Useful Car Tips

Which Factors Affect Resale Value?

February 06, 2020
When it comes time to sell your car, you’ll almost certainly be listing it for a price much lower than what you initially paid for it new. This is not an isolated phenomenon; nearly all new cars begin depreciating the moment they’re driven home from the dealership. Although depreciation is inevitable, there are certain steps you can take as a vehicle owner to squeeze out more value at the final sale. Obviously, the overall condition of your vehicle is a major factor for any prospective buyer. However, we can look deeper than that. While no prospective buyer wants to see major mechanical issues, buyers may also consider other factors such as transmission type, paint condition, trim (e.g., base versus a middle or top trim), and even exterior color. These are just some of the factors buyers may consider when evaluating your car. So what else may they look for? The answer makes up a long and varied list, but we’ve condensed it down into just a few key points: some of the most important factors which affect resale value.


As noted, this is perhaps the most obvious and straightforward factor. The more miles your vehicle has and the worse conditions it’s in, the less money you’ll be able to sell it for. This includes the condition of major mechanical components, paint, tires, and the interior. Although putting miles on your car is inevitable, there are steps you can take to keep your car in tip-top condition, and thus net you a little more money when it comes time to sell. We’ve written guides on how to take care of your paint and how to keep your interior protected.


Depending on the vehicle, certain options may be more desirable than others. The same can be said for higher trims, as higher trims will inherently often have certain options that lower trims may lack. A diesel powertrain, all-wheel drive, and a panoramic moonroof are just a few options that universally tend to hold value than others. A premium factory-installed premium sound system and leather seats may add value as well.


Although a factory-installed premium sound system can add value, an aftermarket sound system will rarely add value and may even lower it. In fact, this rule applies to any aftermarket modification, whether it be a new exhaust system, wheels, or even satellite radio. Prospective buyers don’t know how well any aftermarket work was done and thus prefer a vehicle to be as stock as possible. If you’re looking to sell your vehicle for the most value possible, consider removing major modifications before listing it for sale.


This is where it gets a little tricky. Manual transmissions are undoubtedly a dying breed—nearly extinct or critically endangered at best. The vast majority of consumers will see a manual transmission as a detriment to what otherwise may be a well-maintained used car. However, the major exception to this rule applies of course to sports cars and enthusiast cars in general. Most enthusiasts will prefer a manual transmission, so your manual Corvette, Mustang, or M3 will command a higher premium than its equivalent automatic sibling.


Unfortunately, one of the most important factors affecting resale value is the hardest to control: your geographic location. Simply put, some vehicles or features sell better in some regions than they do in others. Let’s use all-wheel drive as an example. While AWD may not be a necessary feature for those living in temperate climates with year-round warm weather, it may be a welcome option for those living in cold climates who experience snow more than a couple months a year.


Now that we know more about just a few of the factors that affect resale value, how do we go about actually calculating it? This is quite a difficult question to answer and online calculators you may have encountered are not always accurate. In the Northeast US, while dealers will generally use an inflated Kelley Blue Book value, consumers will tend to use an unrealistic Edmunds price. Banks will generally also use an under-valued price, utilizing NADA for appraisal. In reality, an appropriate and fair price for your used vehicle lies somewhere in the middle of all three. By analyzing the market, taking good care of your car inside and out, and removing any aftermarket mods, you’ll be well on your way to getting the most resale value possible!.
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