Restore A Car For Beginners

How to Restore a Car for Beginners? No Prior Experience Required

Have you wondered if you, as a beginner, can restore a car, i.e., with no prior experience in car parts or such? And can you do it well? If you are wondering that, then you’re in luck because yes, you can definitely restore a car as a beginner. Even luckier, you have landed on the right website for all the best tips. Imagine the money you will be saving when you fix it yourself!

In this post, we have provided a step-by-step guide (as shown below) to help beginners who would like to step into the world of car restoration, no matter if you’ve just bought the classic car of your dreams to spruce up or you would just like to give your current motor a new lease of life. There’s no need for any experience as a mechanic, as long as you have the right tools to get the job done and a hardworking attitude. It is also vital that you have a plan. After all, a plan always comes in handy, right?

As the first task, you need to set your budget and timeframe, then you can decide which part of the car you want to restore first. By planning these factors fully, you will be saving yourself a lot of time and questions as the project progresses. You might also help yourself save money by planning ahead.

Below is the checklist of how to restore your car for beginners. Time to get your hands dirty!

Car Restoration Check List

Speak to Experts or Enthusiasts

Getting advice from an expert in person can set you up for success, especially if it becomes a regular occurrence. You might find a classic car restoration club in your local area, for example, and the current members would no doubt be happy to help. Car owners’ clubs are often filled with friendly motor enthusiasts who have the knowledge and experience to help you save time during your project.

Car clubs might also have a list of local garages for you to source parts from or, better yet, they might have some spare parts of their own; if you join as a member, you might even have access to these parts, too. If you can, visit a professional shop known by the car club to get a trained mechanics viewpoint.

Make Your Build Plan

Prepare your recovery plan with many details as you can. Apart from developing an estimate of expenses, this step acts as a base that will help you map the steps of your maintenance or restoration process. It is essential to know that it is advised and encouraged to finish mechanical maintenance and engine overhauls before you move on to the bodywork to avoid destroying your sparkling paint job.

The plan for your restoration project can also assist you in sorting out what you want to do and what parts to upgrade. This will thus make you pick out compatible components upfront to attain your goal. For instance, if you are already planning to change the exhaust system, it is best to consider any other enhancements you may want to make in this area.

Don’t forget to plan out your budget, too. Car restoration isn’t cheap, especially if it’s one of the classics you’re working on. There will be surprises along the way, so you should try your best to be prepared for them; some people have said adding 30 percent on top of your estimates gives you a good idea of the overall costs.

Set Up Your Work Environment

It is vital to have sufficient room for your DIY car restoration. Having separate sections for the suspension components, interior pieces, chassis, powertrain, and mechanical assemblies is necessary. You will also need to set out all of the replacement parts you plan on using.

Give yourself plenty of room to work as you disassemble the vehicle and an extra place to put out all the removed portions. Your garage must be immaculate, secure from the factors, and well-lit. Having a place to store your tools and replacement parts will help you to stay organized and efficient. This will also help you avoid buying unnecessary items and wasting time searching for the right ones.

However, if you cannot have a big room and have no choice but to have a small garage or such, then you should take greater precautions to cautiously arrange and save all your parts so that they do not go missing and do not hurt you while you work.

Tools Set You Will Need

The appropriate tools for your car restoration will make the task much easier. You don’t need to buy all of the required tools as long as you have access to them through a car club or local mechanic.

You should also make sure these tools are good quality because some cheaper tools will slow down the process. Some of the tools you will need are listed below:

  1. Car Body Kits: You will want to do a lot of frame paintings in the journey to restore your car. A typical car body kit contains dent pullers, bonnets, rubber mallets, etc.
  2. Engine Hoist: Though it can be quite expensive, it will be worth it for more future restorations. It is always easier to do engine work outside the car. So, get that engine out.
  3. Paint Booth: Paint your car in your garage! Do you dream of the flawless paint finish of your vehicle? Yes? Then get it. Anyhow, it is only suggested if you have previous painting experience.
  4. Electrical Testers: Old car systems may have some electrical issues.  It is thus vital to have one to ensure you one. You will use it to assess everything live wires, batteries, etc.
  5. Safety Goggles: This is an obvious one. It will help if you protect your eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, paint, objects, large chips, and so forth.
  6. Jack Stand: These are designed to support a vehicle’s weight when suspended. You will need four of them for each corner.
  7. Socket Kits: It will give you the flexibility to handle multiple types and sizes of fasteners, mainly intended to fit a huge range of bolts and nuts.
  8. Ratchets: A wrench with a fastener component is used to fasten or loosen bolts and nuts.
  9. Screwdrivers: You will need a flat-head screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, and Allen key screwdriver. Or else, you can have an interchangeable head screwdriver with removable heads to quickly and easily swap, depending on your need.
  10. Engine Puller: It is used to install and uninstall engines. You will require one. This is also referred to as the ‘cherry picker.’
  11. Wrench Set: These are made in different sizes and shapes. They are used for loosening, fastening, gripping, and turning things like nuts and bolts, pipes, etc.
  12. Transmission Output Shaft Cover: It is fitted at the end of your transmission and keeps it from leaking fluid throughout your work environment.
  13. Ball Joint Splitters: You will need them during suspension work. It is used to part the ball joint from the spindle support arm.
  14. Strut Spring Compressor: If you are fixing your car’s suspension, a strut spring compressor is a crucial tool. It helps reduce the size of your springs, making them easier to remove.
  15. Transmission Jack: It is a vital tool for uninstalling or installing a transmission.

Start with an Engine Overhaul

Before you begin any other work, it is best to start with an engine overhaul and mechanical maintenance. This step is essential to ensure the car is safe and reliable to drive. This should involve checking for any engine damage and replacing any worn-out parts; then you can move on to the other parts of the car.

During this step, you should inspect all of the car’s components and replace any that are worn out or broken. This includes any new seals, gaskets, or hoses. You should also make sure the engine is running smoothly and that all fluids are topped up.

Bodywork and Interior Restoration

If you have finished the engine overhaul and mechanical maintenance, you can then move on to the bodywork and interior. This part of the restoration process involves restoring the exterior of the car and the interior. This could involve replacing any rust spots, fixing dents, and painting the car.

For the interior, you can replace any worn-out parts, such as the seats, carpets, and dashboard. You could also upgrade any parts, such as the stereo and speakers, to perfect your dream car.

Finally, you can add any accessories you would like, such as a modern navigation system.

Suggested Basic Restorations To Consider

It is always better to start inside out, i.e., the engine first, interior, and then paint the exterior, for example. Here are some of the most common elements of the classic car restoration project you can do:

Remove Scratches: If the scratches are still visible after the paint procedure, do not worry. All you need is acetone. Apply the acetone to the scratch and then wax since the solution will wear off the protective barrier over the paint. 

Reupholster Seats: If the upholstery is worn out, it is time to replace it with a new one. A local upholstery shop can help you with this.

Replace the Carpet: The carpet can wear out after too much wear and tear. A replacement carpet is available at specialty car stores.

Replace the Windshield: This is a common component that gets damaged due to weather, dirt, and other elements. A new windshield is easy to install, and it will make a huge difference to a classic car.

Replace the Battery: If the battery is old and not working properly, it is time to replace it. This is an important part of the car’s restoration, as it will ensure the vehicle runs properly. If you’re restoring older cars, chances are you will have to buy a new battery.

Replace the Tires: If the tires are worn out, it is important to replace them. This is a safety precaution, as worn-out tires can cause accidents.

Repair Holes: Patch the holes with a matching fiberglass mat.

Remove Rust: Get a sandblaster to remove the rust and other dirt. You can also use chemical rust removers.

Paint the Frame: Paint the car’s frame with high-quality paint and several coats of paint protectors.

These are the most basic steps that should be taken when restoring a classic car, but depending on the purpose of the car, additional steps might be required. With a bit of research and dedication, you can restore your car like a pro!


Restoring a car isn’t an easy task, but it’s definitely an accomplishment if you can do it. It gives you the opportunity to not only learn more about classic cars, but you might also meet some great people in the process. And you get your dream car in the end!

There are some additional tips you should know before setting off to restore your dream car:

  • First, always take pictures before disassembling anything to ensure you get everything back in the right place.
  • Secondly, look for the right parts and know where exactly you are looking. Try to use as many of the original engine parts as possible and only consider replacing worn-out ones.
  • Finally, take a picture before and after your achievement to feel that fantastic pleasure and accomplishment of your very own restored car. 

And ta-da! You now know how to restore a car for beginners.