New cars are expensive and begin losing their value as soon as they’re driven off the showroom floor. That’s why we advocate buying used.
But if you care for a car properly — whether it’s new or used — it can continue looking good into its second decade. And a car that has maintained its appearance will be worth more when you decide to trade it in.
Following are simple steps you can take to preserve your car’s beauty.
1. Protect your car’s interior from the sun
Nothing says “old and tired” like a sun-damaged interior. When your car is parked in direct sunlight, the cabin can heat up like an oven, drying out your dashboard and upholstery.
According to State Farm, interior air temperatures have been recorded in excess of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Vehicle interior surfaces exposed to direct sunlight can reach 195 degrees.
The following steps will help you keep your car’s interior from baking when the sun is out:
- Park in the shade whenever possible.
- Open the windows slightly to lower the interior temperature on warm days.
- Use a windshield sunshade inside your vehicle.
- Use a car cover if you plan to park your car outdoors for extended periods.
2. Install seat covers when your car is new
Worn and torn seats make your car unattractive and uncomfortable. Keep your seats covered at all times and your car’s interior will look great when it’s time for a trade-in.
3. Use a protectant on rubber, vinyl and plastic parts
It’s easy to overlook the need to protect the parts of your car that are made of rubber, vinyl or plastic. But a wide variety of products are sold to prevent these surfaces from cracking or discoloring over time. They’ll slow down the aging process and give your car a newer appearance.
Protectant products can be applied to dashboards, door panels, consoles and bumpers. Use them from when you first buy a car to reduce the damage that can occur over time.
Use the products as directed. Avoid applying slippery protectants to such surfaces as floor pedals and steering wheels.
4. Avoid parking next to other cars
One simple and no-cost way to avoid dents and scratches on your car is to look for isolated parking spaces. If no one is parked directly next to you, your car is much less likely to get dinged.