Resale Value: 5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Car’s Worth

By CanadaDrives

Free Car Vehicle photo and picture


From the moment you hit the road in your brand new car or truck, its value begins to decrease. Your vehicle becomes worth less and less with every passing day and mile.

One day, you’ll probably sell that car or truck, or use it as a trade-in for a newer one. In either case, you’ll surrender your used car for some amount of money, known as its residual or resale value. We explain residual value and how to calculate it in this article.

The decrease in new car value over time to the residual value you eventually receive when selling is called depreciation. Depreciation costs you money – and while it’s a fact of life for most cars, there are ways that drivers can reduce its effects, making for higher residual value down the line and saving money in the process. 

Make sure to also read our What is My Car Worth?article where we discuss depreciation and offer some free car value tools. 

1. Put the brakes on rust

Rust is more than just a cosmetic blemish, and it actively costs you money.

That’s because rust is one of the number one enemies of resale value. In fact, for a car to achieve the highest possible condition score on the commonly-used vehicle condition rating scale, it needs to be virtually rust-free. This means that used cars with visible rust, even in small amounts, will earn a lower score and command a lower residual value than cars that are rust-free.

Over time, severe rust can cause expensive problems that further reduce a vehicle’s residual value.

Thankfully, preventing rust is relatively easy with the use of commonly-available corrosion inhibiting treatments from companies like Krown, Corrosion Free and Rust Check. An annual treatment runs about $150. Here are three car rust protection treatments we outline in our rustproofing article.

Make this the first thing you do with your brand new car or truck, and repeat the treatments annually, and you’ll see the payoff in vehicle condition and residual value over time. Is rust proofing worth it on a new car? Yes, especially as increasingly harsh chemicals are used to de-ice Canadian roadways in the winter months.

Always consult with your dealer service advisor or owner’s manual before having a vehicle treated with a corrosion inhibitor.

2. Regular maintenance

Your car or truck has a specific set of requirements for regular servicing, inspections, lubrication, and changes to various parts and fluids, including oil changes. Check the owner’s manual for your car or truck for specific details, noting that these regular maintenance items should be considered mandatory and performed on time, every time.

If not, small problems can grow into bigger and more expensive ones, your car or truck may become less reliable and perform poorly, and remaining warranty coverage may be jeopardized. 

Even a single skipped oil change or stretched braking system service can result in warranty-related headaches. Remember, your new car warranty doesn’t cover damage or wear caused by a failure to maintain the vehicle properly – and most shoppers know it.

Familiarize yourself with your car or truck’s maintenance schedule and be sure to follow it to the letter for best results. Here are nine essential car maintenance steps that anyone can do.

During regular visits to your dealership to service your car, technicians may also perform safety recalls and software updates automatically, both of which make your car safer and more reliable.

Being ready to show a keen shopper how well your vehicle has been maintained can make for a faster sale, and higher residual values too.

3. Inspection ready?

The smartest used car shoppers will have your used vehicle inspected by a professional technician as a final step before purchasing your vehicle, to help confirm its overall health and to root out any potential problems.

A Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) is one of the most valuable tools at a used car shopper’s disposal to prevent purchasing somebody else’s headaches. Consider having this inspection performed yourself, just before listing your car for sale.

The inspection itself takes about an hour and can be performed next time you’re in for an oil-change or tune up. As a seller, having a current PPI before listing your car for sale has two benefits.

First, you’ll be aware of any potential trouble a shopper may wind up uncovering and calling into pricing negotiations, as well as early warning of other issues like worn parts, leaks, or damage that could reduce your car’s residual value when discovered by a shopper. With the results of an inspection in hand, you’ll be able to decide which (if any) issues you’ll fix before listing the vehicle for sale.

Second, you can post the inspection results with your for-sale ad which reduces shopper uncertainty and may help make for a quicker sale and higher value. If sharing your PPI results with a shopper, be sure to conceal any personal information that may be printed on it.

Every car you purchase through Canada Drives has gone through a 150 point safety inspection. When searching through our inventory you can see the complete safety inspection report for each of our cars. We also provide a free CARFAX history report for every car we offer.

4. Accessorize

A few accessories can go a long way towards fighting off depreciation by protecting easily-worn parts of your car’s interior and exterior from damage over time.

For instance, a bug-deflector or mud flaps can add a little styling flair to any ride, but they can also protect vulnerable painted surfaces from chips, scratches and other damage that may invite rust– and lower selling prices.

Form-fitting floor mats and cargo mats can help protect carpeted areas from spills, salt and slush, as well as wear and tear from the loading and unloading of gear, canine passengers, and the like.

Protective paint coatings or films, seat covers or upholstery / leather treatments, and even car covers can all add vital protection that helps you get the most money back from your used vehicle.

5. Keep good records

Before your new car comes home, go to your local dollar-store and get a collapsible folder with multiple pockets. You can use one pocket for your purchase paperwork, another for all dealer maintenance receipts and records, and another for keeping copies of receipts for parts, services, accessories and treatments as they accumulate over time.

Keep this folder in your car’s glove-box or somewhere safe at home, and keep it updated. Saving and organizing all relevant documentation, records and receipts means it’s easier for a shopper or dealership to quickly assess the service history of your vehicle when you sell it or trade it in.

This leaves fewer questions about your vehicle’s history, and the way it was treated – in turn, adding confidence to the shopper’s purchase decision and increasing your car’s residual value in the process.