Say that your dad has an old car just sitting in the garage that’s been there for so long, plants have started to grow on some parts of it. Even then, it’s clear that the car has a lot of potential, and the car enthusiast in you believes that you can restore it to its former glory.

Car restoration only requires a few steps, but the process can take a lot of time and money, not to mention your full dedication. For starters, it can take more than a month’s worth of work to completely restore a car, and you’re going to replace a lot of its parts, which can both be expensive and hard to find.

That said, there are ways to make the entire project flow more smoothly without breaking the bank. All that it takes is some efficient planning on your part. Here’s what you need to do to restore an old or classic car:

Assess the car

What’s the car’s damage level? Is the engine in working condition? Does the body look like extensive work? Maybe it just hasn’t been used in a long time and all that’s required is minimal restoration.

Either way, you should evaluate how much work the car needs. Its current condition will dictate how much time and money you must invest in it.

Make an outline

Assuming that you know your way around cars, your next step after evaluation is to make an outline of the classic car parts and materials that must be purchased, along with the work that has to be done.

This will help you identify which jobs to prioritize and which ones can be saved for later. In addition, it can help you perform the car restoration at a pace you are comfortable with.

Decide on the quality of parts

After you have a list of the parts for replacement, it’s time to ask yourself: do you want your car to have the best parts that money can buy, or can you compromise in certain areas?

If you decide on the latter, choose which parts should be OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and which parts you can buy at a lower price.

DIY or professional?

If you don’t have sufficient car repair skills and knowhow, you might experience some hiccups as your auto restoration project progresses. DIY can save you money, but mistakes in vintage car restoration can be costly, and you can end up spending more than you planned to.

If you know that you’re going to need the services of a car restoration shop at some point, include the cost in your budget.

Set your budget

Classic car Now that you know which parts to buy and what type of work is involved, it’s time to determine your budget. Research the prices of the parts that are up for replacement on the internet, or visit a local car parts shop and ask for an estimate.

For the jobs that require professional help, go to a car maintenance shop and request a labor estimate on the work that you want done. When you arrive at a budget figure, add 30 percent to it so you can have more wiggle room for spending and be better prepared for surprises.

Document as you go

As you dismantle your vehicle, you’ll want to document your work so you will know which part goes where when time comes to reassemble. Give each section of the vehicle its own storage area or bin, and be careful where you put various nuts and bolts.

It’s easy to forget the little things and end up with a jar of unused bits. Give each step enough time to be fully completed so you don’t work in chaos.

Work the metal

As you begin the restoration process, the first order of business is the car’s metalwork. This means fixing dents, removing rust, and replacing any metal panels that are too damaged for repair.

Don’t forget to check the car’s chassis and flooring. For the car’s chrome features, polish them to a shine using an electric buffer and a good buffing product. If the chrome is too damaged, have it re-chromed, or replace it with a brand new part.

Work the paint

If you plan to keep the car in its original color, it’s best to keep as much of the original paint as possible. If the original paint isn’t too bad to begin with, then you can try to polish it up the best you can.

However, if you want the whole car repainted, remember that you must prime any bare metal before painting.

Work the cabin

The vehicle’s cabin is arguably the one aspect of restoring old cars that you should never scrimp on, as it is essential to your comfort when driving the vehicle.

Depending on the level of wear and tear, you may have to replace all of the cab’s features including the dash, carpeting, upholstery, seats, etc. You may even have to upgrade the AC system if it still uses the now-illegal R-12 refrigerant. Ultimately, you need to ensure that the cabin is sturdy, solid and safe when you’re done with your restoration project.

Restore vehicle performance

If the powertrain is pretty much intact, then a change oil and cleanup will be all that’s necessary, otherwise, you may have to overhaul the engine and/or transmission. Be sure to replace any belt, tensioner, hose, or wire that have become brittle from lack of use.

Check the clutch and brake system to confirm they are working properly. Inspect the suspension system as well, and observer any bearing that call for a bit of greasing. Involve the help of a technician from a restoration garage if you have to.

Take a look at the tires

Depending on how long the car has been on standby, you may have to replace all the tires. You can try filling them up with air and seeing if they hold, but if it’s been years since they were last used, it’s best that you replace them altogether.

Update your exhaust system

Along with your air conditioning system, you may have to update your car’s exhaust system as well. Car emission laws are more stringent than ever, and you need to take measures to decrease your car’s harmful emissions.

The good news is that an exhaust system upgrade can improve gas mileage, which can help you save on fuel costs.

Drive off with your dream car

Once the work is completed, all that’s left to be done is to drive your newly restored vehicle. So put on your sunglasses and dazzle everyone on the road with it.