The best thing about your old car is that you've already paid for it. Most of us grow tired of our used cars long before they're used-up cars. But money is tight for just about everyone, so why throw away a car that's running well just because it's feeling worn down, looking beat up and has lost some of its athleticism? Cars built in the last 10 or 15 years can go 200,000 or 300,000 miles if given the right care. And there are some simple ways to spice up your long-term automotive relationship without using up whatever is left on your home equity line of credit. What it takes first is the determination to re-commit.
Electronics - Even if your car is only a couple of years old, it's
almost certainly got an outdated sound system. Trading an old radio head
unit for one that integrates with an iPod, iPhone or satellite radio,
and includes a Bluetooth connection for a cellphone, will shoot your car
or truck into the present. You might also consider an Electronic GPS
Let it breathe - Aftermarket intake systems and air filters don't work
miracles, but they can open up an older engine's inhalation system and
kick up output by a few horsepower.
Paint - Generally speaking, it's best to use touchup paint sparingly
and carefully. However, you can easily remove plastic trim pieces on
your car's exterior and repaint them with a spray can. It particularly
makes a big difference on black parts that have weathered to a dull
Revitalize the A/C - Your car's AC can suffer buildups of mold, mildew
and bacteria. To clean out the system, first make sure the air coming
into the system isn't first passing through leaves, dust or other
accumulated grime in the air passageways. Then change or clean any
filters in the system. Finally, use an air-conditioning deodorizer to
finish things off.
Clear the lenses - Vehicles built during the last couple of decades
usually have plastic composite headlamps that weather and dull over
time. You can pick up a headlight restoration often for under $30, and
they're easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to turn a dull,
yellowed headlight clear—which makes your old car look nicer and
instantly improves illumination.