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When it comes to replacing your car, for most people, the choice is between one of two options. Option one is to buy a brand-new car; a sensible choice if you’re looking to ensure minimal repairs and to benefit from a manufacturer’s warranty, but that does mean you have to pay more initially and then shoulder the worst of the vehicle’s depreciation. Option two is the more affordable option, which tends to make it the most popular choice for those with one eye on their budget: buying a used car.
If you are considering purchasing a used car, then you can be reasonably sure that – financially, at least – you’re making the right decision. Provided you buy from a reputable dealer, and thoroughly test drive and inspect the vehicle before committing to the purchase, the lower purchasing price tends to win out. However, while the decision to buy used may suit your budget, it may not necessarily suit your tastes.
The downsides of used cars
If you always ensure you do all you can to buy a used car that is mechanically sound, then the downsides of buying a used vehicle are relatively few and far between. However, there is one issue that tends to rear its head: used cars are, well, used.
Even if a vehicle has only been on the road for a few years, signs of wear and tear tend to become obvious. Perhaps the leather seating has lost its luster, or there’s a few scratches and tears in the fabric upholstery. Externally, the damage can be even worse; dents, scratches, and nicks can make a car look far older than it is.
While these issues are superficial, they are far from ideal, and most buyers will want to breathe new life into any used vehicle they have purchased. Given that you have already enjoyed a substantial saving on the purchase price of the used car, investing extra funds in the vehicle adds up financially – especially as you can spread the cost of making superficial, but pleasing, changes throughout the time you own the vehicle.
How to breathe new life into a used car
There are several different techniques that can bring a used car back to life, with the following amongst the most popular…
Cleaning a car is a standard everyday chore, but if you have first bought an old car, a deep clean is absolutely essential. Start by with the roof and then work your way down the front of the vehicle; as a money-saving hack, you can try using toothpaste to clean the headlights to a bright, shiny finish. When the exterior is complete, move inside to thoroughly vacuum and wipe down the interior surfaces. For the latter task, it’s worth experimenting with cleaning products that are designed for use in the kitchen; as these products tend to be particularly effective at removing grease, they’re great for fingerprint marks – though do spot-test first if you decide to give this a try.
Scratch and scuff repair
Scratches and scuffs can instantly age a car, and can even make it more likely that parts of the vehicle’s bodywork will begin to rust – so you’ll need to get rid of these as soon as possible. Toothpaste can be used to remove scratches, but the results tend to be variable, and there’s always a chance that some of the surrounding paintwork will become discoloured – so it’s usually best to avoid if the scratches are in particularly visible places. Instead, opt for specific kits designed to remove scratches without harming the surrounding paintwork; you can buy these online or at any high street store with a car care range. However, do be cautious to ensure you only attempt this if the scratches and scuffs are relatively minor; for anything more substantial, let a professional handle it.
If your newly-purchased used car has a few years on the clock, then anything you do to the vehicle in terms of improving its aesthetic appearance will always be somewhat undermined by one problem; the plates will always give the real age of the vehicle away. As a result, it’s worth considering switching to private number plates that offer the dual benefits of obscuring your vehicle’s true age while also giving the car a more personalised touch.
The car fragrances of old had a tendency to be sickly-sweet and unpleasant but, thankfully, there is now a range of options that can add a pleasant scent to your vehicle without any such problems. Essential oil diffusers designed for cars can provide a subtle hint of fragrance – and certain oils are thought to have health benefits – but if you choose this method, then you are restricted to botanical scents only. If you want to try and achieve a “new car” fragrance, then air fresheners that clip onto the vents are likely to be the best choice.
Replace the tyres and hubcaps
Over the course of years of use, wheels and hubcaps can quickly degrade, which is problematic both in terms of aesthetics and safety – for example, if the tyres have become worn, then the car’s ability to grip the road will inevitably be compromised. It’s therefore worth checking the tread on each tyre; if the wheels fail the test, then replacements are recommended. If the tyres pass, but the hubcaps are broken and worn, then you can ask a professional to change the caps without changing the entire tyres; it is possible to DIY this if you wish, but given how important hubcaps are to the safety of your tyres, it’s usually best to leave this one to the professionals.
Ultimately, buying a used car tends to be the soundest choice in terms of finances, but making that choice does not mean you have to simply accept the obvious wear and tear that used vehicles tend to display. Instead, you can make a few changes as suits your budget, and ensure your car looks as good as it possibly can for many years to come.