By Greg Levantine
Table of Contents
Repairing a Dented Automobile Yourself
Repairing Rust Yourself
Improving Tire Appearance
Replacing Wheel Covers Cleaning Wheels
Cleaning the Medal Parts
Improving the Paint Job Without Painting
Cleaning the Interior
Clean the Engine
Ok, lets cut the crap. You want to sell that dirty piece of crap you call a car, but you don't think anyone will by it. Well, what do you think will happen after you trade it in? Guys like me will make all kinds of money off of you giving up. I can sell anything! I am about to reveal to you a few "not all" of my tricks.
The trick is to get the car looking "good as new", starting with the outside. For openers, the cars should get a good bath, using a lot of soap and water. It's a good idea whenever you wash your car to force lots of water down the vents in front of the windshield to wash the salt out of that passage. The water usually runs out of the rocker-panels - the section under the door frame - where accumulated salts often causes rust. After the car is cleaned, inspect the body carefully, noting all dents, rust spots and scratches.
If you have a dent that looks like an inverted watermelon, "Car Owning Made Easier" suggests the following remedy:
Deflate a football and push it, with an air hose attached, behind the dent. Inflate the football slowly and watch the dent pop out. Most of the time, it's a near perfect repair. If the dent is not in a place where this method works, gently tapping with a rubber headed mallet will often put out a dent.
The next step is to take care of the rust. Be sure to look around the trim of the car, and around then rocker-panels under the door frame. If you find any rust, you should fix it immediately even if you don't plan to sell the car.
If the rust has made a hole in the metal, you will need a patch kit (you can get one for a few dollars) which contains its own instructions for making the repair.
(Prices in this article are average ones for products at automotive stores. All are readily available.)
After any holes have been repaired, the body putty should be sanded so it is smooth and blends with the rest of the body. All rust spots should be sanded with extra fine sand paper (30 cents) until the rust is gone and the metal is shiny.
Then take touchup paint ($1.89) and lightly paint the areas you have sanded. Be sure to mask off the surrounding areas if you use a spray. Whether you use a spray or small brush, be sure to apply a very thin layer.
While the paint is drying, take care of the rest of the exterior.
The appearance of old tires can be improved when painted with tire black ($1.89), a special paint that doesn't dry out the rubber. There's paint for the whitewall section of the tire too, cost - $1.95.
Another important part of the exterior appearance is the wheel covers. If any are missing or badly damaged, you can get replacements from the local junkyard for between $2 to $5 (fancy ones can cost as much as $10.00).
Metal wheels should be cleaned with a magnesium or aluminum cleaner ($2.67) and a stiff brush.
All metal parts of the car not covered by paint should be cleaned. Metal or chrome cleaner (69 cents) should be used to polish mirrors, side moldings, wheel covers, bumpers, antennas, and all other exterior metal.
If there is a lot of rust on the bumpers that won't come off with metal cleaner, steel wool will usually take it off, but it may pit the bumpers. Finally, all glass and plastic on the outside should be cleaned with a glass polish. All lights should be checked and broken lenses and burned out bulbs replaced.
If the car is more than year old, it should get a thorough cleaning with rubbing compound or similar substance (99 cents). These special cleaners have a very mild abrasive which removes a minute top layer of paint and restores the original shine.
After rubbing the alcohol compound, the car should get a good waxing ($1.25). If the car is less than a year old a good car cleaner wax which combines the cleaning and waxing steps may be used.
If the car has a vinyl top, it should be cleaned with a vinyl cleaner ($1.35).
The interior of the car should be good and clean too. The first step is to clean all the instruments, the dashboard, and the other non-fabric parts inside the car. Because the covers over some of the instruments are plastic, strong solvents should be avoided as they could make the plastic cloudy. An ideal cleaner for the inside, "Car Owning Made Easier" says, is one part of vinegar to 20 parts water.
Use a pipe cleaner on the hard-to-get-at places like push buttons on the radio or the heating controls.
Fabric upholstery should get a good shampoo ($1.59) and tears should be sewn by using regular sewing supplies. Vinyl should be brightened with vinyl cleaner and leather should be get a saddle soaping. If either the vinyl or leather has nicks in it, shoe polish can often be used to cover them up.
The car, including the trunk, should get a thorough vacuuming and carpets should be cleaned if they are spotted and dirty.
If you have owned the car for more than two years, the foot pedals may be worn. New brake and clutch rubber pads cost approximately $3 each, while the accelerator pedal costs about $8, but they can increase the value of the car by adding "cream puff" look to the inside.
Lastly, the engine should look good. Cleaning the engine can be a simple matter with a special cleaner ($1.59) which removes the grease, oil and other dirt that makes your engine look bad!
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