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Modifying Your Car: From Easy To Hard

The intriguing prospects offered by vehicle modification have a grasp on millions of people the world over. It’s easy to pick up a car for a relatively small outlay, and then comes the hard work of changing things about the vehicle. Dedicated “modders” can take a fairly simple-looking family saloon and, with a bit of ingenuity and a lot of sweat, turn it into something completely different.

There is a lot to learn about modifying, if it is not something you have done before. You can do some fairly simple work, like making an interior change or two, for comfort or simply aesthetic reasons. You can, on the other hand, get into some serious work and turn the car – or any other vehicle – into something almost entirely different. It’s all up to you, and how much time, effort and money you are prepared to put into changing a vehicle. 

Below, then, we will start with a few examples of simple modifications that you’ll be able to do without much difficulty, and as we carry on we will up the difficulty level to the point where you’re making larger – but infinitely rewarding – changes that could make it feel like you’re driving an entirely different car.

Modifying made easy…

If you want to make the interior of your car look a bit more stylish and/or feel more comfortable, then one of the first things to do is replace the seat covers. Some more experienced modders replace the entire seats, and it’s something you can certainly do – but as we’re talking simple here, the process of replacing your existing seat covers with something more to your liking is a very good first step.

There is a lot that can be done to improve the interior look and feel of a car – replacing the carpeting is a possibility, while placing a cover on the steering wheel can be the perfect accompaniment to reupholstering the seats.

Alternatively, you could add a little light to the interior of the car, with LED lighting kits allowing a range of changes that can bring a different look. You can pick your color and line the door interiors with a flash of something different, which dims and brightens as per your preference. Changing the color of the interior dome light can bring an additional ambience to your car, although you may need to check the regulations to see whether this is permissible where you live.

Stepping up the challenge…

If you want a car that stands out, or merely one that represents you a bit better, then there are modifications that aren’t merely about the appearance of the vehicle. If chosen correctly, these developments can give a whole new lease of life to your ride. You just need to be careful that you aren’t biting off more than you can chew in terms of the degree of difficulty, but if the “easy” options presented you with no problems, then you should be able to make the step up.

One eternally popular modification includes improving the sound system in your interior. If you have bought an old car simply for the sake of modding, or even if your existing drive is a little bit pedestrian, there should be some room for improvement here. This can include adding extra functionality, such as including a bluetooth link-up that allows you to play tunes from your phone or other media player. With this overhauled, you may then be interested in adding better speakers.

Finding the right speakers for your car is a case of looking for speakers which suit the music you’ll be listening to, as well as ensuring that they can be comfortably accommodated by your car. Woofers and sub-woofers are essential if you will be listening to something bass-heavy, while tweeters and sub-tweeters pick up more of the delicate notes and shades of music.

Getting tougher…

Making modifications to the interior of your car, even if those include the electronics, are a simpler consideration than making changes to the actual functioning in the drive of the vehicle. It is entirely possible, for example, to fit a new engine to a car, although it is advanced mechanics and not something for a beginner to embark upon. You can also improve the suspension of your car, improving the ride by fitting new coilover springs which will stay consistent and strong no matter the terrain you are driving on. At this stage of the game, you’ll require specialist tools and no shortage of skill – but if you’re prepared to put in the time and effort, you’ll have a great finished product to be proud of.

If you’re prepared to do a bit of learning and make changes that go beyond the average, then you can end up with something genuinely impressive. Drivers and modders alike have spent time looking to up the level of power in the cars that they drive, but by fitting a limited slip differential in your modded vehicle, you can achieve something better – you’ll actually be getting the maximum power out of the vehicle you own, which may be the first time that’s ever happened if you bought the car without an “LSD”.

Another addition that requires a lot of attention but pays back the effort many times over, changing the brakes on your car is a very worthwhile step. It costs a few hundred dollars when all is said and done, and the work will not be finished in a short time, but if you pay for stainless steel brake pads and also sort out new brake lines, you will find that the response you get when you press the brake pedal is more “on the money” than anything you’ve ever experienced. It will also pay for itself in terms of how long-lasting the improvement is and how much it will protect the rest of the car when needed.

Not so hard, but vitally important

There is a task that may not involve jacking up your car and getting grease in your hair like many of the above tasks, but is more important than any manual labor, and that’s the key matter of ensuring that any changes you make to the vehicle are safe. Any changes you make should be tested extensively before you take your car out on the road and drive it among traffic. You should also make sure that the changes you have made are legal within the jurisdiction in which it will be driven.

The legalities of driving a modified car will vary from country to country, and from state to state, and there may be variances in what is legal where. If you’ve fitted new wheels, you’ll need to make sure they, and the tires upon them, are permitted under the regulations of where you live, and also anywhere you plan to drive. Equally, if you change a safety feature such as a seatbelt – even if the intention is to make the car safer – you’ll need to make sure you’ve done it within the important legal codes of your home state (and, as we say, anywhere you might be driving). Remember that ignorance of the law is not considered a defence in court, so prior awareness is your friend here.

Modifying a car can be great fun simply for the feel of the manual work, but it’s even better when your work can be put to the test and you get the feel of driving around in an improved ride. Just make sure you’ve made the right changes in the right places, and you’ll be fine.