4 Practical Car Modifications That Benefit Every Driver

  • The possibilities are endless (and even expensive) when it comes to different car modifications.
  • While some mods are more fancy than others, not every addition to your vehicle needs to be. 
  • Some upgrades to your vehicle will actually increase performance, fuel mileage, and safety. 
  • Here is a look at four car modifications that run the gamut from cost-effective to creative.

The temptation to modify your ride can be irresistible. You see souped-up vehicles everywhere; on TV, on the highway, and in your friends’ driveways. However, not everyone has an infinite budget, and you may harbor a concern that any “mods” might be detrimental to your car’s efficiency.

But fear not! There are several practical, cost-effective ways to modify your vehicle to improve your driving experience without turning your ride into the Batmobile. Here are four practical car modifications that benefit every driver.

#1: Better Tune-Up Parts = Better Engine Performance

While the traditional engine tune-up is a thing of the past thanks to modern technology, you still need to replace certain wear-and-tear items like spark plugs and air filters. Many people opt for the least-expensive replacements. If you’re looking to elevate your car’s performance, consider upgrading these parts, neither of which will break the bank.

Spark plugs with platinum or iridium tips will last longer, be less likely to fail, and may improve both gas mileage and power. Cheap paper air filters, which you can buy in any big-box store, aren’t necessarily the pinnacle of efficiency either. Consider an upgrade to a cotton-based, washable, reusable air filter to improve air flow to the engine. Filters like these can last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 miles. Or even better, upgrade to a performance air intake system if you have the budget.

When it comes to getting the job done, anyone can replace an air filter in about five minutes. However, spark plugs are not as easy for the casual DIYer. It is best to have a professional with the proper tools do the job to avoid complications.

Spark plugs with platinum or iridium tips may improve both gas mileage and power.

#2: Seat Covers Add Comfort & Style To Your Interior

You see them every day so you may not notice, but if your car is a few years old, the upholstery on your seats might be a little worse for wear; with seams coming apart and, most likely, a few stains. If you presume that seat covers are too expensive, too ill-fitting, or too difficult to install, you’d be wrong on all counts.

You can find high-quality seat covers for as low as $100 per row that can be installed in under an hour. There are dozens of custom options from choice of fabric (cotton, nylon, neoprene, vinyl) and color (solid and multi).

Best of all, modern manufacturing methods guarantee a perfect fit, no matter what make or model you’re driving around!

Related: Three ways to indulge your classic car hobby on a budget.

#3: When It Comes To Tires: Performance Categories Matter

Most people shop for tires by brand, price or recommendation. Few drivers realize that within most brands, and at most price points, you can select your tires based on performance type as well. That means choosing among summer, winter, all-season, all-terrain, and other categories of tires.

The decision for which class of performance tires is right for you depends on a number of factors, including vehicle characteristics, geographic area, and what conditions you’ll likely encounter on the road. Putting it simply: summer tires are best if you live where it never snows while all-season tires are the best compromise for all driving conditions. Performance tires maximize grip without sacrificing comfort. All-terrain tires allow both off-roading and paved road driving.

Before you purchase your next set of tires, research the choices. Most importantly, consult an expert who is not just trying to sell you what’s on sale.

Research from AAA finds that driving on relatively worn tires at highway speeds and on wet surfaces can increase stopping distances by nearly 90 feet. That’s more than the length of an eighteen-wheeler. Consider upgrading your tires if they currently measure 4/32″ or less.

Related: When should you replace your tires? Sooner than you think.

#4: Creative Car Modifications Kick It Up A Notch!

For most drivers, adding practical accessories which increase safety, comfort, and efficiency is enough. However, for car owners looking to make more of a statement, it’s easy to enter the world of customization with creative add-ons. For instance, body kits are available for almost all makes and models, and can refresh a vehicle’s look easily. With many options to choose from, you can decide how outlandish you want to go with a body kit, from brightly-colored side panels to custom bumpers and spoilers.

Custom headlights are another option if you’re looking to make a statement. Depending on your make and model, you have many fun choices including HIDs, LED bulbs, colored lighting, and light bars, which are popular with truck and Jeep owners looking to go off-road.

Performance tires can also be elevated to the next level of style with the addition of custom wheels. Decorative rims and floaters come in every color under the sun these days and are available for most vehicles. The possibilities are truly endless!

Decorative rims are available for most vehicles.

Car Modifications: Putting It All Together

With any custom accessory, it’s important to ensure you’re getting the right style/fit for your particular vehicle, especially when it comes to headlights and wheels. You don’t want to drop a large sum of money on flashy rims that don’t meet your car’s safety requirements. Most aftermarket retailers have experts on staff and knowledgeable customer service folks, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Related: Opting for the “Restomod” may present the best of both worlds.

The market for car modifications is still very much alive and full of possibilities. Depending on the type of upgrade you’re looking for, it is not necessary to empty your pockets to get increased performance, comfort or efficiency. The landscape of mods ranges from practical to the more visual and performance-based. And once you start exploring options, it’s easy to find affordable ways to make your vehicle stand out and last longer.

Richard Reina is the Product Training Director for CARiD.com. He enjoys restoring and driving old cars with a special love for anything Italian. Richard is also passionate about music and is a huge Beatles fan.

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