Customizing your car

Custom cars get bad rep sometimes. Some perceive their owners as loud, obnoxious, self-centered and attention-seeking. If you ask us, these stereotypes merely stem from jealousy over someone having a nice ride – custom car owners are regular people like everyone else, except they want something more out of their vehicle.

You can customize virtually every car, although cheaper cars and classic models are those that see their appearance tweaked most often – many consider it a sin to tweak a luxurious model past adding different rims and a darker window tint.

Here’s an overview of some upgrades you can consider, but be sure that they’re in line with automotive regulations in your city, county and state.

Body overhaul: Perhaps the most complex upgrade on the list is also the one that tends to prove most rewarding (if you know what you’re doing, that is). A body mod done right will transform your car into something that looks entirely different and will have many scratching their heads wondering about the year of manufacture. Body mods can start simple – roof, doors – and can evolve to encompass the entire shape of the car. You can either talk to a facility specializing in making custom mods (many will accept work based on customer designs) or work with one or more skilled ironworkers – both options will be fairly expensive, so make sure you’re dead-set on giving your vehicle a facelift.

Minor static upgrades – exhaust, window tint, rims: These are fairly easy to do and yet often make a major visual difference on any vehicle. Rims are usually the first upgrade anyone makes and everyone who has seen a set of stylish rims knows that they can completely alter the appearance of a car for the better. Exhaust tips are also a great and inexpensive upgrade – you rarely need to change the entire exhaust system and can simply replace the finish, giving your car a sporty and oftentimes menacing look. Window tint is another cheap upgrade, and one with a multitude of uses – matching-color tints will improve the car’s overall appearance while darker ones will give both you and your vehicle a downright Cosa Nostra look even if you mostly use the car to buy groceries while wearing flip-flops.

Lights and lighting: Car lights are a neat upgrade that doesn’t cost a lot and can act as a significant improvement – sometimes, the plastic is changed without the actual lights being touched, while other upgrades will see an entirely new set. Some like to install more powerful lighting with a lot more lumens, but be careful – the authorities in your area might feel that there is such a thing as too bright. Under car lighting kits make for another popular upgrade for younger people, but they’re most effective for those who do a lot of nighttime driving – if you mostly drive your car during the day, your fancy new lights might be wasted.

Performance upgrades: Why does the (ostensibly) biggest upgrade get the least space on the list? Well, car owners are quick to jump to performance upgrades without really being realistic about their use. Past better brakes or improved steering, there aren’t many performance upgrades you’ll make good use of in your day-to-day – bigger acceleration will only end up causing trouble, a higher top speed will probably never be reached… Instead, it’s best to focus more on the tried-and-true visual upgrades.