Modifying your car is a time-honored tradition among car enthusiasts. There’s not much that can compare to the satisfaction of making a vehicle truly your own. However, not all modifications can be considered “useful,” in fact, some modifications do more harm than good to your car.
Of course, doing what makes you happy is important, but at the same time, the line needs to be drawn between modifications that make your car a better performing and looking machine, and those that “ruin” any speed or good looks a car may have.
Here are some of the worst modifications that don’t make sense beyond “the owner liked the look of it.”
Let’s be honest, they look awesome. The problem is, they don’t make a lot of sense on a street driven car. Downforce is an aerodynamic principle that keeps your car’s wheels planted at high speed, but with a massive wing, this comes at the cost of aerodynamic drag – which in turn makes your car slower. So unless you’re building a proper track monster, it’s probably best to ditch the visibility destroying wing.
14Racing Harnesses Without A Harness Bar/Roll Cage
A seat belt’s job is to hold you in place during a crash or sudden stop. This requires the belts to tighten up and lock your body in place. With a standard 3 point safety belt, the force can be safely distributed through the door and seat. With a racing harness, a bar or cage will direct these forces to the back of the seat while keeping you in place.
Cheap racing harness setups, however, mount the belts to the floor, which means all that energy will pull straight down on your shoulders and hips, leading to injuries rather than safety.
13Cheap And Loud Exhaust
A loud but well-tuned exhaust is like music to a car enthusiast’s ears. Often signifying that the approaching car is a powerhouse to be reckoned with, nothing is more disappointing than realizing that approaching exhaust note sounds more like a runaway lawnmower, and is coming from a nearly stock and unimpressive vehicle who’s owner decided that “loud = more powerful.”
Some people like the look of a car with extreme wheel camber, as they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Performance, however, can be measured objectively, and excessive camber destroys what could have been a fast car.
Think about it this way, when half the wheel is angled off of the ground, it only can contact the ground half as much, meaning grip is cut in half. Add the wheel rubbing against the fender, and suddenly your sports car has become quite un-athletic
Another one in the “looks good but destroys the practicality” department. Lowering your car can look great and improve handling, but as with anything, too much of a good thing can be bad. The exception here is adjustable air ride suspension, but if you’re going to commit to being this low permanently, you better get ready to compromise on driveability.
10Blacked Out Lights
Light is a fairly simple principle, it travels out from a source in waves. Any obstacle to those light waves will decrease the brightness, and the color black happens to absorb light the best.
So, even if it looks cool, if you’re using stock headlights and brake-lights, it probably isn’t the best idea to tint your lights if you’re going to be driving on unlit roads.
9Thin Stretched Tires
You don’t need to be a Formula 1 pit mechanic to know that tires wear down, especially if being used on a performance-oriented car. Typically used for better wheel fitment on lowered cars, rubber band style tires just aren’t worth it, especially when combined with high levels of camber.
8Ridiculous Shift Knobs
Yes, it’s true, newer automatic transmissions can shift faster than any human with a manual transmission can. However, if you’re one of the rare people who know how to drive a stick shift, that doesn’t matter as nothing can compare to the thrill of banging through the gears.
A major factor to this enjoyment often is the ergonomics of the shift knob, so maybe think twice before installing that wacky, but uncomfortable, shift knob.
7Fake Performance Badges
Perhaps the most confusing of all modifications, putting fake performance badges on your car just doesn’t make sense. Here’s the issue: people who don’t care about performance cars will have no idea what the badge means, and those who are in the know, will most likely be able to tell it’s a fake. Is blatantly lying about your car really worth a tiny bit of street cred?
6Over The Top Plastic Body Kits
A relic of a darker time (the early 2000s), extreme body kits have fortunately fallen out of fashion. Body kits have come a long way in terms of style and quality, with a focus now on improving the original car’s styling in an aggressive but subtle way, rather than trying to scream for attention by any means possible. Some people, however, didn’t receive the memo.
5Fake Hood Scoops
When you think about what a fast car looks like, hood scoops probably come to mind. The fast car association comes from their function. They direct cool air into the engine bay, feeding either a forced induction intercooler or just providing extra airflow to the engine.
But getting function out of one requires actual work, and it’s not uncommon to see cheap hood scoops simply bolted on to a stock hood with nowhere for the air to go.
4Unnecessary Aerodynamic Components
Similar to hood scoops, aerodynamic components like canards or diffusers look cool and provide functional gains when installed properly. But proper aerodynamic tuning is a time-consuming process, and plenty of people who buy these parts just want the cool looks.
If it’s not a fully built racecar, there’s a good chance those canards aren’t affecting performance on a noticeable level.
3Unnecessary Interior Gauges
Notice a theme here? Race-inspired parts on mostly stock streetcars are rather silly. An abundance of gauges is no exception. Typically used to monitor sensitive aftermarket systems that actually provide more power, it’s rather silly to make a battery volt monitor look like a turbo boost gauge – unless your alternator is broken, in which case, spend the same amount of money on a new alternator!
2Chrome Body Wraps
Taste is, of course, a subjective matter. Maybe you think chrome looks great on cars, maybe you think it looks terrible. On the other hand, chrome reflecting back more light than any paint color is an objective, easily observable fact. People won’t have time to admire any work put into your build when they’ve been blinded by the sun reflecting off your car.
Sure, airbags on a steering wheel can be bulky and ugly, but they’re there for a good reason – your safety. Race cars don’t need airbags as they’re required to have a full set of safety equipment keeping you in place (plus you need to wear a helmet on almost all race tracks).
So why swap your road car’s stock steering wheel for one without an airbag? It looks cool and feels better to drive with, sounds great – until you actually need those airbags.