Modifications and aftermarket tuning is big business in the automotive industry – automotive enthusiasts love to improve their car or tailor the styling and specification to their own tastes.
Making changes to your motor isn’t necessarily always to do with performance or making your car look good – nor is it a pastime reserved for younger car owners – you can change features on your vehicle to make it more efficient and safer, too.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most popular and worthwhile modifications you can make to your car.
Before we begin our list however, we have to preface it with some important advice – remember that any modifications you make to your vehicle, performance orientated or otherwise, should be declared to your insurance company. They could either increase or decrease your premium, but either way, you should make sure you and your vehicle are 100% legal.
Further to that, it’s important to bear in mind that any changes you make to a new car still inside its factory warranty period could invalidate the cover – if you’re thinking of making an alteration, check with the manufacturer first.
One of the most popular modifications at the minute is fitting winter tyres to your vehicle. After a few harsh, snowy winters, many drivers are equipping their cars with rubber specially designed for cold, low grip conditions to improve safety.
Winter tyres feature many more smaller tread blocks when compared to summer tyres. This allows the rubber to cut through any standing water or snow, helping the tread blocks to move around and find more grip.
ECU CHIPS OR RE-MAPS
All modern vehicles have an electronic control unit or ECU, which oversees the operation of the engine. These can be ‘chipped’ or re-mapped to modify the software, allowing the engine to produce more power, return improved fuel economy, or sometimes both.
For a few hundred pounds, this process can improve performance or reduce your running costs (although you’ll still have to pay road tax on the amount of CO2 the car produces as stated by the manufacturer). Most chips or re-maps can be easily reversed, returning the car to normal – but remember, it could invalidate your car’s warranty.
INFOTAINMENT ADD-ONS AND EXTRAS
For some, a standard car stereo just won’t do. Many people improve their vehicle’s entertainment functions by adding aftermarket stereos and speakers for a better sound.
You can even buy off-the-shelf DVD players and television screens – great to keep young children entertained on a long journey.
ALARMS AND IMMOBILISERS
Along with improving safety from the factory, strengthening security is also a big field in the aftermarket equipment sector.
If your car was not fitted with an alarm or immobiliser as standard, investing in a tougher security setup is certainly worth thinking about – it could actually help lower your insurance premiums as your vehicle may be considered a lower theft risk if it is better protected.
These devices could be electronic – such a fob-armed alarms and engine immobilisers wired into the car’s electronic brain – or they could be mechanical systems, such as steering and gear lever locks.
Thatcham provide a list of approved devices, which we’ll be covering in detail soon, so keep an eye out if you’re after some extra security equipment for your car.
OTHER PERFORMANCE MODIFICATIONS
For the real petrolheads out there, modifying a car is all about making it go faster. So along with remaps of the control software to release more power, many people also fit mechanical parts to improve engine performance. These range from internal components – such as new pistons or a new crankshaft – to exhausts and air filters.
In addition to this, brake upgrades, uprated suspension components and gripier tyres can all be bolted onto a car to improve performance on the road and on the track.
It is very important to declare any performance modifications you make to your insurance company, as a faster car can mean a higher risk of a crash. It’s therefore likely your annual cover costs will increase.
Have you made any modifications to your car? Have your vehicle alterations really made a difference to safety and or performance? We want to hear from you, so leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can tweet us @twwhiteandsons, or find us on Facebook.