If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy cool cars, you don’t need to worry. Today, there are a lot of inexpensive ways to make a boring car look cooler. The options are pretty universal, so it doesn’t necessarily matter which car you’re starting with.
In general, these options will change parts of your car’s exterior. From adding a sticker to wrapping the car, there are varying degrees of subtlety that can change how your car looks. Even the inexpensive options could potentially have a huge impact, like adding LEDs inside and getting a professional detail. Take a look at the next section for the full answer.
In this ultimate guide, I’ll give some of my favorite options. I’ll dive into 13 different ways to make any boring car look way cooler. After going through the guide, you should have a car that makes you smile and feel proud when you look at it.
13 Ways to Make a Boring Car Look Cooler
Without further ado, here are 13 of my favorite ways to make a boring car look cooler. A lot of these options are inexpensive, and most of them you can do on your own. Just because you’re stuck with a lower-price vehicle doesn’t mean that it needs to look like a budget car.
1. Get a Professional Detail
Above everything else, I would suggest getting a professional detail. This process involves cleaning the inside and outside of your car. It goes beyond just using a rag with soapy water on it.
Most shops will break out the dual-action polisher and use machinery to make your car look its best. It probably includes washing, waxing, polishing, finishing, and clay barring your ride. It might cost a hundred dollars or so, but the difference it makes is noticeable.
For one, it makes your car incredibly shiny and sleek from the outside. In addition, it protects your car on multiple levels, boosting the resale value and preventing major damage.
On top of that, it makes your car stand out. There’s something about a shiny car on the road that will make me turn my head, no matter what. It could be a 2002 Honda Civic with fresh car detailing that just makes it look that much better.
Once the outside is clean, your whole mentality about your car could change. You might want to start throwing on extras since you’ll have a newfound sense of pride.
2. Fix Any Dents
In addition to detail, I would suggest doing some minor bodywork. If your car has a few dents from nights you don’t want to talk about, then you should take an afternoon to fix them. A lot of dents can be taken out by hand.
If you have a dent near your wheels, you can probably put your hand in the wheel well and push out the dent. Dents near your trunk and on your hood are just as easy to push out.
Sometimes you can use a suction cup to make the job a little easier. Otherwise, a plunger or some hot water could help out.
A dent-free body will help your car look better from the outside.
3. Fill the Scratches
While you’re fixing your dents, look out for any scratches. Scratches to the body have the same visual effect as massive dents.
Fixing or filling in a scratch is very inexpensive, depending on the scratch.
If the scratch is only in your topcoat, then you can use a buffing machine to get rid of it. A dual-action polisher with some cutting compound will completely remove the scratch by removing a layer of your topcoat.
For really deep scratches, you can fake the solution by using a paint pen and filling in the scratch. There are a few sites online that match your car’s OEM color and sell pens filled with that color. I used it on a blue car I used to have, and the color-matched perfectly.
These pens add paint inside of the scratch. Once filled, it’s a lot harder to notice the scratches. This won’t mechanically fix the scratches, but it makes them aesthetically disappear.
4. Consider a Wax
If you don’t want to splurge for a car detailing service, you can DIY a wax on your car. In fact, you don’t even need a polishing tool to do it — you can get great results from hand-waxing your car.
Use a nice carnauba wax and microfiber applicator to wax your car. Waxing adds a layer of protection on top of your topcoat. To make your car look cooler, it also adds a nice sheen and makes your car much more reflective.
Again, seeing a shiny car just makes me respect the car even more.
5. Wrap or Paint Your Car
For a little more money, you can fully change how your car looks. I wrote a guide about wrapping, and a big part of it was how it changes the look of your car.
With either a wrap or a paint, you can mask any chipping or fading paint your car currently has. You can also customize how the vehicle looks by sticking with different color combinations.
In my opinion, one of the best-looking options is matte black with some other black paint across your car. The good news is that you can choose just about any color and styling you’d like. If you have a favorite color, then get it painted or wrap the vehicle in that particular color.
It can easily cost several thousand dollars and more to wrap or paint your car. However, it completely changes what your vehicle looks like.
6. Add Stickers
For a less expensive alternative to wrapping your car, you can add a customized sticker to your vehicle. These can either go on your windows or the body of your vehicle.
Personally, I’d suggest shying away from slapping a sticker on your car’s bumper or body. It will cause your vehicle’s paint to fade unevenly, and you’ll be left with a richer patch of paint in the area after removing the sticker. Plus, it leaves behind a nasty adhesive that can be tricky to remove.
So, I’m suggesting that you should put stickers on your windows. These could be decals from your favorite band, hobby, or movie. I also love cars that have brand stickers on their vehicle that offer different mods like custom rims, lighting, and engine swaps. You don’t even need to use the company to throw their sticker on your car.
7. Tint the Windows
A must-have for any vehicle is window tint. If you want to make your car instantly look cooler, this is the right choice. However, tint can be varying levels of illegal across the country. You’ll need to either be okay with paying for tint tickets whenever you get pulled over, or you have to stick to your state’s laws when it comes to window tint.
Some states don’t allow any tint at all, and others don’t care how dark you go. In general, states with more sunlight are more lenient when it comes to window tint.
A tinted window is a lot like a one-way mirror. From inside the car, you can see perfectly well around you. From the outside, people can’t see inside your vehicle.
8. Debadge Your Car
An interesting trend that I stumbled upon recently is “debadging”. It’s apparently pretty big in the car mod community, and I personally love how it looks.
On the front and rear of your car, you’ll find metal badges that identify your vehicle. For instance, your rear bumper might have a big BMW logo with metal lettering that says “330i”. There’s no law that requires you to keep that there.
To debadge your car, you’ll remove these identifiers. You’ll be left with a smooth, letter-free bumper and front grille.
I wouldn’t suggest this for every car style, because sometimes the body modeling is based on these badges. However, I think it makes a car look way cooler. It becomes a matter of “if you know, you know” since you’re taking away the words that identify your car.
Suddenly, only car fans know that you’re driving a Supra and they can appreciate it even more.
Debadging your car can be done with a heat gun, floss, a ton of patience, and adhesive cleaner.
9. Throw on New Wheels
The side profile of your car heavily relies on your wheels. These are the metal parts that hold your tires in place.
If you upgrade to some nice-looking wheels, the entire look of your vehicle changes. Keep in mind, that this is another one of those upgrades that can get pretty expensive — you might spend a few thousand for high-quality wheels.
If you upgrade your wheels and tires at the same time, many aftermarket wheels are lighter which means weight reduction overall. This makes your car look cooler and possibly affects performance as well.
For cars that come with great stock wheels, it probably isn’t worth paying for the upgrade. Use that money elsewhere to make your car look cooler.
10. Swap to LED Headlights
LED headlights have recently become commonplace, and they look exceptional. Compared to the old-school halogen bulbs, LED bulbs are brighter, a nicer color, and make your car look modern.
However, you cannot just put an LED bulb in a halogen headlight. You’ll need to use a conversion kit so you’re not blinding approaching drivers. LEDs create a lot more brightness with less energy, hence the need for conversion.
While you’re swapping out the headlights, make sure the glass is cleaned. If it’s foggy or stained, the upgraded LEDs won’t look as nice as they potentially could. Also, you’ll need to read up on your state’s laws in regards to changing headlights. Some are pretty strict about it and will ticket you for non-OEM headlight parts.
11. Add Body Mods
There is a vast and wide market for body modifications. Some are little peel-and-stick options, and others require a drill and some mechanical prowess.
Regardless of the style, you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you can find body mods that help you achieve it.
For instance, you can buy and install a massive 2-foot-tall spoiler on the back of your car if you really want to. On the other end of the spectrum, you can pick up little roof diffusers or rear window louvers to make your car look tougher.
If you dig enough online, you’ll see a ton of different options for your vehicle. Even a fake tow hook can be bought and easily installed on your vehicle.
What’s the purpose of these body mods? If done correctly, they will boost the aerodynamics of your car. However, most of the options available have no purpose besides just making your car look cooler. Slightly better aero won’t change much on a commuter car, but they can be impactful for cars on a track.
Before drilling any holes in your car, you’ll need to understand that it could void warranties across your vehicle. Make sure you take your time with the installation, so the part doesn’t fly off and hit the car behind you on the highway.
In addition, don’t be afraid to pay for the more expensive body mod option. They’re usually higher-quality and will stay on your car better. They’ll also look better since they use better designs and materials — so, this should make your car look even cooler.
12. Install LEDs Inside
When I got my car in high school, the first thing I did was install LEDs inside. You can get 4 LED strips that all synchronize through a single input. That means you plug them into one USB port in your car, and all the LED strips will be the same color.
LEDs can be set to a single color, they can gradually change, or they can change on beat with the music you’re playing. For the best results, you should put your LEDs under a surface, so no one directly sees the lights, just the glow from them.
For instance, I put mine under four of the seats so the whole car would glow. I’ve also seen people run LED strips on the ceiling trim of their interior.
Really, it’s all up to you. Put them wherever you want, install as many as you’d like, and set them to any color. When you’re driving at night, they become more noticeable and impressive.
When it comes to the most “bang for your buck” in terms of car coolness, I would put LEDs at the top of the list. They’re inexpensive and have a huge impact on the interior.
I have to warn you though: you should never install LED lights outside of your car unless they’re automotive headlights. Most states have laws banning most colors of LEDs. Even underglow can get you pulled over and tagged with a citation.
In my opinion, police officers don’t play around when it comes to colored LEDs on the outside of your car.
13. Add a Fake Scoop
A scooped hood is synonymous with a big engine in a muscle car. When I see them today, I only assume that the car has a beefy V8 under the hood and pushes 400 horsepower or more.
The beautiful thing is that you don’t need a big or powerful engine to install a fake scoop hood. These are inexpensive options to real scoop hoods, which could cost hundreds of dollars.
This fake option is just the scooped part with some adhesive on the bottom face. You stick it in the middle of your hood and suddenly it looks like you have a real scoop. That is until you take a closer look and realize the inlet goes directly to the metal of your hood.
Maybe it’s just me, but seeing a scoop on a car makes me think that vehicle is so much cooler. I think it’s a nice homage to the older days of cars, and it implicitly suggests your car is more powerful and cooler than it necessarily is.
I hope that you have some great ideas after reading my ultimate guide. I introduced 13 quick ways to make a boring car look cooler. It means that you can get a cool car without paying “cool car” money.
If you want to learn more about cars and how to make them cooler, take a look around my blog. I post new content multiple times a week, so check-in for new posts regularly. Also, check out my list of car products that can improve your life as an owner, renter, or lessee.