By P Sanchez
I own a 2004 Nissan Sentra. I got it last year for about 17 hundred. It had only 87,000 miles on the dash and came with everything stock: engine, rims, original paint. It has an underwhelming 4 cylinder but other than its spark plugs needing replacement, it ran well. The suspension was stock as well, but a little squeaky. Shocks were promptly replaced and so were the headlight housings which were yellow and dull. I could have lived with the squeaks and the light but since they were a safety issue, I’m glad those got replaced anyway.
Initial repairs cost half of what I paid for the car, and by most accounts, that’s well within expectations of getting a used car. There’s some fading of the top coat by the window frame, and a few minor scratches here and there. Otherwise, the car is in great condition, much props to the previous owner for taking very good care of the car. All in all, a great deal.
But I’m too cheap (or destitute) to splurge any further on Old Red. However, she still got some well-deserved TLC, with me having to spend next to nothing at all. Here are a few tips.
I lucked out finding the previous owner’s car cleaning products in the trunk. Including some liquid wax, about half a bottle. On that went to Old Red after washing and drying him thoroughly. I found out soon that liquid wax also works great on the headlights, windshield, and windows too, giving them a nice showroom shine. Well, “ish”. It also made the surface hydrophobic as well, so that’s good. At least I didn’t have to buy a separate windshield product that had the same effect.
Pro-tip: Avoid getting wax stains on the black rubber trimmings and don’t forget to wipe off the excess wax that gets into metal seams, like the edge of the hood and trunk lids.
Sexy Black Leather
Another freebie was a small bottle of Armor-all vinyl protectant. Cleans, shines, and protects vinyl, rubber, plastic and leather surfaces. Maybe it meant pleather but, yeah sure. So on it went the dash, leather seats and other plastic trimmings in the cabin. Sprayed on directly at first, which was a mistake.
I learned the hard way that it’s better to spray the product on a towel and wipe, and not spraying on the surface then wiping. Because: overspray, especially on glass surfaces. That part where the windshield meets the dash is a tough nook to de-smear. Some cussing required.
Pro-Tip: It wouldn’t hurt to first read the label for proper usage next time.
Wet Looking Rubber
Ok, so I lied a little and maybe I bought a microfiber towel or two. And also a bottle of tire black, cause you want shiny wherever you can put it. It only costs a couple a dollars and a little goes a long way so that’s a good deal. Even better is finding other uses for it.
Aside from the tires, the clear oily liquid seems to work great on black plastic exterior components and other rubber parts. So on it went to the door seals, window gaskets and external black plastic trimmings, giving these parts a deep, dark, good-as-new tint.
I stopped short of putting it on the wiper blades because of how TB leaves an oily residue. I also avoided rubber hoses and plastic surfaces on the engine itself just for good measure.
When I ran out of WD40 and needed lube in a pinch, I decided to make my own. For an even better penetrant-lubricant than WD40, the internet recommends equal parts of ATF and Acetone which I so happened to have both lying around. I saved the mix in an old squeeze bottle for easy application.
The stuff did what its suppose to do, silencing squeaky door hinges and helping me free frozen nuts and bolts. The stuff is thin and runny so I avoided putting it in places where it can accidentally drip on rubber parts or lacquered and varnished surfaces which it can strip and ruin.
Old Red is not winning any showroom event soon. Old Sentras are not known for their exciting looks. In fact, they’re the wallflowers in a parking lot of mass market cars. But it's my wallflower and it's serving me well. I’ll do what I (practically) can to make her last.