All too many purchase a new car as they fear it is too expensive and too much work to fix up their old car. However, you can fix up your old car in five easy steps. A complete car makeover allows you to save money and hold onto the vehicle you love long-term. 

The benefits of a complete car makeover

Buying a new car is not always the most practical solution. In many instances, it is more affordable and overall more rewarding to fix up your old car and give it a complete car makeover. The benefits of choosing a complete car makeover over purchasing a new vehicle include:

  • More affordable solution
  • Lower insurance cost
  • Save money for a future down payment
  • Hold onto the sentimental value
  • Fixing up your old car is fun
  • Create the car the way you want

Ultimately, you can save money, hold onto your beloved vehicle that has been loyal to you and have fun with the restoration process. Fixing up your old car gives you the chance to create the car the way you want it, rather than purchasing a vehicle that may not meet your every preference. 

How to fix up your old car

Ever car makeover will look slightly different, but following the five steps below is a great guide to get you started. Fixing up your old car should include a tune-up to ensure the engine and other mechanical parts work properly, ensuring the optimal safety of the vehicle and cleaning up the interior and exterior of the vehicle. The following is an in-depth review of each of the five steps. 

1. Schedule a full car tune-up

A full car tune-up from a qualified mechanic is an essential first step in the car makeover process. You may be able to perform various tune-up tasks if you have experience, but getting advice from a professional is highly recommended. During the full car tune-up, the mechanic may perform the following checks and services: 

  • Engine oil change and oil filter replacement
  • Engine tuning for optimal performance
  • Light, tires, brakes and steering check
  • Suspension check and steering alignment
  • Car parts evaluation and replacement
  • Alternator and battery testing

There are more than 50 potential checks and services the mechanic may perform during a full car service. Be sure to choose an experienced mechanic. Spending the money for a full car service during your complete car makeover can keep your car on the road longer and save you money from inevitable breakdown costs. 

2. Replace damaged parts

You will want to replace all of the damaged parts for optimal car safety and to improve the car’s appearance and functionality. While you fix up your old car, check all areas of your car. This includes the doors, hood, headlights, taillights, fender, mirrors, glass, brakes, tires and more. 

The mechanic will likely make a recommendation of all parts that require replacement. They may offer to replace the parts for you, although finding quality parts that you can install yourself may help you save money. Replacing damaged parts should make a significant difference in the aesthetic value of the car, in addition to making it function better and much safer to drive. 

3. Optimize safety parts and features

Step three of the complete car makeover is to optimize the safety of your vehicle, especially if you live in a state that still requires a car inspection. This should ensure your car is safe while driving at night. You can achieve this by replacing outdated, damaged or oxidized headlights, along with performing a deep cleaning of the mirrors and windshield. 

If there are safety features, such as a forward-collision warning system or vehicle backup camera, then make sure they work reliably (most old cars likely will not have this).  Mainly, you should ensure your car is able to pass an inspection by making the upgrades your mechanic recommends.

4. Restore and detail the interior

The fun really begins in step four. This step allows you to drastically improve the vehicle’s appearance by replacing worn-down or outdated parts of the car’s interior, including but not limited to the seats, floor mats, front panel, door panels, windows and mirrors. 

In many instances, you can upholster furniture yourself and restore the carpets instead of replacing them, which can save you money. To restore the interior properly, you will need a reliable car vacuum, chemical cleaning products to remove tough stains, odors, etc., polishing products and dust brushes (primarily for the vents). Each car is unique, however, so evaluate your own needs and ways to best repair your interior while remaining within your budget. 

5. Paint, wash and wax

The final step is to clean up the exterior of the vehicle. This should include washing, waxing and painting. For a complete paint job, it is likely best to trust a professional for the best results. If you are on a limited budget, then you can repair minor paint chips and other minor concerns yourself. You should also consider having a body shop touch up the vehicle and fix any concerns. An experienced exterior repair technician can repair dents, hail damage, scratched bumpers, windshields and more. 

After the damage to the exterior is repaired and the car’s paint looks the way you want it, then you can wash and wax the car. This makes the paint shine and can take years off of the look of your vehicle. You can properly wash, wax and polish with a high-quality store-bought kit or pay a professional for longer-lasting results.  

The bottom line

You do not have to purchase a brand new car if your current one begins to look worn-down or needs mechanical repairs, and restoring your current car is almost always more affordable than buying a new one.  If you have an emotional attachment to your current car or if you are looking to save money by fixing up your old car rather than replacing it, then following the five steps above can help you do just that.

Aaron Westbury
Aaron is a content writer with a passion for cars. He enjoys learning new things and loves to share what he learns with others. Aaron also has a Bachelor's in English and years of experience as a writer, and he constantly seeks to improve and make his writing more informative and helpful for readers. Although a writer by day, Aaron enjoys his free time by getting outdoors and staying active anyway he can.

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    2 Comments

    1. Give your car some love by getting an alignment. This will do two things. It will adjust anything that is not within spec so your car will handle better, and the mechanic will let you know if anything is wrong while he is adjusting the suspension. This allows you to get an inspection and an alignment at the same time.

    2. This gets more and more important as the car gets older, especially if you are driving up north, where the roads are salted.

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