Regardless of whether you buy a new or pre-owned car, a recently purchased vehicle will start depreciating in value the moment you drive off with it. While there isn't anything you can do to stop this process (age and mileage will inevitably lower a vehicle's value) there are a few things you can do to slow down depreciation.
Keep depreciation in mind when looking at makes and models (some simply retain their value better) and go for a used vehicle instead of a new one. If you're buying a pre-owned vehicle, the vehicle will have already seen the worst of its initial depreciation. This means that the previous owner had to maintain and pay for the upkeep of the car, as well as suffer the greatest loss of investment. You can learn more about the benefits of used over news in the blog article we dedicated to the topic.
This is probably the simplest and easiest thing you can do to maintain your car's value. Take it for regular services as set out in your maintenance schedule and have all recommended service work done. It may cost more, but it's recommended that you take your car to an authorised dealer for this work. Always get the logbook stamped after each service so that you have a verified history of maintenance. Also keep all receipts from car washes, oil changes, tire changes and other services that show that you've done everything to keep the vehicle in good condition.
Always pay careful attention to where you park and what you're parking next to. If possible, park away from other vehicles and busy pedestrian paths. High traffic areas and tight parking spacing only raise the chances of the your car being scratched or dinged. Park undercover where possible to avoid the sun cracking or fading your dashboard. In South Africa we're often subjected to hail storms, and you need to be conscious of what the weather is doing so that you can park undercover before dangerous weather hits.
You might be tempted to put a sticker on your car or fit it with customised mags, but you'll pay a high price for personalising your car (and not just for those blinging wheels). Not everyone has your taste in aftermarket accessories and any exta accessories could put off potential buyers. So avoid making any changes that could have a negative effect on the vehicle's value when you eventually sell it.
Never ignore a new light on your dash. These are meant as warnings and indicate there's something in your car that needs immediate attending to. The longer you ignore it, the worse (and more expensive) the problem will become. As soon as you notice a new warning light, go straight to your dealer to have it checked out.
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