Very rarely is a car bought and kept forever. We buy our vehicles with the intention of eventually selling them on at We Buy Cars. It only takes a few years for a new model to be released and you’re instantly hooked. On average, we trade in our cars every five years or so. That means ensuring we get a great resale price. Without the money from the sale, we can’t afford the next model. That means savvy car owners know how to add value to their cars.
Actually, let’s look at this a different way. When it comes to selling a car, you’re not looking to add value. You’re actually looking to retain value. As you probably know, a car depreciates (loses money) the second you leave the dealer. Over the first year of its life it will lose another 30-40% of its value. It’s downhill from there, I’m afraid. The skill, as a car seller, is to slow that process right down. You need to retain as much of the original value as possible. That’s how you sell at a good price.
So, stop thinking about what you can do to add value, and start thinking about how you keep value. When you think like that, it becomes a lot easier. The entire process starts from the second you buy the car. Factor the resale into your initial research when buying. If you know that you’re likely to sell five years on, there are some criteria that will affect that. Without further ado, here’s how you hold on to that all-important value and sell high.
Choose the right car – First of all, understand that some cars depreciate faster than others. If you want to sell it on for a good price, you need a slow deprecating car. The best ones in this category are the stalwarts of the motoring world. You need a make and model that never goes out of style. The BMW 5 Series, the Audi A4 or the Ford Focus. These cars are always in demand and so depreciate slowly. There are other factors too, of course. Do you research here. Look at used car dealers like harratts.co.uk. Make a note of the popular second hand models.
Think carefully about the extras – Many buyers go overboard on the optional extras. They assume that the more they add on now, the more value the car will hold down the line. While this is true in some cases, it doesn’t always work like that. In the world of optional extras, there are good extras and there are bad extras. Bad extras are big cosmetic changes. Things like custom paint jobs, custom bodywork, spoilers and stereo systems should be avoided. You’ll narrow your market for resale with these personal additions and lower the value. Extras that add value include sat nav, parking sensors and additional seats. Stick to these ones.
Drive sensibly – Maintaining value doesn’t end once you’ve bought the right car. Driving it correctly will make all the difference. The holy grail of a used car is low mileage. If you can keep your car below the average annual mileage, you can add hundreds to the resale value. It gives buyers peace of mind in the car’s reliability. Driving sensibly throughout its life will also preserve the engine, tyres and brakes. Having pristine quality engine parts will also go a long way to convincing buyers.
Do regular maintenance – This extends from the last point. Throughout the life of the car, keep the regular maintenance up to date. Change the oil regularly and always check the fluids. Replace worn tyres and brake pads. Make a note and keep receipts of every maintenance job. When it comes to selling it on, buyers will be happy to see evidence of regular maintenance. It shows that the car has been looked after and is in good condition.
Clean and wax – This one is entirely superficial, but makes a huge difference. Simply cleaning the car can add hundreds to the value when it comes to resale. First impressions make a big difference to buyers. The presentation is essential. A full clean, inside and out, makes the car sparkle. It will appear new to the buyer – it’s purely psychological. In addition, a clean car suggests that it is well looked after. Buyers will generally assume this extends to the engine too.
Provide a full service history and MOT certificate – This is the kicker. No buyer wants to be saddled with a car riddled with maintenance problems. Most buyers want a hassle free vehicle they can drive away instantly. They want peace of mind and reassurance of its reliability. A full service history log will give them all the evidence and peace of mind they need. This should include every oil change, every small piece of maintenance. Give the buyer a complete history of the vehicle so they feel confident. Finally, make sure the car has passed its MOT. It ensures the buyer gets a year of uninterrupted, reliable driving.
Value the car just above your asking price – Firstly, work out what price you want for the car. Take into account the original price and similar models on the market. Take into account how much you need for the next car you purchase. Then add a little extra – that’s your listing price. Second hand cars are always subject to haggling from the buyer. Generally, you’ll end up settling a little lower than the listing price. If you over-price, you’ll come down to the value you actually wanted. That’s how you get the last little bit of value out of your car.
Adding value to your car is, unfortunately, a misnomer. There are very few techniques to add value to a used car. Instead, you need to preserve every last drop of the initial price. That means factoring in resale right from the very start of the process. Always be thinking about the resale value. Take depreciation seriously and drive the car with full knowledge that it will eventually be sold. Take good care of it throughout its life. Finally, when the time comes, make sure it’s presentable. Then make it as easy as possible for the buyer. Job done!