An easy guide to making an old car look new

With a little bit of hard work, and some money-saving tips, you could get your old motor looking as good as new. There’s no need to fork out for a shiny new model, in fact, there might be many reasons why you don’t want to make a new investment. Whether you don’t want to spend the money, or you simply love your old car too much to let it go, here are some helpful tips to get it sparkling.

Update some old  parts

First things first, evaluate the condition of your car. Some parts could use replacing, and it will help the overall appearance of your vehicle. These don’t need to be expensive replacements!

  • Seat covers — seat covers are a great way to spruce up your car interior without splashing out on expensive re-upholstering. Plus, you can add a little character with many different designs and patterns to choose from.
  • Use a private registration plate — there are a great variety of private registrations for sale. This is a great way to make an older model of car look newer!
  • New speakers — if you’re a music lover, upgrading the car speakers will improve your experience without breaking the bank.
  • New wheels — if your wheels are looking worse for wear even after cleaning, it might be time to replace them.
  • A fresh coat of paint — if your budget allows, a new paint job can work wonders for an old car.

Get cleaning!

You know that fresh clean feeling of a brand-new car? What if I told you it could be recreated in your old car if you know how to clean it thoroughly? Follow this guide and you’ll have your old car looking as good as new.

Exterior cleaning guide

The outside of your car is the first part anyone is going to see, so get it sparkling. You can head to the car wash if you like, but if you have the time to spare, giving it a clean yourself usually produces better results. This is because you can spend more time on the areas that really need some attention.
Use the three-bucket system for the best results when cleaning your car:

  • Clean, soapy water bucket. This bucket is just for soapy water. No dipping your dirty cloth in here!
  • Water bucket. Use this bucket to rinse off your dirty cloth before dipping it back into the soapy water bucket.
  • Wheels and tyres bucket. As the wheels are particularly dirty, have one bucket of soapy water just for this.

Give your car a wash down first. Use a hose or a microfibre cloth wet with just water and rinse down your car. The idea behind this is that you want to wash away any large amounts of dirt before you get the soapy water involved.
Next, remove any pesky bugs that have stuck to the outside of your car and dried in the sun. Soap will have a hard time peeling these critters off your car, but there’s an easy trick to remove them. Get a few tumble dryer sheets and a bucket of warm water. Wet the dryer sheet in the warm water, then wipe down the bugs. They will come away much easier this way.
After this, soapy water is key. Remember to rinse your cloth in the water bucket as you go along. For tougher spots, try using a clay bar instead.
Normal, white-paste toothpaste (not the gel kind) can be used to effectively clean your headlights. With a soft cloth, apply the toothpaste to your headlights. Then, rinse away the toothpaste with water.
Now that your car is clean, you’ll want to give it that like-new shine. With the car clean, polish it down with a hand-polish or dual-action polisher. Then, apply a final coat of wax to protect the paintwork and that hard-earned shine. Use a power buffer to apply the wax, but then remove it with a soft cloth to ensure an even finish.
When you move on to the tyres, remember that simple water will be enough. It’s time to tackle the wheels. Make sure to use your designated wheels bucket, as brake fluid smeared across your windows next time is not preferable. Don’t use product on the tires though; simple water will be enough

Interior cleaning guide

Cleaning the interior of your car is a whole different ball game. First off, you need to remove all the rubbish from the inside. Take care of bottles, McDonalds wrappers, papers, whatever you’ve shoved in the glove box and forgotten about, the air freshener that lost its scent several years ago. Check the chair pockets, and the door storage, and the boot.

Headlining and sun visors

Headliners and sun visors are sometimes missed out of the cleaning process all together, but you’d be surprised at the difference that cleaning them makes. The fabric covering the interior ceiling can become discoloured and cling on to odours, so it is worth taking the time to give it a good clean.
Use upholstery cleaner to give these features a thorough clean. Foam-type upholstery cleaners are recommended for this. Follow the instruction on the product, then use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush the headliner. Then, let it dry for a few hours.
A steam cleaner is another option is you want to go for a full deep clean. However, this can damage the glue holding the layers of your headliner together.

Seat belts and seats

Before they are cleaned, seatbelts must be pulled out as far as they will go. Then, attach a clip at the top to stop them pulling back. Using the same upholstery cleaner as you used for the headliner, clean down the belt with a cloth. Leave the belt clipped to dry for a few hours before letting them roll back in.
If you have cloth car seats, grab a vacuum cleaner or a window squeegee. Run the squeegee or damp glove over the seats to pull up deep-set fluff, dust, and pet hair. Then, go at it with the upholstery cleaner too.

Grab handles and pillars

Grab handles and pillars need to be wiped down with a clean microfibre cloth. Depending on the material, you can use the same upholstery cleaner as you used for the headliner and sun visor, or an antibacterial spray.

Door panels

Use a vacuum cleaner to reach all the crevasses that collect dirt in your door panels. Then, using a leather cleaner where needed and a vinyl cleaner for the rest, wipe down the whole interior door panel. Be sure to check on a small area that the cleaner you are using is safe to use on your door’s interior material.

Windows and mirrors

If window squeegee you used it for the seats, give it a thorough rinse. Then, spray some window or glass cleaner onto your car windows and mirrors and wipe away with a squeegee or cloth. Wind your windows down a little to get the grime away from the top of the window and achieve a streak-free finish.

Air vents and drinks holders

Next, change up any removable air vent filters. Give them a clean down, as well as any drinks holders or trays your car may have.

Boot, carpets, and floor mats

The carpets in your boot will no-doubt need a thorough vacuuming. If the floor mats look worse for wear, throw them out and get them replaced — a rubber floor mat is a good way to ensure no mould develops from wet shoes going in and out of your car.
It’s a good idea to use a nylon brush on your carpet before using the vacuum cleaner. This will bring up any deep-set dirt buried in your car’s carpets.

Dashboard and steering wheel

There is a simple solution to dirt on your dashboards and steering wheel: soapy water. Be sure to go lightly with the water though, as you don’t want to risk water running down into the electrics. To get rid of grime and grease, a glass cleaner will do the trick. Also, wash your dashboard in the shade to avoid the sun from drying the product too quickly.
It is not often considered, but your steering wheel is actually one of the dirtiest parts of a car interior! So give it your full attention.


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