Mint con­di­tion

In­sid­ers’ tips on pro­tect­ing the value of your car

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Front Page - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER [email protected]­

THINK ahead, in­vest a lit­tle time and ef­fort on your new car and you can cre­ate a big pay-off in the garage.

De­pre­ci­a­tion is still the biggest cost of new-car own­er­ship, far ex­ceed­ing the weekly fuel bill or even the an­nual ser­vice and reg­is­tra­tion.

But most peo­ple still worry more about their reg­u­lar trips to the ser­vice sta­tion to re­fuel than main­tain­ing their car to min­imise the loss from the orig­i­nal pur­chase price — which can eas­ily be more than 30 per cent af­ter three years.

Keep­ing the car smoke-free, wash­ing and pol­ish­ing reg­u­larly, get­ting it ser­viced by the book and re­mov­ing mi­nor dings and scratches can make a huge dif­fer­ence when your car moves to some­one else.

“We’re talk­ing lit­er­ally thou­sands and po­ten­tially tens of thou­sands,” says in­dus­try ex­pert Santo Amod­dio, the CEO of Glass’s In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices. “De­pre­ci­a­tion is still the biggest cost and ac­counts for more than 50 per cent of a ve­hi­cle’s an­nual run­ning costs.

“Most cars will de­pre­ci­ate by about 50 per cent over three to four years from the new price.”

Choos­ing an out­ra­geous fash­ion colour, in­stead of bor­ing, ba­sic white or sil­ver, can hit hard at re­sale time.

“A new car that sells for $100,000 can de­value by more than 10 per cent al­most im­me­di­ately with the wrong paint colour,” says Amod­dio.

But the in­evitable de­pre­ci­a­tion need not turn ru­inous.

“The best way to min­imise de­pre­ci­a­tion is to look af­ter the car, pro­tect the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior, and have a full man­u­fac­turer’s ser­vice his­tory,” says our dealer

in­sider, who rep­re­sents many of the top-sell­ing brands from sites in Sydney.

He prefers to stay anony­mous but is keen to help.

“A pop­u­lar new car is go­ing to be a pop­u­lar used car, so some­thing like a mid-level Mazda3 can be a good choice. Go for a bit of jew­ellery, be­cause a typ­i­cal used-car buyer wants a new car but prob­a­bly can­not af­ford it.

“An SUV is go­ing to do well be­cause they are very pop­u­lar and al­ways in de­mand, even seven-seaters.

“Steer clear of bright yel­lows and greens and any short-term fash­ion colours. White, black, sil­ver and metal­lic paints usu­ally help re­tain value.”

The ba­sics of smart shop­ping have not changed over time, start­ing at the show­room.

Am­modio says: “I’d buy what’s pop­u­lar new among pri­vate buy­ers, as you can usu­ally bet it’ll be just as pop­u­lar as a used ve­hi­cle.

“Don’t be afraid to buy some­thing dif­fer­ent but bear in mind you may not get the same ser­vice cov­er­age as a more main­stream and es­tab­lished brand with an ex­ten­sive dealer net­work. Also buy within your bud­get and con­sider your life­style needs.”

He ad­vises avoid­ing go­ing over­board on op­tions or ac­ces­sories, which can be a profit cen­tre for a deal­er­ship.

“As a gen­eral rule, any op­tions or ac­ces­sories that you can see are the ones that add most value. Leather is a de­sir­able op­tion and floor mats help pro­tect the ve­hi­cle’s orig­i­nal floor cov­er­ings.”

Once you get it home, think ahead. Don’t park un­der a tree and risk dam­age from bro­ken branches and sap, re­move any cor­ro­sive bird drop­pings as soon as you spot them, take spe­cial care of the al­loy wheels and avoid bump­ing them on con­crete kerbs, and park in a garage if you can.

Pets and chil­dren can also cre­ate may­hem so keep on top of cabin clean­ing and avoid smok­ing in the cabin.

The dealer weighs in: “The best way to min­imise de­pre­ci­a­tion is to look af­ter the car. Pro­tect the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior and have a full man­u­fac­turer’s ser­vice his­tory. “With the tol­er­ances so low these days in engines it is vi­tal that the ser­vic­ing is done cor­rectly with the cor­rect oils. En­gine sludge, from the wrong oils, is a ma­jor is­sue.”

Look­ing ahead to trade-in time, Amod­dio has some im­por­tant ad­vice.

“Low-kilo­me­tre ve­hi­cles are al­ways more de­sir­able. This will also pro­vide some war­ranty pro­tec­tion for the used-car buyer if there is any re­main­ing,” he says.

And our in­sider has sev­eral sharp tips. “We value cars purely based on what they will sell for and work back­wards. Mi­nor dam­age is all right but ma­jor dam­age will be a big turnoff be­cause most deal­ers have max­i­mum re­con­di­tion­ing time­lines, so if it’s go­ing to take more than seven days to re­con­di­tion most deal­ers will re­gard the car as a whole­sale prospect.”

When it comes to trade-in time it’s also worth spend­ing a bit to en­sure the car looks as good as pos­si­ble. That means a clean-up in the en­gine bay, re­pair­ing any mi­nor nicks and dents and get­ting a proper in­te­rior de­tail.

“Any­thing that takes ap­peal away from a ve­hi­cle for sale (will have an ad­verse ef­fect on) its re­sale value so un­de­sir­able smells, burn holes in up­hol­stery, or paint dam­age caused by the el­e­ments will re­duce a ve­hi­cle’s re­sale value,” says Amod­dio.

“Ex­tra-high kilo­me­tres, say more than 40,000 a year, not hav­ing the ve­hi­cle ser­vic­ing up to date, and any body dam­age that hurts the looks will def­i­nitely have an im­pact.”

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