Give your old vehicle a makeover

white car with taupe accents in shop

If you’re at home with time to work on a project, one of the things you can do is give your vehicle an updated look. The automotive aftermarket offers a variety of special products and accessories that will enable you to transform the appearance of any vehicle quickly, easily and affordably.

According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), thousands of specialty parts are available that can give an older vehicle a completely new appearance. Whether your goal is to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece or simply give a vehicle a fresh new look, a few simple upgrades is all it will take.

Start with the interior. Numerous products are available to update the inside of your vehicle, including aftermarket steering wheels, seat covers, instrument panels and dash kits. It’s easy and inexpensive to get a new steering wheel cover, or you can spend a bit more to replace it entirely with a more sporty or luxurious one. Custom steering wheels come in a variety of shapes and styles, and are available in wood, leather or a high-tech material.

Similarly, seat covers are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and are one of the most dramatic ways to impact the interior. Perhaps best of all, they come in thousands of colors and fabric combinations. Seat covers can also be ordered with emblems or logos on them.

Continue with the exterior. For a new look outside the vehicle, consider a new grille, taillight surround, bumper, hitch or ground-effects kit. Wheels and tires, both of which are among the most popular vehicle accessories, instantly update the look of a car or truck. Prices, styles and finishes vary greatly.

Go high-tech. If your vehicle is a few years old, consider modernizing it with electronics. Bluetooth-enabled devices, including navigation, video and audio systems, can be installed in just about any car or truck, regardless of its age.

Have good clean fun. Don’t underestimate the impact that a good cleaning can have on a vehicle. Wax and car care science is constantly evolving, allowing for a restoring program for almost any type of finish. Car care companies even offer special polishing tools that make giving your vehicle a professional facelift easy.

Add some color. If your paint is damaged and in need of a touch-up, automotive paint companies offer a robust color palette that makes color treatments a cinch. Another option is to go with a wrap, which will give your vehicle a new-paint look. Wraps come on rolls in a variety of colors and patterns, and when properly applied it does not damage the original surface of the car. In the future if you decide to change it, you can simply peel it off and lay on a different wrap.

The installation of many types of restyling parts is designed to be simple and can often be handled by anyone who approaches the job with reasonable care. But for best results, more involved makeovers — including those that require paint or bodywork or replacing components that have safety-related features, such as seat assemblies — should be done by professionals who have the tools and experience for that kind of work.

SEMA represents the $44.6 billion specialty automotive industry, which provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. In addition to offering market research, legislative advocacy, training and product development support, SEMA helps businesses manage product data, such as weights and measures, descriptions, pricing, and UPC codes or application data, through its SEMA Data Co-op program. To learn more about SEMA Data Co-op, log on to www.semadatacoop.org.

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