So, you bought a nice set of rims and perhaps a couple of exterior mods for your ride? Now it’s time to put your personal touch on the inside, and you’re probably asking yourself:
How Can I Make My Car Interior Nicer?
You can upgrade your sound system, buy a steering wheel cover, car mats, new seat covers, etc. Such accessories will enhance your driving experience. I have a post with a long list of interior upgrades for every budget if that’s what you want.
But let me tell you something I’ve discovered many years ago.
Simple interior customizations reflecting your personality will make you feel better than any accessory.
Yes, there will be some trial and error when modding a car. Still, satisfaction is guaranteed when you put your creativity and imagination to work.
I’ll share with you some methods I’ve been using when customizing the interior of my cars.
3 Ways to Customize Your Car Interior
My favorite ways to customize a car’s interior are using vinyl wraps, getting minor upholstery jobs done, and upgrading the cabin lights. Not all are DIY, but they are easy, effective, and inexpensive. You’re good to go if you know how to choose the right colors.
1. Vinyl Wrapping
Vinyl films are cheap, come in many colors and patterns, and you can wrap pretty much any detail of your vehicle’s interior. All you need is a heat gun, squeegee, and utility knife. Here are some ideas for you to consider.
When I say interior trim, I refer to every plastic piece of your car’s interior. Dashboard, door handles, center console, air vent surrounds, speaker grilles, you can wrap everything. I’d suggest starting with a couple of details and then deciding how far you want to go.
When I use wraps, I always match at least one of the existing colors of my car’s interior or exterior. If you want to go with a glossy, satin, carbon fiber, or brushed aluminum finish, think if it will go well with the overall look of your vehicle.
Wrapping the back of your front seats is the most impactful thing you can do, especially if you use high-quality carbon fiber vinyl. Of course, carbon fiber isn’t the best choice for every car; you might opt for glossy or satin black. I don’t think wrapping the back of your seats in bold colors is a great idea.
You can’t wrap the leather part of your steering wheel, but doing the trim pieces in the same colors as your dashboard works well. If you have wooden parts that are cracked or faded, you can do those. Restoring the wood is pricey, so why not refresh it?
2. Partial Re-Upholstery
Most folks, including myself, will have to go to a shop for this part. Still, reupholstering a steering wheel, shifter boot, and areas of the front seats isn’t as expensive. These are often the worn-out parts of a car interior, and restoring them gives you a good opportunity to add some style.
If your car seats are in bad condition, you should consider a complete restoration. If you’re not happy with the color, there are several ways to change it, which I discuss in this article.
Partial re-upholstery is what I’ve done to two of my cars where just my driver bucket seat was damaged.
In my first BMW 3-series, I went with alcantara to match the redone roof liner and added floor mats with accents in the same color. It would’ve looked better if I had also done the back row, but the budget was tight then.
Many shops will say partial replacements for leather interiors are a bad idea. Let them know you want a different color so there won’t be a big contrast between the old and new pieces.
Yes, a steering wheel cover will be much cheaper but less effective. Nowadays, many good-quality faux leathers can create a luxurious feel.
Even a plastic wheel can be completely transformed. If you can afford to spend a few hundred bucks on this, you won’t regret it.
If your steering wheel needs to be repaired, your shifter booth leather could be better, too. I always do both using the same materials and stitching. When customizing a detail, matching it with another part of your vehicle’s interior is always better.
3. Lighting Upgrade
Painting the bulbs of dome lights was the most common mod when I got into car customization. Then, we had the age of neon lights, and now LEDs dominate the market.
The advancements in lighting technology allow us to make our interiors more functional and attractive. Let’s look at a couple of effective ways to do it.
The easiest option is replacing your dome, map, and trunk lights with LED bulbs. These are cheap but much more efficient and durable. While installing LED headlights is an illegal modification in most states, you won’t get in trouble for enhancing the visibility inside your vehicle.
LED Strips or Pods
These are my favorite. I recently got LED strips for our Tesla Model 3, and they gave the interior a completely new look. It’s a bit more challenging to install, but it’s not rocket science and definitely worth the money.
Another inexpensive option available on the online market is the so-called micro pod LEDs. These usually come in a pack of 4 or 6 pods. They are small, easy to install with adhesive tape, and don’t need too much space.
Both accessories are similar in price and features, so it’s up to you to decide.
LED RGB Interior Kits
If you want to feel like you’re in a nightclub, an LED RGB kit is the way to go. These kits offer plenty of features like:
Remote or App control
Music sync functionality
I don’t see the benefits of most effects while driving, and my interior lighting in different colors doesn’t match my style. I like to keep it simple when modding my cars.
However, if you have a high-end sound system and want to make a big statement at local car shows, it might be worth getting one of those kits.
My Final Thoughts
Remember that this article is about how to customize your car interior, and you don’t have to share my opinion on everything. I aim to give you customization ideas rather than tell you how to spend your money.
If you want to get more insights on color and material combos or different car seat patterns and designs, check out my listicle post showing various custom interiors.