As we move deeper into 2023, the world of car modifications continues to evolve. New trends and innovations allow gearheads like you and me to take our rides to the next level. But some old rules still apply, and we should follow them.
To help you start on the right foot, I’ll cover the new trends and old rules.
I hope you figured that I’ll talk about how to get a street car modified. I never had a race car, so giving you guidelines about processes and modifications I haven’t dealt with won’t make sense.
I never owned a shop either, but I spent more time around cars than most shop owners sitting at the computer in their office. I’ve learned many valuable lessons by modifying over a dozen vehicles during the last two decades. Here is one:
Knowing how to approach the process is crucial. That’s how you achieve optimal results without compromising the functionality and safety of the car.
I’ve got some more. Fasten your seatbelt, and let’s go.
What Does It Mean to Get a Street Car Modified Properly?
To modify your ride properly, you must pay attention to the original specifications and features. While most manufacturers leave room for enhancements, we should respect the work done by engineers and designers.
If you ask me, most modern cars are designed by accountants, but that’s another topic.
Experienced enthusiasts alter their cars to improve performance, appearance, or comfort without ruining the factory design or making irreversible changes.
Remember that we’re talking about street cars, right?
No matter how excited you are about your ride being a conversation starter, you’d want to sell it at some point. There won’t be many buyers for a modified car that can’t be reverted to stock.
Don’t cut parts of the frame or drill a bunch of holes in the body to fit aftermarket components. Leave that to race car drivers. Each modification in your selection should complement the vehicle’s existing features.
Tuning kits, for example, are some of the most impactful visual upgrades. Even Tesla owners are taking advantage of these body mods to make their EVs look more sporty.
If you want to go that route, look for something specifically designed for your vehicle instead of mix-matching cheap eBay parts.
When considering mods, prioritize the car’s balance and functionality.
Avoid modifications that can negatively impact your vehicle’s structure.
Before You Start Buying Car Mods
Okay, we’ve covered a couple of fundamental principles. Now, let’s look at the next steps you should take before you start modifying the car. These are as important; don’t skip them.
Do a Proper Maintenance
I know picking aesthetic and performance modifications and visualizing your car’s new look is exciting.
But is your ride in top shape? Have you recently checked the essential components, such as fluids, brakes, suspension, lug nuts, and tires?
If the answer is no, hold your horses.
What’s the point of having a fast and cool-looking car if it’s unreliable? In case you regularly maintain your ride, I give you the green light to move to the next step.
Determine Your Budget
Your budget is your business, but keep in mind that it’s not just buying the upgrades. Specific modifications will also need maintenance.
For example, wheel covers are affordable, and no maintenance is involved, but bigger wheels will need more expensive tires every couple of years. Engine modifications may require more fuel.
Many car owners are good at budgeting but make costly mistakes when customizing their first ride. They miss an essential part of the process – ensuring the selected mods work well together.
Compatibility issues are frustrating and will also eat a significant part of your budget.
Have Clear Goals
Establishing your goals means understanding your priorities. Are you looking to boost performance, modify the interior, or make your car feel more stable on the road?
If you don’t have a bag of money to throw on all upgrades right away, you need to:
Be more flexible
Follow the right order
Let’s say you’ve upgraded the engine and exhaust system. Your car sounds awesome and accelerates much better.
Now you have your eyes on a sleek set of 20s to get the looks right, and you have just enough money left for those rims wrapped in budgeted tires. But what about safety?
Don’t spend your whole budget on more power and cosmetic modifications. A fast car must handle better and stop quickly, too.
Set the Right Expectations
Setting realistic expectations will help you avoid any future regrets. Acknowledge the limitations of your car’s platform and work within those boundaries.
Many performance modifications come at a higher cost. Yet, in most cases, those won’t transform your vehicle into a race car. Basic exhaust system upgrades won’t make a four-cylinder engine sound like V8.
Understanding Car Modifications in 2023
Whether you’re into classic cars or prefer modern vehicles, following the automotive industry’s evolution will be beneficial. Stay updated with the latest trends and technologies to get the most for your buck and future-proof your car.
Beginners entering the realm of car modification often feel overwhelmed by the wide range of options and technicalities involved. If that’s your first project, get familiar with the different types of modifications, available products, and their purpose.
That’s what we’re going to do in the next section. You’ll learn about the basic and some more advanced mods capable of enhancing your car’s:
How to Boost Your Car’s Performance?
There are many ways to get more power. I won’t cover car modifications like a nitrous oxide system or extensive exhaust upgrades. Such mods are illegal for street cars in most states, and I assume you don’t want any trouble with the law.
Whether you own a truck or a car, allowing more air into the engine is the simplest mod. You need to let your engine breathe more air to get more power.
High-performance air intakes are much more efficient when compared to factory ones. When you install such a unit, you’ll get more cold air flowing straight into the throttle body. More air will make the engine burn more fuel, and voila.
Be aware that some cold air intakes are also considered illegal modifications. To be safe, ensure you’ll get a CARB Executive Order (EO) number from the seller.
Once you have that installed, you can get a high-flow air filter. It won’t have a major impact, so it’s not a must. Let’s continue with the car modifications that will.
You need an exhaust upgrade to open your engine breathing further and gain extra power. It helps to get the air out of the engine quicker and optimizes the flow of waste gases.
Here is a quick video explaining how the exhaust systems work:
The legal ways to modify your exhaust for more power and torque are:
As mentioned earlier, more extensive exhaust modifications, such as long tube headers or straight pipes, are illegal.
Modern vehicles come equipped with an engine control unit (ECU). This computer is in charge of a variety of parameters. In our case, the most important is air to fuel ratio.
You can reprogram the factory settings and unlock more power and efficiency through ECU tuning or remapping. That’s a must-do after installing the modifications we discussed above.
In other words, you must let your ECU know about those mods so it can adapt and give you the expected results. Make sure you delegate that task to a professional tuner.
Have you seen drag cars from the inside? With stripped interiors and no air conditioning, drivers surely don’t feel comfortable, but they run faster.
Weight is a major factor when it comes to car performance.
Of course, you’re limited to what you can remove when modifying a street car. But you can replace bumpers, front seats, or wheels with lighter aftermarket options.
Aerodynamic modifications can boost the performance of your vehicle by redirecting the airflow and increasing downforce. The cheap ABS mods won’t make a difference as they will add weight.
Depending on your budget, you can modify your car with a full-body kit or install individual components like a front splitter, side skirts, rear wing, or diffuser.
The key is to keep your car’s weight in check. Only go for lightweight parts made of real carbon fiber. You can read more about its benefits and applications in this article.
How to Improve Your Car’s Handling?
A fast vehicle that handles well is safer and provides a more enjoyable driving experience. Let’s see what modifications will improve cornering, braking, and traction.
The ideal street car suspension should offer a balance between comfort and performance. Depending on the suspension type, many modifications help reduce body roll and maintain better contact with the road surface.
This means more precise steering and increased cornering capabilities.
In my opinion, most of the suspension mods are not necessary for street driving. My BMW 3-series and Tesla Model 3 are set on sport springs to adjust the ride height combined with sway bars to reduce weight transfer. It’s the perfect suspension upgrade.
Braking System Enhancements
Every modern vehicle comes with decent brakes from the factory. However, when you boost your car’s performance, it’s recommended to upgrade your brakes accordingly.
High-performance brake pads, rotors, or calipers will do in most cases. If you went crazy with performance modifications and felt the need for speed, get a bigger brake kit. To allow enough clearance, you may also need additional parts.
Better Wheels and Tires
Allocating part of your modification budget to better wheels and tires is a must. Such an upgrade will enhance your car’s handling capabilities and keep you safe on the road.
High-quality, lightweight wheels will contribute to reduced unsprung weight, which can improve steering responsiveness.
Selecting the appropriate tire compound and tread pattern will optimize the grip and maintain precise control in any driving conditions.
Matt Barnes’ modified Tesla Model 3 Performance is a great example of a wheel & tire combo enhancing both the looks and handling of his car.
How to Give Your Car a Nicer Look?
Aesthetics play a key role in street car modifications. You can give your car a fresh and stylish appearance with a few smart upgrades.
Window tints are one of the most popular visual car modifications. It’s an easy way to enhance your car’s look while providing privacy and protection from harmful UV rays.
Various window tint levels are available, so choose one that suits your preferences and complies with local regulations.
Upgrading your car’s lighting will improve its aesthetics and potentially affect visibility. One option is switching to LED or HID headlights, providing a brighter, more efficient lighting solution.
LED strips or underbody neon lights can also give your car a distinctive, custom look. Just check the local laws and guidelines; some lighting upgrades are considered illegal modifications.
Paint Job or Vinyl Wrap
A new paint job is a classic way to give your car a fresh look. Choosing a unique color or finish to match your personality is very tempting.
However, custom paint jobs are expensive and will negatively affect your car’s resale value if you go wild.
Vinyl wrapping is a cost-effective alternative to paint jobs. It’s a less permanent option, making it perfect for those who want to experiment with different looks. Vinyl wraps come in various colors, finishes, and textures.
The best part is you can modify your car’s exterior even on a tight budget by wrapping just a few body parts like the hood or the roof.
How to Add More Style Inside Your Car?
Adding stylish modifications to your car’s interior can make a big difference in how you feel while driving. After all, this is where you’ll spend most of your time. There are some inexpensive but effective ways to customize your interior.
If you want to keep it simple, start with the interior trim pieces. Replace or wrap the door handles, dashboard accents, center console, and other decorative details. It can make a big difference at a reasonable price.
Various materials and finishes are available, such as carbon fiber, brushed aluminum, and wood grain. You can also choose any color you like. Just make sure it complements the rest of your car’s interior colors.
The steering wheel is not only a functional part of your vehicle but also a significant component of the overall interior style. That’s where your eyes and hands are when you’re on the road.
AJ’s modded Tesla Model 3‘s steering wheel is a perfect example of how you can make your ride stand out.
Explore different designs and materials or a specific combination of colors that match your car’s theme. I recommend buying a steering wheel compatible with your vehicle’s airbag.
That’s where people spend the most when customizing their car’s interior. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these top-notch custom interiors.
Reupholstering it with high-quality materials will elevate the look and feel of your vehicle. Custom embroidery or stitching can also add a personal touch that makes your car stand out.
If the price is too high for you, replacing the boot of your shifter and handbrake is something to consider. Matching the colors and materials of your aftermarket steering wheel works great.
Finding the Best Car Mods
Once you’ve set your goals and determined your budget, it’s time for the fun part. Just don’t rush because there are many mistakes to make during the modification shopping.
Cost Effective Mods
The car modification landscape has significantly changed. The market is flooded with parts and accessories, yet not many manufacturers sell quality products.
That’s why proper research is key to getting the best modifications at the right price. Online forums and groups provide a wealth of information for car enthusiasts.
Reading reviews is as important; don’t limit yourself to customer feedback left on product pages. These are often fake. Try to find objective, unbiased reviews on blogs.
The purpose of this article isn’t to advertise a particular brand or product. Therefore, I won’t mention any. What I preach in every post of mine covering car modifications is:
Always go for trusted brands that have been around for a while!
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about suspension upgrades, wheels, tires, or exhaust mods. Choosing a brand recognized in the automotive world for its quality products will give you many benefits:
Excellent customer support
The Financial Side of Car Modification
When you start modifying a street car, you should also think about the financial implications involved. In this section, I’ll briefly cover the aspects of resale value and car insurance directly impacted by car modifications.
I don’t mean to discourage you, but I need to be objective.
Even if you combine the best mods possible, no one will pay more than half the price of your car upgrades. Always keep your stock parts so you can put those back on and sell the mods separately.
Let me give you an example:
I bought BBS CI-R 19″ for my wife’s Tesla because this is one of their iconic designs. I know many other cars have the same bolt pattern, which means many potential buyers for the wheels.
Do you think I’ll get good money for the stock Tesla wheels? Of course not. I’ll just put those back on when we decide to let the electric car go and then sell the BBS.
That’s why, in my Best Tesla Model 3 Rims roundup, I recommend wheels from reputable brands that look good on almost any other car.
Insurance companies consider modified vehicles riskier since many car modifications can increase the likelihood of theft or accidents.
To ensure that your mods are covered and you are not left underinsured, I’d recommend notifying your insurer of any extensive upgrades.
Some companies offer special auto insurance coverage for modified street cars. Remember, though, that the premiums for such coverage can be substantial, sometimes amounting to around 10% of the value of the modifications.
In 2023, modifying your street car the right way involves careful planning and research. Consider the cost involved, determine a budget, and evaluate the long-term expenses associated with each upgrade. Furthermore, it’s essential to:
Focus on high-quality components
Prioritize reputable manufacturers
Follow legal and safety regulations
Consult with professional mechanics
Car Modification FAQ
To wrap it up, I’ll answer some common questions I came across online. I hope this article was helpful and wish you luck with your street car project.
Is Modifying Your Car Good?
Modifying your street car can be a great way to personalize it and improve its performance. However, it’s important to do it correctly to avoid safety and legal issues. Always ensure compliance with state laws and follow manufacturer specifications when making modifications.
Is Car Modding Expensive?
Car modding costs can vary widely depending on the type and extent of the mods. Some car modifications, such as exterior or suspension upgrades, can be inexpensive. Other parts, like performance boosters, which require professional labor, can be costly.
Do Modified Cars Lose Value?
Modified street cars may lose value if the work isn’t done professionally. Some upgrades can damage the vehicle or significantly alter its appearance. However, well-executed and tasteful car modifications can sometimes increase the value for specific buyers.
Is It Worth Modding a New Car?
Whether it’s worth modding a new car depends on your preferences and goals. It may be worthwhile if you want to improve performance or personalize your vehicle. However, modifying a new car could void its warranty or affect its resale value.
What Should You Upgrade in a Car?
There are many potential areas for car upgrades. Some popular options are:
Performance mods, such as upgraded exhaust systems or engine tuning.
Suspension modification for improved handling or ride comfort.
Interior upgrades, like custom upholstery or entertainment systems.
Exterior enhancements, like custom paint jobs, vinyl wraps, or body kits.
Always ensure that any car modifications you make are legal and won’t compromise the vehicle’s safety.
What Are the Disadvantages of Getting a Car Modified?
While car modifications can have many benefits, there can also be some drawbacks:
Potential impact on resale value: As mentioned earlier, extensive car modifications can negatively affect resale value.
Voided warranty: Some modifications can void your vehicle’s warranty, particularly if they involve changes to the engine or drivetrain.
Legal issues: Some modifications may be illegal in your state, which could lead to fines or other penalties.
Cost: High-quality parts and professional labor can be expensive.