Upgrade Your Wheels: Best Car Mods for Beginners on a Budget

Are you looking for a way to upgrade your vehicle’s look or overall performance, but want to avoid breaking the bank? There are many ways to go about this and it might be difficult to figure out where exactly to start. So, here are the best car mods for beginners that will definitely be worth the money.

The Possibilities Are Endless When It Comes to Vehicle Modifications

The evolution of vehicles and all of the inventions that followed accordingly have resulted in the increased popularity of custom car culture. Most owners are looking for a way to make their four-wheelers authentic and special – after all, who doesn’t want to feel like their car was made just for them? 

No matter if you’re looking for a way to enhance engine performance and handling, or you simply want a cool, aesthetically pleasing look, there is a wide array of possible vehicle modifications

There Are Three Categories of Car Modifications Depending on What Aspect They Improve

When it comes to car mods, there are three main categories that differ depending on what aspect they build upon. Everyone interested in customizing their vehicle should know these basic distinctions, especially if they’re beginner drivers. So, here are the three categories along with their most popular upgrades:

  • Cosmetic modifications – custom paint jobs, window tinting, installing spoilers, replacing the seats, refurbishing the interior space,
  • Accessibility modifications – wheelchair ramps, steering wheel adjustments, pedal extensions, safety belts,
  • Performance enhancing modifications – engine tuning, installing special exhaust systems and mufflers, upgrading the suspension system, and many more. 

Best Car Mods for Beginners When It Comes to Improving the Vehicle’s Aesthetics

The first thing to know about cosmetic modifications is that some of them are not only for looks. Sure, plenty of people will tint their windows or install a spoiler purely for aesthetic reasons, but these upgrades can offer much more. Here are the best ways to modify your four-wheeler aesthetically, no matter if it’s a brand-new or used vehicle. Better yet, these recommendations are budget-friendly and won’t add much to the already high cost of owning a car

Window Tinting Is Not Only a Cool Look – It Ensures Safety and Privacy While Driving or Parked

Darkening the surface of your car windows by applying tint film might look cool and all, but it’s not used to only enhance the appearance. Tinted windows are a layer of protection from unhealthy long-term exposure to UV rays for not only you but the car’s upholstery as well. Plus they are  easy car mods for beginners to deal with.

There are several types of tint (dyed, ceramic, metalized, carbon, hybrid), and with a little bit of patience and skill, you can even do it by yourself. However, before you start the job, it’s important to check the legal limits of your state because they differ when it comes to window tints, especially on the car’s windshield

You Can Get as Creative as You Want With Cosmetic Modifications

When it comes to leveling up the aesthetics, the possibilities are truly endless. You can get rid of the existing paint and get a custom paint job, or remove the manufacturer’s car emblems and install some of your own. For a stylish, cool look, especially while driving at night, you can upgrade the vehicle’s lights with LED ones. 

Also, for those that want their four-wheeler to look like it’s straight from the tracks of Need for Speed gameplay, installing a spoiler on the rear end of your car will usually do the trick. Same as with tinted windows, a spoiler will not only bring a fresh new look to the vehicle. It is designed to alter airflow and help reduce drag while driving. 

Close-up of a car spoiler
There is a reason why spoilers are a trademark for race cars

Enhancing Engine Performance Is All About Improving the Air Flow

If you know a thing or two about cars, you know that power is generated from igniting fuel which creates combustion. The more oxygen is absorbed, the more powerful the combustion is. So, to increase engine performance, you need powerful combustion that uses a lot more oxygen and fuel. And while putting in additional fuel is easy, sucking in more oxygen can be a bit more difficult to achieve. 

However, there is a wide range of different modifications that will help increase the amount of oxygen inside the combustion chamber. Here are some popular ones that are somewhat inexpensive and easy to install:

Performance Air Filters

Most vehicles have a standard air filter made from paper and need to be replaced generally at every maintenance check-up. While the paper filter keeps the dirt out of the engine, it can also be really restrictive and stop the engine from easily sucking the air in. 

That’s why there are a lot of different types of performance filters available. Made from long-lasting materials such as cotton or oiled foam, these filters will improve the airflow allowing much more powerful combustion.

Cold Air Intake

Once again, more oxygen means bigger combustion, and cold air contains more of it as it is denser than hot air. That’s why there are plenty of intercooler assembly kits available, and installing them will surely improve your car’s performance by sucking in cooler air and boosting the overall airflow. Also, the unique sound of air rushing into the engine when you accelerate will surely make the overall feel much more special.

Axle Back or Catback Exhaust

Boosting horsepower is not only about the oxygen intake – the overall airflow as well as gas exhaustion is also essential. Aftermarket systems such as the axle back and catback exhausts allow the gasses generated in the combustion chamber to escape more quickly. 

The quicker the gasses escape, the more available space there is for oxygen to enter the chamber and create more powerful combustion in the next cycle. Between the two, the catback exhaust system is made of more parts, so it is the more expensive option. However, you certainly get what you paid for, as it can provide a greater improvement when it comes to engine performance.

Turbocharger or Supercharger

Another common performance modification is installing a turbocharger or a supercharger. These vehicle systems will boost the engine by forcing more air inside and creating more power in the combustion chamber. 

There’s just one crucial thing to check – your state’s regulations when it comes to emissions. If the turbocharger or supercharger doesn’t alter the emissions systems, and you pass the smog check, it’s time to test the upgraded performance on the most famous routes in the US.

Nitrous Oxide

This one’s mostly for fun, as it is illegal to use in most states because some tests suggest that it encourages fast driving, one of the biggest no-nos when it comes to driver’s responsibilities. By temporarily increasing the level of oxygen inside the engine, a lot more power is generated and the engine performance is enhanced to race-track level. Exactly because of that reason, using a nitrous oxide system is illegal in many states.

There Are a Few Ways to Improve the Sound of Your Vehicle

While some drivers prefer to have a quiet car you can’t hear even when it’s pulling up on your driveway, others would want a four-wheeler with an aggressive-sounding engine to match its enhanced performance. No matter what your preference is, there are excellent budget-friendly upgrades you can install to get the sound you want. 

Resonator Exhaust Tip Will Make the Engine Loud and More Powerful

If you’re looking for a cost-effective and easy-to-install way of getting a louder engine sound, the resonator exhaust tip is just the right extension for you. It contains a chamber that is specifically designed in order to achieve a more aggressive sound. This extension will only cost you around $30 and it’s very easy to install – you just need to clip it on the tailpipe. 

There Are Many Types of Mufflers – Some Make the Engine Louder, and Some Make It Silent

Aftermarket mufflers improve the sound of a vehicle by reducing the number of chambers and metal platings inside it, meaning sound waves don’t bounce as much. There are many different types of mufflers, from the extremely loud ones to the ones that are deadly silent. Made from steel and coated with aluminum, mufflers also provide an additional layer of protection from the heat released by the exhaust system. 

Mechanic checking the muffler
There are a few ways you could improve the sound of your vehicle

An Upgrade in Brake Pads Can Go a Long Way (Literally)

When it comes to the braking system of your vehicle, there are a lot of upgrades available for rotors, calipers, and braking pads. The easiest and most cost-effective way to enhance the braking power of your vehicle is to invest in some new braking pads

Braking Pads Are Made From Various Materials

No matter how good they are, investing in top-of-the-shelf braking pads such as Brembo brakes is not absolutely necessary in order to enhance your vehicle’s performance. There are many budget-friendly options that will work just fine by maximizing the needed friction. Here’s an overview of the three main materials used for braking pads, as well as their pros and cons:

Braking Pad MaterialProsCons
Semi-Metallic or MetallicLong-lasting option with great braking performanceIt might not do as well in colder climates
Non-Metallic or OrganicWorks great in dry conditions and is very budget-friendlyThey have the lowest lifespan out of the available options 
Carbon-CeramicProvide comfortable braking and is very durable The most expensive out of the available options

Upgrading Your Car With Aftermarket Suspension Systems Can Enhance the Performance and Comfortability

Aftermarket suspension systems are completely legal to install, as long as the height adjustments stay within your state’s regulations. When it’s done right, the performance and handling can get much better, no matter if you have a small city car or a large vehicle for off-road driving

Lowering or Cutting Coil Springs Is One of the Most Common Ways to Modify the Suspension System

Lowering the car’s center of gravity will in turn make it much more stable and you will have an easier time handling the vehicle around the corners. However, it’s important to consult a professional because you can end up with a stiff ride if not done properly. It’s not exactly as easy as changing a flat tire, but for an experienced mechanic, cutting the springs is a standard procedure. 

a lot of different auto spare parts
Upgrading the suspension system can greatly improve the handling

Wheels and Tires Also Have a Number of Available Upgrading Options

Lowering the suspension system is not the only way to make your vehicle cut the corners more swiftly. The right combination of tires and wheels can have great effects on performance, as well as provide a much more comfortable ride. 

Installing Alloy Wheels Is the Best Way to Improve Handling

Wheels made from aluminum, simply referred to as alloy wheels, are a great aftermarket replacement for the ones made from steel. Alloy wheels are lightweight, but they are also strong and can withstand heat really well. When combined with the right type of tires, they have the potential to improve handling as soon as you hit the road.

All Performance Modifications Are Useless if Your Tires Don’t Provide the Right Level of Traction

You can upgrade your four-wheeler with all of the performance enhancements available, but all of that goes to waste if you don’t have the right tires. Changing between summer and winter tires, as well as investing in a good set that maximizes traction, is the best way to improve braking, cornering, and acceleration. 

Car Audi A4 B9 wrapped in matte vinyl is standing on the parking
The right tires and wheels combination will have a great effect on vehicle performance

Now That You Know the Basics of Vehicle Modifications, It’s Time to Figure Out Your Best Choice

When it comes to enhancing your four-wheeler, the possibilities are nearly endless, no matter if your goal is better performance or a fresh new look. That’s why it’s important to know what exactly you’re looking to improve, as it will narrow down your options. The sooner you do the needed research, the sooner you will be able to get that car on the road and enjoy the new customized look and feel of your trusted companion.