Top Ways to Make Your Old Car Look NEW

ideal media porsche 911
Ideal Media

You’ve had your car for a few years, and the relationship is getting a bit stale. It’s time for something new. And you aren’t about to drop thousands on a new ride, so maybe to spice things up, it’s time you take your old ball and chain in for a makeover.

Well, good news, Ideal fam. There are countless ways to turn your old zero into a hero! Something that gets the attention it deserves, without starting over new. So, in this article, we’re going to show you some easy ways to rekindle the love between you and your old ride! Alright team, let’s go!

Detail Your Car

car detailing

First on our list is easy, but sometimes not the most obvious! If you’re driving around in an old ride, chances are you’ve let her get a little dirty, and nothing really kills the love for a car like swirl marks, water spots, and caked-on brake dust. Good news, you filthy animals, old, faded paint, crunchy leather, and dashboards drier than the Sahara are all fixable with a little elbow grease.

You would be amazed at what a solid detail job can do to refresh your ride. It’s hard work, but it’s certainly worth it, and is one of the cheapest ways to feel like you’re driving a brand new car. And best of all, you’ll definitely be back in love with a car after you just spent hours or even days polishing it back to life

We won’t go into exactly how to restore a paint job here, we could make a two hour video on that. Needless to say, you can bring some surprisingly bad paint back from the dead with the right combination of cleaning, waxing, and polishing. And if you have foggy headlamps, consider checking Brad’s video on restoring them!

While you’re at it, detailing your interior is probably the best way to feel great about your old ride, since that’s where you’re going to be spending the most time! And now that your cars shining like she’s new, maybe it’s time you got rid of those wack hubcaps…

Upgrade Your Wheels

black forgeline wheels

Because even a pile of junk can look sick riding on the right rims. It’s like getting a fresh pair of sneakers for your car! There are so many types of wheels you can choose from: forged, steel, aluminum alloy, one-piece, two-piece, you name it! Hell, even spinners! Remember spinners?

Sports cars, luxury cars, even trucks, everything looks better with a bit of shine. This certainly isn’t the cheapest and easiest way to level up your car. For a set of wheels, a set of new tires, you’re looking at a grand easily. But it’s definitely worth it! And as important as it is for your ride to look good, it’s equally as important for it to sound good.

Upgrade the Exhaust

filtered dual exhaust system
Car Throttle

Always a favorite here at Ideal, making your car scream is a surefire way to get your blood pumping again, and get a little attention. Okay, maybe you don’t want that kind of attention. Now, make sure your car actually will sound decent with an exhaust upgrade. Little 1.3-liter four-bangers need not apply. But if you’re rocking an aggressive inline-six, a turbo-four, or a big bad V8, let her rip!

And sometimes a well-done exhaust upgrade can add a little needed power increase to your aging ride. This is especially true in turbo and forced-induction cars, where free flowing exhaust can lead to pretty respectable power gains. But really, we all know we’re straight piping cars for the sound, not the performance. Like letting the nasty sounding V8 in the Volvo S80 roar! Damn those sound good.

Okay, your car’s shining, it’s screaming, and it’s rolling on some new wheels. But your stance is, well, let’s just say nothing is really worse than a car with nice wheels and terrible fitment.

Refresh the Suspension

bmw with aftermarket air suspension
Car Throttle

Not only that, your ten-year-old Nissan’s shocks are probably blown to hell. That thing is not carving up canyon roads like it used to. You feel every bump in the road, it groans and whines like an old man, so it’s probably time for a suspension refresh! Suspension is an essential part in your car’s handling and performance. It affects your performance, and the comfort of driving the car.

And, of course, who doesn’t love low cars? Lowering springs, new shocks, a coilover system, even air suspension! The options are nearly endless, but one thing that is definitely not an option is cut springs! Don’t be that dude. Sure, it’s slammed in the parking lot, but on the freeway, your car’s bouncing up and down like a damn water bed. 

That’s one dumb idea. For other dumb ideas, check out this list of car mods that make you look stupid. Now a good idea for any car, old or new, is to just fix the damn thing.

Fix What’s Wrong

oil leak under car
The Motor Guy

Stop putting off fixing that oil leak. Get to work replacing that catalytic converter, refill the headlight fluid, whatever. The longer you put off these basic repairs, the worse your ride becomes, and the less you love it. So, take some time with your car and fix all those small problems that’ve been killing you.

As someone who’s owned literally the most unreliable cars in the world, let me tell you, wrenching under the hood and conquering electrical demons is a solid way to build a bond with your car. And nothing is more satisfying knowing that she’s running great because you put in the time.

Now, back in my day, I’m old, I’m an old man. So, back in my day, one of the last things you did to your car, after you’d built it, was paint it. It was insanely expensive, and you had to be sure you were done modifying the exterior. Lucky for you, you aren’t as old as me, so you can just vinyl wrap your ride whenever you want! 

Vinyl Wrap

Ideal Media

A wrap not only totally changes your car’s look, but it’s also going to protect your paint underneath, and it’s removable, so you can always remove it if you want. Now, installing a wrap ain’t cheap, or easy. You’re probably looking at about $2,000 to $5,000 if you’re not doing it yourself. But it’s a super effective way of breathing new life into your old ride, one that’ll probably keep you in love with it for years to come!

You’ve done everything on this list. You’re screaming, you’re gleaming, you’ve fixed everything. There’s only one thing left to do: go drive it!

Drive It 

drifting white mazda miata
Road & Track

I know, I know, duh, right? Well, I once fell into the trap of constantly modifying my car. Wheels, aero, engine mods, the list kept piling up. And somewhere along the way, I forgot to just drive and enjoy the damn thing. Cars are meant to get us from point A to point B, sure. But if you’re watching Ideal, I’m willing to bet a car is a lot more than that to you.

Cars are extensions of our personalities, they’re the catalyst that unlocks new experiences, we make friends around cars, we go on adventures in cars. Hell, some of us build their entire careers around just talking about cars. Those people are psychopaths, right?

Definitely the best way to make your car feel new is to drive it and enjoy it! And while you’re at it, find a local car club or meet going on and share the love! It’s a blast meeting like-minded car enthusiasts and seeing what they’ve done with cars like yours. I have made most of my friends in life by going to car meets, races, drift events, and other automotive events. 

We all share the same passion no matter what we drive. So, once this whole pandemic thing is over, get out there and show off your old car… that now feels new to you!

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