Seven Things That Affect Resale Value

Abigail Bassett

Digital media content producer/consultant & former CNN senior producer, now running CN'TRL : Cars, Tech, Real Estate & Luxury.

Nov 19, 2015

If you’ve ever purchased a new car you are probably well aware of the impact that driving it off the lot has on your resale value. A new car could lose as much as 19% the moment it leaves the parking lot—that’s a big chunk of cash coming right off the top. That’s why many personal finance experts often recommend looking to the used market for a car but, did you know, you should still be mindful of resale value?

Here are seven things that can impact the resale value of a car:


Yes, in today’s market—brand matters. It matters for a number of reasons—from reliability to design—but mostly brand matters because of perception. According to ALG, a residual value forecasting company, brands like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru and Mazda have the highest brand residual values in the economy arena. While brands like Infiniti, Audi, Lexus and Acura also have the highest in the luxury category.

2. Mileage

The lower the mileage the better the car…sort of…There are a lot of things that can make a low mileage car a terrible buy, too. For more on this check out our story on whether it’s better to buy an older car with less miles or a newer car with more miles.

3. Wear and Tear Both Inside and Out

This is a pretty obvious point, but the condition of the car both inside and out has a big impact on resale. If it smells bad, is messy, is covered in animal hair or has ripped up carpeting, resale is going to tank. If the outside is scratched, dented and peeling, the same applies.

4. Transmission: Manual vs. Automatic

While most enthusiasts will tell you that it’s far better to “row your own,” (i.e have a manual transmission car) but, the (sad) truth is that the majority of people who purchase cars would much rather have an automatic transmission, instead. Most people now-a-days don’t even know how to drive a manual transmission anyway so automatics are far more in demand.

5. Color

Love pea green? Well, you’re in the minority. Most people who purchase cars go for traditional colors like black, grey, white, and red. Depending on the model you’re looking at colors can make or break a deal.

6. Mechanical condition

This should go without saying a car with a good mechanical history and service records is worth far more than one without. No questions asked.

7.Upgrades…to an extent

The standard upgrades like tech packages and premium options can cost a pretty penny—and can—in some cases demand a better resale. Things like navigation are almost always desirable—where as if you have the latest and greatest aftermarket stereo installed—it likely will not do much for your resale value.