Things That Affect a Car’s Resale Value

If you have ever sold a used car then you know it’s quite a challenge to establish a price for it.  As you likely know, there are lots of factors that weigh into a used car’s price.  Most people will set a price that is close to similar cars and then adjust it according to various factors.  The sales staff at Mr. Ed, a Phoenix, AZ-based automobile financing firm, say that similar factors are at play when you go to trade your vehicle into a dealership. Let’s take a look at some of those factors.


This is probably the most important factor that affects a price for a used car. It’s simply a fact: the more mileage a car has, the lower its resale value. You can count on it. A used car with low mileage will be worth more on the market.

External Condition

What the car generally looks like is quite important too. Visually, if the car appears to be dinged up, scratched, or has faded paint, it will not be worth as much as a nicer example. The more visually imperfect a car is, the lower its resale value will be. 

Interior Condition

Although not quite as important as the exterior, the interior of a car is important too.  The most important thing is that it must be clean- really clean.  If the car was a smokers car, then you have an issue for many buyers.  You can clean out the smell of cigarette smoke from a car but it will take quite a bit of work.  In general, it is worth it, though.

Mechanical Condition

Most car buyers are quite sensitive to the mechanical performance of the car being sold.  Even if something simple, like a car needs a new battery, many buyers will “discount” your asking price right away.  The things buyers will usually look for are: the sound of the engine (and ehaust), whether there is any oil leaking, how the car rides, and if all the accessories work (like AC).  A nice thing to present to a buyer is a folder with all maintenance records contained so they can see that the vehicle has been kept up.


Bottom line: rust is an absolute killer in terms of resale value. People just don’t want to buy cars with rust on them.  It’s almost as if it’s a signal that there is little life left in the vehicle, even its relatively low mileage! If you care has some minor rust spots that don’t require bodywork, it may be worth having them touched up by a professional.

Collisions/Repairs on Record

Even though it may have been professionally repaired, if the CarFax or other documentation shows that the car has been in an accident, the resale value will likely suffer.  If you can provide documentation that the repair was professionally done and supply documentation, you may reduce the loss in resale value.


Believe it or not, A yellow car isn’t going to be as popular as a white or silver car. Some people are very sensitive to the color of their car. By the way, keep this in mind when buying a new car. If you want to resell it some day, you would be wise to stick to a more “neutral color” that will appeal to more people.


Interestingly enough, a car’s resale value changes based on where it’s being sold. In warmer climates, like Florida or California, two wheel drive cars hold their value well.  In climates that see a lot of snow and rain, four wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicles sell for more money when they are used.

Brand Image

Some automotive brands maintain their value much better than others. Usually, cars that have excellent reliability history maintain their value better than others.  Just look at the prices that used Hondas and Toyotas garner.  They are often twice the price of domestic car models.  Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about this if you are selling a car that is considered “second tier” in reliability. The best thing to do is present all its positive aspects in great detail.  

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