6 Ways You Could be Decreasing Your Car's Value

Want to maximize your car’s resale or trade-in value? Avoid these behaviors.

Dirty car window and "Wash Me," sign
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[Read: Should You Trade In Your Car or Sell It Yourself?]

4. Painting the vehicle an unusual color. Painting your car an unusual color could deter potential buyers. "A great example is the Mary Kay cosmetics cars," Lyman says. "I can tell you I wouldn't buy it because it's pink. Stay with a pretty generic color like a silver or white because those tend to be the most popular colors." He adds that people tend to shy away from colors such as yellows and greens.

5. Leaving smells in the car. Cigarette or pet smells often linger and could give the impression you haven't taken the best care of the vehicle. "If you smoke in the car then that smell tends to remain in there so someone who gets into the car will be able to tell," Ibara says. Cigarette butts or stains are also telltale signs of smoking.

If you've used the backseat for transporting pets, try to neutralize the smell and remove any visible pet hair. "If you have pet hair that you just can't get out of those cracks and crevices," Ibara says, "obviously it will take down the price of the vehicle unless the buyer is also a pet owner and is planning to use the backseat as the passenger compartment for their pet."

[Read: 5 Bad Habits of New Car Owners That Ruin a Vehicle's Value.]

6. Delaying a car wash. Wash your car regularly to maintain its appearance. "People don't wash their cars, but the truth is our coats take a beating with the summer and the winter," Fix says. "In the upper half of the country, winter brings salt and that will destroy the clear coat." In other areas, acid rain damages the exterior. Fix says she washes her car once a week and waxes it once a month. "If the car looks good that will absolutely improve its value," she says. "It's part of proving that the car is well-maintained."