Clean MachineBefore you ever think of gluing in your first piece of carpet, sound deadener, or vinyl into the office of your car, clean everything-thoroughly. Vacuum, wash, and scrub everything you see. Dirt, grease, old glue, and bits of old upholstery material will cause the new glue not to seat properly. And if you managed to get some of the old junk under the carpet or upholstery, you might find an unpleasant lump or two in the trim.
Soft Wire TiesVelcro is wonderful stuff. Bet you didn't know it makes a great wire wrap? You can even use it to temporarily tie up loose bunches of wire. If you go to a sewing store, you'll find that Velcro is sold in varying widths and almost any combination of length and color. The best plan is to throw a few lengths of the stuff into your toolbox for use as a quick zip tie. And in some cases, it makes for a very suitable, soft wire loom.
Guiding LightIf you re-carpet your car, you might find that the seat and track re-installation process isn't much fun. In fact, it can turn a simple job into a real pain in the you-know-where. Here's a solution: Once you have unbolted and removed the seats, tracks and shims, take the two rear-track bolts and bolt them back in place in the two rear holes. The bolts protrude up through the pad, carpet, shims, and track, making it much easier to properly place the seat tracks. If you can't access these bolts from under the car, then buy two appropriately threaded, 4-5-inch long bolts from a hardware store, cut the heads off, sharpen one end and hand thread them into place from inside the vehicle. Install the carpet next (the sharp point will give you a guide as to where to slice the carpet). Once tracks and seats are in place, remove one bolt at a time and re-install the correct bolts.
Steering You StraightWhen converting a car with a steering lock to race car status, always remove or disable the steering wheel lock. As you know, most cars from 1969 to the present use some form of lock on the steering wheel to prevent theft. Unfortunately, those same locks can have a nasty habit of engaging on a modified car at the worst possible time (like going through the traps at 120 mph). When disabling the lock, it is possible to leave the ignition switch in place (whether functional or not). It just takes a bit of time (and if it's a GM tilt column, a bunch of patience) to disassemble the column.
Lapping It UpSeat belts are available in different lengths. When measuring your car for lap belts allow for a minimum of 3-inches pull-tab length on each side as a safety margin. Take the distance from mounting point to mounting point (measured across the lap) and add 6 inches to the total. Compare this to the belt range offered by the manufacturer. The most desirable lap belt mounting point is 2-1/2-inches forward of the seat and backrest intersection.
Air ApparentThe cold, wet winters in many parts of the country create plenty of condensation. It's silently attacking your car. Not only are water and debris tracked in and out of the vehicle's interior, but interior moisture is attracted naturally. This moisture hides behind your vehicle's interior panels, and in the trunk area. Condensation eventually leads to mold and mildew. You can fight the moisture during sunny spring days by opening all of the windows, the doors and trunk so the outside air and sun can evaporate those moist areas. Be sure to pull your floor mats, trunk floor mat and spare tire out of the car. Allow the vehicle air out as long as possible, but keep in mind that the odd squirrel, dog, cat or raccoon might be attracted to the new digs!
Sound AdviceWhen you are insulating the cockpit of your car or adding extra sound-deadening material to the cockpit, give some thought to the underside of the hood. The same sound deadener used inside the cab can also be used under the hood-and in many cases, it does wonders for reducing under-hood commotion.