Used car DIY improvements can be your ticket to snagging a bargain when shopping for a ride. Finding a car that needs a little work is a nightmare to some, but if you have decent mechanical skills — or a willingness to learn — you can sometimes polish that diamond in the rough and end up coming out ahead financially. Check out these four DIY repairs you can make to a secondhand car that will help you score a great deal.
1. Dull, Scratched Paint
Have you ever found a great-running car or truck that looked absolutely terrible because the paint job had faded to reveal every scratch and scuff? With a little elbow grease and the right polish and wax, you can easily buff out all but the deepest damage to a vehicle’s finish, which means you shouldn’t walk away from a car that’s cosmetically lacking but otherwise a strong candidate for used car DIY improvements.
2. Sticky, Squealing Brakes
If you’re handy with a wrench, a brake job is one of those used car DIY improvements you can leverage when bargaining down the price of a vehicle. Most of the time you’ll only need to replace a set of worn out brake pads or brake rotors, either of which will set you back less than $100 and won’t take more than an hour or so with a jack, jack stands and set of screwdrivers.
3. Bad Battery
The car needs to be jump started every time the seller wants to show it to someone? It’s probably a bad battery that’s not holding the charge, and honestly, there’s nothing easier than picking up a replacement and swapping it in under the hood (or in the trunk, depending on the model of vehicle). This might sound like an obvious solution to the problem, but you’d be surprised how many people selling used cars aren’t willing to spend the cash to replace a battery on a vehicle they know won’t be in their care much longer.
4. Tune-Up Time
Is the seller telling you it’s been a long time since the car’s last tune-up? Not to fear: Changing the spark plugs, oil and oil filter, engine air filter and maybe a drive belt or two is a piece of cake when it comes to used car DIY improvements. Not only will the much-needed maintenance be done, but the vehicle will run that much better afterward, essentially upgrading your purchase, improving fuel efficiency and adding power.
Bottom line? Don’t be afraid of a little DIY repair when bargaining for your next used car. And remember the experts at your local NAPA AutoCare are always ready to inspect & service your new ride if you choose.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on used car DIY improvements, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.