How to Restore a Classic Ride

As of 2014, there are 1.2 billion vehicles on the road. The number is expected to blow up to 2 million by 2035. With commuting becoming a hassle everywhere, the need for cars regardless if they’re fuel-based or green is increasing.

First-time car owners are confronted with three choices: a brand-new car fresh from the showroom, secondhand beauties, and remodeling a car from the scrap heap.

Car remodeling has been democratized over the years. Any person can stop by places that buy and sell scrap cars, pick a promising jalopy out, and restore it to perfection with readily available tools. If you’re a DIY kind of person, here are some tips that can make car restoration painless.

Hit the Junkyard Right

Before anything else, you need to hit the junkyard right. You can either go in with a vague idea of what you want to find or get in and out before others do with a particular item in mind.

Doing the latter requires a lot of set up. Sign up for a service that lets you know the goings-on in a location. Such a service can let you know if a particular car model is brought to a certain yard. Once you’ve got a ping, bring your tool bag and the requisite tools to disassemble parts from that car—or the amount you’ll need to have that car hauled to your garage.

When you have a vehicle of choice and you made sure it’s still in a state that can be restored, it’s time to go back to the yard. Local and specialty junkyards can have the parts your vehicle needs to be restored. Trawling for used parts can also be cheaper than buying from specialty websites.

Dismantle and Drain

You’ve got your car, your parts, and your tools. The next step is to dismantle your car and drain its fluids. Have a guide ready or, better yet, get a copy of your car’s repair manual. Manuals can tell you how to remove various nuts and bolts. Such instructions can come in handy when your car has special parts that can’t be found anywhere else.

Document where parts were before you remove them, take the battery out, store the nuts and bolts in a safe place, and don’t throw out any parts until your new car’s up and running again. Save your radiator’s antifreeze, let go of your AC coolant or refrigerant, and keep rags handy to sop up the transmission fluid.

Hammer, Ratchet, and Polish

The come-a-long, a type of hand winch with a steel cable, is useful for pulling a vehicle back into shape. Totaled cars will need it to elongate back to its proper shape with gentle, but firm force. Use chisels and hammers to push the metal back to where it needs to be.

Getting the shape right can help you go to the next step, which is to fix the engine. Hammer out the radiator, assemble it again, fix what needs to be fixed in the engine, put the battery back, and start it up. Once the vehicle runs, polish your vehicle, and take it out for a spin.

Restoring a vintage car

Before anything else, assess your budget. Car restoration is generally done by car hobbyists, professionals, and those who know what they’re doing. If you’re not too confident about your skills or don’t have the spare time to learn the right tricks to bring restoration fees down, it may be better to buy secondhand. Take the time to evaluate if you’re ready to take on restoration and when you’ve assessed your readiness, go back to the steps above.

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