Many times the first thing people want to do when they buy a new car is personalize it. It’s important to understand, however, that when you personalize something to the degree that it is completely unique to you, that often makes it undesirable to someone else. This can actually hurt you when it comes time to sell or even trade in your car. It is rare that you will ever get as much or more for a car as you paid for it, but there can be a vast difference in how much one car depreciates over time versus another car. Maintaining your car is the most important thing you can do to maintain its value, but here are 5 inexpensive upgrades you can invest in that will actually provide huge benefits in the long run.
1) Floor covers and seat covers
Probably the most inexpensive yet most valuable investment you can make is in protecting the interior of your car – particularly if you have children or pets. Pet hair in particular can be extremely difficult for even professionals to remove and pet dander can cause problems for future owners even if your car has been thoroughly and professionally cleaned. For general/ normal wear and tear, medium weight or decorative seat covers are fine, but if you regularly have pets in your car or very young children (or older children that spend a considerable amount of time in the car) you might consider heavyweight seat covers made of thick, spill-proof material.
2) Weather appropriate tires
Depending on what area of the country you live in, your tires may or may not be the best type of tire for the climate you live in. Not only will upgrading your tires make your car significantly safer for you, but having the right tires for the weather conditions most prevalent in your area will also help you in maintaining your car over the long haul. Also, be sure and check tire pressure regularly, particularly if you live in an area where the temperatures fluctuate often. Moisture levels in the air cause air pressure levels to rise and fall with the temperatures. Your tires will often seem flatter in the winter and more robust in the summer. Running on moderately flat tires increases wear on your tires, so you want to make sure they are always inflated to the appropriate levels no matter what the weather. When the weather warms up, you may need to actually let a bit of air out of your tires.
Some technology – such as backup cameras or a navigation system – can increase your car’s value, but other technology such as “sub-woofers” or extreme stereo upgrades can actually decrease your car’s resale value. If you want a robust sound system for your own enjoyment, that’s fine, but just be aware that you may not recoup the thousands of dollars you might spend on it when it comes time to sell your car.
“Good” technology to invest in:
- Multi-gigabyte in-car navigation
- DVD entertainment systems
- Back-up cameras
- Satellite radio
- Intelligent keys
- Bluetooth technology
4) Window tinting
Like all upgrades, it is important to have any upgrades professionally done and not “DIY.” DIY jobs may look great initially, but rarely hold up well over time. Professionally tinted windows, however, generally only cost a few hundred dollars (or less) but will not only protect your car’s interior the same way seat protectors and floor mats do, but will also increase (or at least help maintain) the resale value of your car.
5) Headlights and taillights
This is another area to be careful of, because overdoing it can actually decrease the value of your car. Conversely, however, there are a number of new headlight and tail-light modifications, including LED lights and different types of headlights that can increase visibility and even make your tail-lights more noticeable at night. There are certain times when you want someone to notice you and when you are braking while someone is behind you is one of those times.