For many people, part of the fun of owning your own car is the fact that you get to spend time tinkering with the engine, carrying out your own minor repairs, or even making custom modifications to the way the vehicle looks and performs.
The global automotive aftermarket industry was worth $378.4 billion in 2019, and spending on modification parts like body kits, vinyl wraps, custom rims, and racing seats is only set to increase in the next few years.
Everyone has to get started somewhere when it comes to tuning and modifying your vehicle, and there will be a lot of trial and error before you get your car into tip-top shape. Here are some of the most common mistakes that every driver has made when it comes to fixing up their car.
15. Making Changes That Put Passengers At Risk
It is always important to consider how the changes you are making to your car will affect vehicle safety. Some drivers have been known to move their car battery into the cabin to help redistribute weight, even though older or unsealed batteries have been known to emit dangerous gases.
14. Taking On Ambitious Projects
There is nothing wrong with a bit of ambition when it comes to your dream of what your car should look like. However, it is important to have a plan, which should include the cost of parts, long-term costs, such as maintenance and insurance, plus whether you even have the tools or the skills to carry out such complex modifications.
13. Falling For The Latest Trends
Fashions change over the years – even when it comes to car modifications. If you are planning on spending a small fortune on a new body kit, you need to consider whether this kind of mod is still going to be in demand in a few years. Major modifications can make it a lot harder for owners to sell a car on and can even affect the resale value.
12. Or For Unnecessary Gimmicks
It is important to remember that auto shops want to make sales and that you shouldn’t just take the sales assistant’s word for it that a new part is going to improve the performance of your car. Doing your research is vital if you don’t want to end up spending a lot of cash on unnecessary gimmicks that do nothing for your vehicle.
11. Making Changes In The Wrong Order
Some modifications can be made in the space of an afternoon, while others are a long-term project that involves practically rebuilding the car from scratch. If your project is in the latter category, you must make the changes in the right order, or you might find yourself having to undo already completed work before you can get the car on the road.
10. Ignoring The "Check Engine" Light
Too many drivers see the “check engine” light on the dashboard as an annoyance; something that can be ignored or dealt with at a later date. The check engine light should be seen as an early warning system, allowing you or your local mechanic to identify and fix a problem with the engine before it becomes a significant and expensive problem.
9. Stripping Too Much Out Of Your Vehicle
A lot of performance modifications are designed to increase the power of the engine and the speed of the vehicle. Stripping cars of weight, including “unnecessary” features like rear seats and interior panels, can also speed things up. This might work on the racetrack, but on the road, it can dramatically affect the car’s handling and make for a rather uncomfortable ride.
8. Not Getting The Tire Pressure Right
There are some really simple home repairs and checks that anyone can carry out, but which can make a huge difference to the performance of your vehicle. Drivers should check their tire pressure every few weeks, though many motorists never bother to check their car at all. Insufficient pressure can wear down tires quicker, as well as affecting handling and fuel economy.
7. Buying Cheap Parts
When it comes to making your modifications or repairs, buying parts can often be one of the biggest expenses. It can be tempting to buy cheap or second-hand parts in a bid to save some cash, but in the long run, this could be a false economy, as cheaper parts are more likely to break and need replacing themselves.
6. Or Spending Too Much
At the other end of the spectrum, some motorists are firmly persuaded that they have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on car parts when there are much cheaper and equally effective options on the market. Don’t just go back to your dealer for replacement parts either, as there will be much cheaper options if you shop around.
5. Power Without Control
Modifying may be about boosting the power of a car’s engine, but anybody looking to increase their speed needs to ensure that they aren’t reducing other aspects of a car’s performance, such as handling and braking. Any modification project needs to take all these different features to ensure that the driver stays in control.
4. Losing Safety Features
When making any changes to a vehicle, owners mustn’t end up removing important safety features, intentionally or otherwise. Aftermarket steering wheels might look stylish, but you could end up losing OEM (original equipment manufacturer) airbags while installing racing seats might require the removal of safety belts which must be replaced.
3. Re-Assembling The Car Incorrectly
Anyone who has put together flat-pack furniture will know that there are always some mystery screws left over when you seem to have finished the construction. That’s bad enough on a set of shelves, but it can be disastrous if you find that you have parts left over because you failed to re-assemble your car engine correctly.
2. Not Knowing When It’s Time To Call In The Experts
It can be great fun to spend time tinkering under the hood of your car, but when things go badly wrong with a vehicle, there are times when you just have to call in the experts. One of the biggest mistakes car owners can make is to try and fix a problem that is beyond their capabilities, and they end up just making things worse.
1. Taking The Car To A Mechanic For Simple Jobs
However, plenty of car owners take their vehicles to their local mechanic for very simple jobs that they could easily carry out themselves, spending unnecessary money on repair bills. Mechanics will be very happy to charge you if you want them to change the oil in your engine, even though absolute beginners can do the job in less than an hour.
Sources: Your Mechanic, Torque Cars, Motoring Research, Complex