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4 Cheap, Easy Car Performance Mods

Updated on February 28, 2014

4 Cheap, Easy Car Performance Mods

Everyone dreams of a sweet ride!

Unfortunately, modding a car can be obscenely expensive. And that's not even mentioning the technical difficulties. You can really mess your car up if you don't know what you're doing.

There's a lot of information on the internet about the subject, and just as many products. Sadly, there is an entire market designed to scam would-be tuners, selling crap parts that do little or nothing for for car. Or worse- potentially damage it.

Lucky for you, though, that I've waded through the ocean of crap and emerged with a few good mods that won't bust your wallet! Now, understand right now that you won't be building a monstrously powerful car with these mods. These are just some basic mods to get you started. If you want a truly powerful ride, get ready to dump a powerful load of cash into your car! But if you just want to go a little faster, this is the guide for you.


You get what you pay for. You always get what you pay for. But sometimes, the difference isn't a whole lot between the cheap and the pricey. Intakes are one thing that you can go cheap on if you're building on a budget. Virtually anything you throw in there is going to be better than stock, from the $20 Ebay pipe to the $200 AEM cold air intake.

Some cars also have an extra little box called a resonator before the filter box that can be pulled out for a quick and free HP gain. This box is called a resonator and does nothing but make your engine quieter. If you don't know what you're doing, though, and can't tell the resonator from the filter box, it would be best to just leave it alone.


Once again, you get what you pay for. This is true with everything! But, once again, for the budget tuner who's not going to dump five digits on their car anyway, it really won't make a difference. Take your car to your local muffler shop and ask for a high-flow cat-back. It should run you about $200, which isn't much in the automotive world.

Or, you also have the option of buying a more expensive brand-name product. But, if you're not a serious tuner, you probably really won't be able to tell the difference. Both the intake and exhaust mods are designed to get your engine breathing a little easier.

Weight Reduction

This one is truly free. If you don't care about your car's interior, or if it's already beat up, then you might as well just take it out. Most panels simply snap into place and come out if you pull on them. Check for bolts first, just in case- you don't want to break it in case you choose to put it back in later!

The back seats can also come out, and on most cars, they just snap into place, too (and are just as easy to put back in when you need them). Carpet can be removed (I hate carpet, anyway), and if you want to get hardcore, you can scrape out the sound-deadening material, too. If your car has AC, you can get rid of that, but you'll need to buy a shorter drive belt.

Really, anything that your car doesn't need to move can be removed at the cost of comfort and appearance.

Carbon fiber hoods and trunk lids will net you additional weight loss and look great, but get very expensive very fast.


Wheels are a rotating mass, so if you can pick up a set that are lighter than the stock wheels, your car has to do less work to get them spinning. That translates to faster acceleration. Basically, this is an extension of weight reduction. If they look good, that's a bonus, too! Check your local pawn shops; you never know what you might find.

Crap Products to Avoid

"Performance chips" on sites like Ebay that cost very little but claim huge gains (please check here for examples of real performance chips), "tornadoes" or other products that claim to "spin the air in your intake" or some other nonsense, and most superchargers (not to be confused with turbochargers) are all fake. Don't waste your time or money on this crap.

Modifying a car is an expensive hobby, and you gain little for how much you spend. Still, it's satisfying to build it up and have something that you can say you built yourself, and it always feels good to get a compliment on something you've worked hard on.

Learn more! - This lens is only the beginning!

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    • ChrisCampbell05 profile image

      Chris 2 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Great start. I do want to clarify that just adding aftermarket muffles will not gain much in terms of performance. You really would need headers and a catback exhaust to make a difference. If looking for resources on the best mods for a turbo car I have a writeup.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      On the 2010-2013 Ford SHO AWD I have done Dyno testing. It is a twin turbo GDI v6. Tested 3 different exhausts, 3 BTB pulls each (total of 9, all the same day, open hood, 79 degrees and 30% humidity).....last pull with each pipe set the factory filter and factory CAI completely removed from the car (coldest possible air, lowest possible restriction)... It only varied ± 3HP in each set of 3 pulls. We also tested them at the track with this engine and aftermarket actually slowed the quarter mile by .1 - .2 seconds with AirAid .... It seems that while it might work it in TB and MP injection engines it is of no use in these...

    • onlyoneadam profile image

      onlyoneadam 3 years ago

      Good lens for starter modders - weight reduction is the big one here : pay attention to the existing weight balance of your car and try to improve that balance as you lose the pounds . For example I run a mid engine car and lost a good chunk of weight from the rear by swapping out the exhaust , helps the handling ( and looks )

    • profile image

      AutoGuy1314 3 years ago

      Great lens. Changing the wheels are definitely my favorite when modding a car. OZ, Enkei, KMC are some of my top choices. There is a great website called: where they feature great wheels to improve the look and performance of your ride.

    • ManbeardTheHuge profile image

      ManbeardTheHuge 4 years ago

      @tiresautorepair: I checked your lens and I see what you mean. What I was talking about were the crap products you find on Ebay such as the little resistors that replace the O2 sensor and claim huge gains but do virtually nothing (I'm ashamed to admit I tried them). I will edit the respective section on my lens here and link to your page so people will have a better understanding!

    • profile image

      tiresautorepair 4 years ago

      I disagree with your comment on Performance chips. See my lens to understand why.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      great suggestions here. love your weight reduction tips.