8 Easy Ways To Update Your Car

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You may have an older car, but there are plenty of easy ways to update and refresh your interior and exterior, giving your vehicle a brand new look and feel. From air-fresheners to headlight cleaners, try these simple tricks to revitalize your car and increase its value and your experience while driving.

Fix Paint Scratches

Whether you plan to paint over the scratch yourself, or try many of the "scratch erasers" available in stores, be sure to work on any scratch repairs in a cool, shaded area, preferably indoors. Do work in a well-ventilated area, as chemicals in paint can build up while you work and become dangerous. Also, plan to leave your car un-driven overnight, giving the paint time to dry completely.

  • Check your car for the factory sticker, typically located on the side of a door. The sticker will list your car's factory paint code, allowing you to purchase the exact shade of paint used on your car.
  • Order a pint, pen or bottle of touch up paint from your car manufacturer's dealership, an auto parts store or an online vendor. For the most accurate match, purchase the exact color listed on the manufacturer's sticker, or have your car's paint matched by a specialist.
  • If the scratch appears small and white, this typically means it only broke the clear coat surface, rather than the entire coat of paint. Store bought scratch erasers can usually help with these shallow scratches, as they remove some of the clear coat, and with it, the scratch.
  • If the scratch appears deep and metallic colored, it has broken through the entire layer of paint, and will need to be repainted.
  • Always clean the area of the scratch before making any repair work, to ensure no dirt or debris will be covered by paint or scratch erasers.
  • Always follow the directions provided with scratch erasers.
Ready for Planting Finished Product


One way to keep your car looking and smelling new is to vacuum the interior as frequently as possible. While the vacuum will remove obvious dirt and debris, it can also remove dust and smaller particles that may be contributing to odors. Keep a small hand vacuum in the trunk, or store one in the garage for easy access. Keeping all the fabrics in your car free from unsightly and odor-causing dirt, dust and particles will easily keep your car looking and smelling newer.

Air Freshener

If you enjoy the "new car smell", tropical flowers, or any other of the hundreds of available car air-fresheners available, be sure to always keep one in your car. Many car air-fresheners now come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and scents, giving you more options than the traditional pine tree hanging from your rear view mirror. Some car air-fresheners are designed to attach to air vents, helping to spread the scent throughout your car, while others are even meant to be hidden under seats for a less obvious form of air treatment.

Clean Foggy Headlights

One of the most annoying and unsightly traits of an older car is a set of foggy headlights. After time, traditional plastic lenses on headlights begin to oxidize, creating the foggy, yellowed appearance many car owners experience. Fortunately, there are surface treatments available, allowing you to restore your headlights clarity without replacement. While the extent of the oxidation and the treatment used will affect the extent of the clarity restored, many options available at auto parts stores, online vendors and even homemade remedies have produced vastly improved results, and are often available for less than $30. Some options require you to sand the headlight and physically remove the oxidation, while others come in the form of a cream that is simply rubbed onto the headlight and buffed off. Visit an auto parts store to view options available in your area, and ask for more details about specific products.

Update Luxuries

Improving the items that make your drive more enjoyable is another easy way to upgrade your car, and potentially increase its value.

  • Sound System: Depending on the age of your car, the sound system provided by the manufacturer may be out of date. Try purchasing a new stereo, capable of auxiliary and blue tooth connection for an instant upgrade to your music listening experience. Depending on the stereo's features, they typically run from $80 to several hundred dollars, with about a $100 installation fee. If you frequently spend time in your car listening to music, this investment is often worth the money.
  • Air Conditioning: Over time, you may not have noticed a drop in your car's air conditioning system. However, filters do need to be changed, and can make a dramatic improvement in the airflow and quality. Dirt, dust, mold and other debris can easily build up on filters, creating less than desirable air quality.
  • Tires: While tires will always need to be replaced over time, selecting the right tires for your car and driving habits can make a big difference in the quality of your drive. Speak with a tire professional about the appropriate tires for you, and ensure a smooth and safe ride each time your drive. Not only will you increase the safety of your car, but the increased comfort and stability of its ride is sure to make time on the road easier to bear.
  • Seats: Your car's seats will naturally experience wear and tear over time, so using seat covers can be an easy way to protect the leather or fabric, and give your car's interior an upgraded look. Car seat covers come in materials including sheep's skin, leather, velour, neoprene and canvas. Each material is available in a variety of colors and patterns, for the front and back seats. Visit an auto parts store or online retailer for a full selection.
Last Updated: January 16, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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