Many people don’t realize just how much performing basic maintenance can affect the resale value of their vehicle. Keeping your vehicle in good shape, both outside and in makes it more desirable to either dealerships or individual buyers when you get ready to switch rides. Over the years cars have become more complicated, though for good reason. The advancement of technology has brought increases to fuel economy, power, and reliability. With the expansion of technology though, some maintenance has become more complex or requires proprietary tools for the job. That said, there are still plenty of things that even the most novice shade tree mechanic can still do at home to keep their vehicle happy and healthy. Here are five things you can do to keep your car both safe and valuable:
Tire Pressure/Tire Tread
Checking and adjusting your tire pressure only takes a few minutes and can save you hundreds of dollars in replacement costs. A tire gauge is only a few dollars, a tire inflator can be purchased for as low as twenty dollars, and if you have a local gas station with free air, even better! Keeping your tires at a proper pressure helps your tires last longer, keeps you safely in control of your vehicle (especially during inclement weather), and optimizes fuel economy. Checking the tread is very important for your safety as well, as having bad traction causes accidents. You can get a tool to check tire tread for only a couple dollars, and it takes just a few minutes to check all four tires. If any get below 2/32” (4/32” in snow or rain) you should replace them in either pairs or sets of four. For someone looking at your vehicle for sale or trade, uneven tread wear or droopy tires can be red flags.
Fuel filters have an average price of $15 depending on the car, but can save you hundreds of dollars in engine repair costs if changed regularly. Fuel filters are important to keep fuel injection and carburetor systems clean and working properly. It is imperative to release the fuel system pressure before replacing the fuel filter to avoid damage or injury, but if in doubt look for directions per your specific make, model, and year.
This can be more involved, but can save you a good amount of money . Changing engine oil on your own requires car ramps or a jack and jack stands, and very important: tire chocks. Never put any part of your body under a vehicle supported only by a jack. You will also need a drain pan, funnel, nitrile gloves, and rags, which go a long way toward keeping things clean. Be sure to recycle used oil at your local shop or auto parts store.
Bulbs don’t last forever, and they can burn out when you least expect it. If a headlight or tail light blows, it will be harder to see at night, and you are at risk of getting pulled over and getting a fine. Also, as per their purpose, it’s nice if you can see to navigate the road, and be seen by other drivers. Fortunately, many bulbs are user-replaceable, often without tools or with just a screwdriver. It’s a good idea to replace headlight bulbs in pairs. This also falls under things a prospective buyer can see during their inspection, and though it may seem minor, it immediately affects the way they feel about the potential unperformed maintenance elsewhere in the vehicle.
Wiper blades help you see in all kinds of weather and situations, whether it’s snow, rain, bugs, or dust. Over time, the rubber wiper blades can wear and degrade, leading to poor visibility, and unwanted noise, such as squeaking. Neglecting to replace the blades could even lead to permanent windshield damage. Fortunately, replacing wiper blades only takes a couple minutes, usually by hand or with a screwdriver.
Following these five tips can go a long way in squeezing extra money out of your sale or trade. If you’d like more information and details on maintaining your vehicle, you may also want to check out some Chilton repair manuals.