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Add value to a vehicle by keeping it clean, running

By Jessica Rodrigo
April 19, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2014 at 11:19 p.m.

Gerald Merks, 65, of Victoria, stands with a freshly washed Mustang GT outside his detailing shop, American Detail Supply, on 3702 N. Navarro St. Merks has been detailing automobiles since 1992.  An employee of American Detail Supply washes a Dodge Charger. A freshly cleaned Mustang GT waits to be picked up.

Did you know cleaning your car could put more money in your pocket come time to trade it in for something new?

Most every car owner knows that after the vehicle is bought and driven off the lot, its value begins to depreciate. It's inevitable.

Gerald Merks, 65, of Victoria, has been in the business of keeping vehicles clean since 1992 through American Detail Supply. He said keeping up a vehicle's appearance is a matter of vacuuming and washing the exterior.

"A car is the second-most expensive thing - in most cases - that we buy," he said. "It's a big-ticket item."

He's in the business of cleaning vehicles for dealerships in Victoria, so he knows his way around a car and what salesmen and women are looking for when they start estimating trade-in values or plan to take inventory to auction.

But there are ways to counter that drop in value after driving that car off the lot.

Rudy Rodriguez, used car manager at Mac Haik, said there are a few ways to keep up or add to the trade-in value of a vehicle.

Under the hood

"The biggest thing is the maintenance," he said.

Routine care is a must, including oil changes, brake checks, tire care and, of course, air conditioning, said Rodriguez, 27, of Victoria.

New car smell

"Smoking is a big concern," said Rodriguez.

Normal wear is expected, but big tears in the seats should be taken care of before a possible trade-in.

Pristine paint job

"They (customers) want to make sure there is nothing alarming with the exterior," he said.

Small dings and scratches won't take much off the valuation, but faded spots on the roof or hood of the car will.

The car doesn't need a new coat of paint, said Rodriguez. It just needs to be in good condition. Removing the dead bugs on the bumper, grill and windshield should be a no-brainer, but he said clients will come in without giving the windshield a good scraping.

Junk in the trunk

"As long as everything looks intact - if you have everything thrown around, and there are no jack or tools, then there might be a deduction," he said.



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