ABOVE: © AIR IMAGES; MIZURI / SHU T TERSTOCK; RIGH T: FLUID MO TORUNION
CONTINUED ON PAGE 60
BY NANCY DUNHAM
ARE YOU longing for a new ride? Check
your driveway. The car you once proudly
drove home can be restored to showroom
quality. The following tips from a panel of
auto experts and enthusiasts can help you
get the process started.
Deep cleaning. A great ;rst step in
sprucing up your car is a meticulous hand-wash and wax, says Costco member O.J.
Lopez, owner of Fluid MotorUnion, an
automotive repair and performance service (
fluidmotorunion.com), in Naper-ville, Illinois. You can do it yourself with
quality automotive cleaning products, or
you can take cleaning to the next level by
hiring a professional detailer.
Basic detailing generally includes a
hand-wash and wax, tire cleaning and
interior polish. The next level of detailing
is all of that plus services ranging from
leather restoration to engine cleaning.
The highest level of detailing moves
into paint correction and full repainting.
Top-end paint correction includes removing all of the paint and then hand-painting
as many as ;; coats, followed by high-end
wax and bu;ng.
“[Professional detailers] can do a better paint job than is done in any factory,”
How’s your paint? “Through the years
TRANSFORM YOUR WELL-LOVED CAR
your car gets scratched,” says Jodi Lai,
managing editor of consumer automotive
AutoGuide.com, based in Toronto.
“Touching it up is well worth the invest-
ment.” She points out that even minor
scratches mar your car’s looks, but, more
important, scratches lead to rust.
Before you begin, check
with the dealer to make sure
you have exactly the right
color. Then follow an
online tutorial and/or
buy a touch-up paint
kit. Touching up in-
cludes several steps,
priming, painting and
sealing. Do it wrong and
you may wind up having to
pay a pro to ;x your work.
Restore your trim. “It doesn’t
seem like a big deal, but when you make
black trim really black again it changes
the entire look of the car,” Lopez says.
Some auto bu;s swear by boiled lin-
seed oil. They rub it on, let it set for a few
minutes and then wipe it o;. Others use
over-the-counter trim products or simply
wash and paint the trim. Badly damaged
trim? Makes more sense to replace it.
Wrap it. Vinyl wraps—pressure-
sensitive vinyl that is applied to a vehicle’s
painted surface—are commonly used for
advertising on fleet vehicles and food
trucks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t
available for personal cars. In essence,
wraps are big high-quality stickers that
look and act like custom paint, often at
huge savings compared with painting.
“Instead of chang-
ing their cars, people
are getting good profes-
sional wraps,” says Doug
Fleming, general manager
of Findlay Volkswagen in
Henderson, Nevada. “That
changes the whole look of the car.”
See clearly. Consider a kit to restore
your headlight lenses. But don’t stop
there. Buy extra sandpaper to supplement
what is in the kit, Lopez recommends.
Sanding the headlamps is the key to
the entire restoration. Although most kits
have one or two grits of sandpaper, you’ll
want more. Begin with a ;ne sandpaper
(about ;,;;;-grit) that removes the most
stubborn pits, scratches and discolor-
ation. Then, progressively move to ;,;;;-
grit, ;,;;;-grit, ;,;;;-grit and ;,;;;-grit.
Restoring headlights is labor inten-
sive. It takes a professional with proper
equipment about ;; minutes per light,
says Lopez. You should plan to spend at
least two hours per headlamp. Be sure to
Before (above right) and after
O.J. Lopez restored a 1991
Porsche 911 C4.
Love the ride
INTO A FRESH AND UNIQUE RIDE