When you purchase a late-model used car, it often takes time before it truly feels like your own. For instance, familiarizing yourself with the workings of a new infotainment system may require undergoing a robust learning curve. However, once you are satisfied with how the technology works, you are ready to individualize your ride to reflect your wishes.
Here’s How to Personalize Your Ride
Set the Controls
Once you have conquered the infotainment system, there are numerous comfort controls to explore before you head out. One of the first is the climate control system. If you have a dual-control system, the settings in your car are for the driver and front passenger. This means that the driver can have one set temperature and the passenger another temperature. If you prefer to keep them the same, then press the “sync” button for a uniform temperature throughout.
The seat settings may take some time to grasp. Typically, on modern cars, you have preset controls. Here, you will want to adjust the seat’s height, setback, and lumbar support and have your car “remember” the settings each time you slip behind the wheel. On some models, those settings include the tilt-and-telescopic steering column as well as seat heating and ventilation, even massaging. Learn which switches control each setting. With some vehicles, the settings are found on the display screen.
Modify the Interior
Even after just a few years of use, a car’s interior may show more wear and tear than expected. If there is a split in the fabric, consider patching it before the condition worsens. Be careful here though as some patch kits can do more harm than good, causing the fabric to look uneven.
The same can be said about repairs to the dashboard, metal trim, wood, and other materials. There are repair kits available but paying a professional may yield the best results. Besides, you will receive a guarantee if something goes wrong.
Replacing worn fabric, trim pieces, and headliner completely may supply an upgraded appearance. For instance, worn cloth-covered seats may look lovelier when wrapped in Nappa leather. Reupholstering is an option, but consider swapping out the seats for new ones if that option is within your budget. Individuals with sporty cars may have their eyes set on a pair of heavily bolstered Recaros.
Upgrade the Audio System
Most cars come with standard four- to six-speaker audio systems. While these may be sufficient for some, others prefer to make an upgrade to the technology to reflect their wants. Fortunately, swapping out for a new system is possible, although we recommend leaving this work to a professional.
Adding speakers may require extensive work in your cabin. However, some manufacturers have the wiring in place, particularly if a 9-speaker system is optional on upper trim models. But to set up a 14-speaker premium audio system may require extensive modifications, including adding or replacing the head unit, amp, and existing speakers. You may also want to add HD Radio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and smartphone compatibility capabilities. Installing a rear entertainment system is a great choice for families on the go. These are steps that move well beyond the basics and might be optimally addressed by a professional.
Repaint the Exterior
After a few years and certainly following much neglect, a car’s patina may fade. A thorough cleaning, buffing out scratches, and applying a high-quality wax should return your vehicle to its original luster. Turning your attention to the trim pieces and wheels will only enhance that look.
But what if you are dissatisfied with the color? Would you consider having your vehicle repainted? It is an option some take, especially when desiring to add pizzazz to any vehicle.
If you decide to do this job yourself, you should know that much is involved, beginning with ensuring that all rust is identified and excised, and that the body panels are seated perfectly. Priming, choosing the right paint color, and taping your ride to ensure only painted services are treated are among the prep steps required.
You will also need special equipment, including a paint gun with a pressure regulator and a water and oil separator. Further, eye goggles, gloves, and a respirator are essential safety equipment pieces required. Does this sound like so much work? It is. And that is why consumers usually entrust the work to the professionals.
Consider Personal Touches
Making a ride your own means adding personal touches inside and out. For some owners, vanity plates allow them to express who they are, root for their favorite team, or make some other type of distinctive statement. Reach out to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find the plate design and words that are right for you.
After a few years, the new car smell is gone, but it does not need to be that way. Surprisingly, there are custom air fresheners for cars that mimic the original scent, giving the interior an “always new” vibe. Further, you are not limited by your scent choices as air fresheners are available in numerous fragrances, including some that reflect the season. For instance, spring (flowers), summer (ocean breeze), fall (pumpkin spice), and winter (evergreen) are among the numerous choices you have. If you have a flair for food, scents such as corn dogs, pizza, and even sushi are available.
Other personalization ideas include swapping out the car mats for a customized design. If you live in a snowy climate, opt for floor mats that hold water, sand, and salt better for easy removal later.
Add a smartphone holder to keep that unit in its place and to minimize distractions. Change the ambient lighting colors if you have that option. If you’re on a budget, seat covers may be more cost-effective than reupholstery or seat replacement. Wrap that vinyl steering wheel in real hides for better grip and a finer look.
Other personalization options include adding compartments to storage areas, shopping for a dog harness if you routinely bring your pet with you, or installing roof racks if you are a vacation warrior and need additional cargo-carrying space. There are thousands of aftermarket part choices available offering further customization choices. These cover the exterior lighting, body skirting, tires and wheels, lift kits, key fob upgrades, you name it.
Your Ride, Your Style
No matter the age of your vehicle, you can personalize it in any way you choose. Shop around for deals, handle whatever jobs suit you, but leave the tough assignments to the professionals.