7 Affordable Ways to Improve The Appearance of Your Car

Even the most vigilant car owners can’t stop their vehicle from aging. If your car, truck, or SUV is showing signs of age but you’re not yet in the market for a new vehicle, rest assured that you have plenty of inexpensive options on improving your vehicle’s appearance.

Simple Ways to Improve the Appearance of Your Car

While many car owners find the idea to be daunting, it’s relatively simple to make your car look and feel like new again. You can achieve a renewed look by:

  • Upgrading components
  • Refreshing your vehicle
  • Cleaning it thoroughly, inside and out

Let’s start at the beginning, with a good, detailed cleaning.

Clean Your Car: It Will Look Years Younger

Whether you want to impress your friends or co-workers, when you want to improve your car’s appearance, it’s best to start with cleaning. This may seem like a no-brainer, but debris, wrappers and various junk can quickly build up on our floorboards, seats and trunk. The situation often gets out of hand before we know it.

Depending on the driving conditions, you should also clean the exterior of your vehicle very 2 – 3 weeks or so. Whether you wash your car in the driveway or at a local car wash, a thorough exterior wash will give you instant results.

We’ve already covered car cleaning in depth, and you can find the article here. Besides making your car look better, cleaning serves an additional function: It may reveal previously unnoticed issues, such as upholstery stains or rips in leather seats. Finally, removing all junk from your vehicle can reduce its weight and, in turn, improve your gas mileage.

Add New Life to Your Vehicle with a Floor Mat Change

During the cleaning process, you should remove the floor mats and vacuum underneath. The mats themselves should also get some attention since the presence of old, shabby floor mats can make your car appear years older than it actually is.

Floor mats, in fact, are typically the first interior feature of vehicles to wear out. Just think about how many times you’ve gotten behind the wheel with muddy or wet shoes – floor mats are constantly getting scuffed, kicked, scraped and dirtied up. If your mats have seen their fair share of driving time, it’s time for a replacement or upgrade.

If you have plans to sell your vehicle in the near future, you may want to invest in rubber mats. They aren’t the most attractive option, but rubber floor mats are super durable and much easier to clean than carpeted mats.

Change the Rubber Parts: Windshield Wipers and Trims

From bright sunshine to rain and snow, all weather conditions can accelerate the wear and tear on your vehicle’s rubber components. Rubber trim and windshield wipers can become brittle, causing them to lose their functionality.

You can prolong the life of your wiper blades by simply cleaning them with a soft cloth once per week, but it may be more difficult to maintain rubber trim elsewhere in your vehicle. You should inspect all rubber trim regularly, however, and check for brittle or broken spots. Damaged rubber trim gives the elements better access to your vehicle, sometimes leading to costly repairs.

Windshield wiper blades are simple to replace and will only set you back a few dollars, but they’ll make a big difference in your car’s appearance and overall safety. If you replace the blades but still find that the wipers are weak, you may want to invest in new wiper motor.

Your Car’s Lights Need Some Love Too

Headlights are another aspect of your vehicle that tend to be overlooked when you’re looking to improve the appearance of your car. Modern headlights are typically made of a thin and porous plastic that’s susceptible to clouding and yellowing, yet they are easy to clean.

A professional will be able to restore the luster of your headlights quickly, but you can also do the job yourself using a headlight restoration kit. Most kits are designed for use on all types of vehicle lights, from headlights to taillights and directional lights. DIY headlight restoration kits start at about $30 and involve three steps: Sanding, refining and polishing.

Upon restoring your vehicle’s headlights, you’ll notice an immediate difference in the appearance of your car, and you may also find that night driving is safer following a cleaning.

Make Sure That Your Car Is Breathing Properly

Signs of vehicle aging aren’t only present within the interior and body – part of improving the appearance of your car is making sure that it can breathe efficiently. You can improve fuel economy and even correct a misfiring engine simply by changing out your vehicle’s old air filter with a brand new one.

Professionals recommend an air filter change every 12 months or about 15,000 miles. If you frequently take your vehicle off-roading or drive in dusty areas, you may need to change the air filter more often.

When swapping out air filters, you should also check the filter in your car’s A/C unit. Mildew and mold can build up quickly in a damp air conditioner environment, necessitating a filter change or cleaning.

Spiffing Up the Brakes and Suspension

Squealing or clinking brakes are both embarrassing and unsafe, and you’ll likely be amazed by the difference when you replace your car’s brake pads and shoes or suspension system components.

While this change isn’t one that you can easily see, your vehicle will handle better and feel more like a new car after a brake or suspension replacement.

New Wheels and Tires are Always in Style

While new tires may be a significant investment, especially when compared to the rest of the maintenance and cleaning tasks in this list, they’re worth it. Brand new tires and shiny wheels can vastly improve the performance, handling, and appearance of your car.

With the wide range of tires available on today’s market, however, you may be unsure how to narrow down your choices. We can help. Check out our guide on everything you need to know about selecting and maintaining car tires.

Final Thoughts

When paired with regular maintenance, replacing a few small components and thoroughly cleaning your vehicle can make it look years younger. Switching out wiper blades and floor mats, as well as restoring lights and thoroughly cleaning the interior, are inexpensive options that may have a lasting effect on your car’s appearance.

If you really want to shave off years from your vehicle’s facade, spend a few extra dollars on new tires and brakes. This small investment will improve the performance of your vehicle and increase its re-sale value when the time comes to upgrade to a newer model.

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