How to Modify Your Car, for Cheapby Contributor
So, you want to modify your car and make it look special? Low on cash? In a 'Fast and Furious' mood? You're in luck, I will provide you an easy, cheap way to make your car look great. These few exterior modifications will allow your domestic to look unique, amid the sea of cars out there.
First, make sure you have paid off your car. In addition, if you desire your warranty, this may be voided in the process. Modifier BEWARE! This process can be very addictive and requires concious money decisions. Unless you have some sort of "sponsership", do a few modifications every few months.
Now for the fun. The first modification can be window tint. This can be done by hand, but is better, for the first-time car enthusiast, to get done by a professional. Go to a very rural area and find a tint expert there, to get the best price. This will range from 150-250$ for a small car. The bigger the city, the higher the tint will usually cost. The lower the percent of tint you get, the less light can enter your car, the darker your windows will appear. A safe, but sporty tint grade is usually about 30-35%. Be sure to check your tint laws (so you pass inspection). The special additional inspection fee for tint is usually about 10 dollars (added on to your normal inspection cost).
Now that you have taken care of the windows, time to move to the inside.
Next, you can add a steering wheel cover. A nice one can be found at a discount store, such as Wal-mart. These will cost about 30 dollars.
Also, you can buy seat covers. These will cost about 30 dollars also.
Pedal set - these can be found on ebay, just be sure to get a set for your type of transmission (Auto or Manual)! These can be purchased for about 25-30 dollars (in discount stores).
Map lights - These are the lights on the "ceiling" in your car. Go to your local autoparts store and find these in different colors. Consult your owner's manual to find the bulb size.
Painted Dash - Using Duplicolor paint (after sanding first), you can paint your dash pieces. Remove the pieces from the car first (they will snap out of place). Then paint them. Then finish them up with "clear-coat" paint and replace them.
Now for the outside. Be sparing, but don't be afraid to show your personality.
Lights - You can do many things to your lights including:
A. Smoked lights - these can be bought from stores (eBay, etc.)with dark lenses, giving a mysterious appeal to your car.
B. LED lights - Instead of having a solid tailight, these will make your tails appear in a circle of dots, giving your car a European feel. Ex. Alteeza style tail-lights
C. Projector headlights - These are similar to the factory BMW front headlights, with 2 spheres, with light emitting out of one sphere on each side. These are about 200$ for a set. Though they are nice looking, the light dispersal can be low.
D.HID lights - These lights work by igniting a gas that is contained inside of the light bulb, causing dramatic light dispersal. Picture the old "floodlights" on your parents house. Imagine mounting those on your car! These are superb for rural conditions, though they are made for a special light housing. These are made for projector light housings. However, many people put these in their factory light housing! This latter way can be cheaper, but is illegal! Do this at your own risk. HID lights are about 200$ for a set.
Spoiler - This is the "wing" that goes on the back of your car. Though a nice look, this can be a hindrance during windy conditions. Be sure your spoiler does not interfere with your line of vision.
Painted calipers - Calipers are the metal "blocks" behind your tire that hold your brakes in place. You can remove your tire and then take these off and paint them. Go to your local auto-store and request "caliper paint" for these.
Next, we have to look at the car's "stance". By stance, I mean suspension.
Springs - Performance springs can drop your car 1.5 to 2 inches in the front and back. I recommend K-sport springs. These cost about 200$ for an individual spring kit(for four wheels). You can install these with a spring compressor tool that you can "borrow" from an Auto parts store.
Last, there are some miscellaneous things that you can do to put a "cap" on your car's appearance.
Wheels - You can remove the plastic wheel covers from the tire and this will give your car a sportier look. In addition, you can paint the "outline" of the wheel's metal edge the same/different color as your car.
Chrome lettering - You can purchase adhesive chrome lettering from independent companies online. Use these to add whimsical/sporty phrases on different parts of your car.
Finally, you can't leave the car without going under the hood.
Performance intake - These come in two flavors: SRI and CAI. A short ram intake (SRI) is easier to install, but scoops warmer air. The cold air intake scoops cold air from the bumper area of your car. The CAI costs more and can cause hydro-lock in your car (water in your engine). Also, the CAI is more expensive. Both the CAI and SRI run for about 250$ (though more expensive for CAIs, usually). Injen, GM, K&N, HAHN and others all make quality intakes. The intake will give your car an aggressive "revving" sound when you push down on the gas pedal. Also, they can give you about 3-5 more horsepower.
Strut Bar - This bar cost about 200$. The function of this metal, front-mounted bar is to link the front frame of your car together. This makes your car more "agile" when it goes through quick turns. Also, this gives your car a "put-together" image when the hood is open. MRZ makes a great strut bar.
I have included companies that offer products for modifying. Feel free to use your own creativity to make the automobile of your dreams.
- All these modifications are easier done with a group of people. Enlist some friends to enjoy some drinks (non-alcoholic/alcholic) and spend a Saturday helping you out.
- Read car magazines and join a car forum. These will help you get great deals on performance parts and build your knowledge base.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help! Remember, your car can be an object of art, but, with the wrong parts, can lead to injury/death.
- Be sure you take safety precautions whenever you work on your car. Have dry hands, a clean work environment and keep kids at a safe distance from your vehicle.
- Enthusiast BEWARE! These modifications should only be done by a person proficient in tools/car performance. Educate yourself about the products and their roles on the car.
- Don't get caught up in the "Fast and Furious" type crowd. Young people (high school age), usually with their first cars, often end up in this bunch. Instead, find a group of folks in a forum or auto mechanics store that share your interest. This approach can save alot of tragedy and car problems that may arise from negligence.