This week at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, we witnessed some of the raddest, most off-the-wall modified cars in the country. From a 1,000-hp Honda Odyssey minivan to a Kia Soul re-imagined as a DJ booth and a Toyota Tundra with an attached snowblower, the creativity and skill on display was staggering. It left us wondering what kinds of things we could do to our own cars to make them a little faster, a little cooler or just a little more unique.
It's completely understandable to want to make modifications to your car. After all, your car is an extension of who you are, and adding tweaks so that it more accurately reflects your personality can be a fun and rewarding project.
But making certain modifications can damage your vehicle's value in the used car market. While you may think the changes are pretty neat, other people may not think your black aftermarket wheels or ear-piercing exhaust is right for them.
Here are five modifications that you'll want to avoid if you're planning on selling your car in the future, according to Stan Markuze, an auto repair expert at PartMyRide.com. Making these tweaks, he says, will mean that your car damage your car's value.
Body KitsA body kit is a collection of exterior modifications made to a car, usually involving the bumpers, paint, side skirts, spoilers and roof. They're usually put on cars for purely aesthetic purposes, as most of these tweaks don't do anything to improve the performance of your average street car, even though they look like they do.
The aftermarket parts are painted to match the car's original color, but it's almost always obvious that they aren't original equipment. The quality of many of these body kits is often suspect, too. Many buyers prefer the original look of a car, so installing one of these kits can instantly decrease a car's resale value.
Noisy MufflersAftermarket mufflers are a popular modification among racing enthusiasts and auto tuners. The muffler is used to reduce the loudness of a car's exhaust, but because they obstruct the flow of gasses from the engine to the atmosphere, they have a negative impact on the engine's power output.
Modifying the muffler can improve a car's power and fuel economy, as well as make the vehicle louder, which some people enjoy. Making this change can hurt a car's resale value, though, since the average driver likes a nice, quiet ride for the commute. Exhaust noise is highly regulated, too, and the rules can vary depending on your region. This can make selling a car with a noisy muffler a tough thing to do.
Aftermarket WheelsPutting aftermarket wheels on your car can improve its performance and give it a unique look. But it can also hurt its value. The main problem with snazzy wheels is they're often part of a fad that will come and go. Remember back in the 2000s when "spinners" were popular? You don't see very many of those anymore and I'd bet you wouldn't buy a car with that kind of wheel on them today.
All-white and all-black wheels are popular right now, but they'll likely go out of style in the not-too-distant future. If you're dead set on putting aftermarket rims on your car and you don't want your car's value to take a hit, it's best look for premium factory replacements.
Chrome AccentsSome car manufacturers put chrome accents on spots in the interior like the air vents, shifter and dashboard in order to achieve a more premium look and feel. For cars that don't have chrome on the inside, cheap stick-on parts are available that offer the shiny look and easy installation.
The problem with these aftermarket accents is that they don't always match the car when mounted on, giving it a cheap, awkward look. They can also damage the vehicle's paint when they are removed. Though they're inexpensive, they can become a big liability when trying to sell you car.
Aftermarket LightsYou can get aftermarket headlamps and taillights for nearly every car on the market. They can do wonders if you're looking to give your car a cool, unique look. But you have to be very wary of buying cheap ones.
Inexpensive lights and/or shoddy installation can look terrible. Low-quality lights can also fade quickly and, over time, allow water to leak into your car's chassis, potentially resulting in a big repair bill down the road. All of these issues mean your car's value will likely decrease the minute you install these lights.