Easy Tips to Keep Your New Vehicle In Top Shape Until It’s Time to Sell or Trade

December 10th, 2021 by

A family is shown next to their grey 2021 Chevy Bolt EV in a garage.Keeping your new car, truck, or SUV in tip-top shape makes sense on many levels. One of the more obvious benefits is maximizing your future selling price or trade-in value when the time for an upgrade rolls around. Other considerations center around minimizing the effects that road conditions and weather can have on your fancy new ride. After making what can be a significant investment in a vehicle you’re likely to have for some time, it’s up to you to embrace preventative maintenance measures that can help keep your auto looking and running great for years to come. Let’s examine some upkeep options that DO NOT require mechanical ability or extensive know-how, so when you say, “it’s time to sell my car,” you know you will get the best price for it.

The Paramount Importance of Engine Oil

Much like us, the performance of our vehicle is greatly influenced by what we tend to put in it. You’ve probably heard the term “lifeblood” when it comes to describing the role oil plays in normal engine functionality. The only thing separating metal components within an engine block is a precious layer of oil flowing through the motor. Engine oil is designed to provide lubrication to vital parts as they interact during everyday driving conditions. Depending on what type of oil is in your engine – and other factors such as climate, towing/hauling, and terrain – some oil types will expire before others. Consequently, not all oil is equal, not even close.

Take a quick walk down the aisle of any large automotive retailer, and you’ll see a dizzying array of motor oil and related products. Conventional, semi, and full-synthetic oil are available in a host of “weight” classifications. Needless to say, it can be a confusing conundrum for those trying to decide what’s best for their car sitting out in the driveway.

A close up shows an engine oil cap.

OK, Which Oil?

The SAE International assigns a viscosity number, or weight, to classify oil for its intended purposes. The higher the number, the thicker and more heavy-duty the lubricant is. When you see an oil rated at 5W30, this is a multigrade viscosity to help an engine adhere to a broader range of driving climates and conditions. The “W” stands for winter and basically refers to a thinner weight oil that flows better in colder temperatures. BONUS: this particular aspect of the oil-changing process has essentially been decided for you! It’s a breeze to find your model’s manufacturer recommendations for oil weight, either in your owner’s manual or under the raised hood.

It’s All About the Synthetic

Today’s smaller, hotter, and higher-revving engines are challenging the wherewithal of motor lubricants more than ever before. Although conventional (or “regular”) oil is designed to provide adequate engine component lubrication (that falls within manufacturer standards), this mineral-based formula has its drawbacks when compared to its full-synthetic brethren. Regular oil is derived from crude and minimally refined (compared to full), whereas full-synthetic oil is made from petrochemicals and tailored additives —utilizing a more complex refinement process that gives it a superior edge on a molecular level. The impressive overall performance of synthetic oil has led to an industry shift among mainstream automakers, with most vehicles now fitted with full or synthetic-blend oils straight from the factory. This trend seems to signal conventional oil methodically moving toward the obsolete category.

Should I Try a Synthetic-Blend?

If the word synthetic is in the title, the combo blend remains a step-up from the conventional type alone. Nonetheless, the blended version cannot match the proven performance and longevity of a full-synthetic product. However, should your budget dictate choosing the synthetic blend over full, it’s still a better choice for today’s engine.

The Benefits of Full-Synthetic

The high internal temperatures prevalent in an average motor will eventually break down oil viscosity, causing friction and unwanted deposits in your engine. This is precisely why manufacturers urge vehicle owners to be diligent in changing oil per recommendations. The refined molecular formula of straight-synthetic oil can be tailor-made to address specific and common issues with engine lubricants, such as inevitable impurities found in motor oils. Here are some key points in considering full-synthetic motor lubricants:

  • Cleaner Engine – chemicals designed to combat and remove contaminants
  • Better and Longer – Lasting Engine Protection and anti-wear technology fights heat and extreme conditions inside your engine better than any other oil
  • Freezing Temps – superior flow in cold climates, providing much needed protection with cold starts
  • Prolonged Heat Exposure – additives resist breakdown and help maintain performance – especially if you’re towing a trailer or have a turbocharged engine

A previous study by AAA found that full-synthetic oil offered up to 47% better protection than conventional lubricants. It makes sense to start with full-synthetic as soon as possible to give your new purchase the absolute best performance and protection while limiting harmful deposits.

A mechanic is shown pouring transmission fluid into an engine.

Transmission Fluid

Just like motor oil, your transmission is susceptible to the same negative effects of extreme heat and requires interval changes as well. The good news is, manufacturers don’t recommend changing it near as often as engine oil. Most transmissions will need fresh lubrication every 30,000 to 60,000 miles to help keep them free of sticky impurities that can reduce the life of this expensive component. For information pertaining to your model, check your owner’s manual to see what is recommended for your vehicle.

Happy Fuel System; Happy Car

Perhaps the most overlooked yet easy to maintain aspect of a vehicle is the fuel system. You frequently see ads for oil-change specials, but prompts to focus on the fuel system are not as plentiful. Much like oil, gas and diesel are not always equal. Many service stations may get their gas from multiple suppliers, and not all fuel has the same additives that help fight arch-enemies such as carbon and corrosion.

The more you drive, the unavoidable effects of gum-like substances and carbon build-up will begin to zap car performance. Luckily, there’s a simple solution that will only set you back a few dollars and merely requires a twist of the cap. You’ve most likely heard of fuel-injection cleaner, but for just a couple of bucks more, you can get fuel-injection cleaner on steroids. Today’s market offers a host of complete fuel system cleaners that work to remove contaminants from microinjector nozzles, intake valves, spark plugs, and the combustion chamber. Complete system cleaners can help:

  • Maximize fuel economy
  • Reduce friction and wear
  • Improve horsepower and performance
  • Fix hard starts
  • Extend engine life
  • Fight rust and corrosion

It’s easy to add this simple solution to your preventive maintenance regimen. Just pour a bottle into your gas tank at regular intervals, such as every 5,000 miles. If you plan to use full-synthetic, you can conveniently add a bottle of complete fuel system cleaner with each oil change. The solvents will go to work scrubbing your fuel system as you drive. Again, it’s wise to begin using this tool with your first oil change to keep your system clean, running smoothly, and accelerating properly until it’s time to sell or trade.

A close up shows a person waxing their car after searching 'how to sell my car.'

Interior and Exterior Care

Even though your shiny-new car, truck, or SUV looks great now, there is a multitude of things you’ll encounter on a daily basis that will negatively impact your car’s interior and exterior over time. Needless to say, having a garage or covered parking – particularly in harsh seasonal climates – is a big plus for every car owner. Unfortunately, many don’t have that luxury. So how do you keep your vehicle looking great year after year?

UV Rays and Other Enemies

The sun is definitely not a friend of vehicle paint and dashboards. The oxidizing effect of UV Rays has your car in its sights and will take a toll if your vehicle isn’t properly protected. To minimize damage and fading, your vehicle should be waxed and regularly washed to keep the surface free of potentially harmful substances — such as bird waste, road salt, and tree sap. There are many good wash/wax products available, and they provide another layer of protection between your car’s surface and that flaming ball in the sky.

As mentioned, your dash also takes the brunt of prolonged sun exposure, and it can crack or fade as a result. Much like the exterior, your interior parts are vulnerable to UV Rays and staining elements. Find a quality conditioning and repellant spray or wipe that’s safe and effective on surfaces such as vinyl, fiberglass, carbon fiber, rubber, plastic, and leather. Another ally worth mentioning is a front reflective window shade. For a nominal fee, you can protect the dash and interior components in your new car with an easily foldable, reflective shade. Not only does it repel UV Rays, but it keeps the inside of your car cooler as well. Oh, did I mention it can also provide a little privacy with the seats back while relaxing at the rest stop? For around $10-$15, you can find a shade that fits your vehicle and comes in various styles and colors.

Should I Document It?

Another wise resale tool is keeping a complete record of all your maintenance efforts. Anytime you purchase a bottle of fuel system cleaner or get an oil change (etc.), staple a receipt in a notebook for future reference. The fact that you took the time to compile this record speaks volumes about your commitment to proper vehicle maintenance inside and out and will show a potential buyer that you really tried to take care of your vehicle.

Keep Your Vehicle in Top Shape Now So You Can Sell It for More Later

Many of the detailing products you’ll need to keep your new vehicle looking sharp are readily available just about anywhere. However, if you don’t want to do it yourself, you’re in luck! With the explosion of trendy car washes (many with monthly plans), you can get a high-quality wash that includes top-brand waxes and protectants – all without leaving your vehicle. You will, however, have to exit the car to use the vacuums. Sorry.

When it comes to do oil changes, transmission fluid changes, etc., you can’t go wrong having your service completed at our dealership. Having certified technicians poking around under the hood is actually a good thing, and we offer coupons and competitive rates for basic services like those persistent oil changes. So, while you can do this yourself, you can also bring your vehicle to us and sit back while we handle the basic maintenance you need to keep your car in good shape. Then, when you are ready to sell or trade-in for something new, make us your first stop to get a great deal.

Posted in Sell My Car