We spend a whole lot of time in our vehicles, and your car says a lot about you. This drives so many of us to long for the newest, shiniest vehicle on the market.  I’ve even found myself wishing I could afford the newest sports cars on display at the annual car shows.  It would be amazing to walk into a car dealership, toss a bag of cash on the desk like they do in the movies, and drive out of there with the title to a brand new Maserati! The reality, however, is that most of us will never be able to do this.

Since this is the case with me, I have compiled a list of some simple tricks that help me keep my car looking good for a long time.  Just like you, I spend a lot of time in my car.  In fact, I take pride in what I do drive.  So, I want to keep it looking as new as possible for the longest amount of time possible.  It doesn’t matter whether you own a new or used vehicle, these 7 concepts will keep your car looking fantastic while keeping money in your pocket.  In short, if you follow these simple, inexpensive tips, you will always drive a car that looks expensive and will retain top value for you.

1. Minimize the Personalized Add-ons: Rarely do you see a newer Mercedes with 3 or 4 bumper stickers slapped on and a bundle of tassels dangling from the rear view mirror. As a general rule, don’t be impulsive with personal, customized items you add to your car. If you want to make the vehicle feel like your own, just be sure the accessories you add can be removed when it comes time to sell or trade. Examples of common, personalizing items are: stickers, exotic seat covers, steering wheel covers, license plate holders, large speakers and amplifiers, or any other personalized bling you can imagine in the interior of your car.

2. Avoid Door Dings: Remember, if someone buys your car, the first thing they see is the outside and cosmetics. Just like meeting a new person, you only have a few seconds to make a good impression. A clean, well-maintained physical appearance will get you off to a great start. A vehicle free of dents and dings will always sell at a premium vs. a car that looks worn and abused. Countless blogs and forums are dedicated to the frustration with careless door dings inflicted by others on parked vehicles.  The lowest average cost to repair a single door ding is $100 ― depending on severity and where it’s located.  A cost effective and proactive approach to prevent dings altogether is DentGoalie car door guards. These are removable, flexible door ding protection panels that easily attach to your vehicle when parking. The magnetic door ding protectors won’t even scratch your paint.  Two sizes are available and these magnetic car door panels are universal for use on virtually all vehicles.

3. Replace the Floor Mats: Floor mats are the first things to wear down in a car. Where I’m at, the snow is so bad that I can’t afford not to have good floor mats.  Some people take out the original factory mats and store them for later when deciding to trade or sell the car. Insert large, weather-appropriate rubber floor mats to keep the carpet looking new. It will also help to ensure you don’t get any funky smells because of wet, nasty carpet.

4. Use Seat Covers: Over the years, seat covers have improved tremendously and there are many available that actually look like they’re part of the interior. To protect your seats from wear and tear, buy seat covers in basic, appealing colors.

5. Washing Your Car: By washing your car on a weekly basis, you will be preserving its value.  For some, his seems like a no-brainer.  For others, it is difficult to understand the necessity behind frequent car washes.  The fact is, so much dirt and salt buildup without regular washes, especially in crevasses and the underbody, wreak havoc on the finish.  In case you missed the subtle note in the previous sentence, it is important to wash the undercarriage of your vehicle also.  Regardless of where you are, but especially in harsh winter climates where road salt is used, a lot of harsh materials get stuck in the crevasses of the underbody causing premature wear and tear. The cleaner your car, the more you’ll want to keep it clean. When the time comes to trade it in, you will be grateful you took such great care of your car.  Even if you can’t wax it every 2-3 months as recommended by car experts, put it through a weekly car wash.

6. Clean Your Wheels: Clean your wheels every few weeks. This is the one area that struggles to get clean in the car washes.  A quick, old-fashioned hand washing of your wheels prevents buildup of dirt and grease. Wheel grime will be much harder to remove if neglected over time. If you’re spending a lot of time keeping the rest of the car looking nice, take a few more minutes to clean the little things.  It will pay off in the long run.

7. Get A Shampoo: Shampoo the carpets and seats if they’re looking bad. Dirty upholstery can leave odors as particles get trapped in the fabric.  For best results with cleaning carpets and seats, use a wet/dry vac to vacuum up the foam and open your windows to air it out while drying. For a deep odor clean, sprinkle baking soda over the damp upholstery and let it sit for a few hours. Vacuum the baking soda up with a wet/dry vac to pull out odors.

It’s been said many times that the second largest investment you will ever make will be your car.  Take care of your investment so you can get as much back out of it when you go to sell it.  With today’s technological advances, it is easier than ever to clean and protect your vehicle.

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