What Car Options Hold Value at Resale?

You may be on the hunt for your perfect car, but it’s not a bad idea to also consider which options will help your car hold the most value when it comes time for trade or resale.  Some options, like air conditioning, power windows and automatic transmission, may be no-brainers, but what about other options—like an advanced sound system—whose value may not be as straight-forward? 

Once used-car shoppers have identified the make and model they’re looking for, first and foremost, they want to find a car that is in excellent condition, with no obvious external damage and a well-cared-for interior.  Just like when selling a home, curb appeal is an important first-step in attracting serious buyers. 

For some car options, their value lies in just being there.  For example, when shopping for a luxury car like a Lexus or INFINITI, extras like a power moon-roof and keyless entry are pretty much expected.  It’s when you forgo these items, that resale may be difficult and your selling price may be compromised. You will have a hard time selling a luxury car without an automatic transmission—no matter how much of a cream puff it is.

If we’re talking about mid-level cars, like a Toyota or Ford, customers may still expect to find these options—it’s certainly a lot nicer to get into your car on a freezing-cold night when you have keyless entry and don’t have to hunt for your keys. Generally speaking, however, loading up these cars with pricey options will not pay off when it comes to resale.

According to U.S. News & World Report, here are 11 features that will most hold their value at trade or resale (in no particular order): 

  1. Power controls for windows, seats and door locks
  2. Sunroof
  3. Automatic transmission
  4. Performance packages
  5. Alloy wheels
  6. Leather seats
  7. Good-looking tires
  8. Mobile device compatibility
  9. White, black or silver color
  10. Air conditioning
  11. All-wheel drive

Of course, if you plan to hold on to your car over the long haul, perhaps driving it for several years and then passing it along to another family member, it makes sense to buy what’s best for you!  In these instances, thinking about resale value is not as important—but you still want to make sure that you are investing in options and accessories that are really worthwhile. For example, you may well want to protect your car’s paint from rusting or fading, but do you need to purchase a pricey protection package, or can you do better by trusting today’s advanced paint products to last and garaging your car each day?

If you are unsure of what accessories and options are worth your investment, it’s easy to hop on a car valuation site, like Kelley Blue Book, and experiment with used-car prices by plugging in various accessories and options and seeing how prices fluctuate.  Like with most expensive purchases, conducting research online is a great way to get started before heading to the dealer. 


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