How to choose a good car that holds it's value
If you bought a car with a great mechanical reputation, you're probably in luck. "Used-car buyers worry about being hit with expensive repairs, so models known to cause little trouble command a better price," says Christian Wardlaw, editor of Edmund's Used Cars Prices & Ratings
An image of exclusivity can also boost resale value. That's one reason the Lexus LS 400 holds about 60 percent of its value after four years, Wardlaw says.
Unlike the Lexus LS 400, the Buick Riviera and Cadillac De Ville depreciate relatively rapidly. "The cars are luxury marques, but they aren't perceived to be exclusive," says Wardlaw. "Manufacturers sell them to national car rental agencies, and buyers who can afford an expensive car don't always want one that anyone can drive for $49 a day."
Over four years, both the Jaguar XJ8 and the Lincoln Continental sank in average resale value - to 54 and 39 percent of original cost, respectively - but Jaguar's prospects may change. "Years ago, Jaguar's quality was very spotty, and it's amazing how hard it is for these old tales to die," says Davis. "But Jaguar's quality has vastly improved, and the owner satisfaction story is much better. As buyers have good experiences with new Jaguars, the car's resale value will increase."
A new Lincoln offering may have more resale desirability than the Continental, predicts Wardlaw. "The LS sports sedan doesn't have the old, stodgy look," he says. "It handles well, has rear drive, and a five-speed manual transmission is available. It may emerge as Lincoln's shining star."
Color is a factor, too. "A trendy or unusual shade dates a car and turns off prospective buyers," says Wardlaw.
A complete redesign the year after you buy is another killer. "It will be obvious that your car's the old model," Csere explains. "Unless you purchased it at a terrific bargain price, you won't get back as much as you'd hoped." To avoid getting stuck with an old model, check out manufacturers' design plans in automobile magazines, pick up information at auto shows, or visit car manufacturers' Web sites.
Here's how the value of various cars has held up over the past four years - and how today's models are likely to do over the next four.
Boosting resale value after you buy
Already bought your new car? Consider these post-purchase factors that affect depreciation.
First, a car with excess mileage for its age loses value. For example, according to Edmund's Used Cars Prices & Ratings, a 1995 Lexus LS 400 is expected to have 47,700 to 51,700 miles. To calculate the impact of mileage, subtract 14 cents for each mile above that from a vehicle's estimated trade-in value. Conversely, below-average mileage can be a plus.
Scrupulous maintenance can also give you an edge. "Luxury cars are expensive to repair, so records showing that yours has been serviced by a competent mechanic can increase resale value," says Csaba Csere, editor of Car and Driver magazine.
Looks matter, too. Have your car cleaned regularly, and consider taking it to a detailer for a more thorough going-over before you sell (see page 119).
Maybe you should buy a car that depreciates fast
What's bad news for new-car buyers can be a boon to used-car shoppers. Some of the models that lose value quickly make terrific used-car bargains. Be sure you pick one that declined in value because it's the last year before a redesign, the color is out of fashion, or some other superficial reason - not because there's anything fundamentally wrong with the car.
One excellent used-car value among the vehicles featured in this article is the Infiniti Q45. You can snap it up for less than half of original cost after four years, despite a fine mechanical reputation.
You can also grab the Buick Riviera, Cadillac Seville, and Lincoln Continental for reasonable prices. The cars' quick drop in value has more to do with buyers' perceptions than with poor performance.
Check out a used car's original safety and performance assessment before you buy. You can find that information at http://www.zerzar.com/ar/egypt/classifieds/auto/cars/.
Clean your car with a toothbrush?
It could pay off
Taking your luxury vehicle through an automatic car wash is like drinking fine cabernet from a paper cup, say auto detailers. Their fanatic ministrations can restore your car to nearly showroom condition.
It may not be cost-effective in the long run; you'll probably spend more on frequent detailing than you'll get back in increased resale value. "Sure, if you're going to sell your car, it will look better if it's clean than if it's covered with coffee stains, but going overboard with cleaning isn't going to increase its value enough to justify the effort, says Csaba Csere, editor of Car and Driver.
Still, if your car's appearance means a lot to you, it may be worthwhile to go to a detailer, anyway. And detailing right before you sell can pay off. "That can add significantly to trade-in value," says Paul Amos, editor of Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine. "Prospective buyers are likely to conclude that if you care enough to have the car's exterior and interior kept up, you've maintained its mechanical aspects, too."
A professional detailing job usually costs $120 to $150 but can run as high as $300. Detailers shampoo the upholstery, clean the leather, polish all interior vinyl and metal, apply cleansing compound and wax to the exterior, and clean the tires and hubcaps. They even resort to using a toothbrush and Q-tips to flush dirt out of interior crevices. Some detailers steam-clean the engine so it gleams, or remove your car seats to reach every speck of dirt. Ask several detailers what their basic package contains.
Over time, such treatment can leave your car looking noticeably better than it would if you took it to a commercial car wash. "Hand-washing is better," says Terrence Mulligan, owner of Polished Perfection, a detailing company in Bergenfield, NJ. "Commercial car-wash water sometimes contains ammonia, so that it can be reused. The chemical may strip the wax off your car.
"Commercial car washes don't apply cleansing compound before they give you the optional wax spray," adds Mulligan. "The compound smoothes out minor scratches and cleans more thoroughly than washing.
"Fanatic owners bring in their cars every month," he notes, "but for most people, that's not necessary. Don't let your car go too long, though; some stains set in, and scratches can get worse."
To find a good detailer, get recommendations from colleagues, or check with your car dealer. Ask the detailer for references.
Don't bother doing the work yourself. The job takes an expert two to five hours. Without proper equipment and products, you'll take twice as long.
Excessive demand for used cars have considerably increased their resale prices although doctors ought to know that some automobiles, such as a Lexus, Mercedes or Porsche retain more of their value over a number of years compared to other cars. Doctors who also buy vehicles which have an acknowledged reputation for excellent mechanical systems, or those which convey an image of exclusivity, will likely be able to command a good resale price.
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