Easy, Cost-Effective Improvements to Make Your Ugly Truck Great Again


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Modifications and upgrades to your vehicle can be dangerous; undertake them at your own risk.

Jalopy owners, rejoice! July 20 is Ugly Truck Day — the day that allows you to celebrate and publicly show your affection for your old beater of a car. It’s also a great time to give it a bit of a facelift. We spoke with car repair experts and enthusiasts to find out the most affordable and best quick fixes to beautify your “ugly” truck.

Reupholstered interior

“If your old vehicle has cloth seats, replacing them with new cloth — or even leather — is surprisingly affordable,” Jason Lancaster, the editor and founder of AccurateAutoAdvice.com, explains. “A local vehicle upholstery shop will often charge $250 – $300 to re-cover a driver’s seat, and will do all the seats in a car for $500-$1000. Also, the price is pretty much the same whether you choose leather or cloth.”

Paint polish

If your vehicle’s exterior has earned it an ugly truck title or two, you might want to focus your efforts there. “A body shop can polish and wax your entire vehicle for $200 or so, and it will make a dramatic difference if your vehicle’s paint was looking sort of dull.”

Plasti-dip an old car for fun

If polish can’t save your car’s exterior, you might want to consider a plasti-dip. “Plasti-dip is a rubberized paint that goes on just like spray paint, but when it ‘sets’ it becomes a thin layer of latex,” Lancaster explains. “While a plasti-dip coating will only last for a year or two, it’s incredibly affordable (and easy to work with). You can buy and paint the car yourself for $150, and a professional will coat a car for $500+. The best part? You just peel off the plasti-dip paint and re-do it whenever you want.”

Paintless dent repair and airbrushing

“Paintless dent repair and airbrushing is cheap, especially in the winter months,” Lancaster points out. “Every old car has dents and pitting on the hood, front bumper, etc. Paintless dent repair is very affordable ($100 – $150 is usually enough to take care of most of the dents in the average car) and airbrushing will hide a lot of the pitting on the front of a car. This can cost $50 – $100.”

It’s all about the details

“A professional detailer can transform a car both inside and out by removing paint and clearcoat impurities, buffing hairline scratches and waxing the car to restore ‘off-the-showroom’ shine,” Bret Bodas, VP, Automotive Group at RepairPal, points out. “They also shampoo or steam fabric surfaces, clean and condition leather and scrub all hard surfaces. This deep laundering of the car’s exterior and interior can give it a new feel immediately.”

(Re)Conditioned for greatness

“Plastic bumpers can be affordably reconditioned to remove oxidation, dings and scratches without having to replace the entire part, Bodas mentions. “You can also recondition one of the most telltale signs of an aging car — yellowing headlights. Ask an auto technician to polish and buff your headlights — you’ll immediately see a change in not only how your car looks, but also how well you can see at night!”




Briana Fabbri is head of marketing for NetCredit.