depends largely on what you did with your car and how well you’ve kept it. If you’ve done any of the following, it might be best to start addressing them before putting your car up for sale.
No maintenance records
Keeping all documents related to work done on your car is always the best policy.
One of the surest ways to get the maximum value for your car is by providing documented proof it was well taken care of. Dealer invoices, work summaries, and receipts of all oil changes and regularly scheduled tune-ups and inspections are a no-brainer for getting full asking value at selling time. Otherwise, a prospective buyer is basically buying on faith that you didn’t cheap out on oil changes.
A good buyer will probably insist on an overall inspection of the car anyway before laying any money down, but handing over all the necessary documents will go a long way to easing his or her mind. While we’re at it, disclosing your car’s accident history up-front, and detailing the repairs, will prevent some nasty surprises in the bargaining process. Honesty is always the best policy here. Related: Collision Repair
Contrary to popular belief, not everybody likes tinted windows.
A general rule of thumb for retaining resale value is to keep your car as close to stock as possible. Yes, it’s boring, but it ultimately means maximizing the pool of potential buyers when it comes time to sell. One of the ways you begin to shrink that pool is by tinting your windows.
Sure, the reasons for doing so may be innocuous: tinted windows look sexy and mysterious; it keeps the interior cool on hot summer days; it protects your privacy. But, surprise, not everybody shares the same appreciation for tinted windows. And potential buyers are also probably aware overly darkened windows can be a magnet for the local constabulary.
In Ontario, for instance, the Highway Traffic Act states “the surface of the windshield or any side window to the left or right of the driver cannot be coated with any colour spray or other color coating in such a manner as to obstruct the driver’s view of the roadway, or obscure the view from outside to the interior of the motor vehicle.” It doesn’t say to what degree of tinting is allowed, so, really, it’s up to an officer’s judgment whether a tint-job is in violation of the law (in other words, if he can’t see you, you’re most likely going to get fined – up to a maximum of $500). Naturally, that kind of risk will turn off most potential buyers, who’d rather not go through the hassle of de-tinting the windows after purchasing a new car.
Lowered car, lowered price
While certain improvements can boost resale value (think roof racks or an aftermarket navigation/multimedia screen), altering your car’s suspension is probably taking things a bit too far.
Lowering (or “slamming”) a car may seem like a good idea (if you’re fresh out of high school, that is). It looks cool, fast and sporty. And it can be relatively cheap to do (i.e. replacing your OEM springs with shorter springs). But keep in mind that we live in Canada. Will that lowered profile be conducive to driving in even a few inches of snow? And just who will be looking to buy your car? Most likely exclusively young males, which, again, shrinks the pool of potential buyers drastically. Once again, follow the rule of thumb: always keep it factory.
Don’t expect that giant aftermarket spoiler to do much for your car’s resale value … or downforce.
Whether it be an exhaust system louder than World War II, or gold-plated 22-inch rims, or a spoiler that wouldn’t look out of place on a 747, all of these car mods have one thing in common: they are all overly showy. And, unless you’re the type who likes to participate in underground drag races, nobody wants a car that showy.
Ostentatious accessorizing is just plain obnoxious and can have the opposite effect on your car’s resale value by dramatically cheapening its look. Also, not many people are willing to inherit someone else’s work-in-progress, which is basically what these cars are. Who wants to deal with the headache of fixing a hastily installed souped-up exhaust kit, or figuring out just what’s wrong with the aftermarket turbocharger?
So, do yourself a favor and forgo that tempting nitrous oxide upgrade. I promise, your car will sell faster without it.
Improper light upgrade
Upgrading your old headlamps to newer HID lights? Doing it wrong may mean blinding fellow drivers and getting yourself in trouble with the law.
Like moths to a flame, car owners are lured to flashy, new high-intensity discharge lamps (HID). But, as has been pointed out before, these brighter headlamps could get you into hot trouble, as well as be a drag on your car’s resale value. Aftermarket lights may seem like an easy route to upping your car’s bling factor, but the fact remains that if your car didn’t come with HID lights, it most likely wasn’t designed to properly handle the increased light and heat generated by these lamps.
Most aftermarket HID conversion kits are installed on the common reflector style headlamps that use mirror-like surfaces at the back to project light. HID lights installed in this housing usually lead to a bright, washed-out light and a terrible glare that can blind other drivers, as well as attract the attention of police. Potential buyers will usually know something’s not right when they test the headlights and find they’ve turned on what look like floodlights instead.
Dings and scratches
Unsightly scratches and dings can lower a car’s resale value in a hurry.
This one probably seems like a no-brainer, but fixing even minor cosmetic issues will go a long way to getting what you want for your used car. Got a scratched-up fender that you’ve been meaning to fix for a while? A couple of hundred dollars at an auto body shop will take care of it, and should make it look as good as new.
What about minor chips and scratches? Touch-up paint shouldn’t cost you more than $15 at your dealership. Doing these things will mean your car shows better in photos and in person, and you’ll make back what you spent and more when the deal’s finally closed. Related: Auto Repainting Services