gear stick

This post is the first part in our series on restoring your auction car, aimed at budding mechanics and seasoned restorers alike. If you’ve bought your new motor in one of our online vehicle auctions with the intention of fixing it up and selling it on, then you’ll probably have already realised that getting it to run perfectly is just one part of the battle. If the paint quality of the car or the interior isn’t up to scratch, it doesn’t matter how smoothly it goes. You’ll still never sell it! So with that in mind, we’ve got some useful advice on how to restore the interior of your auction car to tip top condition. 

Performing the initial inspection

Right off the bat, whenever you buy an auction car, it’s generally not hard to spot where it needs work. Before you get started on anything in particular, though, it’s worth taking stock of the entire car as a whole, and taking a full tally of exactly what needs doing. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing things. There’s nothing worse than suddenly spotting a job you should have done when you’re halfway through an attempted sale! 

The extent of the repairs will naturally depend on how heavily used the car is. Looking at the state of the seat upholstery is a good place to start, as well as the mats and carpets, and the glovebox and dashboard (or “console,” as it’s sometimes known). 

Effectively removing all that dust

Removing dust from the interior of the car is a really important step, which you should do well before you start applying any cleaners or emulsifiers. A handy vacuum always comes in handy here. (If you’re not keen on running extension leads into the house, or if you live in a flat, dustbusters will do the job perfectly well.)

The same principles apply when cleaning a car as when cleaning anything else. In other words, go from top to bottom, not bottom to top. Make sure to get in all the little nooks and crannies, including the vents, buttons and dials on the console. Don’t miss out the seats, either. You’ll probably be cleaning them with a liquid solution later, and if there is still any dust left on them, it’ll just turn to splotches of mud. That’s definitely something you want to avoid! Do the footwells last, and make sure to lift the floor mats so that there aren’t any dead leaves or similar detritus hiding under there. 

Get the upholstery spick and span

Next, you’ll want to get scrubbing! 

Cleaning leather interiors

Now, it’s worth taking a quick note if you’ve got leather seats. Whenever you’re using a cleaner for any leather interior, it’s vital not to use one that contains wax, silicone or oil. You could end up with some quite nasty marks on your prized seats otherwise! If you’re not 100% sure that your cleaner is suitable, just do a quick spot test somewhere inconspicuous, so that you can sidestep the worrying prospect of doing any irreparable damage. Once you’ve got a clearer idea of the results it’ll give you, you can then start on the rest of the seats in earnest. 

seat belt

Effectively dealing with upholstery

As you’ll know if you’ve ever had to do it before, upholstery can be a bit of a nightmare to clean up. This can make it one of the bigger interior jobs you might have to tackle. You can start by using a fine-bristled brush to spot clean with a mild laundry detergent. However, if you’re restoring a family car (like those often found in our Renault car auctions), you might often find evidence of some pretty deep-seated stains! For any particularly tough stains like coffee, juice or ketchup, you’ll ideally want to hand-remove them, possibly with specialised solutions designed for the job. Alternatively, you can always steam-clean deep stains, which often works for foodstuffs. 

Speaking of specialised solutions, it’s also a good idea to pre-spray the upholstery with specially-designed carpet or upholstery shampoo, using a hand-brush to apply friction to it, and then lightly spray with water to dilute it. Basically, this will emulsify any oily soil left on the fibres, making it easier to remove, so that you can then vacuum it up with a wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner. Do this as many times as necessary until all traces of oily soil and residue have gone. 

Of course, in some cases, the upholstery may be ripped or torn, smell, or permanently stained. In these scenarios it’s best to know when to call it quits. You may simply have to reupholster the seats. It does require a bit more cost and effort, but trust us, it’s worth it when you come to sell the car! 

wiper stalk

Work on the console

This is once again where you’ll need to use your judgement as to what needs replacing. It’s wise to start with the simpler checks, such as ensuring that the glovebox opens fully and smoothly, and treating the gear stick if the leather is chipped or cracked. You can choose whether to replace any switches and gauges, as well as other optional changes such as whether to update the sound system. Pay attention to the quality of the steering wheel too. As long as the dashboard itself is intact and everything works as it should (or you’re up front about it if it doesn’t), you may well find that most buyers are happy to take the car as-is. 

A common problem is for the in-car air conditioning to smell once you turn it on. While this isn’t desirable as such, it’s also nothing to worry about. Essentially, it’s the result of bacteria building up in the vents since it was last turned on. There are various products you can buy to do the job yourself, or you can always take it to a service centre (such as Halfords), who will make quick work of it themselves. You should also cast your eye over the interior door and floor panels, and giving those a good scrub too. If there’s any significant damage, you may need to consider replacing them entirely. 

And finally…

One of your last jobs will be to tackle the dirt and grime on your carpet and floor mats with a mild upholstery cleaner and brush. Why last? Well, doing it before you’ve finished everything else might mean that you have to end up displacing dust or detritus down onto it, which will just mean that you have to clean the mats and carpets all over again. Make sure that the floor mats are dry before you replace them, just to be on the safe side.  

Depending on the condition of your own individual auction car, you might need to do a lot less work to get its interior to an acceptable condition - or a lot more! However, with our list above, you should have the basics covered. Stay tuned for our next post in this series, where we’ll be covering the basics of how to get the exterior of your auction car back to mint condition. 

In the meantime, here at RAW2K we’ve got a huge range of online car auctions for you to find your next project car. From our Mercedes car auctions to our great-value Peugeot auctions, you’ve got no shortage of options to choose from right here on our site!