When a Clunker Becomes a Junker: How to Determine If Your Car is Too Old

how to fix up an old car

The automobile is a staple not only of American culture, but of the modern industrial culture around the world. It represents freedom and autonomy while mixing the workhorse aesthetic of consumer machinery together in one convenient package. The amount of man-hours alone that have been dedicated to improving, designing, and marketing cars since their invention is almost enough to stagger the mind. It truly is one of the greatest human innovations of the industrial age.

Unfortunately, it is the eventual fate of all machinery and moving parts to eventually break down and wear out. Perhaps if friction didn’t exist this would not be an issue, but then the physics of operating a car would also break down and be incomprehensible. Rather than slip and slide all over the place in a convertible, it is simply better to accept that despite babying your car and taking excellent care of it there will eventually be a time when it is headed for the graveyard. Until then, cars can have a remarkable repair life.

When you’re thinking about how to fix up an old car, there are a lot of factors to consider. Certainly enough to make your head (and perhaps car tires) spin round and round in exasperation. Not only the cost of parts and labor but who might be qualified to work on your specific vehicle. Especially if it is a family heirloom, or rare model that requires unique parts. You might also decide to do your own repairs on your vehicle, which comes with its own considerations and costs. You need a plethora of personalized information available to you in order to complete the job properly.

In this article we’ll try and hit the high points of taking care of an old car, and when to determine whether it’s worth fixing or junking. The line can be blurred and greyed across many angles, so some personal feelings must be taken into account, but there are still objective standards that can help you along the way. It is our hope that by the end you will be able to make this decision for yourself with confidence and happiness, motoring on like the best days in your old automobile.

Keeping Your Car Safe: The First Rule of Maintenance

It should be no secret to a serious car owner that the best place to keep your car is in a garage. If you’re currently keeping your treasured vehicle outside, then you should seriously consider investing your time and energy in seeking out a highly reviewed garage builders in order to make this space a reality. Especially if your coveted automobile is old and you’re trying to determine how to fix up an old car with style and grace, you’ll want a dedicated zone in order to make these decisions without error.

how to fix up an old car

After the building and construction is completed, you’ll also want a competent and professional garage door installation service to make this a complete and holistic space. Because without a door, a garage is simply an open cave from which anyone can access your vehicle. Aside from keeping your car safe from the elements, a garage door allows you a dedicated closed space in which to work on your car and store the necessary components (oil, spark plugs, tires, etc) in which to help keep it running like it’s brand new.

Some garage door services may also offer extra benefits such security and monitoring of your vehicle, which can be extremely helpful if your vehicle is a classic or rare model that criminals could sell to someone else. Regardless of what condition your vehicle is in, it can simply be helpful to have a monitored space attached to your home in which you store other things and perhaps have an entrance to your house. You may even be able to get an app on your smartphone where you can access a camera inside your garage or open the door remotely for someone else.

Rudimentary Repairs and More

Repairs and maintenance are simply part of owning an automobile, like having insurance and buying gasoline. There is no way around it during the present day until robot mechanics and self-repairing cars are bestowed upon us by the wise mechanics and scientists of our day. Many of the most basic car repairs are cheap to have someone else perform, and simple enough for you to learn how to do mechanically on your own. Even complicated procedures, such as replacing automotive hose clamps, can eventually be learned if you have the patience, time, and energy to watch videos and study manuals. It also helps to have the right tools around.

Maintenance schedules for older vehicles are extremely helpful in determining how to fix up an old car. There are differing schools of thought as to how often this maintenance should be performed, but it should be performed none the less. In general, auto manufacturers and mechanics recommend that vehicles over 100,000 miles should have many of the same components replaced. These include the engine timing belt, oil filters and coolant, spark plugs, and brake fluid. You will more than likely have to use special motor oil at this high mileage, usually denoted as “high mileage oil” in auto parts stores.

Easy rudimentary maintenance that you can do yourself will also help extend the usefulness of your vehicle. Simple things like replacing wiper blades and keeping the tires properly inflated will do wonders for the everyday driving experience. Vacuuming and cleaning out your car will improve the appearance, but do nothing for superior performance. Regular tire rotation can help out the wear and tear associated with your tires. When determining how to fix up an old car, it is worth having the condition of your tires evaluated by a quality mechanic as a starting point.

Lawyers And Accidents Are Expensive

how to fix up an old car

When you’re trying to determine how to fix up an old car, the cost of repairs and mechanics probably enters your mind. But does the cost of lawyers, litigation, and possible courtside seats (not the good kind from the NBA) also enter your mind? It should, because a mechanical failure on a car past its prime could cause a serious accident that may force you to seek out legal services such as a specialized auto accident attorney. While the average time period that a driver will make an auto accident claim is once every 17.9 years, this also assumes that the vehicle is well maintained and relatively new. Once you talk about older cars (especially if they have not been maintained), it only makes sense that this rate would go up.

The actual cost of a simple failure, such as the braking system, could have devastating consequences to your car and your life. Imagine trying to brake at a simple red light stop, but being unable to. The cataclysm of cars, steel, glass, and human bodies that will suffer high-speed impacts is almost too grotesque to calculate and bear. If you are lucky enough to remain unscathed in this carnage, you might learn later that other drivers were not so lucky. Unfortunately, vehicle maintenance and age will not protect you from liability in a court of law and you could be charged with manslaughter that a car accident lawyer will be hard-pressed to protect you from.

Sometimes when you’re trying to determine how to fix up an old car, you neglect to keep track of how much money you’re actually spending on the automobile itself. This is completely understandable, as the emotions of making repairs and trying to salvage your time-honored transportation method can cloud judgment immensely. You might end up getting so in the hole, through using credit cards or other methods, that you may end up being forced to hire bankruptcy attorneys. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that, and that this a casual reminder to watch your spending when it comes to repairs and restoration. If money was no object then this argument would fly out the window like an old banana peel, but for many people it is very much reality.

Rare and Heirloom Vehicles

Perhaps the reason that you really want to learn how to fix up an old car in your possession is that it’s a rare or heirloom model. Even if the car is a relatively common one in existence (such as the Ford Model T), it may hold a special place in your heart because you’ve received it from a treasured family member’s estate and it contains some personal history. The memories of driving in this particular car may make it worth preserving in your mind, even if the cost or specialty of labor drives the cost way up. There is something interesting to be said about preserving these vehicles, and it will always be a personalized decision at the end of the day.

how to fix up an old car

It the case of rare vehicles, especially if they are no longer in working order, the debate of how to fix up an old car may be a monetary one. When you possess something that is in a limited edition, it can be worth quite a significant amount of money if you get it to work properly. The problem will almost always reside in finding the specialized parts available to fix it, which may not have been manufactured for many years (or only had one manufacturing run at all). If you are not a qualified mechanic, the next problem may be finding someone who has any prior knowledge about the vehicle and its components. Not only may they not come cheap, but they may also be located halfway around the world. In order to get someone to work on your specialized rare car, you may have to factor in room and board for an undetermined amount of time on top of specialized labor costs.

If the automobile in question is a vehicle that you custom built yourself, then the real question becomes on whether you’re still interested in the project. We can assume mechanical competence with a self-built vehicle, but like all personal projects we may eventually lose interest. In this case, it might be best to try and sell the car to another personal hobbyist or someone who has similar mechanical interests. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and another man’s discarded vehicle can become a very interesting pet project to the right mechanic. It may be worth investing in quality online or print posting advertising your willingness to let your project go, and with the money you recoup you can start another or simply purchase a new/used vehicle.

Remember, There’s Only So Much You Can Do

At the end of the day, you may have exhausted every angle when debating with yourself on how to fix up an old car. Rather than continually replace worn parts or fill it up with countless bottles of high mileage oil, its destination may simply be the demolition shear attachments at the local scrap yard. If you are aware of how to wheel in deal in scrap metal, you may still be able to profit off of this last gasp of your vehicle through skilled negotiation and conversation. If not, it can be a time to say goodbye to a piece of treasured machinery that has served you well for a great deal of time. The scrap yard owners and operators may even allow you to document the process as a keepsake for your personal treasure trove.

Knowing when to throw in the towel for your formerly “vintage” Dodge Viper or other vehicles, and instead putting in an ad such as ” Salvage Dodge Viper For Sale” is simply part of being a property owner. Things break down, and at some point become cost-prohibitive to repair when determining how to fix up an old car. It’s nobody’s fault but Father Time and the laws of physics in the universe. If anything, it gives you a fresh start with which to purchase another used car to fix up and restore to its former glory. Perhaps this new vehicle may even rival the car you just lost and become your new companion in life and its many ups and downs. Many times when we say goodbye to an old friend, we are unknowingly saying hello to another.

how to fix up an old car

If you’d rather not personally watch your automobile being destroyed by the jaws of death, remember that you can still “donate” it to good causes. Charities such as St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill will take your car and sell it to a scrapyard or junkyard for you, allowing you to claim a tax write-off for its final value. Instead of trying to game the stock market through the best investor apps, you can simply lower a portion of your tax burden this way. While the outcome is the same for your vehicle, it may give you piece of mind to know that your journey of how to fix up an old car resulted in something positive (such as job training, clothing, or shelter) for someone in need. At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do.

Leave a Reply