Even novice car buyers have heard the term "resale value" over and over again. In short, a car with good resale value will eventually command a higher price when you eventually decide to trade in your vehicle. However, what exactly goes into determining a car's resale value?
The quick answer is "everything." Nearly every detail of a car goes into determining its resale value. Many car dealers use pricing guides, like Kelley Blue Book (KBB), to get a rough estimate of the starting point for a negotiation. However, everything from the make and model to the service history to even the color can cause that initial value to fluctuate wildly.
It's also a price that's open to negotiation. Some dealers will offer you what initially sounds like a great price for your trade-in. Then they'll make that money back by playing tough on the negotiations for the new car. Others will do the opposite – seemingly give you a break on the car being sold but lowball you on the trade.
So, how can buyers pay attention to this very important value and turn it so it works in their favor? FoxBusiness talked to Mark Scott, a senior manager at AutoTrader.com, for some of his tips.
The biggest factor is likely the make and model. Some brands tend to hold their value well over the years, while others simply don't. The winners and losers in resale value are largely based on consumer taste at the time and can change quickly. Every year, KBB posts some of the top models that it predicts will hold resale value well. That's a good starting place for those looking to maximize their resale value.
Other factors, like color, are also important. You might love your bright pink car, but it's unlikely that many other drivers will, killing the resale value.
But what if you already have the car? Unfortunately, you can't change the make, model or color. Still, you can maintain your resale value simply by maintaining your car. An accident-free record and no major service incidents go a long way. As does avoiding things like aftermarket parts and accessories.
Timing and location are also big factors. As a general rule, dealers are more interested in trades when they're less busy. And geography is important too; a dealer in snowy Minnesota isn't likely to be too interested in your rear-wheel drive convertible in the middle of winter.
Finally, it's important in the negotiation to handle the trade and the buying of the new car as separate transactions. Doing so can ensure that you get a fair price on both. Drivers looking for a good deal on their trade-in may want to consider New Jersey State Auto Auction, which accepts all trades and offers a wide variety of new and used cars for sale.