How to Keep Your Car in Good Shape

July 22nd, 2022 by

A white 2016 Chevy Malibu is shown from the front at an angle.

If you think you might want to resell your car one day, it’s never too early to start thinking about keeping it in tip-top shape so it will be attractive to prospective buyers. By the time you’re ready to start searching “sell my car” in hopes of finding a place for an easy sale, some problems might already be so far along that they’re very difficult (and expensive) to fix. But if you’re proactive about keeping your vehicle in good condition, it’s actually pretty easy to stay on top of any issues before they get out of hand. In this guide, we’ll go through a few different ways that you can maintain your car’s value.

Keep Up With Basic Maintenance

With modern cars, this one is pretty simple: just do what the car tells you to do. If you see the oil light, get your oil changed. If you see the tire pressure warning, get some air. If you see the check engine light, bring your car to your mechanic or dealership service department. Most cars made these days have screens that let you keep track of these stats at any time, so you can plan ahead and not be taken by surprise when the warning light goes on. This is great news because ignoring these lights for too long can wreak havoc on your car. If your car is older, or you just don’t want to have to rely on its tech, you can always consult the owner’s manual for any questions you may have about routine maintenance.

Practice Defensive Driving

Nothing can ruin your car’s resale value like getting into a bad accident. Even if you fix it up afterward so it looks good as new, the accident can show up on a history report and put a big red flag on your car. While it’s impossible to completely rule out the possibility that you might get into trouble, there are things you can do to make crashes less likely to happen.
Never drive if you are tired or have impaired judgment skills for any reason.
Keep your eyes on the road and actively scan the road ahead of you so that you can react to any sudden stops or slowdowns in a timely manner.
Leave plenty of following space between you and the vehicle directly in front of you.
Do not assume that other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians are going to follow the rules of the road, and think about what you will do if they make a mistake. For example, don’t automatically assume that a driver will stop at a stop sign; that way, you’ll be prepared to brake in case they run it.
Keep distractions to a minimum: make sure any pets in the car are secure, avoid stressful or emotional conversations with passengers, and never use a smartphone while driving.
Always drive at a safe speed. Make sure you allow enough travel time so that you won’t feel like you have to drive dangerously fast in order to keep your schedule.

Being a responsible driver isn’t always easy, but it definitely pays off. In addition to preventing damage to your car, these tips will also keep you and your passengers safe, which is always the most important priority. On top of the above tips, remember that drivers and passengers should wear their seatbelts properly at all times.

A red 2020 Chevy Camaro SS is shown from the front at an angle after the owner searched 'sell my car'.

Be Careful Where You Park

Even when your car is empty and sitting still, it can still get damaged. Always be aware of your environment when parking and do your best to avoid situations where your car might get scratched or dinged. When possible, try to park away from other cars so that you’re out of the way of their doors. In crowded parking lots, center your vehicle in the space as best you can to avoid a tight squeeze. Park in the shade if there is any so you can avoid sun exposure, which can crack vinyl dashboards.

If you’re parallel parking, give the other cars plenty of space, and don’t be afraid to ask a passenger to get out and help if you need it. If you don’t have a rear camera built into your car, consider buying one so that you can have a better view behind you. And if you’re on the side of the road without much space between your car and fast-moving traffic, fold in your side mirrors so that it’s less likely to get hit (just remember to fold it back out before you start driving).

Have Your Car Washed Regularly

The more you let dirt and grime build up on your car, the harder it is to get it off again. Not to mention the damage that bird poop can do to your paint over time. Plus, if the windshield, windows, and mirrors get too dirty, it can affect your visibility and make you more likely to get in an accident. For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to have your car washed regularly. There are plenty of ways to do this, so you can pick the one that best fits your schedule and budget. Either drive through an automatic wash at your local gas station, take it to a business that washes and waxes by hand, or clean it yourself in the driveway.

Keep the Interior Clean

Potential buyers know that they’re going to be spending a lot of time inside their car, so they don’t just want a shiny exterior, they want the interior to be pleasant too. Stains on the seats can be a real turn-off, and the older they get, the more difficult they are to get rid of. So if you accidentally let a chocolate bar melt in the back seat on a hot day, take action right away. One way to stay on top of stains before they even happen is to keep a bottle of stain remover in the trunk or a seatback pocket. That way, you don’t even have to take the time to run to the store; you can clean messes up as soon as you notice them and keep your upholstery in tip-top shape.

While looking clean is important, smelling clean is even more vital. If the car has a funky odor, a buyer might just change their mind before they even start the ignition for the test drive. Leaving food in a car for too long, especially perishables, is one common mistake. Luckily, it has an easy fix: just clear out any leftovers once you get home and try not to let anything fall under the seat, where it can rot out of sight and out of mind. If you’re a smoker, it’s a good idea to avoid lighting up a cigarette inside the car. That’s a particularly hard smell to get rid of, and the smoke and ash can damage the interior.

A mechanic is shown working on a vehicle on a lift.

It’s the Little Things That Will Keep Your Car in Good Shape

For many people, their car is the most valuable thing that they own, so it’s worth taking a little time and effort to keep it in good working order. From safe driving to basic maintenance to regular cleaning, there are all kinds of steps you can take to keep your car’s resale value as high as possible. By being proactive and staying on top of issues as they arise, you can save yourself the stress of having a mile-long checklist of things you need to do when it comes time to get your next car. And even if you aren’t planning on selling your car in the foreseeable future, all of these tips will keep your car performing and looking good, which will make it more fun to drive. So there’s no reason not to up your car game and keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.

Posted in Sell My Car