Advice on buying a tuned car and how to avoid a lemon
Car enthusiasts all want something fast and sporty, but their budget may not always allow them to pick the new car of their hearts' desire, hence the growing market for used modified cars. BMW's best car for enthusiasts is one of the M models and Mercedes offers various rapid AMG models for sale. The list goes on with all the RS, SRT, and Sport badges vying for gearheads' attention. But not everybody has the means to buy one of these expensive, specialist models and for these people, buying a used modified car could be the answer. And these modifications don't necessarily have to increase engine power; they can be purely cosmetic too. This short guide will outline the advantages and disadvantages of buying a modified or tuned car.
There are up- and downsides to everything and when it comes to modified cars for sale, the upsides include:
Unfortunately, there are just as many cons as pros when buying a modified car used:
Be smart when you buy modified cars to protect yourself from potential expenses and headaches. Keep the following in mind when browsing tuned cars for sale:
Buying a used car can be tricky, and more than a little risky - be sure to read our comprehensive buyer's guide here. Where to buy modified cars adds yet another layer of complication. Buying modified used cars for sale from the online classified is an option, but this is particularly risky with all the grifters out there. Well-known, established websites are safer, but you'll still have to carefully inspect the cars. Meet-ups, car shows, and car clubs are better and give you more opportunities to network, speak to owners, and physically view and drive cars.
Yes, used modified cars can be worth it if you find one that has been professionally modified with quality parts and properly looked after by its owner. You could be driving away with a vehicle that offers you a lot more than when it left the factory. However, as always, buyer beware. You have to check it out very carefully and walk away if it looks shoddy, abused, or neglected.
Yes, most insurers will insure a car if the modifications are disclosed. However, it might be more expensive to insure. Generally, modifications such as tow bars, leather seats, sunroofs, and backup cameras are already covered. However, custom wheels and tires, turbocharged or supercharged engines, substantial infotainment or audio upgrades, or racing accessories will typically cost extra.
In terms of engine tuning, replacing OEM air filters with performance equivalents and doing optimization work such as flowing cylinder heads and replacing the exhaust are cheap and yield noticeable benefits. Other cheap and popular mods include suspension tuning, leather upholstery, short shifters, larger alloys, or body tuning such as installing vinyl wrap or adding spoilers or skirts.
Affordable cars that were sold in significant numbers and that have an enthusiastic following are usually the top modified cars, because they are cheaper to modify, with more plentiful after-market parts available. Examples of the best modified cars include the older models of the Ford Mustang, Mazda Miata, Jeep Wrangler, and Honda Civic.
It depends on the modifications you choose to do. Some minor optimizations, such as performance air filters, free-flowing exhaust systems, and flowed exhaust or air-intake manifolds, can improve performance and economy while maintaining reliability. Others, such as fitting a turbo or supercharger, might reduce longevity and put additional stress and strain on the other components, accelerating their wear.