Owning a car is never enough for enthusiasts—once you buy a new car, you’re instantly looking for ways to trick it out and make it even better. We get it! We’re here to help you determine which car part to upgrade first by looking at performance enhancements, all-around improvements, and modifications you can probably avoid altogether.
The key to deciding where to begin your vehicle’s upgrade journey is determining what you want to get out of your upgrades. You may hope for improvements in speed, horsepower, handling, or any number of other areas. First, we’ll look at some enhancements that improve your car all-around, from performance to aesthetics.
While performance exhaust systems only increase your horsepower by three to five percent, the upgrade in sound is nothing to scoff at. If you want your car to roar down the road while boosting your horsepower a bit, there’s no better upgrade than this.
As far as first upgrades go, unless you really want that classic growl, we’d recommend looking elsewhere. You’ll probably want to modify your exhaust system at some point, but look for an upgrade that comes with a more significant performance boost to kickstart your improvement frenzy.
Acceleration, reliable turns, and safe slowing all require one thing: good traction. There’s no better all-around upgrade for performance and reliability than a tire upgrade. Most stock cars come with lackluster tires that will prevent your vehicle from achieving its true potential. A few hundred dollars per tire may feel like a lot at first, but just wait until you experience quality rubber beneath your vehicle.
And if you’re hoping to make more upgrades in the future, you’ll need to improve your tires at some point. Installing a better brake system doesn’t help much when your stock tires can’t handle the increased power. Similarly, engine and exhaust mods can be in vain if your tires can’t grip the ground when you slam on the accelerator.
Never underestimate the importance of handling. If you’re planning to increase horsepower and torque, you’d better have a plan for how your car will survive the higher forces. You should consider upgrading to adjustable coilovers for more control over your suspension.
Lowering your car too much can hinder performance, but if you get your vehicle to the right height, the performance enhancements will floor you.
If you’re hoping for more focused upgrades like increases in horsepower or handling capability, this is the section for you. We’ll break down some essential modifications that get more air into your engine and help you better control your machine.
Many vehicles come from the factory equipped with turbo these days, but if yours isn’t one of them, this upgrade is a no-brainer. While a normal engine gets its oxygen with atmospheric pressure, a turbocharged engine forces air into your engine, causing significantly increased performance.
The turbo kit comes with a multitude of different parts (that you may want to have a professional install). First, there’s the turbocharger itself. You’ll need one that matches your car’s engine and the performance you’re hoping to get.
You’ll also want an intercooler to cool the air from the turbocharger into your engine—without this, the air would get too hot and could result in pre-detonation. Finally, the kit should include a turbo manifold and downpipe to link everything with your exhaust system.
Stopping quickly is one of the best defense mechanisms your vehicle can have to protect it from nasty accidents. The better your brakes, the more likely you are to avoid collisions on the road. A brake upgrade kit comes with rotors, shims, pads, and hardware to install them.
Look for brakes that are lighter than the stock brakes and improve heat dissipation—if you can test out the upgraded brakes beforehand, all the better. They can change your driving experience, so it’s a good idea to give them a try before you buy.
Cold Air Intake
Cold air is denser than hot air, so a cold air intake introduces dense outside air to your engine, resulting in heightened performance. Air and horsepower go hand in hand, so switching to a cold air intake makes perfect sense if you’re searching for extra power. The best part about this upgrade is that it’s easy to install—you can save a few bucks by putting this modification in yourself.
Not all upgrades are created equal. While the options we listed above completely change a car’s performance and feel, this section is dedicated to some of the classic upgrades that may seem appealing, but offer little in the way of genuine improvements.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with making modifications based on looks alone. If that’s what you’re searching for, here are some aesthetics-only upgrades.
Whether flashy rims look cool or ridiculous is up for debate, but we can confirm that this upgrade is far from essential. This “upgrade” increases your odds of getting a flat tire and leads to a bumpy ride. It could also rub the interior of your wheel wells. All in all, you may want to avoid this modification if the idea of regularly shelling out money for tire repairs doesn’t appeal to you.
Ah, the spoiler. If you aren’t planning to race your car in a nationally televised event, a spoiler is probably overkill for your vehicle. In fact, it may even hinder your car’s performance. Racecars require clever engineering to create downforce, a force required to keep the vehicle connected to the ground when traveling at high speeds.
The spoiler is one such invention. This sleek-looking addition increases drag, which, while helpful for NASCAR drivers, will slow your car down. On top of that, it can also detract from your ability to see out of your back window, leading to increased danger for yourself and others on the road.
Now that you know how to determine which car part to upgrade first, visit our online aftermarket auto parts store and start making your modification dreams come true.