Modding a car can make it marvelous and personalize it. It can also make you look like an immense tool who thought your pickup needed a spoiler. The trick to tricking out your whip is to start from a place of function, and then add form and flair to go along for the ride. By asking yourself first and foremost what you need your car to do, you can then choose the proper build to accomplish that task. If you do it the other way, and ask what would look good and amaze the natives, you’re chasing admiration, and will only get it from the people who are least respectable in the world.
When you are working on breathing new life into an old ride or adding more to a new car, you should do it the same way you outfitted your garage: A little bit at a time. You should do the research, talk to some experts, read up on what will be a benefit to your car, and what will be a waste of time and money. Plugging a carbon fiber driveshaft into your 1984 Crown Vic isn’t going to impress anyone except the divorce attorney you’ll need when your spouse leaves you for wasting all that scratch. Begin with a few basics, and gradually ramp up to bigger jobs as you determine they’ll actually aid your driving. For inspiration, here’s a set of the 19 most useful car mods to put under the hood.
This is especially good for vintage cars that have a big steering wheel. By changing the ratio of your steering box you can get tighter turns and a lot more control. You might need to get a smaller steering wheel, but it will alter the handling so much, you’ll feel like it’s a whole new machine. Please: If you get a steering wheel without an airbag, have a 5-point harness to stay, how you say, alive.
This counts as a car modification, and one that is welcome in the most battered of beaters. Not everyone can drive a supercar, but most people can show off a little with a decent deck and a pair of quality component speakers. This doesn’t mean a ridiculous colon-shaking sub, but rather something that makes your music sound good.
Meant for serious off-roaders or track rats, you’ll only want this if you actually might roll your vehicle. Get it just to look badass, and you’ll be a laughing stock. Don’t put it on when you require it, and you’ll be a corpse.
Anyone who likes life off the beaten path should have a winch on their vehicle. It’s not only for getting your jeep unstuck, but for saving lives. Likewise, if you live in snowy territories where cars can litter the ditch on icy days, then having this can make you the neighborhood savior.
This is simple. Lighter cars go faster. Lighter cars hug the road better. Lighter cars corner tighter. Lighter cars save money on gas. So, hack off your hood, your roof, and even any doors you can spare and replace them with more airy components.
Quality brakes allow you to go faster, believe it or not. The tighter your braking game, the less you need to apply the brakes, and the more time you can spend putting the pedal down. You’ll corner slicker, and you’ll shave time off your laps by less time slowing down.
The anti-roll cage, sway bars increase a cars torsional rigidity, effectively connecting the corners to one another for a more maneuverable, less shifty ride. Get them for the front and the rear of your car, and stick to one brand throughout, so there’s no differentiation from front to back. You’ll get a lot of turning improvement from this small upgrade, and be able to feel more control around every corner.
Find the best tires you can afford and buy them. No matter what else you do to soup up or trick out your vehicle, a set of good tires improves your traction, which makes the car go forward better. A massive engine with no grip is a noisy waste of time.
Every car after the mid-1990’s has an OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) which can tell you a ton about what’s happening on your tires, with your gears, and how your engine is running. All that data can be used to tweak and improve in small increments, making it must-have information. Likewise, an ECU (Engine Control Unit) tells your car how to mix the air, what speed to idle at, and “chipping” it, or altering it, can give you more professional performance. In both cases, deal with a pro who knows what they’re doing.
Spark It Up
Easy as pie, a set of really nice spark plugs gives you better ignition, which creates a better burn, which is where your car gets its power. Use only single-piece plugs as more can go wrong with two-piece. Copper works the best, but falls apart every few thousand miles. The best choice for balanced plugs is iridium, which is also fun to say.
Don’t strap into a 5-point harness, but do get a nice seat that’s comfortable and looks good. Your back, hips, legs, knees, and that sweet ass will all thank you.
Tune Your Suspension
This doesn’t mean lowering a car to a laughable height. It means changing how your car sits to better fit your lifestyle. If you want a sedan to become a runner, or a speed demon to get some lift, altering the suspension is how you get there.
It’s better to be good on the inside than on the outside. Even if your ride doesn’t draw admiring looks, inviting a date into a plush interior shows you have depth and taste where it counts, rather than surface flash that doesn’t matter.
You want to get the wasted air and toxic gasses out of your car as quickly as possible that more power can be pushed in. To do this, you should add in headers or custom pipes to keep the vehicle running clean. You should also aim for a nice sound, and that doesn’t mean one that just rattles the windows, but makes a nice rumble/purr when you take it around the block.
Every manual transmission can benefit from a short throw shifter. Less time shifting means more time in gear. Plus, it’s fun as hell to whip through your speeds.
Get to know bushings since these simple little rubber bits can really enhance how your suspension rides. Go through your system and swap out all the rubber with polyurethane for a smoother, softer ride that won’t break down as easily, creating a cushier feel on the road.
Cold Air Intake
Probably the cheapest way to get more power and fuel efficiency out of your car, a cone air intake gets more oxygen inside the engine, leading to greater horsepower and a nicer burn during the combustion cycle. The result is less gas wasted, more revving ponies, and a better overall driving experience.
Charge It Up
Forced air induction is the way to max out your power, so putting a turbo or supercharger into a muscly steed will make it scream. If your engine is naturally aspirated, consider this choice to make it wail.
Get it done by someone who knows what they’re doing, not your cousin’s buddy who’s trying to be an artist. There’s no such thing as a car that looks bad with a serious paint job. Or just airbrush a valkyrie onto your van, douchebag.