5 Things nobody tells you about modding your car

Congratulations! You’ve just purchased a new or used automobile that has a large modding community. You’re ready to dive headfirst into the world of staying up late, being dirty, and spending each paycheck on your car until every woman on the street can’t bear not to look at you’re incredible symbol representing the peak of awesomeness. But before you get into it, sensible people will try to talk you out of it, we call these “non-car-people”. But even they forget to tell you some things. Things like…

5. The Cost

You might be wondering why this list is being kicked off with something everybody tells you before getting on the one way bus known as the Mod scene. But you’re blissfully unaware of their remarks and forewarnings as you hang your head out the window and daydream with dreamy eyes as the bus takes you farther in (Remember this is a one way trip). Everyone knows that modifications cost money, that’s not the argument. What never gets talked about is how much the unexpected costs pile up and then promptly punch you in the valves. For example, you purchase a nice shiny new lowering kit with your car. You’ve thought it all out; it’s a full kit, not just springs. You think highly of your move, you get it installed, and then promptly cruise the forums and scour threads for potential opportunities to brag about your new ride height. Disaster strikes, you find out you need additional components to maintain suspension geometry, “it’s not so bad” you think, still feeling proud. You find the part, scroll down for the price. It’s $1000. This is the exact moment when you feel like you’ve been punched in the balls. But it’s not just these unforeseen add-ons that hit your wallet and then balls. It’s also the routine maintenance. After you’ve just dropped $1000 on a new intercooler, you then suddenly remember you need new a new timing belt.  (You might want to head to the doctor at this point because the pain is making you vomit.)

 

4. The Forums

Car Forums are the best thing in the world, and the worst thing in the world. They can save you hundreds, or direct you down a path that cost’s you hundreds for all the wrong reasons. If you need help with a DIY or a strange noise you’re hearing, forums are like your own personal team of Avengers that will always be ready to help you. Or they’re just assholes. Actually, they’re just assholes. Advice you gain from forums is like McDonald’s McDouble cheeseburgers, sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad, but in the end, they will always eventually destroy you. Sometimes it’s swift, sometimes it’s delayed. But it will always ruin you. Look, you know that lowering your car 4 inches is a bad idea, or getting 1 million watt blue headlights is stupid, but forums switch this around. Something interesting happens when you ask for advice on forums. What seems like a stupid idea soon becomes a no brainer once 15 anonymous dudes are all telling you how great it will look, but they all suddenly silence themselves once you post again a week later after you’ve ripped your front bumper off via a speed bump upper cutting your stupidity. Then you encounter the forum equivalent of Emperor Nero, and there are hundreds of them. I once posted a simple question about my Tiptronic Transmission in my GTI. I had 10 people insult my car for not having a manual with such ferocity that it was like I had personally put old cheese in each and every one of their air vents, which I had in fact done but still.

 

3. The Failure

So you’ve gotten help with forums. You have a DIY all lined up, your toolbox is open and organized, your car is on jack stands, and you have some music playing or Netflix providing background noise like a friend who enjoys looking at your butt crack and hearing you invent new swear words. Everything’s going smoothly and then something happens. Maybe, something is stuck, or doesn’t fit right or worse yet, something’s completely missing. What should have been a two hour job turns into a weekend of not sleeping, being dirty, and having your car rip your knuckles up like it’s personally trying to harm you. This is inevitable, it will happen. You say it won’t because you have the most detailed DIY ever written tabbed on your laptop and you’re a “gearhead”, but it will happen. It happens on older cars mostly, but new cars aren’t immune. Every car is different, and every car has a different life. And yes you will fail.

 

2. The Naysayers

So you’ve finally done it, you’ve completed a major mod start to finish, and you did it all yourself. You’re so proud of yourself, your car is noticeably better in some way and you cruise your local streets feeling like you’re driving a full bore racecar. You notice double takes even when the people in question are looking at the bus about to pick them up, but to you, everyone in the world can tell you’re running a new set of anti-roll bars. At every chance you try your hardest to tell people of your new found neutral handling through corners. Then you encounter him, he’s always there, just waiting. He’s the naysayer, or the “you’ll be sorry” guy. No matter how proud you are, he’ll always tell you how much money you’ve just wasted. The naysayer operates on such a high plane of modding that any mod that doesn’t cost at least 5 grand and generates a minimum of 30 BHP is a worthless endeavor, a futile effort. “How cute, you’ve installed a short ram air intake, you DO know that does nothing for performance right, in fact, it DEDUCTS an average 20 horsepower. Good work bro.” They also exist as foreboding prophets as well, warning you with grave intent that adding paint to the tow hook will cause the rear frame to sag slowly over 4,000 years due to extra weight from the red paint on the tow hook.

1.       The Addiction

It’s cold, you’re sore, you’re hands are covered in road dirt and oil, and you pause for a moment, leave the garage to step into the house and walk into the kitchen for a drink, holy shit, it’s 3 AM. But you can’t possibly stop now, you’re almost there, almost to the point of reassembly, you head back into the garage and don’t emerge until the paper hit’s your front door. Welcome to the world of modding. It’s an addiction. It’s an insatiable hunger for more. Soon the only thing you think about is potential mods, costs, pros and cons, and above all, how damn sweet it’s going to be. Being a member of the modding scene is 10 percent modding and 90 percent daydreaming. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself tossing and turning in bed at night thinking of the next route to take to with your project, and here’s the thing, it’s never finished; there’s always something to be done. There’s always something to be tweaked or tuned, and you know what? It’s worth it. So before anyone tells you no, remember that throughout all the dirt, pain, money and time, at the end of the workday, you have a lot of work to do in the garage. So get on it, and move on to the next thing. You’ve got work to do, and mods to be done.