The Ultimate Dilemma – To Mod or Not?
When you get a new car. Whether it is new, pre-owned or used the dilemma always comes up. Do I modify or not? If so, how far is too far. In this post we break down our own take on this common dilemma with enthusiasts.
Not everyone is able to have a winter beater in their fleet so some of us must find a happy balance between a daily driver and a car that can give us fun when we want to. Whether you want more power when you step on the gas, an improved look or a car which can hit the track on weekends, there are a ton of things to consider before you start your mod list.
Can I Keep My Warranty?
One of the top questions we get when it comes to mods is “Will this effect my warranty?”. If you just drove off the lot with a new car or happen to have a CPO warranty it can depend. We always suggest you talk to your dealer to see how mod friendly they are. The rule of thumb generally is if the part you put on your car breaks something related to the OEM component you are trying to warranty, it will be void. But this is not always the case as some dealers will deny warranty work if your care is modded in general.
Tuning by far is the biggest question we get around warranties and actually is one of the simplest to explain. If you drive your car to a dealer while it is flashed with aftermarket software, it will get its warranty voided. That simple. Now with many programmers you can flash your car back to stock which many of us do. Technically speaking if you are on stock software you should be fine. But none of the tuning companies will offer a guarantee for their own legal reasons.
If you are edgy and really on the fence about modifying we always suggest do some cosmetic styling parts first before you bite the bullet and go down the path of power adders.
Form vs Function
The next question we generally have for newbies to the enthusiast community is “What is your goal for the car?” Are you daily driving this Audi, BMW or VW or will this be a garage queen who only comes out to play? When it comes to some modifications you can drastically improve areas of the car but that improvement in one area could be seen as negative in another.
For example suspension. By lowering your vehicle not only do you give it a lower center of gravity which improves handling, it also gives you that nice aggressive stance everyone craves. But by stiffening up your suspension you actually may feel your ride comfort for those daily drive commutes decline. This is not at fault of the mod as it is doing its intent, tightening up the suspension for track or spirited driving. For those of you who daily drive your car you may want to consider doing lowering springs or a set of mid range coilovers that will allow a moderate drop while still maintaining ride comfort.
Now we would think no one would complain about too much power but too much power can actually be a problem for some. For those of us who flash our ECU’s you need to remember if you are driving a Audi/VW with DSG transmission you should compliment that ECU file with a DSG tune. As drive-ability will be drastically altered with the added power from Stage 1, 1+ or 2 level tunes. Driving a manual? Well if you start tuning your car you will need to look into upgrading your clutch. A stage 2 or 3 level clutch will offer the perfect grip to ensure the power goes where it needs, right to the ground. But with performance clutches often times comes stiffer clutch pedal feel. Daily driving 50 miles a day in bumper to bumper traffic? That clutch foot is gonna get some exercise.
Reliability is key when it comes to modifying your car. Unless you are looking to set record passes, you want your car to stay reliable no matter if you daily drive or track it periodically. As long as you maintain the basic service on your car generally they will stay reliable. Often times what we see if owners push their cars to limits and either do not stay on top of the maintenance or they cut corners in certain areas. One common area is tuning their cars and running less than premium octane fuel. The key to maintaining reliability is to understand your car’s needs as well as the modifications done to it and how they all work together.
Running a flashed ECU? Make sure you swap out your spark plugs and run premium octane.
Running your car aggressive race springs? Be prepared to swap out your factory shocks/struts with aftermarket ones as the factory ones will not last.
No matter the mod, learn how they work together and what to stay on top of as you put miles on it. Treat it well and it will treat you well.
Where Do You Live?
This one is often times overlooked in a few different areas. Where you live and will drive your car actually can impact not only your mods but what mods you could/should run.
We wrote a longer article all about CARB compliance but the short version of this is if you live in at least California and looking to modify your Audi, BMW or VW you will want to know what CARB is. As various items such as intakes must be CARB certified if you plan to get your car inspected in the state.
Climate and Its’ Impact
No we are not talking about global warming here. But where you live can impact your car’s performance and modifications. If you are in a climate that generally runs hot you will want to make sure your car is always running cool. A hot engine and air intake temps is the enemy when it comes to power. So when building your mod wish list there are certain items you will want to put on there such as an aftermarket intercooler. New to intercoolers? Check out our article explaining their function and why you should upgrade.
Living in a colder climate like us? Well if you are in PA be prepared to dodge those canyons that are potholes here in the state during the winter months. If you are upgrading your suspension we always recommend coilovers as you can than spin them up and raise your car in the winter months and lower it in the summer months.
Have an aftermarket catch can on your car? Make sure you drain it during those cold months to prevent freezing.
Where Do I Start?
If you are reading and thinking “Im so lost, where do I start?” Don’t feel lost. Modding cars is an awesome hobby which brings together some really passionate people. Feel free to email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 1-888-364-9336 as we are here to help answer any questions or give suggestions for your mod list. Or attend a local car show. There are some great ones here in the Northeast which we attend annually such as Waterfest in New Jersey.