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15 Worst Car Modifications, Bad Upgrades & Auto Accessories

Updated on April 12, 2012

Bad Car Modifications & Accessories

There have always been those among us car enthusiasts who take the design of every vehicle they own to it's very edge of speed, handling and style. In certain circles of Asian-Americans, it's ultra-cool to get a Japanese import that looks totally souped up for street racing. BUT...All the modifications are *completely* useless (maybe mildly counterproductive). This is what we in the car industry call a "rice rocket." (WARNING: You may have to call it something else by now...or risk being called a racist.) Here is my public service announcement: the 10 worst ways to modify your car.

15 Worst Car Modifications

There have always been those among us car enthusiasts who take the design of every vehicle they own to it’s very edge of speed, handling and style. In certain circles of Asian-Americans, it’s ultra-cool to get a Japanese import that looks totally souped up for street racing. BUT...All the modifications are *completely* useless (maybe mildly counterproductive). This is what we in the car industry call a "rice rocket." (WARNING: You may have to call it something else by now...or risk being called a racist.) Here is my public service announcement: the 10 worst ways to modify your car.

1. Decals That Belong on Other Cars

One popular way to convince people your car is “da bomb” is to apply a fake sticker claiming it's "turbo" charged or on some "racing team." One of the most popular “fakes” was the "Type R" decal on Honda Civics and Acura Integras, which was *only* applied to a very limited edition, top performance line of Civics and Integras.

2. Turbocharger Speakers AKA Fake Engine Sounds

A turbocharger or “turbo” (a thing that you put in the engine to make the car faster) is considered a “cool” upgrade for big boys (from a guy’s point of view) or little men (from a female perspective *wink*). There are only 3 ways to let potential breeding partners know your car has a turbo (alleging that you are then, cool). 1. Label it with a “turbo charged” sticker. 2. Drive it...making sure everyone hears your engine’s new “sound.” 3. Buy a “turbo” speaker system! Yes, some car buffs, with only a few brain cells to knock together, discovered a cheaper alternative to turbo charging their engines. Simply purchase a speaker system to mimic that classic turbo sound. The kits even feature a switch, to turn on the sound at stoplights...prompting all women in earshot to walk in the other direction.

With the Sunami speaker system, you don’t even need an actual car. When potential mates stop by, or call, just secretly flick the switch and say, "Sorry... can’t hear you over my new turbocharger." (Face it...you weren’t going to get a second date anyway.)

3. Race Car Blow-off Valves

Some creative car lovers saw a 90s street racing movie and mistakenly thought they *needed* a blow off valve for their Honda Accord. Sure, now your econo-car *sounds* like a jet. Then, as your shifting gears in city traffic, you realize that new LOUD hiss of compressed air isn’t the smoothest sound...especially when you have to hear it a 1000x/day every rush hour. The kicker...your annoying car doesn’t even go any faster!

4. Super Loud (stupid cheap) Exhaust Systems

An aftermarket exhaust system is the #1 modification every hot rodder wants. A less restrictive exhaust system frees up horsepower and lets out more of the engine’s natural tone. One car buff said it best. It makes a car sound like “a swarm of drugged bees being shot out of the ass of an elephant.” A crappy exhaust system sound like...well...shit. PLEASE! Splurge on a decent muffler for your Hot Rod (for all our sakes).

NOTE: See our article on “Aftermarket Exhaust Systems” too!)

5. Giant Wings AKA Baby Got Back

The concept of a wing is not entirely bad. IE. A Porsche 911 has a small spoiler that comes up at 60mph+. Porsche claims this is enough “downforce” for the car, which can go faster than 190mph. Whatever works on race cars will work for all cars...right? WRONG! F1 cars go *so* fast that the wind through the wing pushing the tires down actually *does* make a difference in steering and control. Reality check...Most cars with BIG wings aren’t even able to reach speeds of 110mph+, which their wing's down force could enhance. Thus, most cars do NOT need a “wing,” (let alone 2 or even 3 wings).

NOTE TO NASCAR FANS: There *is* a difference between a spoiler and a wing. Although they're both cool looking tail pieces, a spoiler is the one close down on the trunk like on the Civic Si. The spoiler directs the airflow path down the back of the car, which decreases drag while increasing mileage.

The affectionately nick-named “rice rockets” usually end up with *both* a rear wing and front wheel drive and steering. So, even *if* the wing is working at all, it would pick *up* the wheels, rather than push them down. DOH!?! Yes, most “Rice Rocketeers” add wings to their car that aren't even shaped for providing *any* down force at all. They might even provide some lift instead, or, due to their heavy weight, create drag to slow the car down.

6. Low Profile Tires AKA Big Wheels

Low-profile tires (commonly known as "low-pros") are expensive and hard to find. They kind of look cool because you see much more of the alluring, chrome wheel, and less of the dull, rubber tire. BUT...Do bigger wheels also let people see your awesome brakes? We must assume cars with low-pros *do* indeed have awesome brakes, simply because their main purpose is to allow the use of more powerful brakes, provide better handling and reduce weight below the suspension.

WARNING POTHOLES! Once low-pros start to age, they start cracking around the sidewalls from baking in the sun for years. The first pothole they hit can crack low profile tires right open. You *may* get lots of compliments on your lo-pros, but word won't buy you new tires (@$1,000).

7. Classic Car Replica AKA Aerodynamic Body Kits

What is an "aerodynamic" body kit? This is for car lovers who don't want to actually lower the car’s suspension...but want that phat, “low suspension” look. (Oh yeah...you’re cool.) Why do car owners think this will “work?” “Wide wheels” provide better traction, but also require wider wheel wells to cover them and direct air over them. The result of the two working together is called the "ground effects." The narrow space left between the car and the ground helps pull the car down (that same down force they want from car wings).

As with the wings, a car gets more down force from the heavy weight of the body kit than any ground effects that *may* be generated. WARNING: Body kits can be VERY DANGEROUS in the wrong hands. Friends don’t let friends use bad body kits!

8. DIY Lower Car Suspension

How do you take a simple, stock car and smother it in sex appeal? Give it a “slammed” look by lowering the suspension yourself! Lowing a car’s center of gravity allows you to handle it better and feel less body roll in the curves. (*IF* you do it right...you did, right?)

What...you don’t KNOW?!? Tell me you did NOT simply hook on the biggest set of springs you found. If so, dude (or dudette) you’ve got a big problem! When you lower the springs, without the rest of the suspension, you’ve got “bump steer.” IE. When you hit a bump (better make that a “jump”) in the road...HOLD ON. Every time your wheel hits a bump or groove in the road, your car will now steer in that direction.

Wait...you didn’t even *buy* new springs? You just cut your car’s old springs to lower it. Congratulations! Your car no longer has a functioning suspension system. Better beat it around EVERY bump in the road...you’ve got NOTHING absorbing that shock now.

9. Putting A 450hp Race Car Clutch In A 200hp Ride

Whenever one of my friends gets a Mustang, they feel the urge to buy a pair of Flowmasters, and a K&N CAI...and the heaviest, least practical clutch you can find.

(IE. the King Cobra clutch). Their car makes 220, but they add a clutch rated for drivetrains of 450hp+. WARNING: This does *not* make the car any faster, but it *does* make your left leg cramp up in traffic. You’ll wear the clutch out early from lazy shifting.

10. Fake Chrome On A Real Car

I like chrome as much as the next guy (or girl, as the case may be). Yet, just because a Classic Cadillac is beautifully bathed in chrome, doesn’t mean your Honda Civic is gonna look sick with stick-on strips. Some compulsive car junkies cover their car in fake chrome strips, accentuating every angle in...plastic. Leave the plastic at Pep Boys...PLEASE!

11. Trailer Hitch Toilet AKA BUMPER DUMPER

12. Trailer Hitch Stripper Pole AKA Platinum Stage

13. Car Mustache AKA Carstache

14. Balls For Your Truck AKA Truck Nutz

Beyond serving no purpose, other than announcing your terrible taste, these fake ball sacks are actually illegal in some states. Is this an over reaction by the so-called moral majority? I, for one, am glad the government intervened to save us from this “Macho, Macho Mod!”

15. My Fave Fakes That Did Not Make My List:

Neon underglows, rhinestone studded mud flaps, and super spinners.

What are *your* favorite car modifications?

Pop Superhero CD & MP3

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    • JMBradford profile image

      John Bradford 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Actually in building a car for better handling a few of those mods do make a ton of sense, when done properly. I did note that you mentioned custom suspension is good, when done right. However, low-profile tires aren't only used to increase rotor size/brake caliper size. They also eleminate sidewall flex that taller tires can produce, leading to tighter handling and in some cases better tolerance of lateral G-forces.

      That aside, I found this to be a very entertaining read! It's always fun to laugh at people who try building a cool car, and end up with an unsafe one, lol. (donks and stance cars, I'm looking at you.)

    • WerewolfCustoms1 profile image

      WerewolfCustoms1 5 years ago

      Hahaha... great list. I agree with you 100%. I would only wish you divided it into separate text modules, or used the text list module. :)