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Unfortunately not all of us can afford to buy hot looking cars right out of the box, or all of the massive custom upgrades that will make our rides turn the heads of every one we drive past, however that doesn’t mean you need to drive around in a POS.   With a little pride, elbow grease, and a few dollars in savings here and there, today we’re sharing with you the top 16 easiest and affordable ways to make your car look much cooler. 

1. Get your car professionally washed and detailed both inside and out.  

This may seem really obvious, but we’re still going to say it.  Nothing makes your car look cheaper than a two dollar hooker if it’s filthy on the inside and out.  Grime, dirt, crumbs, upholstery stains, dust all detract from your car’s curb appeal and value.  That collection of fast food bags or water bottles isn’t impressing anyone either.  The first step to making your car look amazing is to make sure it’s impeccably clean.   The ugliest cars can look great after a good wash, and the nicest cars can look terrible if they are covered under a layer of  filth.  And not just a run through your local car wash and vacuum place…  we’re talking a full scale detail from top to bottom.  

2. Clean your engine.

Market your books

Most people will keep their car’s exterior and interior in show ready condition but many times they forget about maintaining the cleanliness of what’s under the hood.  Now don’t run and take a hose and bucket of soap to your car’s engine (there are specific ways to clean it – and if you do it wrong, you’ll destroy it) – but definitely look into how to clean and maintain it properly.  A clean engine – free of leaves, grime, oil and corrosion will take year’s off your car’s age and make it look spectacular.   The mark of a true car guy can be found in how clean he keeps things under the hood.

3. Fix the dents.  

Nothing detracts more from your car’s appearance more than a dent.  It’s the herpes virus of the car world.  Not only does it stick out like a sore thumb and draw negative attention to your car, it also makes people want to avoid driving their car near you or parking next to you for fear that you’ll spread your dents to their car.  And even if someone else hit you, unfortunately, it’s always pretty much assumed that the dent is your fault. You can’t cover it with some paint, it will just make it look worse.  While their’s no guarantee your poor driving won’t cause the reassurance of a dent, at least they are 100% fixable.  Shop around at your local auto body places and price out repairs.  Some repairs can be made easy by getting a replacement part at a junk yard or even a dent puller at an auto shop

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4. Wax your car.  

Not only does waxing give your car a nice shine and help to remove small scratches and swirl marks, it protects your car’s paint from elemental damage such as fading, rust, and scratches.  Its cheap and easy enough that anyone can do it.  Wax kits are available at your local auto store and online.  

5. Fix your scratches and paint issues.

A flawless finish on your car is a telltale sign that you give a shit about it.  You wax often, you keep it protected, and you prevent elemental damage and corrosion.  But we know every once in awhile things happen… like an angry ex girlfriend with a set of keys, or a toddler with a shopping cart, or even rocks flying up off the road can cause damage to the exterior of your car.  Get those scratches fixed.  There are kits you can get at an auto body store for cheap to help repair the scratches, or else you can bring it into a body shop.  The most important part of fixing those scratches it that you match the paint exactly.  There’s this awesome website called PaintScratch.com that you can go to purchase original factory touch-up paint that will match your car exactly.  Don’t try to get the “close enough” color from Pep Boys… it will stand out worse than the original scratch.  Just go straight to Paint Scratch at this link:  PaintScratch.com

6. Get your car a whole new paint job.  

Getting your car a new paint job is like getting your car a facelift.  You are undoing years worth of damage to your car’s exterior and returning it to it’s vibrant, youthful appearance.  Additionally, getting a new paint job for your car is not limited to the restoration of your vehicle’s original factory paint…  feel free to get your car painted any colour or combination of colours you’d like.  The sky is the limit. Most auto paint places can mix any colour you want and create any type of effect you can think of.  

7. Get your car wrapped.  

This is probably one of the coolest ways to completly overhaul your car’s look because the options are limitless.  Becoming more and more popular in the auto world, getting your car wrapped is a really great and risk free way to give your car an entirely new look, even if you already have a flawless paint job.  The vinyl wrap can completely cover your car entirely or even just a portion, like the hood or roof, and can change not only the colour, but can be used to apply images or even textures to your ride.  Most vinyl wraps nowadays are completely un-damaging to your vehicle’s original paint, and can be removed at any time.  If a part of the vinyl gets damaged or dirty, you can replace just that section.  There are an endless list of styles and effects you can create for your car to make it stand out using vinyl wraps and it’s typically less expensive than a traditional paint job.  Car interiors such as dashboards can also be wrapped.  

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8. Tinting your windows.

Now don’t be an obnoxious ass by illegally tinting your vehicle 360 degrees with 80% limo tint but tastefully tinting your car’s back 3 windows can add a really nice effect.  You can also tint the front windows, but follow the restrictions and regulations in your area or you’ll have to drive with your windows open, just to avoid getting pulled over.   

9. Swapping out your car emblem.

Adds a really nice touch to a car that has a color theme or unique paint job, changing the style and color of your vehicle’s maker emblem is a fun way to personalize it.  They can be ordered online at special shops or sometimes even through a dealer.  

10. New Headlights & Tail Lights

If you are sporting an older car, this is a great way to make your car look sharper and fresh.  Old, foggy and low quality headlights can make your car look extremely aged and tired.  By adding a new set of great looking headlights or even tail lights, you can make your car look generations newer.   Restoring foggy and dirty headlights is another way to freshen up your car’s look that can really make a difference.  In other cases you can actually replace the bulbs in your car’s headlights for an updated look, allowing them to enter the 21st century.  

11. New Wheels

New wheels on a car can always make it stand out and nowadays with so many different options for wheels, there are more than enough affordable sets for everybody’s budget.  They will give your car personality, character, and best of all, allow you to toss those hubcaps you’ve been driving around with the past year.

12. Wheel Restoration

Years of driving can take it’s toll on your expensive set of wheels.  They will corrode, chip, and peel due to the elements of nature and even salted winter roads.  This doesn’t mean you need to get a new set of wheels…  there are actually shops who can restore your current set by sanding them down and refinishing them – which is a great option if you refuse to part with the wheels you have.  They’ll look almost as good as the day you first put them on and is usually a  much cheaper route than buying new ones all together.    

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13. Painting parts of your car.  

Just like swapping out your car’s emblem, adding touches of accent colour to your car can take it’s look up a notch.  More commonly this is seen when people paint parts of their car, such as their brake capilars.  Additionally, you can also purchase them (along with other car parts) in different colours.  

14. Body Kit & New Bumper/Hood

A more expensive route because it requires bodywork and painting, but body kits can be great ways to make your car look like a million bucks.  While a lot of body kits are centered around side panels and ground effects, even just getting a new hood or bumper for your car can add a more aggressive appearance.  There are many places that offer endless options for body kits, hoods and bumpers that fit your vehicle.   Avoid adding an obnoxious spoiler to your car at all costs, unless it is 200% needed for the performance enhancement of your car… (I’m talking to you, Mr. Front Wheel Drive Civic…) This will actually make your car look LESS cool.  Trust us.  

15. Seat Covers & Floor Mats

If your car’s interior has seen much better days, seat covers and new floor mats are an easy and quick fix to deteriorating upholstery.  They can even be used to protect your car’s original seats, and prevent damage and stains to your car’s floor. There are many tacky sets of seat covers out there so make sure you do your research as to which ones will actually improve your car’s appearance and are fitted correctly to your vehicle’s seats.

16. Car Accessories

There are tons of additional ways to add facets to your vehicle at modest pricing such as adding new accessories to your car.  These can include a new steering wheel, gear shift knob, racing pedals, light covers, and more that you can find in your local auto accessories place.  Use with caution, too many of these become tacky instead of tasteful.  This includes the use of neons and car decals, especially if your car is not sponsored! 

Culled from Carponenets