How To Make An Old Car Look (And Feel) Brand New

Is your old car starting to look and feel a bit tired? Trading your old car in for a newer model could be tempting, but what if there’s nothing actually mechanically wrong with your old car?

Instead of splashing out on a new car, you could consider giving your old car a makeover. This could help to make it look and feel new again and it could help restore your pride in it. You may not have to think about selling up again for a few years. Alternatively, you could find that it even increases the value of your old car, allowing you to sell it for more. 

There are lots of ways in which you can breathe new life into an old car. Below are just some of the ways to make an old car look and feel brand new.

Get your car detailed

Cleaning your car can be a simple way to make it look fresh again. However, if you want to really recreate that showroom finish, detailing your car is the way to go.

Car detailing involves thoroughly cleaning every inch of a car and then shining it up with wax or polish. There are companies that specialize in car detailing that you can rely on to do this for you – this is the simplest option. Alternatively, you can save money by attempting to do it yourself.

If you choose to do your own detailing, you’ll want to spare yourself a whole day or a weekend to fully focus on your car. On top of washing the exterior, make sure to give the interior a deep clean by vacuuming it and wiping it down. Try to get inside every crevice so that there’s no hint of dirt left. Once your car is clean, you can then consider waxing or polishing the exterior. Make sure to do your research so that you use the right product (using the wrong polish on the wrong material could damage it). 

Change the headlights

If you’ve never changed the headlights on your car before, this could be another small upgrade to consider. After several years, it’s likely that your headlights will have lost some of their brightness. Replacing them with new fresh bulbs could make a big difference. This is a job that you’ll likely be able to do yourself if it’s an old car.

On top of replacing the bulbs, consider cleaning the lenses (this could be something to carry out while detailing your car). Headlight lenses can get very dirty over time and this can affect the brightness of your beams. You can find a guide to cleaning headlight lenses here at Popular Mechanics

Add a new lick of paint

Another certain way to make your car feel brand new again is to respray it with a new layer of paint. This could be the same color or a new color entirely. On top of making your car brighter and shinier, it could be a means of concealing small bumps and scratches that could otherwise be expensive to repair.

A new paint job is probably best carried out by a professional if you want it to be good quality. Pricing can vary a lot depending on the type of paint job you want – if you’re not interested in a fancy paint job (such as metal flake or multiple colors) you shouldn’t have to spend too much. Do your research to find a company that is reputable so that you know the paint job will be done right.

Reupholster your seats

If the seats on your car are scratched or permanently marked, you could consider getting them reupholstered. This includes repairing and replacing any damaged fabric. Your seats may not only look nicer afterwards but also feel cozier.

Reupholstering a seat is another job that is best carried out by a professional. It’s generally not an expensive job, but it depends on how you choose to transform your seats. Some people choose to completely change up the material and pattern on their seats – which can turn out expensive. Shop around to find the best pricing on this service.

Consider seat covers/car wrapping

If you like the idea of patterned seats or a fancy paint job, but don’t have the money for it, you could consider alternative options such as buying custom seat covers or investing in custom car wrapping.

Seat covers slip over the top of your existing seats. They can help to conceal damage to your seats, while also transforming the look of your seats. It could be a cheap way of affording sports seats without having to completely reupholster them.

Car wrapping meanwhile involves wrapping your car in printed vinyl. It can be a great way to completely transform the exterior of your car without spending as much as you would on a paint job. It could also be more effective at concealing damage. Car wrapping also isn’t permanent – you could get a design personalized to you and then remove the wrapping when you choose to sell your car.

You’ll likely be able to slip on seat covers yourself. Car wrapping on the other hand will likely need to be applied by a professional to ensure that it’s smooth and even. Car wrapping isn’t cheap, but is worth the investment.

Invest in new tires/rims

Instead of figuratively buying a new set of wheels, you could literally buy yourself a new set of wheels for your existing car. New wheels can make a big impact on the appearance of a car – they’re a feature that the eye is naturally drawn to.

Every car eventually needs new tires and many of us leave a replacement until it is long overdue. If the tread on your tires is visibly worn, it could be definitely time to buy yourself some new tires. It’s usually not a good idea to buy tires cheap – low end used tires are likely to be partially worn anyway. Instead, be prepared to pay for decent new tires.

While changing the tires, you could also consider the rims. Old rims can sometimes get scuffed up and deshaped – if this is the case they’re well worth replacing. Rims can be expensive to replace and this can be especially the case if you’re opting for a fancy branded design. You may be able to save money on tires and rims by looking into wheel deals such as these Ford Ranger wheels. You may be able to put on new wheels and tires yourself.

Replace old floor mats

Floor mats may only seem like a small detail within your interior, but replacing them could make a big difference to how your interior looks. New floor mats could be particularly worthwhile replacing if they are dirty and worn. They’re a very cheap accessory to replace and you don’t need to hire a pro to take them out or put them in.

Consider other part changes

Are there any other parts that you can afford to change? Replacing parts like old brake pads won’t set you back much, but could have a drastic impact on the performance of your car, helping your old car to ‘feel’ new again. You may even find that you’re able to replace these parts yourself – on older cars, brake pads can be a relatively easy fix.

Consider an oil change

Cars periodically need an oil change to ensure that they’re performing at their best. This is because old oil can get thick and contaminated with dirt, making it a less effective lubricant.

An oil change might not do anything to change the appearance of your car, but it could make your car drive a little more smoothly (particularly if it’s overdue an oil change). Oil changes tend to be part of a regular car service and are very cheap. It’s possible to save money by doing your own oil change, but you’ll need to have the right gear to do it such as an oil drain pan and funnel. 

Achieve that new car smell

One thing that helps to make a car feel new is the smell. While giving your car a makeover, you could also consider exploring ways of recreating this new car smell.

Cleaning your car will likely get rid of a lot of bad smells which could be caused by food debris or mold. After this it could be worth airing out your car to ensure that the bad smells are truly gone. Cleaning out your car’s air conditioning could also be useful for preventing any bad smells that could be coming out of here.

Once the bad smells are gone, you can start adding fresh smells to your car. Consider using fabric cleaner on all of your seats to help recreate that unused fabric scent. Leather conditioner could help to recreate that fresh leather smell if you have old leather seats. Finally, consider adding an air freshener. Avoid cheap air fresheners – pricier air fresheners will last longer and give off a more natural smell.

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