People don't often factor depreciation into the total cost of their new and used cars, but they should – especially if they have any intention of selling or trading in the vehicle at a time not too distant into the future.

How much a car depreciates is just as important when considering a vehicle's overall cost as its monthly payment or total financing value is. The depreciation of a vehicle is, in effect, what you actually pay when you purchase a vehicle.

The good news is, there are few things consumers can do to avoid leaving money behind at the car dealer when they drive their new cars off the lot.  

Here are 5 things that can absolutely destroy your car’s appraisal value. Avoid them at all costs.

1: Get in an Accident

Naturally, the worst thing you can do is be involved in an auto collision, since damage to your vehicle can greatly impact its resale value, particularly if that collision results in your car or truck being saddled with a “salvage” or “rebuilt” title. Though no two cases are the same, a salvage title can reduce a vehicle's value by up to 60 percent. And it's important to note that this reduction in value is based not on the original sale price of the vehicle but the market value.

2 : Rack Up High Mileage 

If your vehicle has extremely high mileage, say over 100,000 miles, it can greatly impact the amount that it is appraised for when sold or traded in. This depreciation factor is a simple result of supply and demand. The supply of high mileage cars is plentiful – in fact, the percentage of high mileage cars increases every year – while demand is low. Put simply, people don't want to purchase cars with high mileage – whether they're affordable or not.

3: Choose the Wrong Color

Believe it or not, the color of your vehicle can impact its appraisal value. Though you may like the look of yellow paint, the simple truth is that most people don't. As boring as it may be to go through life driving silver, white or tan cars, it is the financially smart choice. A monotone vehicle will demand a larger audience when it comes time to getting rid of it. Again, think supply and demand. While it's true that there are much fewer yellow cars, it's also true that there are much fewer people looking for yellow cars.

4: Choose the Wrong Car

If you want to give yourself a leg up when it comes to reducing your ownership costs, you should consider buying a vehicle that historically enjoys low depreciation rates. Vice versa, you should avoid vehicles that historically depreciate the greatest amount over a given time period. In some cases, the vehicle that you buy will play the largest part in the hit that you take on value, regardless of what steps you take to help avoid it.

5: Modify Your Vehicle

If you want to make a fashion statement, do it with your clothes, not your car. Spoilers, custom rims and other modifications only serve to drive down the appraisal value of your vehicle.

By Samantha Rivers

Samantha Rivers is a freelance writer and editor who covers automotive, insurance, finance and other topics online and in print. She is a contributing editor to