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Here's how to freshen up your car without splurging on a brand new one

Here's how to freshen up your car without splurging on a brand new one
PHOTO: sgCarMart

New year, new me, and hopefully a new car to drive? With the current COE prices, the latter is either impossible or makes zero financial sense. But still, who wouldn't want to start the year puttering around in a fancy new ride?

Well, if you are willing to spend some money, I have some tips to share with you. While getting a brand new car is out of the question, we can still freshen up our existing rides.

By focusing on a few key areas, you would be able to give your car a new lease of life without burning too big of a hole in your pockets.

Detailing the exterior of your car

One of the best things about a brand new car is how the paint glistens under the strong showroom lighting. A flawless paint job on a car is like a head full of jet black hair — a clear indication of youth. And that is why, to freshen a car, we'll have to start with the paint.

The order of the day is to get rid of flaws, marks and scratches on the existing paint.

You can either do it yourself with off-the-shelves products such as rubbing and polishing compound, followed by a layer of wax for a deep luster and protection, or fork out to let a professional detailing shop work on it.

You can also consider getting the exterior resprayed if the existing paint is in too poor a condition to be polished. You can keep the costs down by opting for the same colour.

Estimated cost: $50 (DIY detailing) - $800 onwards (exterior respray)

Get those yellowed head lights sorted

The condition of your car's head lights and taillights can make or break the entire look of the car. Even if the car has a fresh new coat of paint, a yellowed, dull and fogged-up head light will surely make your car look like a relic.

Like with the paint job, you have the option of using DIY headlight restoration kits. These include compounds for you to polish the lenses of the lights, as well as some sort of protective coating.

But in severe cases where the inside of the lens are also deteriorated, you will do well to leave the job to a professional.

Of course, in the worst case scenario, you can consider replacing the lights, that is if they aren't too costly.

Expected cost: Less than $100 (DIY headlight restoration kit) - $500 onwards (a pair of third-party replacement head lights)

*Certain car head lights can cost more than a thousand dollars a piece

New shoes for the ride

No matter how smart you dress, you won't look good with a pair of torn and tattered shoes. This applies to your car as well. In fact, I always believe that any car can look much better with a nice set of wheels.

There's a few ways to go about this. If you have ever kerbed your current wheels while driving, you could get them repaired, or even resprayed (maybe to a different colour to change up the looks of your car).

Of course, you could also splurge and go for a new set of rims that can really make a ton of difference to how your car looks.

While you are at it, you could also consider getting some new tyres if your current ones are worn. Remember, tyres are vital to your safety on the roads.

Expected cost: $50 (Kerb rash repair for a single rim) - $600 onwards (a set of new rims and tyres depending on size and choice)

Get some fresh new number plates

Yes, I'm referring to the physical number plates. While it isn't something that you'll usually consider when sprucing up your car, number plates actually have quite an effect on the exterior of your car as a whole.

Faded, illegible number plates can get you slapped with a fine from the LTA, but more importantly, they will make your car look old and unkempt as well. 

Making a new set of number plates will cost you less than $100, a small sum to ensure compliance with regulations, while completing the fresh new look for your car!

Expected cost: Less than $100 (a pair of LTA-approved number plates)

Now that the exterior looks all brand-new, it's time to head in

With all that work done, a bystander will now be convinced of your fresh, almost-new car.

However, it will take a little more to convince friends and family who will get to take a ride in your car. The next step, naturally, is to tidy up the interior, making it clean and comfy.

If you have the time to spare, you could just vacuum the interior, wipe down and clean all surfaces, air out the car in the hot sun, and complete it with a new air freshener — while it might take you half a day of work, you surely will enjoy the clean environment you'll be driving around in.

If you are lazy, or your car have a fabric interior, you can leave this job up to a professional detailer as well — they will be able to get the fabric thoroughly cleaned out with a water-extraction process that works much better than us merely wiping the seat down with wet wipes.

Now, if your car's interior is in worse state than the sofa that your neighbour just tossed out, you can consider getting the seats and other bits and pieces of the interior re-upholstered, but mind you, this is a rather costly affair.

Expected cost: $100 (professional interior cleaning) - $1000 onwards (full interior reupholstery)

With the car looking perfect inside and out, what's left is the drive

Okay, now that the entire car is looking fresh and new, it is only fair to put some attention on how it drives.

You should get the car checked out at your usual workshop and replace wear and tear items such as beltings and brake pads if you haven't done so recently.

While you are at it, you could also get the engine oil and various fluids such as the transmission fluid changed to ensure a smooth and trouble-free drive to kick off the new year!

Expected cost: $80 onwards (simple engine oil change)

This article was first published in sgCarMart.

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