One of the most satisfying things a gearhead can do is take an ordinary production car and install the necessary mods to make it look cooler and boost performance. Car modification has grown in popularity over the last two decades, thanks to the availability of various aftermarket parts for different project cars and a wealth of information on how to go about it.
If you’re taking on a car modification project on your own, it’s important to know which mods to buy and which ones to avoid. This article explores five of the best mods a gearhead can buy versus five we think are a waste of money.
10 Car Mod We Love: Turbo and Superchargers
If you own a naturally aspirated car and want to increase its power output significantly, the fastest, and arguably the best way to do so, is by adding a turbocharger or supercharger. These two systems work by forcing more air into the engine’s combustion chamber to increase the power output.
For cars that already come with forced induction, it’s possible to increase the size (or change pulleys on a supercharger) to gain even more power. Turbochargers and superchargers serve the same purpose but function differently, so be careful when choosing between the two. You also want to ensure that it’s installed correctly, preferably by a professional.
9 Car Mod We Hate: Exhaust Whistle Tip
We all love the sweet exhaust note produced by a turbocharged vehicle. If you want to achieve a similar sound with a non-turbo vehicle, you can install a whistle tip to your exhaust.
While you may love how your vehicle sounds with an exhaust tip, your neighbors probably hate you for it, especially if it’s one of those with a high-pitched noise. It may also be illegal, depending on your location.
8 Car Mod We Love: Upgraded Brakes
Before you even think about touching the engine, you should first upgrade your brakes. Without good brakes, your car won’t be able to manage the extra power. Even if you don’t plan to upgrade your engine, better brakes will still enhance your driving experience, as the car will be more responsive.
A set of high-quality brake pads is a good place to start, but you can also look into upgrading your discs, calipers, brake hoses, and brake line.
7 Car Mod We Hate: Stick-On Vents
Stick-on vents and hood scoops are a common sight on modified cars. They’re so popular that manufacturers are now producing cars with fake vents straight from the factory. They’re typically installed to make a car look like a performance-oriented vehicle, as vents and hood scoops are typically used to improve cooling and aerodynamics in high-performance supercars.
However, almost every gearhead can immediately tell when you have fake vents and hood scoops glued to your car. They may also reduce your vehicle’s aerodynamic efficiency.
6 Car Mod We Love: Stiffer and Lower Suspension
Unless you have one of those cars that roll out of the factory with a race-tuned suspension – such as the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon – your car probably doesn’t feel that great to drive. While most factory suspension systems are designed to provide a smooth and comfortable ride in different conditions, they usually lack the stiffness and handling of a race-tuned suspension.
You can try different types of suspension upgrades depending on your budget. For instance, you can install stiffer springs, adjustable coilovers, and more.
5 Car Mod We Hate: Fake performance badges
Almost every top automaker has a special performance division that turns ordinary models into ultra-fast performance models. BMW has the M division, Nissan has Nismo, and Audi has the RS division, to name a few.
Of course, cars tuned by these divisions cost more than the base versions, which is why some gearheads think it’s a good idea to stick a performance division badge on regular models. While you may think your regular Audi looks cooler with RS emblems, most gearheads will immediately know that it’s fake.
4 Car Mod We Love: Tires And Wheels
Tires are probably the first and most important upgrade for a new project car, since they’re the only connection your car has to the road. There’s no point in investing in all kinds of performance upgrades if your tires won’t be able to handle them.
While upgrading your tires, you might also want to upgrade the wheels as well. Wheels not only improve your car’s looks, but can also boost performance. For instance, lightweight wheels will reduce the unsprung weight, and if they have a functional design, they could also dissipate heat faster than stock rims.
3 Car Mod We Hate: Weird Rims And Hubcaps
Spinners used to be popular back in the day, especially in rap music videos. They were fun to play with and made wheels look like they were spinning while the car was stationary.
However, no one wants to see this kind of weirdness in 2022 as they’re widely viewed as corny. They’re also illegal in many states, as they can be disturbing or distracting to other drivers.
2 Car Mod We Love: Adjustable Anti-Roll Bar
Body roll is the sensation a driver gets when turning into a corner – it feels like the vehicle is leaning over, and in some cases, it can feel like the car is about to flip.
A great way to reduce this leaning sensation is by using adjustable anti-roll bars. These connect both sides of the car’s suspension, which keeps the weight more evenly distributed during cornering and thus prevents body lean.
1 Car Mod We Hate: Tinted Headlights And Taillights
Some gearheads think it’s a good idea to tint their headlights and taillights to create a blacked-out look. There’s no denying that a totally blacked-out car looks cool. However, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your safety or that of other drivers.
Of course, tinted headlights and taillights may not have enough intensity to fulfill their purpose, especially during the day. Don’t be surprised if someone rear-ends you if you have tinted taillights.
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