DIY Auto Interior

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One of the best ways to make a car look, feel and smell like new is installing a new interior. But an interior shop might charge thousands, as many areas must be restored and the job is time-intensive. With the right tools and a little know-how, though, a lot can be done in your garage.

Carpeting

  • Carpeting gets a lot of wear because it is stepped on constantly. There are two replacement options. You can buy a ready-made carpet kit, available in a variety of colors for almost all cars. Or remove the old carpet kit and use it as a pattern for a new kit. Take the pieces and have the vinyl edges sewn on at an upholstery shop. This is a good option if kits are not available or are costly for your make of car.

    Once the kit is ready, remove the seats and other components in the way (usually the center console) and carefully remove your old carpeting. Clean the surfaces underneath. This is also a good time to install new sound deadening if it is old and worn out. Use spray-on carpet adhesive (available at any auto parts store) to install the new carpet kit, carefully pulling and stretching it into place in the same order it was installed by the factory. Install new floor mats over the carpeting.

Interior panels

  • Door and side panels also suffer from wear and tear. You can buy new door panels or re-cover the the existing ones. The panels usually fasten with screws or some type of clips that hold the panels to the door.
    If new door panels are not available or you want a custom installation, simply remove the old door panels and use the old upholstery as a template for the new cover. You can find a wide selection of vinyl in different colors by the yard at a fabric store. Cut the vinyl and install it with spray adhesive in the same manner as the carpet kit.

Dash

  • Dashboards are exposed to the sun and can dry and crack if not properly maintained. Installing a new dash can be costly and time-consuming. The easiest and cheapest replacement is an aftermarket dash cover. These are made of vinyl and conform to the shape of the dash. Once glued into place, they look almost exactly like a new dash. Go slow on the installation for the best appearance. You might have to trim the cover to get it to fit perfectly, but the results are worth it.

Seats

  • The side bolsters on seats usually get worn and must be re-covered. New covers are available for many cars. Installation can be tricky, but it's possible with the proper tools and some patience. If covers are not readily available, you might need to go to a shop, since reupholstering seats is complicated.

Headliner

  • Like reupholstering seats, replacing a headliner is complicated. While headliners themselves usually range from $100 to $200, installation can be well over $500. Sometimes, even the windshield must be removed. If you are confident you can do this yourself, make sure you have the proper directions for your car and the right tools.

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