In this economy, money is tight for just about everyone, so why throw away a car that’s running well just because it’s feeling worn down, looking beat up and has lost some of its athleticism? Vehicle owners are keeping their old set of wheels longer than in years past and cars built in the last 10 or 15 years can go 200,000 or 300,000 miles if given the right care.
The best thing about your old car is that you’ve already paid for it. Most of us grow tired of our used cars long before they’re used-up cars. Twin Lakes Auto Repair in Prescott gives you some simple ways to spice up your long-term automotive relationship without using up whatever is left on your home equity line of credit. What it takes first is the determination to re-commit.
Clean everything: We are not talking about just a quick, superficial job, but a hardcore scrubbing of everything you can reach. Shampoo the carpet and upholstery, excavate all the trash moldering in the trunk, remove the spare and get into every nook and cranny of the tire well, and remove the seat cushions and pick out all the petrified fast food. Clean all the grime from the engine bay and get under the car too. This is a pretty obvious first step. But the cleaning pays off because all that time spent tidying up the car is also time spent inspecting it. This is your chance to uncover hidden problems.
Fix behind the wheel: Start at the steering wheel and the dashboard. If the wheel is pitted or deteriorated, a simple $10 cover can make a big difference to how a car feels. A dashboard cover may be a good investment too. Also check dashboard illumination. There are drivers out there who can’t read their speedometers at night simply because the illumination knob has been dimmed for years through sheer inattention. If the knobs and switches are actually busted or worn-out, though, they can often be cheaply replaced with either new parts or recycled pieces found at a junkyard.
Electronics: Even if your car is only a couple of years old, it’s almost certainly got an outdated sound system. Trading an old radio head unit for one that integrates with an iPod, iPhone or satellite radio, and includes a Bluetooth connection for a cellphone, will shoot your car or truck into the present. Head units with iPod integration start at under $80.
Air Intake System: Aftermarket intake systems and air filters don’t work miracles, but they can open up an older engine’s inhalation system and kick up output a by few horsepower. Cold air intake systems are available for nearly every vehicle, and installation can usually be accomplished with little more than a screwdriver. Many are under $200.
Headlight Refinishing: Vehicles built during the last couple of decades usually have plastic composite headlamps that weather and dull over time. You can pick up a headlight restoration often for under $30, and they’re easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to turn a dull, yellowed headlight clear—which makes your old car look nicer and instantly improves illumination.
AC Maintenance: Like your home air conditioner, your car’s AC can suffer buildups of mold, mildew and bacteria. To clean out the system, first make sure the air coming into the system isn’t first passing through leaves, dust or other accumulated grime in the air passageways. Then change or clean any filters in the system. Finally, use an air-conditioning deodorizer to finish things off. If nothing else, your nose should be happier.
Rubber Things: Your car doors seal against rubber trim that is vulnerable to tears as it ages. These tears can lead to air gaps that howl in the wind while you drive. Replacing these rubber strips takes patience, time and a talent for adhesives, but the strips themselves are usually inexpensive, and installing fresh ones can make your car quieter instantly. While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace your rubber windshield wiper blades. It’s a cheap way to survive the rainy season.
Touch-up Paint: The use and abuse of touchup paint is a subject that could fill volumes. Generally speaking, it’s best to use it sparingly and carefully. You can easily remove plastic trim pieces on your car’s exterior and repaint them with a spray can. It particularly makes a big difference on black parts that have weathered to a dull gray.
Brakes and Shocks: Shocks, springs, dampers, struts, brake rotors and pads may seem like normal service items, but replacing them can make a huge difference in how a car drives. You don’t have to go to extremes to make your vehicle handle more precisely. New shock absorbers make a big difference on their own, but while they’re off the car, you might consider rebuilding the some other suspension and steering system items. Just stay within your budget and mechanical abilities. The same goes for brakes. Worn discs and pads seriously degrade performance, so replace them.
Wheels and Tires: Getting better performance from your tires can be as simple as making sure they’re properly inflated. But when tires need to be replaced, that presents an opportunity to both improve the performance and appearance of your car. Good tires enable your car to do everything better. It used to be that moving up to wider tires or larger diameter wheels was difficult, but today there are websites that can provide dozens of wheel and tire combinations tailored to your vehicle. New, bigger tires are the single most impressive way to change a car’s performance and appearance. Of course, a new set of wheels and tires won’t be inexpensive. But it’s still cheaper than getting a new car.
We hope that you have enjoyed these tips…
Remember if you ever need help, please contact Twin Lakes Auto Service in Prescott with any questions, we’d love to help!