So You Want To Mod Your Car
11 Dec 2018
We’d all love to drive a nice looking car – and for most of us our car is a source of pride as well as an important tool for getting from A to B. A popular trend among many car owners is to inject some personality into their car.
Your options are not only limited by your imagination and budget: keeping modifications on the right side of the law can help avoid any undue attention, as well as getting fined and having to pay for work to make a mod street legal.
So before pimping your ride, have a look at the issues you need to consider – because if you make a mistake it could cost you a lot to put it right!
Who will do the work?
If it’s likely some modification to an integral component of the vehicle wil be needed, if the mod is related to your car’s performance or handling, you’ll need to assess if you’re capable of carrying out the work yourself. When modifying brakes, steering, suspension or anything that can hamper the safe operation of your car, you should have that work carried out by an accredited and qualified specialist.
Don’t assume that doing the work yourself will suffice as a cost-cutting measure. If you aren’t qualified or experienced, you run the risk of doing more harm than good to your car – and possibly your safety.
If you want to fit different wheels and tyres onto your vehicle, be aware of the potential impact this can have on handling. You should always check the wheels you want to use are recommended by your vehicles manufacturer and, in the event that you are opting for bigger sized tyres than standard, make sure there is enough space in your wheel arches to accommodate them.
If there isn’t enough space this can cause the wheels to rub against the inside of the arches, damaging both the tyre and bodywork. Fixing this problem can involve additional, expensive work to increase the size of the wheel arches on your vehicle.
While the trend for under-car neon lighting has had its day, modding enthusiasts are still playing around with coloured illuminations. Changing anything to do with the lights on your car should be researched carefully, as there are a number of different legal issues to keep in mind when choosing to do so. For example, the law says you can only have red light on the rear of your car.
As with any other mod, anything that impedes or obscures the vision of you or another driver will be dangerous and should be avoided. It pays to check the rules, as the police can issue you with a £50 non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice for illegal lighting on your car.
This type of mod can often make it indistinguishable from the vehicle it once was; much like everything else on this list you should be mindful of who does the work – the last thing you want is have expensive body trim fall off when you’re driving along because it wasn’t fitted properly.
With spoilers, ensure they don’t obscure your vision or make it difficult or dangerous to drive your car. Bodywork can be expensive, so make sure you budget for parts and work.
While you might admire the aesthetic look and sound of a big bore exhaust, take note: the likelihood is that it is illegal. A big exhaust contravenes the Type Approval of the vehicle, and all it takes is a police officer’s opinion that the system is non-standard and noisier than it should be for you to get into trouble. This generally means court costs and fines, and the cost of returning your exhaust to its original specification.
So if the most important things to be wary of when modifying your car is whether you have made your vehicle dangerous or illegal, the next reality check is your insurance. If you modify your car, you should inform your insurer of the changes you’ve made. A modified car filled with high value after-market parts could be an attractive prospect to thieves, a factor that will be reflected in the amount you have to pay for your insurance premium. The body and performance modifications also come with a supposed increased accident risk, meaning you can be looking to pay more in that respect too.
A final note about money. Check the terms and conditions of your car finance agreement – you will probably be in breach of it if you modify your car – this includes adding a tow bar. Also, while we are happy to arrange finance for certain modified vehicles (as long as you own them outright), some modifications will affect the resale value of your car, meaning that the amount you can borrow on a Logbook Loan is less than it would have been.