Buying a used 94-04 Mustang and fixing it up CHEAP, my DIY experience
Wanted to buy my first used car even though I am a truck guy. Thought hey I have heard good historical things about Ford, I see Mustangs all over the road, there are many for sale used at cheap prices, and parts both used and new are widely available. My budget was $2000 to $3500 cheaper the better. That ruled out 2005 on. So I got a red 2004 V6 3.9l vert auto for $2600. As with almost any used car there will be mechanical/cosmetic issues to fix. A decade old car is the newest I have owned but that is still old. The following is what I did to make the Mustang work for me and hopefully will give a used Mustang buyer a example of what can be done to spiff up their new/used Mustang. Please comment/reply with your thoughts on this subject. This is my first Mustang post-Alex
Starting off- You will want a car cover and driveway ramps, tarp or a cheap used cover will stave off those vert leaks should you have them,keep the car cleaner and function as a drop cloth when painting ect. Make ramps with scrap plywood and goods screws, forget about
nails. Two 3 foot wide ramps will conquer scrapes. Also make longer, narrower, higher plywood ramps to aid under car fixes if you are not rail thin and prone to cramps. Search for build plans if you want to save time or build to your specs.
On to the car- I started outside as beauty is skin. LOOK at your car all over. It may have stock or respray paint. It may be dinged or scratched in places. Don't sweat it, cover it. Mustang bras will cover many problems and mirror covers may also help. I got a $25 bra that happened to match my paint. Make or buy cheap mirror covers to cover chipped/cracked housings. Now look at your hood, if not centered proper then do what you have to do to center it e.g. drilling hinge slots carefully to your needs. Same with trunk if you want to. Now get some Rustoleum enamel/primer/clear coat from Wally. Big cans for cheap, look for sales. Start to paint, e.g. rims, spoiler, hood, body stripes,calipers, all plastic bits and bobs, antenna, exhaust tip, bumper recess, grill and whatever else. Do it right and search for tips. You will be using cleaner fluid,sand paper, paint thinner, masking tape, plastic covering ect. so learn and do your best. I used black paint to match the top/tires for a two toned look. Speaking of the top now is the time to reseal the top to the back window and recolor the top. Call and ask a autobody supplier what to use, I went with DAP silicon sealant and New Showroom Black coloring. Stay away from stickers unless they are free IMO. Use good smooth duct tape to black out side markers and fill in the Mustang bumper letters, press fit the tape and learn how to carefully use a razor. Yes you can cut tape and vinyl directly on the car paint if you are good. Side markers are easy, letters are hard. Garage door seal for a chin lip if you want.
Mechanicals- Ok again outside first, you may need newer tires and rims, I did for sure. Find them cheap, they are available. I got FST 18in triple chrome rims cheap with used staggered Z rated tires mounted. If you need newer tires consider the whole wheelset too it may be cost effective for you if you sell your old wheels. My exhaust tip hanger was broken, use stripped cable wire e.g. old PC cables and hose clamp to snug it back up, it will not snap like steel wire tends to. Use the stripped rubber housing and glue to frame your license plate(s). Why waste it? Check your brakes and replace what's needed. Use good waterproof grease and apply to all latches. Use body screws everywhere needed( I needed a few). Clean under the hood everywhere top and bottom by hand-OLD CARS NEED A LIGHT TOUCH. Change oil/ filter with synthetic if you choose(again look for sales). Change coolant and flush out with proper cleaner. Change spark plugs, I used NGK G-power. Change fuel filter. Change stock air filter to a cold air intake. Check all fluid levels. You may need to change/top off other fluids. Top off battery fluid. I added Rislone oil treatment to quiet start up tick and fuel injector cleaner.
Almost done- Clean inside car and lift the gas pedal with spacer (Ford tried add leg room the cheap way..lol) this will take up throttle cable slack and is a MUST DO. I had to glue the power switch unit back to door panel as well. Redrill seat mounts if you are very tall. Add floormats as needed. After all my fixes I'm into it for less than $3000 and very happy with the car.
Last word- Used aftermarket and oem parts are out there cheap, find them and boltem on.
I added a rear swaybar for $20 and will be looking out for more boltons. I recommend Mustangs for a cheap way to have fun with style. Thanks and comment on your thoughts.