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When modifying cars, it’s easy to get distracted by the flashy big-ticket upgrades like turbochargers, engine swaps, etc. But don’t underestimate the value of simply having high-quality items for the most basic components of your car. Here are some areas where an easy mod can pay massive dividends in driving pleasure.

Change your brake pads to suit your driving style and vehicle use

Brake assembly from a Mercedes-Benz
Brake assembly from a Mercedes-Benz | Lennart Preiss via Getty Images

Racing drivers aside, most people don’t think too much about their brakes unless they start to squeal. They are generally one of the most underappreciated parts of a car, until they are needed immediately. But if you like to drive fast, especially on curvy roads, upgrading brake pads can provide huge benefits.

Generally speaking, the factory pads on everyday cars are not meant for high-speed driving. Manufacturers tend to provide something that is quiet and just good enough for an emergency stop or two. That’s all most people need. But what if you’re not most people? That’s where the aftermarket comes in.

There are hundreds of different brake pad compounds on the market, each with unique characteristics. Do your stock pads leave your wheels caked in brake dust after a day or so? Replace them with a ceramic pad from a high-performance manufacturer like Hawk or EBC. Looking for fade-resistant braking that will hold up on a mountain road? They have specific compounds for that too.

Buy the best tires you can afford for your intended purpose

Michelin tires
Michelin tires | James Moy Photography via Getty Images

Similar to brakes, lots of people don’t care what kind of tires they have, as long as they are round and hold air. If you’re smart, and you like to drive, you should make tires a high priority. They literally connect your car to the road (or dirt). Aside from being dangerous, old or low-quality tires can ruin the performance of an otherwise great car.

While factory tires are generally high-quality and will perform adequately when new, there are almost always better options in the aftermarket. If your car is used only in above-freezing weather, summer tires can be a great choice for maximum grip.

That said, compounds that are optimal for a summer tire generally aren’t known for long tread life. If you use your vehicle all year and still want a performance upgrade, consider ultra-high-performance all-season tires.

Sway bars or anti-roll bars are an easy mod for your suspension

Most cars are set up from the factory to understeer at the limit, for safety reasons. By upgrading your sway bars, it is possible to create a more neutral setup. H&R is one of the top manufacturers of sway bars, and are certainly worth considering, if they make one for your vehicle.

Unlike lowering springs, sway bar replacements work well as a standalone upgrade. Most are made to bolt on without additional modification, and won’t require an alignment. Many are also adjustable, so you can fine-tune the result. You can always lower the car later on using aftermarket springs to gain additional benefits.

After performing these affordable easy mods, your car will perform at a higher level and should be more fun to drive. With high-quality components in these key areas, some cars will drive so well that they may not need additional upgrades. If not, you’ll have a solid foundation to continue modding and having fun with your car.

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