Tuner Upper: 4 Ways To Make A Bargain Used Car Shine

New cars depreciate in value by several thousand dollars the moment you sign the contract and drive it off the lot, which is why many people now end up with an upside-down auto loan where they owe more than the car is worth. This is partly why so many financial experts recommend buying used. As long as the vehicle is free from any major mechanical issues, a used car is often the far smarter financial decision—especially if you can manage to get a good bargain.


Still, there are bound to be some people who simply prefer that new car smell and appearance, and few, if any, used cars will ever be able to fully compete in this department. Nonetheless, by taking a few basic steps, you can quickly spruce up that bargain used car to make sure it shines like (almost) new.


Upgrade the Interior

Over time, UV rays can wreak havoc on a vehicle’s interior. This obviously isn’t much of a problem if the car was usually parked inside a garage. However, if the car was always left sitting in the sun, there’s a high chance the upholstery, dashboard and the rest of the interior won’t be in the best shape. The dashboard pad or leather seats might be cracked and peeling; the upholstery and carpeting might be faded, bleached or otherwise discolored; or the steering wheel might be pitted and falling apart.


While you could always have the seats reupholstered or the dashboard and steering wheel replaced, these repairs generally require a bigger investment than most people are willing to make in a lower-priced used model. However, you can achieve the same effect simply by purchasing covers for the seats, dashboard or steering wheel. Buying a new set of floor mats also helps give the interior a fresh, updated look. Basically, the goal is to do whatever you can to cover up the faded or damaged interior.


Give the Exterior a Makeover

The exterior is obviously the most important factor in determining how new or old a car looks. In this case, dents, dings and cracked or chipped paint are a dead giveaway. As with the interior, the exterior paint job might also be faded or discolored due to continual sun exposure. In addition, many older cars have previously been in minor accidents and never had the damage repaired. Any or all of these factors will obviously make a car look much older and in worse shape than it might actually be. Luckily, a collision center like Cascade Collision Repair in your area should be able to help you fix most any cosmetic issues without setting you back a huge chunk of change.


Make Sure You’re Sitting Comfortably

Depending on the age and history of the car, simply using seat covers to hide the old upholstery won’t be enough. The reason is that the foam in car seats begins to degrade and break down over time. Furthermore, the former driver may have constantly leaned to one side and unevenly compressed the foam. Both things can make the seat quite uncomfortable and bring with them the potential to cause or worsen back pain. For this reason, many experts recommend replacing at least the two front bucket seats whenever the foam starts to be in poor condition. Depending on the make and model, you should be able to find a set of decent quality seats from a junkyard for less than $200.


Go High Tech

Even if the car is only 10 years old, the original factory electronics won’t even begin to compare to the high-tech entertainment and communications systems found on today’s new vehicles. Luckily, it is fairly easy to upgrade the old factory radio system for a new unit that includes any or all of the modern conveniences—Bluetooth, iPhone integration, satellite radio, USB ports, etc. Similarly, you can upgrade the car’s navigation capabilities with an electronic GPS system. Including installation, either of these upgrades can usually be done for under $200 and both will make a huge difference in bringing your car up to date.


Just because you buy a used car doesn’t mean it has to look like you drive one. There is truly no reason you need to be embarrassed about the way your older car looks as there is a wide range of easy ways to upgrade its appearance. In this way, you can gain many of the benefits of a new car without having to pay the new car price.

Brooke Chaplan

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Leave a Reply