SHOULD YOU MODIFY YOUR CAR?
THEY CAN POSITIVELY AND NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE PERFORMANCE OF A VEHICLE
Modifying your car can become rather addictive; you see the effects of one modification and immediately start planning the next. Those on the customisation hype spend billions each year on post-market parts. However, it must be remembered that modifications, extreme or subtle, can seriously affect not only the performance of a vehicle, but also its warranty. Examples of modifications include window tints, re-trimmed seats, powerful engines, parking sensors, spoilers, non-standard alloy wheels, bumper changes, and environmentally friendly or more powerful exhausts.
Effect on insurance
Regardless of the size of the modification, whether it’s purely aesthetic or performance enhancing, the changes can add some extra costs to your insurance and bump up those premiums. Before you start to modify your car, it’s wise to consider what impact modifications on a car can have on insurance costs. Customised vehicles often attract higher insurance costs and increase premiums, as modifications generally enhance the vehicle’s performance – and upgraded vehicles attract thieves or criminals looking to cause damage. With this in mind, reconsider any modifications if you don’t have anywhere safe to park the vehicle.
Modifications don’t automatically void a warranty, although there are many steps to take to ensure that you don’t void this essential legal document. A modification that causes the vehicle to malfunction or alterations that cause damage can void warranties for any related parts. One way to be sure you won’t affect your warranty during modification is to buy modifications approved by the automaker.
Ensuring modifications are safe
Admittedly, modifications can actually enhance the safety of a vehicle. However, this is not always the case. Alterations carried out with great care can improve the handling and braking of a vehicle, although improper installation or low quality parts can compromise the safety of the car. This can put yourself, your passengers and other road users in danger. The chassis and suspension systems of your car are designed with safety and reliability in mind and a random customisation can easily disrupt that. Something as simple as adding seat covers needs to be thought through with great care, as these aesthetic enhancements may affect the safety of the vehicle should they interfere with the seat-mounted side-impact air bags. No decision must be taken lightly when it comes to modification.
Is it going to benefit you?
Modifying cars may be a hobby but you must consider whether any drastic changes to your car are really worth it. Lowering the suspension can deliver a harsh ride, making body panels more prone to bumps and scrapes. Many alterations also require drilling or working with sheet-metal, meaning that any affected parts will be difficult to source or repair. Modified engines can also be much more sensitive and require premium fuel.
Buying a modified car
If you’re buying an already modified car, be sure that you’re clued up on the history of the vehicle. As well as the usual ownership history, any accident reports, service and repair records, the mileage history, import/export information, how the vehicle was used, and any history of damage or modification must be sought. Ask which areas of the vehicle have been modified, and what parts were used, when the alterations were carried – and which engineer made the changes.