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10 car maintenance tips for resale value

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What maintenance can I do to boost resale value?

As a car owner, it can be tempting to just put fuel in your car and keep driving until the wheels fall off. However, cars can benefit from timely maintenance, which could save you thousands down the track both in repairs and on the secondhand market when it comes time to sell.

As a buyer, there’s nothing worse than a car with a chequered maintenance history and questions over reliability. Not maintaining your vehicle properly could significantly hamper resale value when it comes time to upgrade, so we’re counting down ten simple steps to make your car more attractive when selling it.

What maintenance can I do to boost resale value?

Regular cars can lose a quarter to a third of their value in as little as three years, so it can be important to make your car stand out above the rest when it comes time to sell it either privately or to a dealership.

1. Service regularly

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone is looking over your car - they check the logbook! A well-documented logbook with history showing you’ve serviced on time can go a long way in making your car more attractive on the market. The RACQ estimates only 52% of people in Queensland service their vehicles on time.

While Australian consumer law stipulates you don’t need to get it done at the dealership, to maintain your manufacturer’s warranty you’ll likely need to get it serviced at a certified mechanic - either dealership or independent. If you have an extended warranty, it could be a rule that you service at the dealership to maintain that. Having transferrable standard or extended manufacturer’s warranty could boost resale value or make your car easier to sell.

2. Keep receipts

Similar to the last point, it can be handy to keep receipts of any work done - especially repairs. Certain car brands and specific models have known things that can go wrong at certain intervals. For example, in a mid-2000s Porsche, a common issue is a failure of the ‘IMS bearing’. Having this fail could wreck the whole engine, and models that have had this repaired pre-emptively can attract significantly more money on the secondhand market. The IMS bearing replacement could cost $20,000 in parts and labour. This is obviously an extreme example, but the same message goes for many car makes.

3. Rotate tyres

This one can be easy to overlook, as many mechanics won’t do it unless you ask them. Rear wheel drive cars have their rear tyres wear out faster, and front wheel drive cars have their front tyres wear out faster. In fact, front wheel drive cars can wear their front tyres out at a faster rate due to the load of the engine sitting over the wheels and the drivetrain putting stress on those tyres. Rotating every 10,000km (or every service interval) can ensure even wear distribution, which will extend the life of the tyres and show you care about your vehicle.

4. Replace tyres when selling

While more as a gesture of good faith, replacing tyres when you sell your vehicle can make your vehicle more attractive on the secondhand market. If your current tyres have good tread on them then there might not be much need, but in many states it’s a condition of your roadworthy certificate that your tyres have ample depth. The minimum tread depth is 1.5mm, but many tyre manufacturers recommend you replace your tyres before it gets to that.

5. Fix up chips and scrapes

A big nasty scrape can be a turn off for a potential buyer and they may negotiate down your price accordingly. While it’s expected that a car a few years old has some slight chips, any larger imperfections may need to be addressed. And depending on the scrape, it might not even need the attention of a panel beater or an insurance claim. Many services are out there that can largely fix blemishes without the need for a respray or for your car to be in the shop for ages.

6. Fix wheel gutter rash

There’s arguably no worse feeling in driving than pulling up to a kerb and hearing that familiar scrape. With car wheel diameters generally getting bigger, and tyre profiles getting smaller, gutter rash is common on newer cars. Depending on the size of the scrape it can be an unsightly turn-off for a potential buyer. The good news is fixing gutter rash might not be a costly job - $100 or so per wheel, depending on the scrape size, might get you over the line.

7. Fill up with appropriate fuel

If you have a Toyota Corolla, there’s almost no point in filling up with 98-RON fuel, but it’s important you go by what the manual tells you. Certain cars, especially older ones, will not react well to E10 fuel, which is quickly superseding 91-RON fuel at many petrol stations. At best the wrong fuel might cause worse fuel economy and acceleration, while at worst it can cause engine knock and extensive damage.

8. Clean and detail your car

No one likes stepping into a filthy car. Going the extra mile and getting your car detailed can leave a good impression on prospective buyers, potentially making your car easier to sell. While a quick vacuum and wash can go a long way, if your car is looking a bit tired, a detail can bring it back to life. Not only will it get rid of the chips shoved down the side of the backseat by the kids, a detail will clean things you might never have thought of, including the engine bay and inside the wheels. Regularly washing your car can also make you more attuned to any extra scrapes that have occurred, as well as fluid levels in the engine bay.

9. Repair your car as needed

This is almost a no-brainer, especially if that repair leaves your car undriveable. However, as mentioned before, pre-emptively repairing things on your car before they become a problem can make your life easier, and make your car easier to sell. One of the most common wear items includes the timing belt (usually at 100,000km if your car has one, and not a timing chain) - not replacing the timing belt could result in total engine failure if left unchecked.

10. Get on top of your car loan

No matter how long the loan term is, or how many years you have left to pay it off, it’s important to stay on top of your loan. The situation where your car is worth less than the loan amount is called negative equity. Buying what’s called an encumbered car i.e. it has secured finance owing on it, is legal, but might be a turn off for potential buyers. A consequence of this is that encumbered cars may have to have a lower price to attract buyers in. Paying off your loan and then selling your vehicle, while also staying on top of your payments, can leave you with fewer headaches in the long run.

To get started on your car buying journey, book an appointment with one of our friendly lending specialists to get pre-approval today.

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About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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