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A better-looking ride

A vintage car cruising down Grand Avenue in Escondido during the weekly Cruisin Grand on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. (Yvette Monteleone/The Telescope)

I have an old car that is beat-up. I love it, but it is a bit less popular with my parents and, uh, everyone else. I’ve got a job lined up for after graduation, and the expectation among the anti-Clyde crowd (that’s my car’s name: Clyde) is that I’ll get rid of my old ride and “upgrade.” However, I don’t want to.

I do understand, though, that ol’ Clyde has seen better days. So, I’m looking to upgrade him. What are some cost-effective ways to make an old car a little less embarrassing? I want to be able to park in the office parking lot or show up on dates without looking silly.

There’s nothing wrong with driving an older car, if it’s properly taken care of! With that said, you’ll have to take a critical look at “Clyde” if you’re going to make a sensible financial decision that fits with your future as well as “his.”

Rely on a trusted mechanic to give it to you straight. How likely is it that your car will remain on the road for a few years without major repairs? What about five years, or ten? Are there potential issues that might soon total your car? How in-demand is your car? Is it a clunker, or a classic? Older cars can cost more to maintain. However, the value and condition of your car will determine how easily it might become totaled by a problem, and how worthwhile improvements to it may be.

Of course, you have the right to spend your money however you’d like to. However, you may regret pouring money into a vehicle that could end up in the scrapyard in a year. On the other hand, if you have a car that collectors or enthusiasts want to buy, keeping it maintained. Improving its look could also prove a promising investment.

Assuming “Clyde” is feeling good under the hood, and it makes sense to invest in improvements, there’s a great deal you can do to spruce up your vehicle’s aesthetics.

One of the most obvious things to look at is the exterior of your car. Is it covered in dents and scratches? Is it speckled in raised dots of excess paint (called “overspray”)? Is it simply an ugly or faded color? Then maybe it’s time you swung by the body shop and enquired about dent and scratch repair, overspray removal, or even an entirely new paint job.

You don’t need to go that far, of course. Regular washing will do a lot for your car; regular washing and waxing, even more so (this can also help you preserve the value of your car).

Let’s talk interiors. Start with a deep clean! If you do this yourself, make sure you use products specially designed to handle the surfaces in your car’s interior. Or, you can turn to experts in interior detailing. “Detailing,” of course, is a deep clean and makeover for your car. You can also do it both inside and out.

It’s also possible to replace upholstery and other elements of your interior. Just be aware of what you’re spending and whether it’s worth it for the car you own. Remember that you can make small improvements, even if reupholstery doesn’t make economic sense. It’s easy to swap out mats, for instance, replace missing knobs, and upgrade in-car radio tuners.

How much you choose to do to improve your ride is up to you but remember to take your finances into account! Make high-impact changes and focus on the resale value (or lack thereof) of your car, even if you don’t plan to sell it right now. You have every right to keep the vehicle you love, but make sure that you’re setting yourself up for financial success as you drive on to the next stage in your life!

“A car can either be a love or horror story. You just have to wrap your hand around the right one.” –

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A better-looking ride