A car can have the sleekest design ever conceived, as well as the latest performance upgrades, and it still can’t outrun one thing: time. Like it or not, age is bound to catch up with that gleaming prized possession sitting in your garage.
But fear not, there are ways to turn back the clock and make your car feel new again (no, we’re not talking about tampering with the odometer) without breaking the bank. Philkotse.com has compiled a list of 10 affordable upgrades that can provide your car with a quick refresh.
1. Start by deep cleaning
The best (and often simplest) way to upgrade your car is by giving it a thorough cleaning. If you can spare a whole day, you can likely do this on your own; think of it as your own bonding moment with the car. You’ll be using your share of elbow grease as you scour every nook and cranny, both inside and out.
Pay extra attention to the wheel wells, underbody, and engine bay, as these are the areas most subjected to dirt and grime. As for the interior, you’ll also need to vacuum to pick up dust particles.
2. Dashboard restoration
As the car ages, the dashboard plastic also deteriorates, with the finish becoming faded and dull from constant exposure to sunlight. There are silicone polishes and dashboard wax available if you want to restore the dashboard’s sheen.
If the car has a bare steering wheel that has seen better days, you can buy a leather steering wheel cover to give it a new look.
3. Fix scratches then polish
If your car has minor scratches, there are various ways of removing them or at least making them imperceptible enough to the naked eye. In the case of bigger dents and scratches, you can opt for a touch-up on the affected area instead of going for a complete repaint.
You can top it off with a wax polish to protect the touched-up area along with the rest of the bodywork. You may need to do this once a month, especially if that car spends much of its time near corrosive elements, such as in coastal areas.
4. Tire care
The importance of tires to a car’s performance cannot be overstated, especially since they are the ones that come into direct contact with the road, making them responsible for traction, maneuverability, comfort and safety.
If you still have good tires, with sufficient tread and no punctures, then all you need is a quality tire polish which will make your tires gleam like new. You can use tire polish once every two weeks, to maintain the tires’ glossy look.
One thing you shouldn’t do is use kerosene or gasoline to as a cheaper substitute for proper tire black since they degrade the rubber compound. With tires heating up at high speed, using petroleum products to polish your tires also increases the chances of a blowout.
This is how it will happen when you don't pay enough attention to car's tires
If your car uses steel rims, you can paint the wheel covers to spruce them up, or you can upgrade to a set of alloy wheels if your budget allows. In case you’re already using alloy wheels but are having second thoughts about buying a new set, try using a plasti-dip spray to give your wheels a new look.
5. Restoring headlamps and tail lamps
Headlamp and taillight lenses also fade and become cloudy over time, being exposed to the elements on a constant basis. It is recommended to replace the lenses every five or six years. If replacing them isn’t an option, you can clean them instead to restore their finish, as well as improving visibility in low-light conditions.
A popular hack in cleaning the light covers is by using toothpaste or baking soda mixed with warm water, which is then applied using a sponge to scour away the accumulated grime.
6. Car seat care
The seats are the most used part of the car interior, and they also have a big impact on the overall look and feel of the cabin. It would be a good idea to purchase seat covers to preserve your car’s stock seats. Depending on how often the seats are used, change the seat covers every four years or so.
If you’re having the covers made to order, some upholsterers are generous enough to match the color of the car’s floor mats and door pad inserts for you. If your car seats have lost some of their paddings, the upholsterer can add foam to even the seat pads.
7. Upgrade the entertainment system
Another option would be to upgrade the entertainment system of your vehicle. For cars that originally came with an AM/FM radio, CD player and not much else, you can move up to a newer in-dash entertainment system that has Bluetooth and MP3/USB/AUX-IN connectivity.
A popular upgrade not too long ago was aftermarket head units using a motorized LCD screen that popped in and out of the dashboard at the press of a button.
Nowadays, the enhancement of choice is touchscreen panels that feature communication, multimedia, and navigation capabilities, much better if they can stream content directly from the user’s mobile device.
You also need to have an upgrade on the entertainment system
You can also tweak the sound system by upgrading the stock speakers to bigger ones (if your budget and interior space allow). Just keep in mind that audio system upgrade may also require a new wiring kit, especially if the car’s stock wiring cannot accommodate the increased output requirements of the new accessories.
8. Suspension check
The car’s suspension should also be checked, to make sure that the car’s stability and maneuverability are not compromised. Struts, shock absorbers, and bushings should be inspected and replaced when necessary. Consider replacing the springs if they are already worn or if the vehicle has had plenty of load-carrying duties.
Regular suspension check will make a great difference in car handling and riding
It will make a great difference in car handling and riding. You can even upgrade to a set of adjustable shock absorbers that let you shift between comfort and performance with just a flick of a switch.
9. Change engine oil
Lubrication is important in a car’s engine, especially since it has the most number of moving parts. If you’ve been using mineral oil for quite some time, consider moving up to semi-synthetic or fully-synthetic oil that has a longer replacement interval.
Replacing the spark plugs and filters along with the oil will help coax an optimum performance out of your engine. Few things make your engine sing sweetly than fresh engine oil circulating through its innards.
Lubrication is important in a car’s engine
>>> Check out: Car Engine Oil Analysis: What’s your Engine Oil Telling You?
10. Fix squeaks and rattles
With aging cars, one of the more common annoyances is random squeaks, creaks, and rattles every time the car is in motion, especially when encountering bumps or potholes. Have the car’s panels and bolts inspected and tightened?
With aging cars, common annoyances are random squeaks, creaks, and rattles every time the car is in motion
If you want to isolate the cabin from road noise, you can apply sound deadening material inside the roof headliner, behind the door panels under the carpet and inside the hood. The only downside though, is that it will likely add to the car’s weight. But if you’re after comfort, then it’s a good option.