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Special Projects 101: New Car Makeover 2021(Prelude)

car makeover restoration project

A makeover makes a lot of difference given the time, passion and cost that one has. Owning a car is one of the “must-have” items for anyone in the modern era – however, a car is an asset that is expensive to buy and maintain and depreciates and prone to wear and tear depending on its mileage and usage. Image source: 5-Minutes Craft Youtube

There is a saying that you will either pay instalments for a new car or pay high maintenance for the old car.

It is coming to 10 years since I got my 2nd car back in 2011 (my 1st car was sold to my brother in law and I still miss that car) and while it still looks like a brand new car on the outside, thanks to the close care and well-oiled maintenance over the years. Despite the years, it has only passed the 150,000 kilometres mark. The low mileage is due to my parked car at home for months whenever I go for overseas project assignments.

However, with the car reaching it’s 10 years old mark, I am faced with a decision to make – to buy a brand new car and pass my current car to another OR continue with the current car but after an extensive makeover.

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An old car like the Proton Saga (Iswara) does not mean it is the end of them after all these years – makeovers and restorations can make them looking brand new and even with improved performance and good looks.

Despite the age, my car still functioning well – everything still works thanks to the regular car service and replacements of parts whenever it is required. The car since Day 1 has been sent to the authorised car service centre to ensure only the car maker’s genuine parts are used. And for most of the time, the car has been parked in the shade – far away from UV sunlight that will damage the paint.

The car had been involved in one major accident caused by a young man driving his father’s BMW. That saw a major repair to the car for a week of body repair, paint and replacement of parts. After this accident, the car did not feel and sound like before – it took a few rounds of tweaking and repairing to get the car back to the original state.

Ideally, every house should have 2 cars – a small, nimble car for short distance commute (for sending kids to school, buy groceries, going to buy food for the family, use as learner car, etc) and a larger, comfortable car for the long-distance commute (for going back hometown, etc). At home, we planned the same with my wife’s small car and my larger car.

However, my wife’s small car is in a worse situation (despite a makeover back in 2018 which prolonged its lifeline) than my car is so it is clear which car needs to be replaced first. A further bigger car means higher car price which translates to higher loan instalment.

After working out a crude budget for the makeover, making several comparisons with monthly loan repayment (on different models, loan tenure and upfront deposits) and the makeover offers out there, I have decided to do a proper makeover to get my car running for another 5 or so year. Further with car loan all fully settled some years ago, all I need to do is to spend time and money on the regular services and as and when it is required, to change it’s worn out parts.

I intend to use the services of the car workshop that worked on my wife’s car makeover back in 2018 – they have done a good job and their labour charges seem reasonable. Parts on the other hand has not been cheap considering my strict instruction to only replace with genuine, original parts. I may need to make some concessions this time if the cost goes over the budget.

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One thing I neglected to do this time for my second car is to ensure a proper polish & wax every 6 months unlike how I maintained for the 1st car and that together with prolonged exposure to the sun when I am away overseas, had a bad impact on the condition of the paintwork on the car.

As usual, the makeover will be divided into several phases with different timeline namely:-

  • The suspension (the Lotus tuned ride have started to degrade due wear and tear)
  • Leather seat repair (the driver seat is truly worn and torn from daily usage. A worn-out seat means tiring long journeys)
  • Replacement of old/worn out wiring (it improves durability and performance)
  • Repainting of the whole car (this includes repairing the many dents and chips)
  • Repair and refurbishment of the tire rims (one of it already underwent repairs after running over a bad pothole)
  • Polishing of the headlights (it is getting yellowish)
  • Replacement of the music unit to Android head (my last option because the current system is working well but I want to make sure I can see Google Maps without need to open the app on my smartphone)

The current engine still working and does not need to be overhauled but then again, I may need to add this in the list after I get the mechanics to check on the condition of the engine parts and tune it.

This makeover project actually has started in December 2020 and target to take maybe 1-2 years to complete depending on cash at hand and since I am also using the car for my daily commute, the right time to drop my car for makeover process (some of it like bodywork and painting is expected to take about a week).

To be continued in Part 1

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