If your car could talk, it probably wouldn’t be too happy with the way you treat it. You never take it anywhere nice, and when you do you leave it in a boring parking lot while you and your family have fun. You walk all over it, you leave food wrappers and forgotten plastic bottles in its interior. You let it get faded, dented, chipped and scratched. You let its headlamps get weak and discolored. You hardly ever even clean it, because it might rain tomorrow.
Your poor car. It’s getting paranoid that you ,might just go down to a cheap used car dealer and trade it in for a younger model. Shame on you! Remember when things were different. When everything was new and shiny and sexy?
If you want those halcyon days back, you might just be surprised at how cheap and easy it is. Here are some ways in which you can rekindle your relationship with your old car and have it looking and feeling like new again.
Clean it. And I mean, really clean it
Sorry, but a half-hearted squirt with a garden hose just won’t cut it anymore. Come to think of it, an automated car wash won’t do either. This needs the personal touch. Here’s how you’re going to do it right
!The interior– Work from the inside out. Many make the mistake of starting off with the exterior but doing this runs the risk of getting dust and dirt from outside into the cabin and upholstery.
Start by vacuuming and shampooing the carpet with a cleaning foam spray. There are a range of dedicated products for this but the stuff you use for rugs and carpets at home should do fine here. You should vacuum the upholstery and seat cushions at least every other week to prevent dirt and food particles from being ground into them, and treat the fabric with a spray-on protector to repel stains.
Leather seats should treated weekly (or at the least monthly) with a leather-restoring cream, while vinyl should be treated with products specifically for plastic or rubber surfaces. Use a cotton swab to work the treatment into the little crevices so that your car’s interior will not only look new and glossy but be guarded against fading, drying and cracking.
The exterior– Wash and wax your car in a well shaded area to prevent water spotting and prevent wax from drying to quickly and baking onto the bodywork (otherwise it will become a nightmare to remove). Attend to any small scratches and chips with a chip stick as soon as they occur to prevent rusting. If you have old chips that have rusted already then we recommend lightly sanding the area and applying a thin coat of primer to the bare metal before painting. If you have more serious paintwork issues but are reticent about taking your car to the body shop you’ll be amazed at what you can actually accomplish from home.
To protect the paint you should always use a soft terry cloth when shampooing and avoid less absorbent nylon or synthetic fibres which can cause micro-scratches that will dull the paintwork.
When the shampoo is applied rinse it down with a garden hose or better yet an electric pressure washer until soap suds and scum are blasted away. Wash from the top down using a solution of water and an acid-free non-abrasive cleaner (avoid using damaging household detergents). Scrub the wheels with a stiff brush and thoroughly rinsed to remove road dirt and brake dust and leave for at least a few hours to dry before waxing.
Apply a thin coat of wax using a damp cloth. While just about any brand of wax will do, your car needs some TLC so treat it to some carnauba wax to give the finish a deep, rich shine.
Upgrade your dash
You spend a lot of time looking at your dash, so make it something to be proud of. If the steering wheel is cracked, split or pitted then treat it to a new cover. If the dash is lacking in illumination, you may need to make friends with a junk dealer and see if you can get some replacement bulbs (they’re dirt cheap and make a world of difference). The same goes for dials or buttons that may have become broken or lost over the years. If the dash pad itself is looking worse for wear then it might be worth repainting or dyeing.
Supercharge your sound system
Your car doesn’t have to be a dinosaur for your sound system to need an upgrade. If you’re still listening to tinny FM radio, CDs or even cassette tapes on your existing head unit then you need to join the rest of us in the 21st century. Universally compatible head units with bluetooth connectivity, GPS and digital radio have never been more affordable so treat your car and yourself!
Make those headlamps dazzle again
Over time, micro abrasions and tiny deposits of road dust can cause your plastic composite headlamps to look old and yellowed. Fortunately restoration kits for treating exactly this issue are inexpensive (you can get one for less than $30) and easy to come by. With a little time and effort combined with some patience you can sand, buff and polish those lenses to showroom brilliance, making them look bright, clear and white. It’s an overlooked but highly effective element of keeping your old car looking new.
Give the AC a breath of fresh air
Over time bacteria collect in your AC system which can cause stale and musty odors. If you combine this with a lack of gas then you’re left with a smelly and anemic system that blows out weak wisps of foul smelling air. Fortunately this is cheap and simple to resolve. Cleaning out the system to remove any traces of dirt and replacing your pollen filters are a great way to start. Topping up the systems gas and running an inexpensive antibacterial ‘bomb’ through it will clean it out and leave it blowing icy cold citrusy fresh smelling air and making the interior feel good as new.