50 Inexpensive Car Mods You Can (Really) Do Yourself
We love our cars. So many makes and models of cars out there for people to choose from, there really is something for everyone. While most cars come with amazing features, beautiful paint jobs and gorgeous interiors, there is still that, for lack of a better term, “drive” in us all that wants our personal car to be as unique as the driver. We not only want it to stand out and make a statement in the car mod and aftermarket community, we want to add that personal touch that makes it ours, give it a signature style if you will. One that hopefully won’t break the bank.
There are so many types of car modifications (mods) you can add to your car. Most people love the performance mods and the mods that completely reform the vehicle’s body style and aerodynamics and look, such as suspension, turbo, exhaust, body kits, performance wheels… but these types of mods can be extremely costly. They are the ones that break the bank - but they are the ones that take your car’s performance and abilities as well as style and look to the next level.
However, while you’re working nights and weekends to save money to get your Subaru “stanced and enhanced” there are a ton of very inexpensive car mods that you can actually do yourself. These mods are cheap and easy to do, even for the most inexperienced car guy (or girl) and really allow you to add some really nice personal accents, style and finishing touches to your automotive masterpiece. They allow you to modify the color, lighting, and many interior and exterior accessories and parts to really pull your car’s style together in cool way.
We’ve collected the top 50+ we could find but our advice to you is to do your research and to use them sparingly. Adding too many of our simple, Do-It-Yourself car mods can make your car go from cool to tacky in a heartbeat. Pick and choose the mods that will fit the best with the look or style you’re hoping to achieve and most of all, take your time and have fun with it. Your car is a reflection or better yet an extension of your personality so choose your mods wisely and plan out and research the look you’re going for to make sure your mods do your car justice… and make sure the modifications are legal in your area!
50+ Inexpensive Car Modifications that You Can Do Yourself
1. Headlight Covers - Use to protect your headlights from damage, they are a very easy to install car modification that can change the shape, color and look of your headlights.
2. Vanity Plate - Vanity plates are a fun way to personalize your vehicle by creating a specific license plate. Rules for these plates very state by state.
3. Fog Lights & Fog Light Upgrades - Fog lights are usually an easy upgrade for some cars. If they don’t have them usually there’s a place for them in the front bumper. If you do have them, you can upgrade the light bulbs to a different type of light or color, to change the look of your car.
4. Headlight Upgrades - HID4 (High Intensity Discharge) and LED (Light Emitting Diode) are the new trend for cars these days. If you have an older vehicle, you probably have halogen headlights. You can purchase conversion kits at most auto stores to upgrade and give a new look to old headlights.
5. Interior LED Lighting Kit - This was all the rage when I learned how to drive. If you had an Interior LED Lighting Kit in your car, you were the coolest kid on the block. Nowadays you can use LED Light Kits to brighten up your interior and add really cool splashes of color and accents around the inside of your vehicle. Use them tastefully and sparingly.
6. Seat Covers - Whether you wan to hide old upholstery stains and tears, give your interior a new look or color, or you’ve always wanted “leather”, seat covers are the way to go. They make them for the front and back seats, they couldn’t be simpler to install, and they come in the widest variety of materials, styles and colors.
7. Car Wrapping & Racing Stripes - Not necessarily the cheapest car mod, but it’s definitely cheaper than getting a new paint job. They can instantly transform your car into something really incredible, and they come in any color you can think of. If you have the patience for it, you can attempt to do this yourself, but you may need help and you’ll definitely need a dust free garage to do it in. Some people wrap their entire car while others use it as accents to wrap just the the side mirrors, hood or even spoiler. If you get tired of it, you can pull it off and get your original color back. You can mirror chrome out your entire car in silver or pink, or even give it an awesome matte murdered out finish that will take your car's old paint job from zero to sixty overnight. That same vinyl can be used to add a racing stripe to your car as well. This application is totally doable - (I taught myself years ago and I have to admit, it came out really cool…) Just use a lot of soap to make sure you lay out the stripe so it’s straight, before you squeegee it out and make it stick.
8. Windshield Wipers - A great way to add accent color to your vehicle, windshield wipers, more so the wiper brackets, come in different styles and color that can improve your car’s coolness factor.
9. Aftermarket Audio - You can choose to do a modest upgrade, or you can go total Mad Max Fury Road out the back of your hatch… adding speakers, subwoofers or a new digital face to you car’s sound system can take it to the next level.
10. Emblem/Insignia - A cool trend in car upgrades is to bling out or color up your car’s maker emblem. You can find them in all different colors and materials to match the look you’re trying to create with your ride.
11. Shift Knob - Add color or an accent piece to your car’s shift knob. It can be something cool that matches the color or adds an accent, or an awesome conversation piece.
12. Dice in The Mirror - If it suits your car’s style, why not!
13. Neon Ground FX - Ohhhh for the love of neon, this was the number one coolest thing you could do to your car in the 90’s. It didn’t matter how fast your car went, how rough of shape it was in, or how old it was, if you had “neons” under your car lighting up the street for everyone to notice you, it didn’t get much cooler… and its still pretty cool today, when used correctly. Careful not to "Tron" out your car.
14. Steering Wheel Cover - An easy way to make a quick mod is to get matching or stylish steering wheel cover. They come in all colors, materials and there are even heated ones for the winter.
15. Grille Inserts - One of my favorite ways to bling out your car without looking tacky is getting a customized grille for your car. These look especially awesome on trucks.
16. Pin Striping - A great way to add flair to a vehicle, especially an American muscle car, pin striping is still very in. When done correctly it adds an awesome dimension to your car’s exterior.
17. Decals - NItto, Brembro, NOS, Flowmaster, Alpine… go ahead and put a brand decal to let the world know every upgrade or modification your car is packing. Or don’t, because it’s a little tacky to add random logos to your car, but it used to be all the rage. If you do add them, don’t do it to show off, do it because you are a proud supporter or sponsor of the brand, or maybe just add a few. There are other novelty decals which can also personalize your car to show off all your family members or sports & hobbies or even pets that are important to you. I personally prefer window decals because you don’t run the risk of them burning their shape into your car over the years as the sun bleaches out the panels around it.
18. Remove Your Front License Plate - If your state laws allow, this is the easiest and the most inexpensive modification you can do. All you’ll need is a screw driver. Take off your front plate and leave it off. It takes away from the aggressive and sleek face of your car with it’s hideous color and number sequence.
19. Interior Dome Light - A fun way to add color to your car, if you don’t typically need to use your dome light to see, is to add a colored bulb to your vehicle’s dome light.
20. Door Lock Accents - Some people have made a trend customizing or bling’n out their door locks. If it works with your motif, go for it.
21. Custom Hood Ornament - A really cool way to personalize your car is with the addition of a customized hood ornament. You don’t need to put the Spirit of Ecstasy on there but there are a wide variety of modern and antique additions that can really add an awesome focal point to your vehicle.
22. Stem Valve Caps - I’ve seen some cool variations of these… people get them in colors to match their car’s theme, or they bling them out with crystals. Just be careful. If you get stem valve caps that are too extravagant there’s nothing to stop someone from walking over to your car, unscrewing them and taking them from you.
23. Phone Holder - A fun and nerdy way to make your car look cook, as well as a functional way to view your mobile navigation system if you use your cell phone, cell phone holders come in all different shapes and styles.
24. Console Cover - Not a bad idea… I tend to get sore elbows from placing mine on my leather console too long when I drive. They come in all different colors and styles and even with different functionality.
25. Seatbelt Covers - You can find these in endless shapes, novelties and colors, seatbelt covers are both function and style. I personally love them because they prevent seatbelt irritation on my neck.
26. USB Charger - Just a novelty accessory that allows you to add electronics, charge your phone and other portable devices while you’re on the go.
27. Video Screens & Monitors - If you’ve got the cash for it, video screens are a cool way to enhance your car. They’re especially great for entertaining the young ones on long road trips.
28. Video Game Console - This one’s a little outdated… it was pretty big before high end video games became so “mobile” and portable. You’re probably better off just getting a Nintendo Switch, but back in the day you were king of the parking lot if you had a gaming system in your car.
29. Side Marker Lights - You can get colored lights and tinted covers or even use a marker to color the light any shade you’d like. They’re cool for adding some accent color to the exterior of your vehicle.
30. Turn Signals & Tail Lights - Some people find unique ways to upgrade or modify their car’s tail and turn signal lights by either using covers, colored bulbs and even vinyl wrap. Be careful with the laws in your area, some states have very specific rules about color and visibility.
31. Paint Visible Car Parts - If you are capable and ambitious you can purchase rust resistant paint and paint parts of your car to your liking such as your side view mirror covers or even your brake drums and calipers. I recommend removing the parts you choose to paint so you don’t get the wrong color on your car, or paint your brake discs by mistake. You may even choose to paint certain engine parts. Do your research on the paint though… if you use the wrong kind or it starts to chip and crack your car will look terrible.
32. Spoiler - Mixed feelings on this one. Some people paint or modify the color of their spoiler, which is one way to go. Other people change the shape and style of their spoiler which can be really cool too as long as it fits with your car’s body style and aerodynamic needs. Not really a fan of people who put a huge wing on their car without functionality behind it. All you’ll see is that hideous wing.
33. Headlight Film - Another way to modify the color of your headlights is with headlight film. They can be used to both protect your headlights and add an awesome tint to your headlight’s color.
34. Tire Bling - Some people are into this, and some aren’t. You’ll find a spray can that actually adds a coat of… for lack of a better word “sparkle” to your tires. It can be cool if done correctly.
35. Wheel & Fender Lights - Another way to add color or neon accents to your car’s exterior. Wheel and fender lights go up in the fender or within the wheel of the car to add hot splashes of color to your car.
36. Trunk Liner - Line the trunk or hatch of your vehicle with a cool cover, liner or fabric to bring your own personal style to your car.
37. Chrome Trim - Kind of an old school modification, chrome trim can be purchased and used to add details to the outside of your car. Many times you’ll find people like to put the chrome trim on their car’s fenders.
38. Flux Capacitor - Why not. You never know when you need to time travel. But only if your car can get to 88 mph.
39. Mud Guards - A big mod for trucks and Jeeps, mud guards come in different colors and styles and are a cheap and easy way to protect your car’s paint from rocks, dirt and other off roading elements.
40. Window Tint - Comes in different opacities and types, window tint has always been a timeless modification for car enthusiasts. You can install your own window tint…. I’ve done it myself on both my side and rear side windows very easily, but if you plan on attempting the back window, I hope you’re up for the challenge. It can be really difficult depending on your car’s shape and access. Most places will install it for pretty cheap these days.
41. Tire Cover - Another popular modification for Jeeps and trucks that have their spare tire hanging off the back of the vehicle, is to add a cover.
42. Rear View Mirror - Not only do people like to vinyl wrap or bling up their rear view mirrors, you also have the option to upgrade it’s technology as well. There are a few companies out there that offer really cool rear view mirror tech and gadgets that have some really awesome modern and useful features.
43. Digital Bumper Sticker - A great way to tell the guy behind you to stop riding your tail… digital bumper stickers are a scrolling LED screen that attaches to your license plate that you can actually update with a text message. For a good time call…
44. New Wheels - Probably the first modification any young tuner or car enthusiast dreams of is to get a new set of wheels for their car. Really nice and unique ones can definitely be pretty pricey, and don’t forget, you need four. Thousands of styles, colors and varieties exist to pimp out your ride any way you want.
45. Bling Cigarette Lighter - You don’t see them in new cars much anymore, because they’re gross… and you destroy your car’s interior by smoking in it, but if your car has one, you can at least making it look pretty by bedazzling that thing.
46. Floor Mats - Never-ending supply of colors and styles, floor mats can both protect your car’s interior from stains, mud and anything else you track in on your feet, as well as add some really cool character to the inside of your vehicle. I’ve even seen a lot of footage on how you can make your own.
47. Racing Pedals - You can pick up a set at any auto store, they’re just a fun way to chrome up your car’s interior.
48. Interior Vinyl - A cheap and non-permanent way to add awesome style modification to your car’s interior, consider vinyl wrapping parts of the dash board and interface in different colors to create a stunning visual masterpiece.
49. Door Lights - Just a really fun and cool lighting accent that many cars even come standard with these days. The new Mustangs have them… when you open the car doors you can see the running horse logo shining on the ground next to the car.
50. License Plate Frame - NO. Just no. In all my years I have yet to see a license plate frame that doesn’t look hideous or tacky. We don’t even want the license plate on the car in the first place, so don’t bother accenting it, and it’s illegal to cover it.
Bonus: A few extra ways to add bling to your car!