Getting a new car is exciting to say the least. When you roll off the lot for the first time in your new whip, your emotions are running high, your mind is all over the place wondering what potential this new car has, and for people like us who are heavily entrenched in car culture, we already have extensive modifications lists ready to go before we were even handed the keys and signed on the dotted line.
But then reality sets in…what should you do first? Every car is different, and every person has a different mindset or idea for their car builds. Some want to clean it up for car shows and to showoff on the local streets, others want to slap go-fast parts in, and some want to spruce up the interior. Here at NETC we spoke to a few local tuners and asked their opinions on what mods to do first when getting a new car…
Number 1: Wheels and Tires
There’s no debating that your car’s wheels and tires are a central aesthetic point when people look at your car. And sure, a lot of tuner cars these days come with some acceptable wheels from the factory, but most of us choose to run larger diameter, wider width, or lower offset wheels with some new tires because they can look much better. Grabbing a new set of wheels makes a huge impact, whether done early on or later in the game once your vision for the car has become set. Just take a look at the difference it makes even when everything else is stock:
It definitely changes the look of the car a slight amount even with something that isn’t too extensive, and that’s why it is a popular choice for a first or early mod to do.
Number 2: Suspension
These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a car that is modded and still sits at factory height. Whether it’s a simple drop on springs, a full set of coil-overs, or an air ride system, most modified cars have some sort of suspension work in place, whether for actual performance value, or just for showmanship.
A decent set of springs for most cars only costs a few hundred and is a popular choice for those just starting out, or those who want to keep their stock wheels on the car and don’t want to risk any rubbing or further modification to the factory system. Usually sporting a 1 inch to 2 inch drop, springs also provide added handling by way of being stiffer than factory springs coupled with the lower center of gravity they give the car.
Coil-overs is the next step. This replaces the factory springs as well as the struts, and most of the time they are adjustable, giving the driver the freedom to raise or drop it as much as the coils will allow. This allows most people to achieve a desired height limit for the car. Since most are adjustable, you can fine tune them to your desire, whether it’s going for an aggressive drop to make your new wheels flush or tucked slightly, or fine-tuning your set up for track racing. Expect a good set of coils to run you the upper hundreds to start and possibly up to two-thousand.
Air ride is our final choice. This is something that is more popular with show cars than ones that go out to the track, but none the less offers the most versatility, but also the highest cost coming in at a few thousand dollars. However there is reason for this as it is a more complicated assembly being made up not just of springs, but heavy-duty air springs, a compressor to control them, a reservoir tank, feed lines, and an electronic controller. Running air suspension allows the user to slam their car all the way to the ground if they wish, but they can also raise it up so the vehicle is still functional to drive after you leave a show or a meet.
Number 3: Cat-back Exhaust
The next item on our list is by far the most popular mod when it comes to the first thing you do regarding the cars exhaust and any bolt-on part really, and there are several reasons why: First off, it is usually a cheaper option than changing your down-pipe, it is also always a much easier install than other parts of the exhaust, and it makes up a lot of your car’s exhaust note without affecting emissions, and if you live in some North East states like Maryland and Pennsylvania then you know how annoying emissions can be here.
A lot of thought goes into exhaust work. There are so many options…do you go with an upgraded version from the factory, a reputable parts manufacturer for your car, a reputable exhaust dealer, a cheap cat-back, or a custom one?
Well there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Some “Brand Name” exhaust systems cost upwards of a thousand dollars, while others made of other material, and even sometimes the same, cost a significant amount less. There’s no doubting that a nice choice is to go with an exhaust that is 3″ in diameter with machined flanges and made of T-304 Stainless steel, however some people opt for steel exhausts or even aluminum exhausts. Just be sure you do some rust-proofing if you go with a cheaper option.
Whatever your choice, take the time and do your research on the best sounding exhaust for your car. Watch plenty of manufacturer and user videos, trust me when I say that Youtube is a great source for this kind of stuff for any car.
Number 4: Aesthetics
You may have just driven off the lot in a brand new WRX and think everyone is staring at your car and that you are so cool and unique right then and there. The simple fact here is that while you may have a unique vision for your car, if you really want it to turn heads then you’re going to need to adjust some exterior and interior things to make it your own.
There may be several models of the same car in a given area, but no two are exactly alike because the owners are all different and they modify their cars different to match. Some popular aesthetic mods will follow:
Front splitters are a nice way to spice up the front end of your car, and there are usually several different options for every make and model.
Aftermarket interiors like steering wheels, racing seats, harnesses, and even shift knobs make a huge impact when people look at your car.
Some people go for aftermarket spoilers on their car, whether its a huge APR Carbon fiber wing, a Rocketbunny ducktail, or even a simple lip style rear spoiler.
These are just a few options when it comes to aesthetic mods, but you probably have a list of what you want for your car already, so get to it!
Number 5: Tuning Hardware
Some people like to jump right into tuning and trying to harness more of their car’s power. Of course doing a tune right off the bat isn’t going to net you 80 or 90 horsepower, but there will be some slight gains over your factory tune. On top of that, you’re going to end up needing the hardware anyway before you go slapping that upgraded intake manifold or big turbo on the car, so sometimes it’s better to get it out of the way early on as tuning hardware costs a pretty penny depending on the company you go with.
So there’s just a few options when it comes to the first mods to do to your car. Everyone is different, and every car is unique because of the modifications that each individual driver does. You have a vision, and aftermarket companies make that a reality by giving you endless options on ways to customize and upgrade your car to make it your own. To see more articles like this one, subscribe to NETC, and be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on instagram!