What to Know Before Modifying Your Car

What to Know Before Modifying Your Car

Many people like to modify their vehicles after they buy them because it helps make the vehicle fit their personalities. Many different modifications can be done. Some will improve performance; others will enhance appearance.

When you modify your vehicle, it is important to remember that just because it makes you happy does not mean that the modifications will improve the value of the vehicle. While some modifications can increase the value of a vehicle, others can significantly reduce its resale value.  Here is what to know before modifying your car.

Common Vehicle Upgrades
  • Custom paint job, pinstriping, or other decals
  • High-performance tires
  • Tinting windows
  • Supercharging or turbocharging the engine
  • Upgrading the suspension
  • Upgrading the exhaust system
  • Lift kits
  • Upgrading the technology, including a sound system
  • Upgrading engine parts such as high-performance spark plugs or chrome fittings
Upgrades That May Add Value to Your Vehicle

There are some upgrades and modifications that you can do to your car that will not only make your car perform better and last longer but can also add value to your vehicle. Some of these modifications include:

  • Heavy duty or high-performance shocks. These can help your car ride smoother and reduce the wear and tear of bumpy roads on your vehicle.
  • Stainless steel brake lines. These perform much better than the standard rubber hose brake lines.
  • New sway bar. The sway bar on your vehicle is part of your steering system. Upgrading this item can give you better vehicle control especially when making turns.
  • Adding a cold-air intake system. These systems improve the performance of your car and can help extend the life of your engine.
Upgrades That Have The Potential to Decrease Vehicle Value
  • Oversized rims or odd-sized tires. These may “look cool,” but they often lead to excessive wear and tear on your vehicle.
  • Odd paint colors, decals, or unusual striping or color schemes. Many people will find this detracting and will overlook the vehicle.
  • Window tinting. Many states have laws regarding window tinting. No one wants to purchase a vehicle that may make them a target for getting pulled over. CIY tinting jobs may also appear as not professionally done, making them a detraction from the beauty of the vehicle.
  • Custom doors.
  • Custom lighting.
  • Lift kits.

However, if someone is looking for those specific types of vehicle enhancements, they can add value to your vehicle.

What to Know Before Modifying Your Car

Modifying Your Vehicle and The Law

Modifying your vehicle should always comply with the law. Before purchasing a used vehicle that has been modified, ensure that it complies with local and state laws.  Common modifications to look for include:

  • Some engine enhancements may cause the vehicle to exceed the horsepower limits in a state. Make sure that any enhancements stay within legal guidelines, or it will be illegal to operate that vehicle on the roadways.
  • Some enhancements to the exhaust system can change the emissions of the vehicle. If you live in an area where your vehicle requires yearly emissions testing, this may present a problem.
  • You may be required to pay the penalty or replace the exhaust system again to meet standards.
  • Many states and local areas have laws and regulations for window tinting. These laws may include limits on window coverage, the number of windows that can be covered, and how dark the covering can be for different windows. Not meeting these requirements could place you at risk for many fines.
What To Look For When Purchasing an Enhanced Used Vehicle

If you are considering a modified vehicle for your next purchase, it will be beneficial to have the vehicle evaluated by your trusted mechanic before making the purchase.

Many modifications can improve car performance, but some can cause extra wear and tear on the vehicle. Your mechanic can evaluate the vehicle’s condition and tell you if the enhancements have improved or damaged the vehicle.

It will also be beneficial to ask for receipts for the modifications. Receipts can help you determine if the upgrades to the vehicle were professionally completed. While DIY projects can be great, any modifications should be carefully inspected before purchasing.

What Impacts Car Values The Most

While modifications to a vehicle can improve or decrease value, the value of a vehicle will always be based on mileage, interior and exterior condition,  accident history and maintenance history.

A vehicle’s history is more important than the modifications in many ways because you can tell how well the vehicle has been cared for by the previous owner. You can also verify that it does not have a salvage title and has not been subjected to fire or flooding.

When looking for a used vehicle, it may be more prudent to first check out its history and then make any desired modifications.

When Purchasing A Vehicle

Always remember to run a VINsmart report on any used vehicle before making a purchase.  A VINsmart report runs a complete history on the vehicle including whether it has ever been reported as stolen, involved in a major accident, or listed as a totaled vehicle.

VINsmart reports will also give you a registration history and mileage at registration.  It reports any significant incidents related to the vehicle, such as being involved in a fire or flood.

When you are purchasing a used vehicle, the best way to ensure you make a good purchase is to know the vehicle’s complete history.


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