Well, the last couple of months have undoubtedly been an unusual period, especially for us car enthusiasts. With most of us holed up in our homes, there are only so many puzzles to conquer, rooms to clean out, or Netflix shows to watch about insane exotic zoo operators. Instead, I like to look at each day as a unique chance to take on a new project around the house. As our final shreds of sanity are plucked like petals from the delicate flowers of our brains, we’re collectively running out of at-home activities to pass the time. Fear not, because we have a list of automotive DIY projects that will help you improve your vehicle. It’s a win-win.
Over the last five years of publishing articles on Front Street Media, we’ve amassed a terrific variety of DIY content, and we know—if you’re anything like us—you’re itching for a new project to fill the current void. Take the time and read through the following four examples. These projects will test your skills while teaching you new ones. Utilize our experience in these matters, and we’re positive you’ll find yourself mastering a new at-home technique in no time.
Plastic Dyeing – The Permanent Solution and Alternative to Painting
It’s been bothering you for some time. We know it has. Each time you sit inside your vehicle, you stare directly at that faded piece of plastic, wishing that the manufacturer still produced a replacement panel. Or maybe your vehicle came equipped from the factory with light grey plastic paneling inside, and you’ve since converted to black seats and carpet, leaving the more luminous interior surrounds in place out of necessity. In both instances, you look online for used replacement panels in another hue, hoping to find a set of rare, mint condition panels available for purchase. But the time invested in searching—plus the hefty cost of the excellent-condition panels—is going to eat into your life, which is a shame because other than the fact that your interior’s color doesn’t suit your needs, it’s currently in great shape. A more affordable solution has to be out there to preserve what you already have, right? No, you can’t spray paint plastic and get a long-lasting result. It doesn’t work, we’ve tried. The real solution? Rit plastic dye.
By dyeing the plastic bits of your vehicle, you can achieve the luscious black—or any other—pigment you’ve been after, with an everlasting finish, too. While paint fails to alter the plastic’s identity, the dye penetrates deep below the surface so that even after becoming scratched, the newer desired color still shows through. It’s a reasonably basic process and can achieve excellent results with a small investment of time and a little bit of elbow grease. If you’ve been dying to alter your interior color (get it?), use a bit of this quarantine time to read through and find out how to do it the right way.
Steering Wheel Restoration: Simple Steps To Keep It Looking New
Your leather steering wheel sees a lot of use, or in some cases, abuse. You only touch it a few hundred times—depending on the distance and route traveled—every time you enter your vehicle. It withstands the french fry grease or Cheetos dust slathered across your fingertips, the frozen winter climate, and the scorching summer sun baking down on it through your windshield. It endures countless scratches, cracks, fading, and even severe deterioration, and on occasion, still allows you to navigate the treacherous public roads using only a knee. Your leather steering wheel is like the TV remote control of your vehicle. It’s overworked, underpaid, and likely never maintained. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking, so doesn’t it deserve a reward? Even if you disagree, the overall condition of your interior deserves to have a beautifully restored leather wheel as its centerpiece. Well, we have your solution for that, too.
In our steering wheel restoration article, you’ll find all of the tips, tricks, and simple steps to keeping your steering wheel looking new. We discuss numerous different scenarios, including cracked, split, and faded leather and how to treat each one properly from the safety of your own home, and with a financial investment that is less expensive than hiring a professional to reupholster it. We even show you what can go wrong during this process because it’s not detrimental to the wheel, but also because we’re not perfect, and chances are neither are you. Take our word for it: read over the contents of this article, and you’ll feel confident tackling the job on your own.
At-Home But Not In-Home Powder Coating
I don’t know about you, but I have this perspective of powder coating like it’s some dark art that needs to be mastered over years of grueling hours using specialty equipment. In reality, it’s just another process of applying a new finish to a product, which can be learned and performed by anyone with a mechanical skillset, ranging from amateur to seasoned professional.
In our DIY powder coating article, we explored a couple of different methods that a beginner could utilize to refinish any project that needed powder coating from the comfort of their own home—just not inside their home. Of course, there are risks, including the creation of a hostile environment when your significant other finds out that you’re cooking automotive parts in that new kitchen range. Yikes. Maybe follow our lead on this one, read through the article, and attempt your new powder coating process in the garage.
Fabricating My Civic’s Lightweight Exhaust
Okay, so it’s not quite the same kind of DIY process as the others on this list, but it fits nonetheless. You see, if you’ve been thinking about fabricating your exhaust, there is no time like the present to take a stab at it. As opposed to the other articles profiled here, you will need to know how to employ the meticulous art of welding metal, or if you’re like me, know a talented welder who is willing to help out a friend.
For this article, my friend Mark and I assembled a massive list of Vibrant Performance aluminum pieces, including 2.5-inch tubing, a muffler, and V-band connections before we got to work. We mapped out each of the bends and planned the tubing’s route without using any fancy scanners, software, or even a lift. We used the old-fashioned method of measuring, cutting, cleaning, and welding one piece of the material together at a time. From there, we checked its fitment on the car and repeated the process until the exhaust system was complete.
It’s tedious, it’s painstaking, and it requires some elevated skill with metal fabrication, but it’s not out of the realm for an at-home project, so it needed to make our list—plus I loved this exhaust. And who really needs an excuse to fire up the old welder? Using these pieces, we were able to produce an exhaust constructed entirely of aluminum that only weighed six pounds! If you’ve got some spare time and you’re in the market for a new exhaust, check out our article and begin the process for yourself. You won’t regret it.
That does it for this portion of our DIY Week articles, but we have more to come later this week. If you looked through and were a little overwhelmed by the process of these projects, then you’ll love what we have in store at the end of the week. Jason is going to review his favorite maintenance-oriented DIY articles. Those projects are of a different nature but just as rewarding, so we’re confident you’ll enjoy that list, too.