The benefits of modifying cars

People often associate the concept of modified cars with brightly coloured cars, with body kits, huge spoilers and loud exhausts, often driven by socially irresponsible youngsters with a penchant for making the tyres squeal and smoke.

It is not surprising that this element attracts attention but it is only the tip of the iceberg, and there is a much more socially responsible side to modified cars.

There are many drivers who apply much more discreet modifications to their cars. So let’s investigate this further and examine why people modify their cars and the common areas of attention. You never know, this might even inspire you to start a car project.

Why do people modify their cars?
 

Manufacturers are running a business and they scale things to make a profit, so often compromises are made in the way cars are designed, built, and tuned.

After all, these cars have to work in a variety of regions, with varying fuel quality, and environmental challenges. So cars are usually set up to perform adequately in all conditions creating a compromised end result which misses it’s true potential.

Most people in the car modification community are looking to create the best car they can, using all available avenues, often insisting on only the highest quality parts, and the tightest manufacturing tolerances.

This can improve the car's appearance, handling, driving qualities and reliability, all significant plus points.

It is important to point out that in most areas and regions it is a legal requirement to inform insurers of any modification or conversion to a vehicle.

With some of the more extensive modifications and conversions, the car may need to go through an approval/safety inspection, before it can be legally used on the roads. Consult with your local transport department to check the rules and regulations that may apply.

Modifications that improve efficiency

Making more power is one popular aim in the modified car scene, but there are a growing number of people looking to improve the efficiency of the engine, which will lead to improved fuel economy and reduced emissions levels.

By improving the air flow and fuel delivery into the engine and fine tuning the combustion process big improvements can be made. With a few small changes like these you can dramatically improve your engines efficiency and longevity.

Changes to the car's engine computer, the ECU, can also yield greater power, efficiency and fuel economy. With cars being more and more computer controlled the skill set required to tune and update them has had to evolve over the years.

On most modern turbo diesel engines ECU tuning will result in more power and greater fuel efficiency, with some producing improvements of around 30%.

It is even possible to convert older engines to use modern technological advances. The conversion from a carburettor to fuel injection is quite common and really helps to improve the efficiency, power delivery and reliability of those older engines.

Some drivers will focus on the car's MPG (miles per gallon) and try to improve this by adjusting their driving style and modifying the car. By using an online MPG calculator a driver can track the fuel economy and efficiency of the engine. A drop in fuel economy can often indicate that something is wrong. The most common causes for lower MPG are low tyre pressures, soot build up in the engine, dirty or worn fuel injectors and fouled spark plugs.

Modifying cars to improve safety

Although manufacturers will meet the latest safety regulations and requirements, it is entirely feasible to exceed them.

Brake upgrades are the most common safety modifications. Larger brake disks and higher friction brake pads greatly improve the stopping distance of the car.

It is reassuring to see new developments improving the braking systems of cars, with the addition of carbon & ceramic components and better friction materials being applied to brake pads.

In many cases, these are just bolt-on replacement parts. In the event of fitting larger components, it may necessitate replacing other supporting parts.

Other popular areas for modification include the suspension system, with many asserting that the factory designed suspension is too soft or too hard.

The car needs to corner whilst maximising grip and full control needs to be maintained under heavy braking, qualities which are affected by the design and the setup of a cars’ suspension. A good quality suspension kit will allow full adjustment so the handling can be tailored to suit the driver.

Roll cages can be retrofitted to provide additional impact protection, and this also helps increase the stability of the car by reducing body flexing.

More adventurous car projects


Conversion of a petrol engined car to electric power is gaining in popularity. With the environmental concerns and with governments around the world phasing out fossil fuel vehicle sales over the next 15 years or so, many are looking for ways to drive a loved classic car without impacting the environment.

So ripping out the fossil fuel engine and replacing it with an electric motor and battery pack represents a cutting edge development in the world of car modification.

The early pioneers have published their project ideas online on social media sites, video channels and on websites. They provide a wealth of experience and a deep repository of advice for those looking to carry out this conversion process.

Learning from the mistakes of others saves both time and expense. We are seeing kits becoming available that contain all of the components required to perform a conversion to electric power.

We’ve also seen Hybrid conversions carried out and whole cars have been transformed into amphibious vehicles, there are also flying cars out there, so we are entering a brave new world!

It is also possible to convert a car from front wheel drive to rear wheel drive, or retrofit cruise control or even convert gearboxes between manual and automatic operation.

The only limits to a modified car project are your imagination and how deep your pockets are, but there is certainly a group of socially responsible car owners looking to improve their carbon footprint, enhance their car, and put their own little personal touches into their projects.

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