When you buy a new car, you may be vigilant about taking good care of it — for a while, at least. But before you know it, you’re overdue for an oil change and you’ve got coffee-stained upholstery and a quarter-sized dent in the hood.
Your car deserves better. And when it comes time to sell it, the time and money you’ve invested into caring for your car will result in a greater asking price.
So keep these tips in mind in order to keep your car in the best shape possible:
Follow your maintenance schedule
Look at your owner’s manual. That regular maintenance schedule is not some conspiracy designed to trick you into taking your car to the dealership. The manufacturer of your car wants it to run well because cars that last a long time are popular with consumers. And who better than the manufacturer to tell you what your car needs, and when?
It’s OK if you’re a week or two late for an oil change, but don’t let it go too long. Putting off routine maintenance can cause your car to run poorly, or to gobble-up gasoline quicker than you’d like. If you’re a busy person, set reminders on your smartphone about scheduled maintenance dates.
Keep the interior clean
In a perfect world, you’d never be running late for work and spill a cup of hot coffee in your lap while driving. But eventually, you’re going to spill something in your car — and even if you’re already running late, take a few minutes to clean up the mess, before it stains your upholstery.
Keep a bottle of car upholstery cleaner and a clean white rag in your trunk or glove box so you can react quickly to spills. Check again several hours later to see if you got all of the offending substance; you might need to use a portable steam cleaner to completely remove the stain.
Practice routine interior cleaning, like wiping down the dash to remove dust and vacuuming the floor to remove dirt and debris.
Wash your car regularly
Washing your car is not just about aesthetics. Especially in the winter, regular washing removes harmful road salts that can eat away at the underpinnings of your car.
If you prefer the old sponge-and-bucket method rather than a drive-through car wash, make sure you’re using a cleaner specifically for automobiles (not dishwashing detergent). Use proper sponges and cloths, too, not just any old rag you have lying around the house.
You can treat your car with a number of products that repel water, and you can also use a buffer wheel to polish your clean car and make it look dealer-new.
Be mindful about where you park
Ideally, you want to park in a garage whenever you can to protect your car from the elements. Sun can damage your paint job, and a strong storm can cause hail damage or damage from other debris stirred up by the wind.
Avoid parking under trees if possible. Sap can be difficult to remove if it lands on your car. And certain trees drop seeds or pods (pinecones, for example) large enough to leave a dent.
Take good care of your car — not only when it’s new, but always. You’ll be rewarded for your work when it comes time to buy a new one.