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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.


• Wash your car when it's dirty. Dirt or dust on a car's exterior can create tiny scratches that could eventually chip, damage or dull a paint job. Spray off the dirt, never wipe it off - it will scratch the paint.

• Know when to change your oil. Depending on the oil used in the engine, follow the recommendations for changing the oil: every 3,000 miles for regular oil, every 7,500 miles for a synthetic blend and 15,000 to 25,000 for a full synthetic motor oil.

• Buff the engine block. Spray off the dust or debris, degrease it and make it shine. If you're planning on trading it in, dealerships will want to see it look like it drove right out of a factory onto the dealership lot.

• Listen to your car. Most cars are equipped with sensors and indicators that will take the guesswork out of preventative maintenance. If there is a light on, find out what the light means and take it in.

•  Watch fluid levels. Whether it's oil, brake or transmission fluid, it keeps the engine running the way it was meant to run.

•  Wash the windows. Do it inside and outside. And don't forget the mirrors.

• Vacuum the interior. Go over the seats and the carpet and include the dashboard, radio dials and air conditioning vents, too. Don't forget under the seat, in between the door and the seat and in between the seat and the console.

•  Shampoo the interior. Remove stains from fabric with cleaner that will pull out the dirt. It wouldn't hurt to make it smell fresh, either.

•  Keep the leather looking like new. Apply a high-quality conditioner when it starts looking dry. Some people will say to do it every six months; others will say more or less.

• Use a visor to block the UV rays. To prevent the dash from drying and cracking, use a protective visor on the windshield to reflect the UV rays that can damage the surface of your dashboard.

•  Clean the trunk/flatbed. Throw out what you don't use. Not only will it lighten the load of your vehicle, but it will also improve the vehicle's gas mileage.

•  Check the tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Also, replace the brakes when they begin to squeal or if it feels uneven when brakes are applied.

Source: Gerald Merks, owner of American Detail Supply; Ed Kloesel, owner of Big Ed's Automotive and Tires

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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