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Car Upgrades

Getting something new is almost always an exciting enterprise. One of the very best pursuits in this regard is a new car on the horizon – from its shiny exterior right down to its new-car scent, it is an excellent purchase of your hard-earned money. But that doesn't end there.

The great thing about buying a sparkling new car is the things that you could do to it afterward. Upgrading your vehicle is undoubtedly one of its perks. And without going for the obvious, modifying your car is a pricey affair. Taking a plunge and changing the car, which is already whining as you take it for a spin or one that is slipping away from the trappings of the latest trend, is a big decision to make.

Advantages of Upgrading Your Car

1.) Lower Running Costs

When you modify your car, you also get to bump up your insurance with some companies. Lower running costs are deemed to be a great advantage of changing up your car, especially when you are switching from petrol to diesel.

2.) Beefed Up Reliability

Modifying or upgrading to a new car often equates to changing to newer and more reliable techs down the line. With better technology integrated into your vehicle, you can only expect it to last longer.

3.) Improved Safety

The car that you are using now – which could be on its last legs – may not save you with insufficient airbags if a crash occurs. A freshened-up vehicle, alongside its upgrades on safety, should give that much-needed peace of mind. Meanwhile, older cars, which haven't been subjected through the same rigorous safety checks as the newer ones, aren't just being upgraded for vanity's sake, but ultimately for one that warrants necessity.

4.) Better Finance

Most of the cars, which were purchased a few years ago, could have been processed with cash or a bank loan for them to be bought outright. Thankfully, more than a number of finance options today can now be availed to access such a car of your dreams. The PCP (personal contract purchase) and the HP (hire purchase) options are just some of the examples with lower interest.

A change of vehicle can often be attributed to a shift in lifestyle or circumstances, like a new addition to your family or a need for extra seats. Whichever the case, the advantages of a vehicle upgrade outweigh the reasons that you should not.

But whenever these negative repercussions affect you more than it is supposed to calm your nerves or your needs, it is only crucial that we deliver to you some of the noted drawbacks of having a car upgrade.

Disadvantages of Upgrading Your Car

Car customization could be a booming business for the market. Still, for owners, this could be a paralyzing nightmare if such modifications affect your vehicle's performance, which ultimately raises legal, safety, and warranty issues down the line.

1.) The Issue on Warranty

While customizations don't primarily void a warranty, a modification that culminates to a vehicle malfunction or damage can finally void these perks for related parts.

For instance, if an oversized wheel or a weird tire combination strike against your car's sheet metal and steering components, the damage is likely to occur. As it is, the manufacturer isn't the one which is culpable for the repair costs in the process.

Perhaps the safest way to customize your vehicle without fretting over these issues is to purchase these "modification" parts that are approved by the automaker itself.

2.) The Issue on Legal Modifications

It is known by now that a number of engine modifications are still deemed to be of violation of federal and state emission laws. For one, if a vehicle is found to have employed an illegal part, regardless of the car passing testing, a smog certificate and registration are bound to be denied.

In the Philippines, here are the car mods that should be avoided

Licensed Plate Frames

Some car aficionados in the metro may have succumbed to wanting to customize their license plate frame out of vanity or security – after all, it is the responsibility of the owners to keep their plates secure and intact as part of their registration renewal requirements.

However, some of these customized license plate frames may obscure the plate number itself and render it quite a challenge to read even when someone is near the vehicle.

This is a known violation in the country. The same can be said with the tinted frames.

LED Lights and Other Headlights

Easily the most popular car mods in the metro are the inclusion of an undercarriage lighting – added to make your car all stylistic and trendier.

The Philippine automotive industry has announced that there are certain types of light mods that are against the law. These include blinkers and LED lights, as these types of vehicle mods are reserved for authorized law enforcement and vehicles that are under the "emergency" segment.

Apart from LED lights, neon colors are also prohibited, alongside brighter accessories like LED light bars which may overwhelm other motorists, causing accidents as a consequence.

Whistles and Sirens (And Other Forms of Early-Warning Devices)

Alongside blinkers and LED lights, the addition of bells, pipes, and sirens, or any other form of early-warning devices that are utilized by emergency vehicles cannot be used by private cars as well. According to the Land Transportation Office, through its Joint Administrative Order No. 201401, these accessories present a hazard in terms of road safety.

Lift of the Car's Body Frame

Another customization that is said to enhance the car's performance and appearance is the lifting of its body frame. The aforementioned modification is believed to affect the vehicle's ground clearance in a positive way. The same lifting is also thought to enhance the vehicle's ability to navigate rough or challenging roads.

In the Philippines, however, the limits on these cars are only imposed on the amount of lift that a vehicle should possess. As per the governing sector, an excessive height can beef up the car's center of gravity, making it susceptible to rolling over when high-speed turns are chanced upon. This excess on height can also compromise the driver's view of the road.

Studded Tires

While the installation of studs on your car's tires can significantly improve its performance and traction, especially on slippery roads, down the line, these tires can also damage the pavement. As such, this kind of modification is prohibited whenever you're driving highways and national roads.

Other Illegal Car Modifications

  • Chassis modification
  • Axle modification
  • Extended body or chassis
  • Extended overhang
  • Extra sidings of dump trucks
  • Change of rim size
  • Alterations of muffler and hand bar
  • Reconfiguration of body designs and dimensions

Nevertheless, LTO's Department Order No. 2010-32 adds that the alterations to your car's steering wheel assembly, plus brake system, suspension, air-conditioning system, interior, and exterior trimmings do not amount or require a change in the vehicle's classification.

List of Car Mods You Can Do Yourself

Apart from the extensive repairs and larger-than-life modifications that can be sought from an experienced mechanic, there is still a handful of upgrades anyone can have access to that should make a massive difference to your daily driver. Right from new tires to spark plugs to equipping your car with backup cameras, the list below details a few easy upgrades that you can do yourself:

1.) Performance

Tires

Tires are known for enhancing your car's handling capabilities. Although more power in your tires is the way to go nowadays, the effectiveness that can be provided by quality rubber tires, with their supreme grip and road oomph, are still the ones to beat.

Spark Plugs

If you can swap your spark plugs with better ones, do yourself a favor and don't overthink as these could make a big leap from your current performance. The better your spark plugs are, the better the combustion it is bound to provide. This should also culminate in more power and fuel economy.

Engine Control Unit (ECU) Flash

The ECU in your car is a treasure waiting to be unlocked. As it is essentially set up from the factory to control the fuel mixture in the engine, manufacturers would often program its parameters well below the engine's true capabilities, most of which are performed as a safety net.

Only a quick reprogramming of your vehicle's engine control unit should unlock all sorts of engine performance. In some cases, this modification could also result in better gas mileage.

Bushings

Despite it being more laborious than swapping spark plugs, replacing your car's bushings to polyurethane ones wouldn't only last longer but also give the vehicle a better job at quelling random vibrations, alongside the minimization of its weight transfer.

On the other hand, rubber bushings tend to wear out and crack down in the process.

Cold-Air Intake

On paper, whenever your car breathes better, the more you can expect it to run smoothly. A cold-air intake is said not only to free up the airflow to your engine but also feeds it with cooler and denser air.

2.) Technology

Infotainment

We are at the automotive age in which infotainment systems are regularly upgraded. As it is, it is only understandable if you catch its hype alongside. A new, and therefore fresh interface and a speaker system is easily the most accessible modification you can ever do whenever you feel the need to re-energize the interior look of your car.

Back-Up Camera

Despite them only becoming standard across the industry recently, the need to have a back-up camera is increasingly being considered as a necessary accessory. Without one nowadays, the need to parallel-park or reverse in tight spaces is a chore in disguise.

Data Monitoring

Like backup cameras, equipping your car with a data monitoring system is a godsend. And this is also applicable to handy owners of their cars who also consider themselves knowledgeable in terms of diagnosing a single specific problem.

Data monitoring systems should readily benefit those whose time remains at the upper echelon of their priorities.

Remote Start

Warming up or cooling down your car is indeed a luxury, even nowadays. But for one to take heed of these rituals, a personal driver is no longer needed. Indeed, we have already been ushered to a new era, thanks to simple remote starters.

Tire-Pressure Monitoring

There is no such thing as a ruined road trip when one's car is equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system. Whether it's a flat tire or a slow leak, keeping the correct PSI across all four corners shouldn't just keep you safe. In the long run, such behavior should also extract better handling and performance, straight from your tires along, when they are adequately inflated.

Conclusion

If you're already on the verge of upgrading your car – whether it is for aesthetics or performance – there is a lot of things that you need to ask yourself.

At the top of the list, know whether the component you are eyeing on as a replacement matches not only the make and model of your vehicle but also its trim level.

You should also ask yourself whether you can afford it or not. If you couldn't afford it outright, you might want to consider backing away or look into other options.

Also important is the query of whether you can fit it yourself. If your skill level isn't that seasoned, you'll need to take it to the professionals.

Other vital things that should be considered before upgrading are the concept of depreciation and the knock-on-effects.

Understandably, many car owners revel on the prospect of getting their car modified to stand out or reflect the trends of the market. But whenever one gets to alter their cars, a set of responsibilities should be considered to ensure that the customizations you make would only level up your car's capabilities. And this should be without the adverse effects that they may impress upon other road users, whether it is your co-motorists, pedestrians, or your passengers.

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