The 15 Most Popular Car Mods
People modify vehicles for all kinds of reasons. But just what are the most popular car mods? This post explores the top 15 most popular car mods and whether you should consider getting them.
Alloy wheels are thought to be the most popular modification on UK cars. In fact, cars with alloy wheels made up 14% of all insurance enquiries in 2021.
Alloy wheels are made from aluminium or magnesium alloy and come in a variety of styles. Most car owners get them installed because they look cool. However, they also have other benefits – alloys can often improve handling and can add value to a car. You can fit them yourself or hire a mechanic to help.
Around one in six drivers are thought to now have a dash cam installed in their car. Front-facing cameras are most popular, but many drivers also get rear facing dash cams fitted.
Having a dash cam fitted can help to capture video footage of your drives – which is not just great for recording memories, but also great for recording evidence of negligence on the road. If you’re in an accident or you witness some dangerous driving, having dashcam footage could strengthen your case when making an insurance claim, a legal claim or a criminal report. You may be able to install a dashcam yourself, although some people find it easier to hire a professional to help.
9% of insurance enquiries in 2021 involved cars with suspension upgrades. This includes all kinds of individual mods such as adding shocks and struts, air suspension coilovers or lowering springs.
Improving your car’s suspension can have many performance benefits. But is it really worth it? It depends on the type of suspension upgrade you choose and how you use your car. Suspension lift kits can be useful on cars that regularly crackle rough country lanes or need to go off-road (such as on a farm), but may not be much use to the average driver. Similarly coilover suspension kits for racing are only practical if you’re actually going to race your car. Such mods should always be carried out by a mechanic.
Exhaust system upgrades are very common and are thought to be the 4th most popular car mod. This can include anything from adding a carbon fibre exhaust tip to installing dual exhaust pipes.
For an exhaust system to be sensible, it needs to be catered to the car and it needs to have practical performance benefits. For example, this 2024 Mustang exhaust upgrade could be great if you want to add some horsepower and torque for track days. Most people get exhaust upgrades just for looks or to make a car sound louder. You need to be careful when installing loud exhausts, as they may be classed as illegal once they reach a certain volume. Such exhaust systems should always be fitted by experienced professionals.
Tow bar sales have been slowly increasing over the years. And it’s easy to see why many people want to get a tow bar fitted.
A tow bar could allow your car to pull a trailer, a caravan or even another car. This makes it a very practical modification for many car owners. Of course, it’s worth noting that not every car is suitable for towing (e.g. many sports cars and small city cars). A tow bar installation expert will be able to recommend whether your car should have a tow bar fitted and can install it for you.
Window tinting is another very popular car modification. This practice first became popular in the 70s, and has remained stylish ever since.
Many car owners get ‘tints’ installed for aesthetic purposes. However, tinted windows can also have other benefits including enhanced privacy and protection against UV rays (which are known to cause leather seating to fade). Tinted windows can restrict visibility and become a danger if you go too dark. 35% tends to be the most common tint percentage and is seen as relatively safe. All in all, the windscreen and front windows must let in at least 75% light to be legal. It is worth seeking out a professional to tint your windows to the right level.
Chip tuning and remapping involve altering digital information in your car’s computer system in order to remove certain performance limitations. Chip tuning is an old method that is rarely used today except on older cars – it involves manually removing the computer chip to add new data. Remapping is the method most used today and involves altering software via a car’s ODB port.
Is chip tuning/remapping worthwhile? It can definitely improve the performance of your car and in some cases even make your car more economical. It does however put more stress on various parts of your car which may have been specially designed to work within certain limitations – potentially leading to engine parts failing sooner. It is therefore likely to be a case of what you favour more: better performance or better reliability. ECU remapping should always be carried out by a professional.
Air filter/intake upgrades
Air filters allow air into your engine while keeping out dust and debris. Air filters need to be regularly changed to keep your car working properly. However, some people upgrade these filters to provide added performance. This includes adding new air intake systems such as cold air intakes.
Installing a cold air intake filter could make your engine perform much more efficiently – improving MPG and providing increased horsepower. This modification typically does not affect insurance rates as much as an engine remap. However, it also does not have as noticeable an effect as engine remapping. Of course, together with remapping, it’s the best engine performance upgrade you can make. Always hire a professional to install a cold air intake system.
Parking sensors can prevent accidents and are now commonly pre-installed on most modern cars. Many car owners who don’t have parking sensors on their vehicle are getting them fitted. In fact, they’re one of the fastest growing car modifications in recent years.
Beyond preventing accidents, parking sensors are one of the few modifications that can potentially lower your insurance rates. Therefore, they are very worthwhile if your car doesn’t already have sensors. There are parking sensor kits that make this a very easy DIY modification, however some people may still prefer to hire a professional.
Brake kits are another popular car mod. They involve installing performance brake pads and rotors – along with brake fluid and lines in some cases.
The benefit of better brakes is obvious and you may find that installing a brake kit could reduce accidents. But this is not always the case, and such kits can sometimes encourage drivers to drive faster and brake later – which is why your insurance may actually go up when installing these brakes. Such brakes can also be noisier and wear more quickly. They’re worth installing if you’re going to use them safely. A mechanic should ideally install these new brakes.
Car wraps are very popular too. They involve wrapping your car in a thin sheet of plastic which can have colours or other information printed on it.
Car wrapping is more popular than getting a paint job nowadays due to being easily removable. It’s also cheaper than a paint job. Car wrapping is most commonly used on business vehicles to provide logos, company information and branding colours. However, it is growing in popularity among everyday car owners. Always visit a qualified car wrap specialist when getting your car wrapped.
There’s still a big demand out there for personalised licence plates. In fact, websites have made it easier than before to source specific plates.
Getting a personalised number plate won’t have any performance benefits, but it can be a fun way to customise your vehicle. And you can take the plate with you and add it to your next car if you ever decide to sell your current vehicle. Just be wary that certain plates can be expensive and you will have to inform various bodies including the DVLA, your insurer and any finance lenders you are using.
Sports seats are surprisingly quite a trendy car mod. As you’d imagine, they are most popular in sports cars.
On top of looking cool, sports seats do generally improve comfort and safety (many come with a safety harness). Therefore they can be a worthy car mod in many cases. Just try to keep them suitable to your vehicle and get them professionally installed.
As already mentioned, car wraps are more popular than paint jobs. However, there are still a fair amount of car owners out there getting their vehicles repainted.
A paint job is harder to reverse than car wrapping (which you can just peel off) and is generally more expensive. However, it can be a better way to restore old cars – a new layer of paint may help prevent future rust, whereas car wrapping will not. You can spray paint your car yourself, however it’s usually safer to hire a pro.
Turbochargers and superchargers
Finally, there’s turbochargers and superchargers. These mods have actually become less popular in recent years, but are still trendy enough to make it into the top 15 mods.
Fitting a turbocharger or supercharger will definitely give you that extra acceleration you’re craving. However, your insurance rates may go up significantly due to this car mod’s use among boy racers. Always get a qualified professional to install a supercharger or turbocharger.