The allure of the new car smell and the sight of 0 kilometres on the odometer is undeniable, but there are ways to make an old car feel new again.
Show an old car a little TLC by using these five tips that will have it feeling brand new, and always ask a certified mechanic for tailored advice about your car.
1. It’s All in the Detail
It may seem like a no-brainer, but a thorough cleaning is the best way to make an old car feel new. Even well-cared for cars begin to show wear on the paint job after years of driving. Take it into the shop for a car detail to shallow scratches, swirl marks, and grime.
Go all in on a full detail and professionals can also polish headlights and taillights, clean the undercarriage, scrub the wheels, shampoo interior carpets and seating, condition leather, and clean any vinyl surfaces. You’ll only have to pay on average $125, depending on car size.
Insurance coverage: If you’re fixing damage due to theft, vandalism, natural disasters, or road accidents for example, contact your insurance broker to see if you’re protected.
If you don’t want to spend the money, go the DIY route: Always wash wheels and tires before the rest of the car, because the chemicals in degreasers can harm the body paint. Stick to non-acid-based cleaners on the wheels to strip residue without damaging the coating.
For the body, never use dish detergent or household soap—it will strip the paint’s protective coating. Buy specific car cleaner and soap to stock in the house. Put the hose away; a little elbow grease by hand washing will work best. If your car has swirl marks or shallow scratches, invest in paint-cleaning clay dipped in a small amount of car wax to rub them out.
2. Get Some Fresh Air
Clean a car’s air conditioning system, especially if you’re noticing stale, musty air in the interior. Dirt, pet hair, smoke, and even bacteria can get trapped in the vents, causing poor air quality and a smell. Your local professional mechanic can do a full clean of the system, replacing filters and un-clogging.
For a quick fix at home, purchase a simple can of compressed air to blow into the vents and knock loose some of the grime. Because the contaminants will fall to the carpet, remove floor mats beforehand, and clean the A/C before doing an interior cleaning.
3. Stay Aligned
A tire alignment can do wonders for how your old car drives. Despite the name, a tire alignment doesn’t actually align tires; it adjusts the car’s suspension to ensure the wheels make proper contact with the road.
After an alignment, drivers usually feel more in control of the car, feel fewer bumps, and notice that the wheel doesn’t vibrate while driving. Plus, it can protect tires from uneven tread and having to replace them sooner.
Insurance coverage: When purchasing new winter tires, contact your insurance broker to see if your province offers a snow tire discount. For example, Ontario now offers a discount on winter tires, which amounts to approximately 5% the cost of the policy.
4. Seal It Up
A car’s weather-stripping is often overlooked, but it’s at risk of tearing over time, which can be an annoyance and an eyesore. When you’re driving down the highway, you feel like you can hear the wind howling inside the car, there’s likely a seal problem. An auto body shop can replace worn or torn rubber strips or do a complete reseal, to ensure that your air conditioning and heat stays in while the outside air stays out.
5. Have Fun with Upgrades
Chances are car technologies have advanced since you purchased your car, but that doesn’t mean you missed out on having them.
Insurance coverage: Before doing any physical changes to your car, call your insurance broker to check if the proposed changes will alter your coverage. For example, all tech upgrades should follow the code of law, especially concerning sound systems and lighting changes.
Aftermarket gadgets can give an older car a shiny new navigation console, an advanced sound system, heated or massage seats, an entertainment system for the kids in the backseat, a smart phone compatible console, and more.