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Budget Car Mods: 5 Performance Parts Under $100 That Will Leave You And Your Wallet Happy

Updated on April 19, 2014

In a dream world, car modifications would be free. Unfortunately, they are not, and even simple mods can have you taking out a second mortgage on your house. Gearheads are constantly searching for cheap ways to modify their car, looking for the best “bang for their buck” or “dollar per horsepower” they can find.

There are plenty inexpensive options out there for beefing up the performance of your vehicle. Unfortunately, most of these products, such as electric superchargers, are scams aimed at an uninformed buyer on a budget. Even cheap-o versions of legitimate performance parts rarely end up as worthwhile investments. These products, such as the exhaust systems and turbo kits found for cheap on Ebay, are plagued with reliability issues and can even be damaging to your car in the long run.

The first thing car modifiers seem to want to add to their ride is, of course, horsepower. If the money is there, then by all means go for it! For the many of us with tight budgets, however, power mods may not be the best bang for our buck. In fact, the $500 spent on exhaust components, boasting a gain of 10 to 15 horsepower, could be used to purchase a number of other parts that will greatly improve the performance and fun-factor of your ride.

The following is a list of cheap mods that are sure to improve your car. Prices are estimated, and will vary by vehicle.

1. Aluminum Shifter Bushings ($20-30)

For anyone with a manual transmission, aluminum shifter bushings are a must. Most shifters come from the factory with plastic or polyurethane shifter bushings. This means that the shifter may have “play” and will move side to side even when in gear. Replacing these bushings with aluminum ones improves the rigidity, and proving the crispness that allows you to shift through gears with confidence.

2. Motor Mount Inserts ($20-30)

Motor mount inserts provide to you what true performance motor mounts, costing upwards of $400, do at a fraction of the price. Motor mount inserts beef up the manufacturer mounts. The effect is controlled torque, improved shifting, and reduced wheel hop for front wheel drive cars. This means that for owners of FWD cars, this mod can actually improve acceleration from a dead stop, all for less than a tank of gas!

3. Aftermarket Control Arm and Sway Bar Bushings ($30-50)

Aftermarket control arm and sway bar bushings are designed to do what every suspension modification is designed to do: reduce movement within the suspension and increase rigidity. The bushings that most vehicles are born with are generally softer and allow more movement. Replacing the stock bushings can provide a noticeable improvement in your cars handling.

4. Hood Damper Kit ($50-70)

This modification is not about performance. However, if you are the type to be found under the hood of your car once in a while, this mod may be worth your dollar. Hood dampers eliminate the need for a hood stand, and are usually adjustable. They work the same way your trunk or rear hatch dampers work, allowing for smooth opening and shutting. They also eliminate the risk of the hood falling down on your head while you’re checking the spark plugs.

5. Throttle Body Spacer ($50-100)

This is the most expensive and most controversial product on my list. Throttle body spacers are designed to improve air flow to the engine, and thus boost horsepower and torque figures. Buyers have reported mixed results from these products, and it is generally accepted that the effectiveness varies by vehicle. Typically, larger engines are more likely to respond to this modification. At such a low price compared to other horsepower-boosters, it is hard to ignore.

All of these products are terrific potential additions to your mods list. However, always be sure to research specific products and their effectiveness on your particular vehicle before purchasing. Happy modding!


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