Buying a cheap car is a necessity for some people. Unfortunately, many cheap cars carry their price tag on their proverbial shoulder. Whether it’s the rust along the wheel wells, the terrible paint job or the sagging bumper, anyone on the street can tell what you paid for your car — as little as possible. The good news is that your beater is essentially a blank slate. You can make all types of alterations to it that can be actually useful. These modifications will make people look beyond the fact that your car is one uphill climb away from the junkyard:
Though a new paint job is not technically a modification, it is one thing that can very quickly improve a car’s appearance. After all, this is the first thing that people notice. Hiring a professional is probably a good idea unless you happen to have the necessary equipment to do it yourself. A normal, professional paint job usually falls within the range of $250-$400.
If you do it yourself, however, the world is truly your oyster. The only problem with a DIY paintjob is that the initial costs of buying a paint gun, compressor, nozzle, feed and paint will exceed $1,000. This could be more than the car is worth. If you happen to have the equipment handy, however, you should go for it. No one will think you paid a few hundred bucks for a car if you roll around with a truly brilliant paint job.
Decals are cheap, easy to apply and will certainly make your car stand out. Depending upon the size of the decal, they can range anywhere from $50 to more than $300. However, they can give a boring car a lot of personality. Remember the Mirth-Mobile from Wayne's World? Adding a flame on the side turned this 1976 Pacer into one of the most iconic cars in the history of pop culture. No flame, no mirth — just a sad car that looks like it was modeled after a robin's egg.
Getting new tires will improve your car’s fuel economy, handling in bad weather and appearance. There are loads of all-season tires that accomplish all three, including tires from Michelin, Goodyear and Nitto, which cost anywhere from $100 to $250 each, though there is always the question of what to do with the old tires. A truly inventive idea is to turn one or all of them into ottomans. All you need is some rope and super glue, notes ApartmentTherapy.com. You can either keep them in your apartment, or keep a few of them in the trunk should you need them for tailgating.
New seats will certainly make riding around in your car a lot more comfortable. Furthermore, they can be relatively inexpensive and are easy to install. They will certainly look a lot better than your old seats, which probably don’t recline, have broken springs and appear to be constructed almost entirely out of duct tape. Though cost differs for each model of car, the most you’ll pay for a pair of front seats is $250, unless you decide to go with raising seats, states AutoSpeed.com.
The mufflers and tailpipes of older cars have a bad habit of rusting out. Aesthetics are only half of the problem, though. If your muffler is in need of serious repair, everyone will know that you are driving a certified beater. A new one will both cut down on noise pollution and serve as a facelift (butt-lift?) for the back of your car. They are very affordable, as many cost less than $100. Just don't go overboard. A new muffler is nice, but a coffee can exhaust is like a gateway modification. You'll be a spoiler away from being that d-bag with the crappy car as opposed to just that guy with the crappy car.
While these modifications will certainly make your car stand out, make sure you don’t draw the wrong type of attention to yourself. Instead of hiding just how much of a beater your car happens to be, you may end up broadcasting this unfortunate fact if you take your modifications too seriously.
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