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Features That Affect Vehicle Resale Value

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Improve decision making at the dealership by considering long-term implications

Should you choose a red or silver exterior? How about choosing between a manual or automatic transmission? Or how about choosing between four-wheel, rear-wheel or front-wheel drive? The features and options available for new cars are many, but one way to make decisions is to consider how they will affect the resale value of a vehicle down the road. With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider when you head to the dealership for a new vehicle.

Automatic versus manual transmissions

While many drivers swear by their manual transmission, finding them more fun to drive and more fuel efficient, when it comes to resale, vehicles with an automatic transmission generally sell for more.

On the other hand, there are exceptions. In certain vehicles, a manual transmission could actually increase resale value.

"The resale value for sports cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang GT, and Subaru Impreza WRX isn't hurt by having a stick shift," notes Cars.com. "In fact, a lot of buyers would rather have the stick and aren't interested in an automatic transmission."

Front-, rear- or four-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive creates more cargo room and better fuel economy while improving traction but wears out tires more quickly. Rear-wheel drive improves handling and decreases wear and tear but lessens traction. Four-wheel drive provides the greatest traction, while reducing fuel economy.

Regardless, the automotive research experts at Autobytel.com recommend four-wheel drive for maximum resale value.

"Most four-wheel drive vehicles have a considerably higher price tag because of their popularity... [So] if you really want to improve resale value, four-wheel drive is your best bet," the website states.

Interior and exterior options

Experts say that the more luxurious the interior and exterior, the greater the resale value.

"Options that generally bring a good rate of return on the used-car lot include leather upholstery, factory-installed moonroofs, and certain premium wheels," notes Cars.com. However, don't go too far, the website states; the key is to steer clear of "personalizing" the vehicle with something outlandish. "If you install something as dramatic as 22-inch wheels, you've personalized the car — generally speaking, personalization detracts from a car's resale value."

The same is said to be true of exterior colors. Stay away from personalization and head for neutral ground, since "colors like black, white and silver hold their value over time," notes Autobytel. "Conversely, colors like orange, green, purple and yellow will actually reduce your resale value because color trends and popularity change over time."

Safety features

"Whether safety features significantly enhance a vehicle's value is uncertain; most used-car valuation guides don't include add-on figures or deductions for antilock brakes or side-impact airbags, but such items definitely add value," explains Cars.com.

Autobytel.com meanwhile says safety options like improved lighting are a good add-on to make.

"Since halogen headlights and fog lights are not highly expensive at the point of sale and because they improve safety at night, future buyers will appreciate them, making them a good option to purchase," the website states.

No matter what choices you make, considering long-term resale value may not be the most fun way of looking at a new car purchase, especially if you're dreaming of a fire-engine-red exterior. On the other hand, if you're on the fence about a particular feature, it could be a deciding factor.

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