Your car’s midlife crisis – Rejuvenate your car and save $$$

Just like marriages suffer the 7-year itch, we feel that car ownership suffers from a 5-year itch. Somehow, at or in the whereabouts of the 5-year mark, we start looking for a replacement (car, not spouse). There are many problems with that though.

•     You lose way too much money

•     The economy has tanked

•     BHPians are postponing or cancelling their car purchases

Still, as a community that lives to drive, boredom isn’t an option for BHPians. Hence, let’s talk about sprucing up our existing rides instead. Listed below are a couple of pointers on how you can make your existing car more fun & interesting. These will make you derive more pleasure from your car, no two sides to it. GTO has been practising this for ages. When he was starting to get bored with his 1st-gen Vtec, he spiced it up. Ditto with the Civic; when it got 6 years old, GTO gave it some mild performance enhancements. His Jeep got a midlife makeover too with new clothes & a brand new engine. The 530d is turning 7 this year & was blessed with a 300 BHP remap.

Do these enhancements cost money? You bet. But that expenditure is a small fraction of what it would take to replace your existing car with a new one. Just to put it in numbers, let’s say you own a 5-year old C2 segment sedan that will fetch you 5 lakhs on OLX, and you have your eyes set on a new sedan / crossover for 17 lakhs. The point of this thread is = instead of spending Rs. 12 lakhs on the upgrade, spend anywhere between Rs. 50,000 – 1,50,000 to improve your existing car. The enhanced driving experience will make you hold onto your car for another 3 – 4 years. As a result, you will save that 12-lakh upgrade money. Bonus = No EMIs either. You probably don’t need a loan to spend 1.5 lakhs on your existing car, but you most likely do for that extra 12 lakhs on the new car. Invest the saved money & watch it grow!

A proper detailing session
If you haven’t detailed your car in a long time, this is easily the best 10 grand you’ll spend. A thorough deep cleaning of the interiors and shine on the exteriors from a competent detailer will give your car that new’ish look once again. The cabin will also be a nicer place to spend time in. Think of your old car as a head full of “white hair”, and a professional detailing session being the L’Oréal black hair dye. 

Better rims & tyres
If legs make a model, then wheels make the car. A sick set of alloy wheels will drastically improve the looks of your car. Compare this car to this one and you’ll be nodding your head. Superior / fatter tyres will improve your car’s handling, and possibly the ride quality (if your OEM tyres are rubbish, which they usually are). Can you believe the hotness of the Vento above? We can’t stop drooling.

Upgrade the ICE!
Nothing quite like a good sound system to make every drive enjoyable. You could get aftermarket speakers + damping + amplifier to transform the in-car-entertainment experience. We have seen a world of difference between an OEM system and an after-market one for just Rs. 30,000! Added bonus = damping will improve the overall NVH levels. Just don’t go overboard.

ECU Remap
Remaps are the quickest, easiest & most cost effective way to get 10 – 50 horsepower more from your car. The industry has come a long way and today’s remaps not only make your ride faster, but they also give you more usable power. The smile you get when driving your car will change to a wide-open grin!! Don’t even think twice about this – just be sure to get a remap from a reputable tuner (lots of reviews on Team-BHP). 

Sports Exhaust
Few things in life can compare to the pleasure of listening to the freeflow exhaust of a high-revving petrol. So addicted was GTO to his Vtec & Civic sports exhausts that he says he’ll never own a petrol without one. Choose a provider who will let you tune the sound to your preference, and then enjoy downshifting in the tunnels. I got a freeflow exhaust for my Maruti 800 for just Rs. 5,000, while GTO had paid between 15 – 20k for his Hondas.

Suspension Overhaul
This one is often neglected by owners who don’t bother to do anything with the suspension unless it starts leaking or making noises. Not cool. If your car has covered 50,000 km on typically Indian roads, odds are that your suspension is way past its prime. A worn out suspension will result in sloppy handling, high speed behaviour and ride quality. Check your suspension & get it overhauled as required. Your car will feel TIGHT again. If you drive like an enthusiast, you might also consider performance-oriented suspension hardware.

A Comprehensive Service
Even at a low 60,000 km, you never know what the state of the lubes / filters is in your car. Nothing quite like a comprehensive service & check-up from an expert mechanic (including wheel alignment & balancing) to get your car in the pink of health again. Go ahead & take an appointment. It could noticeably improve the way your car drives.

Modern Touchscreen Head Unit
A good-looking head unit with a responsive screen, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay and a reversing camera can greatly add to the “feel good” factor. Your car might not have the latest tech, and this is an effortless way to bring it up-to-date. We’ve been seeing really great HUs for Rs. 20,000 odd.

Body Wrap
Think of this as a simple change of clothes for your car. Faster and easier than a full paint job. We have a good discussion with pros & cons here. Best part is, it’s easily reversible. Costs between Rs. 25,000 – 50,000. The E90 in the picture is a 16-year old design, but hasn’t this wrap helped it look more “with the times”?

Luxurious Upholstery
Give the insides a makeover with a custom made interior – you can choose the material, stitching, bolstering + a lot more and get those perfectly fitting seats made for you. After all, that’s where you spend your time with the car. There are some outlets doing truly fantastic jobs (search within the forum for recommendations).

Get a body kit
You could transform the looks of your car with a body kit. Due to the large size of our market, you now get body kits for practically any car (check images here). And it’s not like you have to necessarily own a sporty car for a body kit. Here is a handsome one for a humble Corolla too.

Whoever said sunroofs aren’t fun in India doesn’t know what he is talking about. We absolutely love sunroofs & think you / your family will enjoy one. That said, there is a reason this point is toward the end of the post. Sunroofs cost a lot, while improper installation can lead to water leakage. Tread carefully. Webasto is the most renowned brand (but again, installation quality is everything) and a few carmakers are offering it as a dealer option.  Take a look at installation pictures in this thread.

A fresh paint job!
This point is also intentionally kept at the very end because few 5 – 8 year old cars need a full paint job. The quality of factory paint has vastly improved, and today’s cars are largely rust-free. Still, if you absolutely must have that “brand new” look for your old car – or have maintained your car poorly – fresh paint is an option. We recommend keeping the same colour so that you can maintain your “factory build quality” (full strip-down not required). If you’d like a different colour, better to go for a wrap instead.

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