Buying a car is no small matter. For many of us, this will be one of the biggest purchases we undertake, and will likely involve a several-year investment in a vehicle you will not actually own until it is fully paid off and, unfortunately, it won’t be worth as much as you’ve paid by then.
You may have noticed that used Jeep Wranglers, even those only a few years old, lose value as they age, even if they aren’t heavily used in that time. That drop in price is due to depreciation, the natural loss of value that plagues all vehicles the minute they first leave the lot.
Fortunately, not all vehicles depreciate at the same rate – everything depends on the vehicle’s ability to hold up over time and its reputation among car sellers as a used model. Jeep vehicles, for instance, tend to hold their value better than most other brands over the long term. Here’s a look at the mechanics of depreciation, and why Jeeps seem to be immune to its worst effects.
What Is Depreciation?
Generally, depreciation refers to the value a car loses as it ages. This means that as each year passes after a car is first built it will devalue by several thousand miles – even if it is never driven one mile. This all has to do with public opinion and the availability of newer, better, more expensive models available each year that make your car worth comparatively less.
A new car is expected to lose between 15 to 25 percent of its value each year for the first five years after it is first built. That means that if you buy a car worth $20,000 in year one, you should expect it to be worth only about $6,500 by the end of year five on average.
The worst hit from depreciation actually happens in the very first year, even beginning the moment your new vehicle leaves the lot. On average, you should expect to see about ten percent of the value of your vehicle disappear as soon as it leaves the dealership from which it came – and another ten to 20 percent by the end of the year. From here the rate of depreciation will begin to decrease, but the damage has certainly already been done.
What Makes A Car Lose Value?
There are several factors that can contribute to a vehicle’s depreciation, not the least of which being the amount of wear and tear the vehicle has experienced. If your used vehicle has over a hundred thousand miles or is over a decade old, it probably isn’t worth much compared to its original purchase price. That’s because the next buyer will be less secure of the amount of life left in the vehicle, and will likely be unwilling to spend too much on a vehicle that might not work in a year or so.
Another notorious contributor to depreciation is visible damage to the vehicle or a lengthy service record, which will only serve to scare off a potential buyer if the vehicle looks older than it really is. By contrast, keeping your vehicle looking like new will help boost its appeal to a buyer.
Why Do Jeeps Depreciate Slower Than Most?
In the world of depreciation, reputation matters just about as much as proven reliability.
Take Jeeps for instance, which have long been known to hold onto their value better than most of its competitors. Jeep has been able to hold this prestigious reputation because of its proven ability to build vehicles that can withstand the test of time.
Everybody knows that Jeeps are among the toughest vehicles out there. Able to take on the most intense off-roading trails, Jeeps have been relied on to get humans over difficult terrain since the early days in the Army, when military personal relied on the Jeep as a critical tool for warfare. Now used to conquer the raw force of nature by enthusiasts and professionals alike, the Jeep has long been respected as a tough mudder with unparalleled performance where it counts.
That’s why it’s so amazing that Jeep has maintained it’s other most notorious claim to fame: as the vehicles that simply won’t quit, even when the odometer reads up to six digits. Given what te average Jeep is put through, the fact that they can last and last and last as long as they do is simply incredible – and the auto world knows it full well. That’s why Jeeps don’t depreciate as quickly as other cars – buyers and sellers worldwide know that a used Jeep still maintains plenty of power and likely has a lot of life left in it, and so is still worth quite a bit even years down the road.
Of course, since no vehicle is fully immune to depreciation, however, Jeep owners know that it takes a steady, guiding hand to bring a quality vehicle through the years and end up retaining a decent value on the other side.
How To Prevent The Worst Of Depreciation
Fortunately for us, there are a few steps a careful car owner can take to mitigate the worst damage done by depreciation. With a little love and care, you can preserve some of your vehicle’s value without sacrificing all the fun and adventure that inspired you to buy your Jeep in the first place.
The first step – and probably most painful – is to simply put as few miles on your car as possible. The higher your odometer reading the less your car will be worth when you try to sell it. This can be a serious pain to those who love their new car and want to go out and take it for a spin, but that doesn’t mean it won’t matter at resale. Not to say you shouldn’t enjoy your ew vehicle just keep depreciation in mind as you gear up for those cross-country road trips.
Second, and a favorite among Jeepers, is to add on to your car in ways that will add value to combat depreciation. Jeep owners are notorious for outfitting their vehicles with modifications and upgrades to improve performance and driveability. As a benefit, this tends to give a healthy boost to resale value later on down the road, as the cost of installation for some parts can be high and consumers in the market for upgraded Jeeps will likely pay more for a model with some mods already installed. Adding features won’t reverse the effects of depreciation, but it can make a serious dent in the loss you will encounter.
Finally, it’s best to keep an accurate maintenance log to be able to prove that your car has been well cared for since its original purchase. Having a record to prove things like regular oil changes, tire rotations or replacements, fluid changes, engine maintenance, brake replacement, and more can help establish a pattern of good maintenance that can speak volumes for your vehicle’s expected longevity. A smart buyer will look for this information and, if you have it ready and available, will likely be willing to pay more for the peace of mind.
Depreciation is not something to be taken lightly, no matter what kind of vehicle you have. Every vehicle will naturally lose value with age, and so its best to bid this into your financial calculations and do what you can to mitigate the worst of the damage. By following these simple steps you too could recover a good amount of resale value and say goodbye to your used Jeep with a smile on your face – and cash in your wallet.