There are so many ways to modify a car. But which car mods are actually worthwhile? And which are better avoided? This post takes a look into the best and worst ways to modify your car.
The impact of modifying your car
Many people like the idea of modifying their car. However, before investing in any car mod, it’s important to consider the consequences. Modifying your car could affect:
- Your car’s value
- Your insurance premiums
- The safety/security of the vehicle
- Fuel economy
- The legality of your vehicle
Car modifications could have a positive or negative effect on any of these factors. Car mods that have more of a negative effect on these factors are generally worth avoiding. Below are a few examples…
10 car mods to avoid
An oversized spoiler will likely do nothing but ‘spoil’ your vehicle. Spoilers are designed to reduce drag, but oversized spoilers will typically have the opposite effect and slow your car down. You could also see your insurance rates going up dramatically as insurers associate them with reckless ‘boy racer’ driving.
Gull wing doors
Gull wing doors look ridiculous on most vehicles that aren’t supercars (and many of these already have gull wing doors). They’re also expensive to install and maintain. Plus, if you crash and your car ends up upside-down, you won’t be able to open them!
Spinning rims may look cool to some of us, but they can be distracting to other drivers – so much so that some states have proposed to ban them. Some forms of spinners are already illegal, which is something you will need to look into before installing them.
Negative cambered wheels
Negative cambered wheels may improve handling, but they are generally not worthwhile due to the strain they can put on your car’s suspension. There have been many cases of back wheels snapping off when not installed properly and they create uneven wear on your tires. These mods also take more value off your car than almost any other mod.
Putting neon lights underneath your car to create an underglow is illegal in some states. In states where it is legal, you should still think carefully before getting this lighting installed as it can be a distraction to drivers and may have you mistaken for an emergency vehicle.
Dark window tints
Window tint laws vary by state. In some states like New Jersey, any level of window tinting on front side windows is not allowed. Others allow window tinting on all windows but have strict restrictions as to how dark you can go – and generally limo tint (which allows only 10% light in) is banned on front side windows and windscreens in all states due to hindered visibility.
Loud exhaust systems
Many states have laws in place that prohibit unnecessarily loud exhausts. This typically means that if you tamper with the muffler in any way that is designed purely to make it noisier, authorities can take action. Cities like LA even have a decibel limit of 95db.
Nitrous oxide has been made famous through various street racer games like Need For Speed. But, unsurprisingly, it’s illegal to use on the roads in the US. In fact, the only time a car can use nitrous oxide is for approved events on race tracks.
Catalytic converter removal
Catalytic converters are installed on all cars to help reduce emissions. However, some car owners remove them to increase engine performance. What many of these car owners don’t realize is that this is illegal – not just in some states, but on a federal level. In fact, it’s illegal in most countries around the world. So don’t do it!
Fake car badges
Fake car badges can devalue your car and may even create confusion for other drivers if they need to identify your car. While certain novelty badges are okay, you should avoid trying to make your car look like another brand or model – while technically not illegal (unless you’re selling your car, and claiming it’s another model), it’s still confusing to others.
Which car mods are actually worthwhile?
Some car modifications are worth the money you put into them. While they may have some negative consequences, the positive impact of these mods will usually make them worth the trade-off. 10 key examples include:
Many premium tires are worth their higher price tag. They are often designed to limit wear, helping them to last much longer than regular tires. They are also designed to be safer and often quieter too. Reduced roll resistance could even result in greater fuel efficiency in some cases. The best time to replace tires with premium options is when your existing tires are already damaged or well worn. However, you can upgrade your tires whenever you want.
Dash cams are becoming increasingly popular and they can have many benefits. On top of being able to capture footage of road trips and strange sights on the road, they can be used to collect video evidence that could be useful when filing a police report or making an insurance claim. In fact, some insurers will reduce your insurance rates if you have a dash cam fitted – making dash cams one of the few mods that will reduce your insurance rates instead of increasing them.
Touchscreen infotainment systems typically contain all kinds of features in one place including bluetooth connectivity, digital radio, GPS and various vehicle metrics to monitor your driving. While many modern cars have these pre-installed, the majority of used cars don’t. Adding one of these infotainment systems could be a great way to modernize your vehicle and could even increase its value.
Phone mounts are one of the easiest car mods to install – most are attached using a silicone suction pad and can be easily adjusted to any phone model. They’re useful if you need to use GPS on your phone and want to be able to glance at the screen, plus they can allow you to identify incoming callers when using bluetooth settings. Many phone mounts also double-up as wireless phone chargers, allowing you to charge up your phone on the go. And they don’t cost much either!
Alloy wheels are the most popular car mod. Many people get them because they want their wheels to look cool and shiny, but there are other advantages to alloys. They can actually improve handling on most cars because they are so much lighter than standard metal wheels. They can also increase the value of your car and have no impact on your insurance rates in most cases.
Cold air intake
While remapping your engine is probably one of the best engine mods you can make to improve its performance, installing a cold air intake is not far behind in terms of its performance perks. This mod allows more cold air into your engine, which can make it more powerful and fuel-efficient. Insurers may increase your insurance rates slightly for getting a cold air intake fitted, but the price increase is much less than if you were to remap your engine. Check out the likes of these Dodge parts to find the perfect filter for your car.
Lowering your suspension can improve the look of your car and improve performance. It isn’t recommended on all cars, but can make many regular cars and sports cars look cooler – and may even increase their value. Of course, you need to be careful of how low you go and need to make sure that it’s practical on your local roads (it’s not recommended on roads with lots of bumps or potholes). A lowered suspension may increase your insurance rates, so bear this in mind.
Changing the color of your car or adding decals can greatly reduce the resale value of your car. However, this is usually only true when painting directly onto the bodywork. Applying a new color or decals using a vinyl wrap won’t affect your car’s value, because when you plan to sell your car you can easily peel off the wrap. This makes car wraps one of the best options for changing the appearance of your car. They are particularly popular when adding logos or company information to business vehicles. Always hire a professional to install and remove the vinyl wrap for the best results.
Installing leather seats in your car may actually increase the value (if you don’t already have leather seats). Leather is seen as lower maintenance and more of a luxury material, and so cars with leather seating tend to sell for more.
The final most worthwhile car mod to consider could be a tow bar. These are great practical modifications because they can allow you to tow trailers and other vehicles. A tow bar may add value to your car. The exceptions are small cars and sports cars which can lose value by adding a tow bar.