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A Car’s Resale Value: Does it Matter?

This article was written by in Consumer. 14 comments.


When I purchased my Honda Civic a few years ago, I chose this particular car because it was economical and reliable. I knew that Civics hold their value well, but I wasn’t planning on selling the car for many years.

Kelley Blue Book recently announced their awards for best resale value. If you need a car and you know you’ll have to sell it soon, this is a good list for ensuring you make the most of your money… perhaps.

Chevrolet CorvetteTopping the list is the Chevrolet Corvette. The first thing I noticed about this survey is that it doesn’t provide hard numbers. Resale value, observed over the course of three years, is rated along a scale from one dollar sign to three. I would like to see real percentages of original purchase price rather than a vague scale.

Following the Corvette is my machine, the Honda Civic. Since projections look back to purchases three years ago, it is likely that it is my model year, 2004, which was evaluated for this survey.

The Infiniti G37 Coupe arrived in third place, followed by the MINI Cooper and Scion tC. In seventh place is the Toyota Corolla. This was my second choice during my last car shopping experience. It came down to price and familiarity when I made the final decision for the Civic.

All cars in the top ten are rated for resale value by Kelley Blue Book with a nebulous “slightly higher than $$, but much less than $$$.” I don’t know what this means, but if resale value is important to you, chances are you’ll do well if you go with one of the cars on this list.

Of course, how you do with your particular resale depends on much more than just market averages and Kelley Blue Book prices. You have to take care of the vehicle. Also, styles change. A look that is the new hotness now may be old and busted three years from now.

Also, technology plays a factor. If you intend on reselling your car, but before you do, technological advances make your car obsolete, you may be stuck with a car no one wants. If the government decides to require some sort of hybrid technology in the future, you may not be able to easily unload your old gas-guzzler.

Update: As Kurt points out in the comments below, Kelley Blue Book doesn’t look back three years, they have a panel of experts that provide projections about current cars’ possible resale values three years from now. Therefore, there are no real numbers in this survey. Three years from now, perhaps I’ll read this post and be inspired to check the experts’ predictions.

Image source: brettski
2008 Best Resale Values [Kelley Blue Book]

Published or updated November 14, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar kurt

I don’t think the figures look back three years — the g37 didn’t exist back then. It’s a new model for this year.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

Thanks for the info, Kurt. I have to wonder how KBB can predict resale value three years from now. They claim they use “informed projections” of their expert staff… so you’re right, they don’t look back three years. That explains why the survey doesn’t seem to use real numbers.

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avatar MikeVx

If resale value matters, to use an over used phrase “you’re doing it wrong”.

The only times a sensible person sells a vehicle are either to the scrapyard because it’s no longer safe to drive, or when a better vehicle was obtained at a sufficiently low cost or due to a life change that required a different vehicle type. In any case, expecting to recover any non-trivial amount of money from the vehicle later will probably lead to spending too much on purchasing it to begin with.

In the end, a car is transport, get what you need then plan to drive it until it dissolves.

I have other things to do with my money, so I’ll stretch the car for as long as possible, maintaining it as long as the repair costs averaged across a year are below the averaged payments on a replacement. Absent such things as getting a better car by off-beat means such as winning one or being given a leftover by a relative (this last has happened to me), I won’t sell a drivable car. Then theres the good old destruction-by-accident path to buying another car.

I view the question as null. In my view, a car has no resale value, therefore it cannot matter.

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avatar Russ Ain

I think a resale value does matter. Say you’ve just been promoted, got a salary boost or can otherwise afford a more expensive car. At that point, you will be please you have an Accord instead of a Saab 9-3. Or you just had twins and the little car won’t cut it – the amount you get for a Civic will be much better than a Saturn.

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avatar Lazy Man

Resale value is important to me, but not in the typical way. I will look for a car that has poor resale value and is 3 years old for my next car.

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