With the global chip shortage likely to keep new car prices sky-high until 2023, it isn’t ideal to buy a new vehicle right now. Your used car, provided it's working well enough, should be enough to get you around comfortably—at least in the short term. So what can you do to make your used car feel new again?

Here are 9 easy ways to make your used car look new again: 

  1. Clean and wax the exterior
  2. Repair visible scratches and dents
  3. Restore headlamp and tail-lamp lenses
  4. Care for your tires
  5. Take care of the interior
  6. Stay on top of routine and seasonal maintenance
  7. Take care of repairs as soon as possible
  8. Change engine oils
  9. Check suspension

1. Clean and wax the exterior

One of the best (and least expensive) ways to maintain your used car and make it feel new again is by cleaning and waxing the exterior. 

Of course, washing your car's exterior frequently should be a priority if you want to remove debris that can scratch or even ruin your car's exterior altogether. Giving your car a good waxing job can seal your vehicle’s exterior, subsequently protecting it from the elements like UV rays, salt, bird droppings. Even better, waxing leaves your car looking shiny and good as new, a perfect remedy to bring your oldie back to life. 

When washing your vehicle, remember to clean the car from top to bottom using a soft sponge or washing mitt that's gentle on your car's paint.

When waxing, it's advisable to use high-quality wax that gives your car a solid shine without hurting its paint.

2. Repair visible scratches and dents

Patching up dents and buffing out scratches is a surefire way to breathe new life into your used car. The trick when dealing with dents and scratches is to sort them as soon as possible before they worsen and ruin your car's exterior.

While you can repair minor scratches using a car scratch remover, it's best to consult with an expert for deeper scratches and dents.

3. Restore headlight and taillight lenses

It's perfectly normal for headlight and tail light bulbs and lenses to wear over time. It’s advisable to replace lightbulbs as soon as you notice your lights are dim or flickering, and restore or repair car light lenses when necessary.

Checking all of your car’s lights is part of the routine car maintenance you should do on your vehicle. The good news is that headlights and tail lights don't cost a fortune to fix, and they can do a great job in reviving your car's exterior, making it look showroom-new in the process. 

Pro tip: You can clean headlight lenses with toothpaste and a sponge to leave them looking less faded.

Read more: Car Maintenance Checklist: Routine car maintenance every driver should do 

4. Care for your tires

A good tire polish can make your car tires gleam as though they're new.  Apply a high-quality tire polish at least twice a month to keep your tires in tip-top shape. Ideally, you should use dirt, grime, and fade-resistant tire polish for the best results.

5. Take care of the interior

You can revive your car's interior in three main steps.

Clean your car seats (or invest in new car seat covers)

Deep cleaning and changing your car seat covers every once in a while will also go a long way in transforming your car's interior, making it look as good as new without spending too much. If it makes sense, you can also invest in new car seat covers to give your baby that fresh, spruced-up look.

Deodorize the Interior 

Your interior will look and smell old if it isn’t cleaned on the regular. Grime, dirt, and mould will gradually lodge themselves into nooks and crannies over time. As a result, most car repair experts recommend deep cleaning (or detailing) used cars at least three times a year.

Update your entertainment system and dashboard

Drivers spend a lot of time looking at the car’s dashboard. Although time-consuming, it’s possible to restore your car’s dashboard if the plastic has faded. Investing in a new car entertainment system packed with tech-rich features such as reverse cameras, Bluetooth, GPS navigation, and touch screen systems, can also make your used car feel like it just drove off the lot.

6. Stay on top of routine and seasonal maintenance

As a rule, your car should be regularly maintained if you want it to last. Year-round routine car maintenance includes aligning or replacing your wheels when they start to wear out, ensuring that your vehicle’s engine and parts are serviced regularly as advised by your mechanic or service provider, and more. And in the colder months, you’ll also want to invest time and money in winter car maintenance to improve your vehicle’s safety and driveable lifetime.

Read more:

7. Take care of repairs as soon as possible

If you suspect that your car needs repairs, it’s always a good idea to have a mechanic address them as soon as possible. When small repairs are left too long, they may cause additional damage and turn into bigger, more expensive problems.

Consider an extended used car warranty like GuardTree, to help you budget for expensive repairs and breakdowns that will come up while owning your used car

New to the idea of an extended warranty? Learn the pros and cons in our guides:

8. Change engine oils

Keeping your engine well lubricated can help to maintain performance and reduce engine wear. Changing your engine oil will not only boost your car's overall performance but will also ensure that all parts function as expected, allowing you to keep up with the newer models on the highway. Periodic oil changes can also help to eliminate dirt and debris, which negatively affect your engine's performance.

Generally, you should check motor oil every 15,000kms or 12 months (whichever comes sooner) and change if necessary. Some of the signs that your engine oil needs to be changed include excess engine noise, more mileage than usual, low oil level, unusual oil texture, and excess exhaust.

9. Check the suspension

It's normal for car suspension to sag over time as tensile strength wears out. A good suspension system will make a big difference to your car's handling, allowing you to stay safer on the roads and enjoy a superior performance that's mostly associated with new cars. Serious suspension issues can result in challenging driving conditions and possibly a total loss of control.

To be on the safe side, you should have your suspension checked regularly and have suspensions replaced as bushes and shock absorbers tend to wear out over time. Consider changing your struts if they're worn as well.

Some signs that your suspension system may be having issues include difficulty steering, bumpier-than-normal drives and bouncing after going over a bump, dipping when braking, drifting or pulling to one side when turning corners, or one side of your car sitting lower when parked.

Read more: Common mechanical failures that can cause car accidents 

Protect yourself from unexpected repairs and breakdowns.

Older used cars are more likely to break down and require repairs. While most extended car warranties will not cover the cost of routine maintenance, a good extended car warranty will protect you from surprise breakdown and repair costs.

A GuardTree used car warranty subscription covers electrical, mechanical, and software related parts, including all powertrain parts. And additional benefits like roadside assistance, car rental, and trip interruption costs help keep you on the road.

If you want to protect yourself from the inconvenience and expense of a surprise breakdown, check out what we cover and use our price calculator to decide if an extended car warranty is right for you.



Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute mechanical or other professional advice as it relates to your vehicle. Each person must consult a qualified professional with respect to matters referenced in this post. GuardTree Inc. assumes no liability whatsoever for actions taken (or not taken) in reliance upon the information contained herein.