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Keep your car maintained, but go easy on customizations... Keep your car maintained, but go easy on customizations that could hurt your value and performance (shutterstock)
By spending money on maintenance and some upgrades, you can improve your car's reliability and overall life expectancy. You can also reduce safety risks and expensive repairs. Changing the oil regularly, replacing worn-out tires, and getting your wheels aligned periodically are all no-brainers.

There are, however, some expensive upgrades that won't increase a car's value or performance. In fact, they will probably hurt them.

1. Aftermarket wheels

Aftermarket wheels can make a car look more sporty or luxurious than the factory rims. While they often cost thousands of dollars, aftermarket wheels typically don't add to your car's resale value, and can reduce the comfort of your ride. When you install larger wheels, the low-profile tires reduce the cushion between the car and the road. As a result, you can expect to feel more vibration as your travel over cracks, potholes and road debris.

2. Custom paint job

It's great to strive for originality with your vehicle, but a custom paint job can be a risky and expensive proposition. To start, a quality repaint of an entire vehicle will run you at least several thousand dollars. The professional labor and materials necessary to entirely repaint a car properly don't come cheap. Aftermarket paint jobs are seldom as good as factory originals, and once the car is painted, there's no going back.

3. Dark tint

Installing dark tint can provide privacy and keep the bright sun out of your car. However, in many states dark tint is also illegal because it obstructs the driver's ability to see the road. Tint can be installed for several hundred dollars, but make sure to research your state's laws before visiting the local tint shop. If the film is too dark, you could be paying several hundred dollars more to remove it without damaging your vehicle.

4. Custom seats

Aftermarket seats can provide an accent for your car's interior and sometimes reduce the car's weight. There are some little-known benefits to keeping your original seats, however. Modern cars come with sophisticated safety features to protect drivers from all sorts of different collisions. Often, the seats contain important sensors and electronics that activate airbags and other safety devices. Removing the factory seats can diminish the effectiveness of potentially life-saving technology.

5. Exhaust systems

Vehicle owners swap out factory exhaust systems for a number of reasons. Some exhaust systems advertise more power or create a deep growl when the vehicle accelerates. Installing such an exhaust system can be risky because some of these don't meet the same quality standards as the vehicle's manufacturer. Poor-quality exhaust systems can emit excess heat and corrode prematurely. Failing an emissions test due to a poor-quality exhaust modification can be very costly.

Plus, those loud systems won't make you too popular with the neighbors.

Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide, the online marketplace for used original auto parts.



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  • 174 Comments
      Swordfish
      • 11 Months Ago
      You can spend the money on women, drugs, booze or vacations. The car is the wiser investment!
      komivesdd
      • 11 Months Ago
      The facts are that if you install any or all of these add-ons, they will depreciate the value of the car at trade-in. You narrow the appeal of the car to a small group of possible purchasers. Hopefully when you sell the car you will find someone who values those add-ons you tacked on,....but don't count on it.
      • 11 Months Ago
      solo true, never never do any changes on my cars, because when i just to buy use cars i always look for the original parts.....i own the Camarp ZL1, AND cAMARO SS, AND Acadia GMC and nothing ever chance on them. example I'm looking for a subaru svt and every time they have change the wheels and i hate that....
      josephcharlesfa
      • 11 Months Ago
      The first rule in car restoration, is ALWAYS keep any original parts if you decide not to keep the car in original condition so the new owner can decide if he wants the car as original.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Obviously you chuckle heads have no clue about what you're talking about. When is the last time any of you bought cars at your local auction. If you were experienced automobile wholesalers or dealers I could understand the comments. Stan is right on the money in his article. He is talking about aftermarket add-ons. There is a reason that these add-ons void the manufacturers warranty on a new car and unless the vehicle is something special like say a classic 1970 Chevelle for example, then its just a crap shoot as to whether you will ever recoup your money. Anything that depreciates in value is not an investment so the best you can hope for is to buy a vehicle that doesn't depreciate as fast as others and still satisfy your transportation needs. Its a car and nothing else and if someone wants to dump their hard earned money into that pit they can, if that's what makes them happy. In most cases it wont improve the value, only low miles and perfect condition will.
      Jethro
      • 11 Months Ago
      Honestly, who keeps a car for more than a year? Cars get all dirty and sticky inside so it is like wearing the same underwear for year, and after a year they are going to need things like oil changes and wired stuff. A car more than a year old is for the poor people to buy, poor people know how to take care of stuff because they have to.
        mbne26
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Jethro
        do you not clean your car? even if you do it every few months i never had a sticky car. and you get oil changes every 3 or 4 months depending on the model so i doubt anyone would want to buy a car from you. then again you sound like a dumb kid who couldn't afford a car to begin with.
        merstockgto
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Jethro
        You must be made out of money or more likely plastic. We keep our cars many years and always buy new. Many poor people do not take care of their cars either. I am not poor and I always have taken very good care of our vehicles.
        accordmee
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Jethro
        To bad the don't sell brain cells because you sound like you are a couple of quarts low. They will sell computers to idiots like you without a second thought and what you said is not very beautiful beautiful.
      RJD
      • 11 Months Ago
      It shouldn't matter what you do to your own car. It's a matter of personal taste. Cars aren't generally viewed as investments, you'll usually lose money in the long run unless it's a desirable classic. If you decide to sell it down the road, then you'll probably find it's often difficult to sell a car with major modifications. I personally don't care for big rims, custom paint jobs or any modification but again, to each his own.
      mae13rle11
      • 11 Months Ago
      All true but if thats what you want, go for it. Have fun while you can, build some memories. When you look back, you can laugh unlike the stiffs who were boring never doing anything......
      hman570
      • 11 Months Ago
      Sounds like they haven't seen my Sutdabeaker.
        magus47
        • 11 Months Ago
        @hman570
        What the hell is a sutabeaker????? I had a 53 Studebaker once.
          merstockgto
          • 11 Months Ago
          @magus47
          He actually meant Stupidbaker, lol.
          klavezo
          • 11 Months Ago
          @magus47
          Little known trivia, George Burns and Studebaker co-produced the Mr Ed TV show in the early 1960's.
      asronce
      • 11 Months Ago
      A lot of folks express their personalities through the vehicles they drive which is fine for them..personally you can keep the trim packages, give me a reliable vehicle, a good muffler along with satellite radio and I'm happy.
      sparetimera
      • 11 Months Ago
      window tint protects the interior
      Pllc15
      • 11 Months Ago
      Recommend TV channel , Velocity, to determine the upgrades and restoration practices you might consider. In most cases, they attempt to restore the original condition of the automobiles.
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