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Top 5 Cheap Car Engine Mods That Will Turn Heads!

Updated on June 29, 2015

Car Mods: How To

Most people think modding their cars is going to turn into an expensive job and that they do not have the know-how to customize their car. However, in this article, I will show you how to do it on a budget, and make it look and sound GREAT!

I love working on my car and playing around with different things. I really enjoy making it special. Everyone has to have a car to get to work or do their thing, but we don't have to share the same boring-looking stock car. It gets old after a while, so make your car unique (and your friends jealous)!

Short RAM intake with a red silicone intake coupler.
Short RAM intake with a red silicone intake coupler.

Short RAM Air Intake (SRI)

Short RAM intakes can look a little scary to the untrained eye. They may look difficult to install, especially if you do not know what you are doing under the hood of a car. The funny thing is that short RAM intakes can take less than 20 minutes to install, no matter the year of the vehicle, and will increase the power as well as the sound.

Short RAM intakes suck hotter air from inside your engine bay but allow for more and faster air to be sucked into your engine for combustion. The plumbing and other components can also be changed in colors to suit your customized engine bay! (See photo.)

The price for an SRI can range from $20 to $200. SRI are definitely NOT worth that much, so stay away from big ticket SRI.

Cold air intake with a purple intake tube (AEM), with purple convoluted tubing (on the right).
Cold air intake with a purple intake tube (AEM), with purple convoluted tubing (on the right).

Cold Air Intakes (CAI)

CAI are a little more tricky and a bit more expensive. If you purchase one specific to your vehicle, then it will be easier and come with instructions, and installation requires almost no mechanical expertise at all. A CAI increases miles per gallon (MPG) and horsepower, and looks badass when you open up your engine bay. It can also really awaken a turbo if your car has one.

By placing the air filter in a spot that is further away from or outside of your engine bay, CAI suck cooler air. Most CAI are positioned behind the car's front bumper. Others are in the engine bay but located inside a heat-shielded box that keeps hot air out and has a vent to the outside of the car that allows cold air to enter and pass over the air filter for the intake system to use. Cold air allows for a stronger combustion and can lead to an increase in MPG as well as horsepower. The plumbing and other components can also be changed in colors to suit your customized engine bay! (See photo.)

Prices can range from $100 to $300 (for custom fits). The benefits always outweigh the price of the intake itself. These intakes are very beneficial in hot climates. INJEN technologies make great CAI for almost any car or truck and, for a decent price, can be custom-fit for your make, model, and year.

Engine Dress-Up Kit

Engine dress-up kits or components are some of my favorite things to do with my car.

What is an engine dress-up kit? They are super simple. Basically they have the same components under the hood of your car, but come in a variety of colors or polished chrome. The point of a dress-up kit is to make your engine bay look pretty or badass, depending on the route you want to go. You can change anything in your engine bay to match the color of your car, and all of these modifications are almost as simple as opening and closing the hood.

Dress-up components: These include but are not limited to radiator caps, oil caps, dipstick handles, nuts and bolts, clips, radiator hoses, battery tie-downs, gaskets, electrical wires and connectors, reservoir tanks, colored hood lights, and intake tubes.

The various dress-up components are all relatively cheap and super simple to install. They make the engine bay look neat and tidy and give it that little extra. The price range for the pieces range between $1 — $20 depending on the make, color, or material you want. (The more expensive ones are name-brand companies.)

Convoluted Tubing

The coolest cosmetic modification I have ever made to my engine bay is something called "convoluted tubing" or "split wire loom" (or whatever else people want to call it). Basically, it is a protective housing that goes around wires and such to protect them from the elements or from animals like mice. All cars have convoluted tubing in their engine bays to protect the wiring from the heat that comes from the engine but the standard color is black: How boring!

Convoluted tubing comes in pretty much any color that you want, from black to purple to pink or lime green. So depending on the color of your car or the color you want to see when you open your engine, go ahead and grab some!

Convoluted tubing is super easy to install. It's a tube that has been cut down one side to fit easily over the wires in the engine. When I replace mine, I place the tubing over the existing convoluted tubing in my engine bay to give a little extra protection to my wire housing.

Another great thing about convoluted tubing is how cheap it is. It costs about $15 for 50'. It can be purchased in all different lengths and sizes, and you only need 25' at the most for an entire engine bay!

Silicone Couplers

Adding silicone couplers into your engine bay will really add a splash of color. It's very simple to pull one out and throw on a new one on, all it is, is pretty much two screws. If you can open the hood up, then you can install or swap out a part.

Couplers go hand-in-hand with SRI or CAI. These hold the piping and tubes together and keep an airtight bond.

The couplers come in a huge variety of colors or even custom colors. Spectre Performance and Mishimoto are very popular makes.

What do you think?

Which is the coolest mod, in your opinion?

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