Car Cosmetics

I have a car that I just love. My family and friends, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that they don’t share my love of the vehicle. I can understand why, because my car--which runs great, by the way!--does not present itself in the most, uh, “professional manner.” It looks terrible, in fact.

I paid for this car with my own money. I got a car that runs well--the engine is super reliable. However, I had to save money somewhere, and I guess I saved it by going with a less-than-beautiful ride. The fabric on the seats inside is torn, and foam is spilling out. The floor mats are ratty, and some are missing. The ceiling fabric is sagging. Outside, the paint is an awful color, and there’s some kind of bubbly texture on it--I don’t really know what that is, but it’s, like, the same color as the paint. It blends in!

So, all in all, it’s not great. However, I don’t have a huge budget here. Experts, what would you recommend to make a high-impact improvement in my car’s appearance, without spending a mint?

The most important things about cars are their basic functions. They should get you from point A to point B, and be as safe as possible. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t all want to look a little better on the road. A rough-looking car can impact you in all sorts of ways. It could disrupt your social life, embarrass you as a professional, or even bring you unwanted attention from the police! You’re a student with a promising future, so you should have a car that mirrors that reality. However, how can you bring your ride up to snuff without overspending?

Let’s start on the outside. Your “bubbly texture” sounds like paint overspray. That’s a common problem, and not too tough to fix, so consider getting a quote from overspray removal experts. As for the rough color choice, that could be a costlier fix: repainting your whole car may or may not be within your budget. Overspray removal should be enough to make your car look well-kept and presentable, and you may find that that’s enough to make the unpopular color palatable. Cheaper options include vinyl wraps.

On the inside, however, you may have more serious work to do. For starters, you can get rid of your floor mats and buy new ones--car floor mats can be quite affordable. You can even opt for custom-made ones if you want to get a little fancier. The costlier part of your equation is reupholstering the interior, which it sounds like you must consider. You’ll want to do something about that sagging ceiling fabric! However, you get to save some money by grabbing some removable seat covers and putting them on yourself, rather than reupholstering the seats. What you choose to do is up to you and your personal budget. If you’re adventurous and handy, you could even opt for some DIY projects to cover these needs.

With the basics covered, you could look for cost-effective, high-impact upgrades: a new radio, for instance, or simply new dials on the dashboard controls.

Once you’ve made the changes you feel you must, prevent future expenses by taking diligent care of your vehicle! Problems with cars tend to get more serious, and more expensive to fix, as time goes by, so you’ll want to be proactive about your ride. Wash your car on a regular basis, and fix dents and scratches before they rust. Rust is to cars, so this is a very important thing! You must even consider car detailing, a form of deep cleaning that can help your car better maintain (or even increase) its value. While you may not think your ride is worthy of a serious detailing job, the fact is that almost any vehicle can benefit from regular washing and waxing. Of course, you’ll want to pair this with careful maintenance for your car’s engines and more essential functions. With any luck, you’ll find that you can keep your beloved car looking good and driving well for years to come--and, with some luck, you may even win over a few of your friends and family!

“It’s the perfect car, the dream… A combination of beauty and technology.” - David Cronenberg

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