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Should I modify my car?


Laine Gordon

By Laine Gordon

4 min read

Since the advent of the wheel, there have been those among us who feel the need to take the design one step further. Some do it for speed, some for handling and some simply for style.

The result? Vehicles fitted with neon underglows, spinners and headlight eyelashes, to name a few. But be warned, installing the wrong optional extras could be a crime against more than just good taste.

Certain modifications may be deemed illegal by your state authority, so it pays to check before you drive to avoid picking up an unwanted fine. Other car mods made without your car insurer’s consent could void your policy leaving you high and dry if you are involved in an accident.

Also, depending on how tasteful (or not) your modification is, it can put a dent in the future resale value of your vehicle or even turn away potential buyers.

So before you install that turbo dump valve, read this list of “bad” modifications and beware, your modifications will have consequences.

DIY extras

Topping the list of aftermarket no-nos is fitting DIY extras, such as stereos and speakers. While you may think you’re doing a great thing by saving cash on installation fees the chances of you doing the job as well as a professional are pretty low.

Dodgy home-installation jobs will cause a car's resale value to plummet so keep this in mind before you decide that you’re capable of installing that subwoofer in the boot yourself.

Bad alloys

While hotter rims and tyres may appeal to you, they may not appeal to your car insurance company, who may have conditions relating to vehicle modifications. It definitely pays to check the fine print of your policy or call your insurer before you have them fitted to your car. After all, it’s not worth the risk of having your car insurance declared invalid when you need it most.

Your modification to tyres and rims could also land you in trouble with the law so check with the road traffic authority in your state before you go through with it. Altering your rims and tyres beyond certain limits is illegal in some parts of Australia and will lead to a hefty fine.

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Colour crimes

Similarly, unusual car colours such as shades of yellow, orange and green are not as popular as traditional colours, and can make a vehicle more difficult to sell. Of course if you never plan to sell then feel free to get those hot pink flames painted down the side of your car but keep in mind that there’s no going back without outlaying further cash.

The same is true for some interior fabrics, such as fancy or expensive leather trims. While they may set you back quite a bit they add no more to the value than a basic full leather option so as far as investments go this is not a good one to make.

Accessories

Even expensive extras paid for in the showroom and installed by the experts may be not be covered by your comprehensive car insurance policy, unless you specify at the time of taking up the cover. Car insurance policies can differ dramatically in what is covered and also in price, that’s why it’s so important to compare policies and read the product disclosures before signing up.

Over the top features

Fancy climate control systems can also be money for jam when it comes to the resale value of your vehicle. While standard air conditioning was found to boost a car's value, extras such as zone control might be nice but don’t offer any return on investment in the long term.

With all this said, if you’re not concerned about the resell value of your car then go ahead and express yourself through mods. Keep in mind it is part of your duty of disclosure to tell your insurance provider immediately when you decide to make modifications to your car. If you don’t, by law your provider may reduce or refuse your claim or cancel your policy.

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