Since you landed on this page, I’d assume you’re new to auto modifications. Whether you want to boost your car’s performance or give it a more appealing look, you’re probably asking yourself:
Is it worth spending time and money on modding a car?
If you ask car enthusiasts like myself who have been doing it for decades, the answer is Hell Yeah! But I must warn you that this is a very addictive and expensive hobby.
Before buying and installing car mods, you should also know how those upgrades will affect your vehicle’s resale value and insurance cost.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to turn you down. My blog is all about modifying street cars. I just want to be objective and help you decide whether it is worth modifying your car.
So, let’s start with the basics.
What is Considered a Modded Car?
A modded car is when you take what the manufacturer gave you and push it a step further – or many steps, depending on how far you want to go. I’m talking about suspension upgrades, engine modifications, exhaust systems, body kits, custom interiors, etc.
I see many people doing window tints, adding some LED lights, slapping a set of wheel spacers or offset rims, and then thinking that they’ve modded the car.
These are basic personalizations before diving deep into the custom car scene. They won’t have a big impact on how potential buyers or insurance brokers will look at your vehicle.
I have a list of cheap and effective exterior mods you could start with.
Why Do People Mod Cars?
There is no single answer to that question. I’ve been around custom builds for decades, and the reasons people modify cars are as diverse as car enthusiasts. However, there is one goal that we all have in common:
Taking something ordinary and making it stand out!
Some guys do it only for the looks, some seek more power, and others need to be part of a community. No matter the reason, the personal connection you build with your car through modifications is exceptional.
Now that I’ve done my inspirational talk, it’s time to address the one thing bothering every beginner’s mind.
Do Car Modifications Lower Value?
As much as I love customizing my rides, the truth is that not all car mods will play a good role in your vehicle’s value. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. While you’re making the car more appealing to you, often, you’ll be narrowing the pool of potential buyers.
An aggressive body kit looks cool and improves aerodynamics and performance, but it will scream ‘hard life’ to most prospective buyers.
Adding an aftermarket cold air intake or upgrading your entire exhaust system will also boost performance, but it’s a red flag for average buyers worried about reliability and longevity.
Even a custom paint job can be a hit or miss if you go for wild colors. Finding someone with the same taste can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
I share my approach to modifying cars and resale value, as well as insights from other modded car owners, in this blog post. It’s about Teslas, but the principle applies to any vehicle.
Upgrades That Add Value to Your Car
There are various opinions about whether and what aftermarket upgrades add value to a car. You’ll hardly find a large group of people attracted to the same modifications.
My advice is to play strategically. In other words, choose auto modifications that:
- Appeal to a wider audience
- Enhance functionality and efficiency
- Improve the overall driving experience
You need to research your specific car and model to determine what popular upgrades fit into that category. Dive into social media and forums to see what other owners spend money on and decode the reactions and comments.
Generally speaking, the average car enthusiast would appreciate customizations that protect the car, like PPFs or ceramic coating. Another example would be a basic suspension upgrade, like lowering springs that improve the car’s handling and appearance without ruining ride quality.
Before spending money on boosting the performance of your car, get familiar with the modifications allowed by the law in your area. I have an article on the most illegal car mods in the U.S. in case you want to dive into the topic.
I wouldn’t recommend anything that alternates the control system of your vehicle’s emissions. Many modifications will, and they won’t add much value to your vehicle. Quite the opposite, they’ll make the sale more difficult.
So, Should You Mod Your Car?
I won’t lie to you. Your car customization journey will be paved with both excitement and frustration. There will be a lot of trial and error. Replacing OEM parts with aftermarket mods will often lead to problems, especially with older cars.
I recently decided to replace my weekend toy’s (BMW E46) turn signals with orange ones. I paid 50 bucks for an aftermarket pair. Apparently, during the installation, I damaged one of the headlight seals.
Long story short, car wash, water inside the headlight, control module died, another $150.
Things are not as bad with modern vehicles, though. As long as you buy modifications from reputable manufacturers, you won’t suffer as much with the installation.
The downside is that the newer the car, the more expensive the mods are. If you’re a young driver, the insurance cost is also something to consider.
Planning to modify a leased car? Hold your horses!
Any permanent modifications will get you in trouble. Leasing companies want you to return the car in its stock condition. So, if you’re going to alter it, make sure you only do reversible mods and keep your original parts. Most importantly, stay away from performance upgrades.
The Final Lap
Hopefully, the last few paragraphs didn’t discourage you. I just wanted to prepare you for the challenges you may face. But hey, modding a car is a great experience, and it’s totally worth it.
Researching parts, picking the best interior colors, finding the perfect wheels and tires, learning how to tweak the engine for better performance, everything involved in the process will keep you excited.
And let’s not forget the community – sharing your mods, getting advice, and showing off your hard work at car meets. I’ve made great friends and got some sweet car sponsorships over the years. Happy modding.