Aside from a mortgage payment and possible student loans, your vehicle will likely be one of your biggest investments. Unfortunately, unlike your home and education, your car loses value the longer you own it. Though each car is different, it’s estimated that your vehicle will lose around 20% of its value in the first year and will continue to depreciate by 10% each year thereafter.
While it is a little depressing to think that your new (or new-to-you) car will be worth around 10% of its original value by the time it’s 10 years old, there are some things that you can do to slow down the rate of depreciation.
You probably already know that you should regularly wash and wax to keep the exterior looking new, but what can you do to protect the interior? Certain things can wreak havoc on your car’s interior, but there are some things that you can do to fight back.
The Sun and Heat
The sun does a fantastic job of warming us up and getting flowers to grow, but it also plays a significant role in making your car’s interior look older than it is.
The first preventative thing that you can do is park in the shade. That may mean that you have to walk a little bit further, but the back of your legs will thank me when they aren’t getting scorched by hot leather. You should also invest in some windshield shades and dashboard covers to help protect your interior. The sun can raise your car’s interior temperature as much as 30 degrees. That kind of heat, combined with the sun’s direct rays, can dry out leather upholstery to the point of cracking and cause cloth upholstery to thin out until it tears.
Not only that, but the sun can make your dashboard dry out and crack as well. If you have leather seats, make sure that you treat them regularly with a good quality leather conditioner so that they stay soft, clean, and protected. Last (but not least), you should also crack your windows just a little bit. This helps ventilate your car and keep temperatures down. These are all little things that you can do that will make a big difference in how well your vehicle handles the heat.
People: can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. Unfortunately, as much joy as other people (especially children) can bring to our lives, they can also cause that much damage to the inside of our vehicle. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to prevent and counteract the messiness that often accompanies other passengers.
As much as possible, try to limit the food that you allow in your vehicle. Obviously, sometimes a kid’s gotta eat when a kid’s gotta eat, but try to avoid messy and sticky foods at all costs. If you have cloth upholstery, start by spraying it down with a waterproof protectant. This will help keep spills from setting into the fabric. If you have leather seats, put a towel down underneath any car seats to protect the leather from food particles as well as to prevent the seat base from rubbing against the leather. Our biggest recommendation is to spring for seat covers so that the front and back of your seats are protected from dirty clothes and dirty shoes.
You should also carry a clean-up kit in your car to keep messes from settling in and baking into your carpets and upholstery. Some cars nowadays have swanky, built-in vacuum cleaners, but if you don’t have that luxury, a small, hand-held vacuum will suffice. Your clean-up kit should also include fabric cleaner, old t-shirt scraps (t-shirts work better than paper towels and are less abrasive), and some bottled water. If something spills, do your best to clean it up right away to save yourself the headache and smell of rancid, spilled food.
Lastly, have a central trash can for the whole car and empty it regularly. If you’re not careful, garbage can accumulate throughout your car, which can make it smell bad and be a hassle to clean up later.
Pets can do a lot of damage to your car’s interior. Hair, dander, and the occasional accident can result in stains and stink that stick around for a long time. To prevent this, pre-groom your animal before any long trips, use a seat cover, and consider investing in a pet hair squeegee if your animal sheds a lot.
Dirt, sand, slush, and rock salt can really mess up the inside of your car, so make sure to purchase some high-quality floor mats. These will help keep the mess in a contained area so you can easily shake out or vacuum the dirt away.
Keeping the inside of your vehicle tidy not only gives you peace of mind, but it can help your car retain greater value in the long run.