Do Modifications Add Value to a Car?

Whether you’re into tuner cars, muscle cars, or something of the exotic variety, adding modifications to a car has probably crossed your mind more than once. And while adding a nice 5-inch muffler to your shiny new Honda Civic Si might sound like a great idea, just keep in mind that you might decide to sell it later on and that muffler might not help the sale. In that case, we had to wonder; does adding modifications to a car actually add to its value?

It’s a depreciating asset

First, let’s all remember that cars, in general, are depreciating assets. This means that no matter how much you try to keep your car clean and free of miles, it’s going to lose value as time goes on.

When adding modifications like a muffler, a body kit, or even just an aftermarket stereo system, you might think that it will improve your car’s value. However, it’s not like adding a bedroom or renovating a kitchen in your house as those types of modifications are highly desirable when you put your house on the market. It’s actually the opposite, adding modifications to your car most likely won’t make your car any more desirable for prospective buyers.

Toyota shows off their 2020 GR Supra sports car at the Chicago Auto Show
The 2020 Toyota Supra | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Why wouldn’t anyone want them?

It’s not that those blue 20-inch wheels that you saw at the auto parts store aren’t cool (they aren’t). But they probably won’t make your car any more desirable because they are based on your personal taste, and not everyone else’s.

This is why modifying a car is referred to as “customizing.” It’s because your car is customized to your own personal standards. Sure, if you were to list your car up for sale with a bunch of modifications on it, someone might actually like most, if not all, of the stuff that you put on it and buy the car as it is. However, just don’t expect to get all your money back, because just the car itself, the parts will lose their value as well.

Are any modifications worth doing?

Technically, yes, if you’re upgrading a factory flaw. For example, this article on instamotor references the example of replacing the plastic thermostat on a 90s BMW 3 Series. Plastic thermostats are known for failing, so replacing it with one made from metal, which will be more durable, may actually make the car more desirable for the next person since they don’t have to worry about it.

A mechanic working on a Ford Mustang
A mechanic working on a Ford Mustang | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Keep the stock parts

If you do plan on modifying your car, however, remember to keep all of the OEM parts that you replaced so that you can include them if you sell your car later on. If you have the time and are mechanically savvy, then we recommend reverting the car back to stock as much as possible before selling it. Ironically, doing this will actually add value and you can then sell the aftermarket parts separately.

Be smart about it

Lastly, if you do plan to modify your car, make sure to fully research the parts that you’re buying and make sure that they will fit your car appropriately. Some aftermarket parts manufacturers are getting better in that they can make power-adding engine parts that actually fit just as well as the OEM parts, but not all are like that.

Either way, play it say and spend the extra money for better parts because they may cost you a pretty penny now, buying cheap parts can cost you more later down the road, in more ways than one.