5 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Old Car Seem New

No need to spend big on a new ride when you can take these affordable steps to make your car seem new again.

5 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Old Car Seem New Photo by Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Daydreaming about a new car? You can save a lot of money if you look to your old car instead and try to give it a “like-new” look.

So, hold on to that extra money and use it to grow your retirement account, bolster a college savings account or fund a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Here is how to transform your current ride into a car that feels new:

1. Clean it up

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Invest in a pressure washer and the cleaner that is designed for it. Use of a wash mitt, because it is less likely than a sponge to drag grit across the car and damage the paint. Be sure to rinse your car thoroughly, paying extra attention to areas under mirrors and in door frames where soap can become trapped.

2. Wax it

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Many car owners believe there’s no need to wax a car, but that’s not true. Even if you don’t care if your car is shiny, experts recommend waxing it twice a year to keep the paint fresh. The practice could make a significant difference in your car’s trade-in value when you do decide to sell it.

There are various ways to wax a car, including some that Popular Mechanics promises will deliver professional-grade shines. The downside to some of those waxing instructions is that they take a fair amount of time and equipment – and can damage the car if not done precisely as directed. If you want to wax your car quickly, consider a professional detailing and waxing. Or wash it yourself and use a quick-wax product such as Turtle Wax Ice Spray Wax.

3. Deep clean the interior

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There are few things that make a car seem newer than a thorough interior cleaning. Use a shop vac to vacuum the carpets and behind the seats, and wash the inside of your car. It’s also a good idea to use compressed air (available at retailers including Walmart) to clean dust and debris from those almost-impossible-to-reach spots in the glove box and other areas.

And, of course, wipe down the dash and other surfaces. Caution: Don’t use that compressed air on the exterior of your car. It may damage paint and moldings, reports CarsDirect.

4. Refresh trim and other details

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Washing and waxing your car increases its appeal, but don’t forget the trim. You can replace or paint trim. Some people swear that applying boiled linseed oil on trim is the best way to refresh it. Just apply the oil, let it sit a few minutes, and wipe it off.

Also, take a look at your headlights. Many grow yellow and dim due to pollutants and grime. You can buy a headlight restoration kit. Popular Mechanics recently rated some. These allow you to grind off and polish the damaged areas.

5. Change your cabin filter

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Many car owners don’t realize that the cabins of their cars also have air filters that need replacing. Many cabin filters are located behind the glove box, reports Cars.com. Others are located behind the dash. You can locate the one in your car by reading your car owner’s manual or speaking to a technician at a local dealership.

Another idea to freshen your car: Get a some regular charcoal, put it in an open container or wrapped in some fabric and tuck it into a corner of the car. It’s a cheap and effective way to absorb odors.

What ideas do you have for babying your car to keep it like new? Share in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham @NancyDWrites

Nancy Dunham is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

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