How to Fix Up an Old Car

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You can save $40,000 by repairing an old car rather than buying a new one. Maybe it's a convertible that you want. It's a lot of work, but you can save a lot if you just want a shiny, reliable car. You won't get conspicuous consumption this way. So if that's what you're after, spend the $40,000 - $250,000 for the car. You're taking a chance buying a car over ten years old because it's difficult to find replacement parts. Compare that to a five-year old car that's been driven 100,000 miles. It's much easier to buy parts for the newer car.

Things You'll Need

  • Toolkit
  • Carburetor cleaner
  • Fuel cleaner
  • Oil and filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Wheel covers or rims
  • Replace the seats with replacements from the auto parts store. Check online for parts, too. Call the dealer if all else fails, but expect to pay a premium even if the part is available.

  • Replace damaged doors, hoods and fenders with replacement parts from salvage yards. Paint the car after repairing all dents or have it painted by a professional. Replace cracked or burned-out headlights and other lights, too.

  • Avoid buying a car with a bad engine. Buy a car only if you can test-drive it at least 30 minutes. Accelerate quickly up to 60 mph on a freeway and drive on city streets, too. Avoid buying it if you notice a "ping" or a knock.

  • Get under the car. Check for oil leaks. Test the radio, lights and heater. Test all other electrical parts. Avoid cars with electrical shorts. Replace the spark plugs and spark plug wires. Replace the distributor cap if necessary.

  • Avoid cars with broken glass because that's difficult and expensive to repair.

  • Replace the tires or have them replaced by a professional. Allow professionals to align and balance the wheels. Buy wheel covers or rims if you prefer.

  • Replace air and fuel filters. Clean the carburetor or fuel injectors. Clean the engine with engine spray cleaner. Pour fuel cleaner into the tank.

  • Give the car an oil change and replace the oil filter. Use an oil additive for engines with low compression to restore power.

  • Check the front and rear brakes and replace them if necessary. Replace any CV axle for most models made after the mid-80s, but only replace it if the rubber boot is broken.

  • Wash and wax it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Used parts stores use databases to catalog parts. You can also find parts databases online. Save money by searching online.
  • For seats that just need cleaning, you can buy cleaning wipes from the auto parts store. These wipes can also be used on the dash.
  • Tracing electrical shorts can be very time consuming. Avoid buying a car that has electrical components that don't work unless you know that it's just the component itself.
  • Never clean your carburetor with a flamethrower.

References

  • Photo Credit Modern leather interior of the new car image by terex from Fotolia.com
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