So, you’ve taken your driving theory test, passed your practical with flying colours,
and spent a few hours browsing autotrader before deciding on a second-hand car that fits your budget,
holds its own style-wise and hopefully won’t cause you too many problems in the repairs department. Now you’ve got your wheels, how do you go about really making them your own?
For many people, making modifications to their car isn’t about impressing others (although there is often an aspect of that!) - it’s about defining themselves. The car can be seen as an extension of a person’s personality - professional, kooky, expensive tastes, you name it. Most modifications tend to be aimed at one of two purposes, either making the car look better, or improving its performance - pimping your ride, as it’s known.
Done well, it can add a lot of value to the vehicle. Done badly, and the opposite is true and your resale options become limited. There is also the impact on your insurance premiums to be considered; making the car much faster, or adding things like spoilers, makes insurers smoke at the ears and can very quickly see to it that a young driver’s insurance bill goes through the roof.
Some people spend thousands on modifications, while others with a bit of knowhow and craftsmanship can create a very similar effect for just a few pounds. Here’s some of the most popular car mods out there:
Hacked hood ornaments
It usually tends to be the biggest, more expensive cars that have eye-catching hood ornaments, such as your Rolls-Royces and your Mercedes, but it’s actually not too difficult to pop something on your car that will have people craning their necks as you drive past. I won’t go into the technicalities of how to install it, suffice to say that you’ll need a few tools such as pliers and a wrench, some strong wire and a can of chrome spraypaint. So just browse second-hand shops, sporting goods stores (the tops of trophies are a good idea for sports-fans) or flea markets for any lightweight figurines that you think would look good on the front of your car, then get to work!
LED Underfloor lighting
Popularised of course by the cars used in the Fast and the Furious movies, these look amazing when you’re driving at night. UK law isn’t too clear on whether they’re allowed or not, but so long as the lights are not a distraction to the driver or other road-users you should be fine to add them. They’re strips of LEDs placed along the underside of the car and activated from inside. On some systems you can trick them out to flash in time with your music. Again, a fairly cheap and easy installation, but just be careful where you use them.
The inexpensive alternative to a spray job, yet still making your vehicle instantly distinctive. Basically they’re just waterproof stickers you place on the car: doors, bonnet, roof, wherever you want. There’s an amazing variety online, and because they’re so easy to apply you can change your look every six months or so.
Probably the part of the car most people think about first when it comes to modifying, adding new hubcaps or wheel-rims can make your car look a lot flashier, and again needn't cost a great deal if you do your research Given that many garages will put them on for a few pounds a wheel, it’s worth having them fitted professionally, especially if you’ve bought expensive ones - you don’t want your hubcap falling off on the motorway!
One other type of modification that shouldn’t be ignored is those that can be added if you have a physical impairment, which makes driving a normal car difficult. For instance you can get hand-controls for braking and accelerating, left-foot acceleration conversions and helpful hand-brake modifications. This is one type of mod that you must get professionally-installed of course. They’re great for assisting people to drive safely, and also for giving people with disabilities more freedom.