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Top 10 Car Modifications to Make Before Selling

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

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Value depreciation is the harsh reality of buying a car. 

Did you know that driving a brand new car off a dealership lot lowers its value by 11%? You can’t possibly affect much wear and tear from the time the keys are in your hand until you’re driving off the lot, but the value of your new vehicle is now closer to wholesale price. 

Then, your car’s value depreciates anywhere from 15% to 25% each year for the first five years. Once your vehicle is five years old, it’s likely worth less than half of its original value. 


Many new car owners seek to maintain their vehicle’s value through car modifications, believing that any “improvement” will swell the value of their car.

However, sometimes modifying old cars and replacing old parts can make your car look more appealing without adding value to its resale price.

Keep reading as we separate the myths from the facts with this list of modifications that add value to a car.

1. Adding an Infotainment System

Technology moves quickly, and today’s infotainment systems are more innovative than ever before. Now, car manufacturers integrate the data and entertainment features from our mobile devices into modern infotainment systems. 

Some cars don’t offer any infotainment system—especially older vehicles. If you’re looking to sell, you should add one before you sell your vehicle. At a minimum, any system you install should include WiFi, Bluetooth capability, and voice-activated technology.

2. Fitting Leather Seats

If you’re looking to attract a car buyer, you have to portray your car as one of luxury. When it comes to cars, few things make one feel as luxurious as leather seats do. 

If you can fit it into your car modification budget, fitting leather seats is the quickest way to make your vehicle embody comfort and class. 

You can easily find aftermarket leather seats that are almost identical or even better than factory-installed ones regarding durability, look, and fit. 

Many manufacturers will install leather seats using low-grade leather and vinyl backers. Most aftermarket kits are comprised of 100% good-quality leather.

When a potential buyer sees leather seats, they know they’re getting a sophisticated ride that can provide a comfortable drive. If your car still has cloth seats, search for leather that isn’t black. Consider brown or grey, as they don’t make the cabin and seats as hot as black leather does. 

3. Replacing Tires

No buyer wants to purchase a car with bald tires. Your job as a car owner is to make sure the mechanical parts are intact and ensure a safe ride.

Not only does driving with poor tires increase your risk of losing control of your vehicle, but it also decreases the car’s value. Selling your car with bald tires portrays that your vehicle has been neglected and will make potential buyers wonder what other issues you’ve let slide. 

The average buyer won’t be overly concerned about the brand of the tire—but they will be concerned about the remaining tread life.

Skip the shiny rims if you plan on covering the wheel with dirty, old tires.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to shell out thousands of dollars for expensive tires that are going on a car you wish to sell. If your tires have to be replaced because they’re no longer road-legal, you can find a set of gently used tires for cheap. That’s at least better than not addressing your tires at all.

If you plan to drive your car around yourself for a while, stay away from the overly cheap new tires. You’ll thank yourself for getting higher-quality tires when you’re driving long distances or in poor weather.

4. Adding Attractive Rims

When it comes to fitting rims on a vehicle, you must tread lightly. Installing subpar rims on a vehicle will actually lower its value, while attractive rims can hook a buyer.

Make sure the rims you choose will compliment your tires and are of good quality. Why fit new tires on a car with unappealing rims? 

Also, consider which rims will match the style of your car. Some sports cars don’t look as impressive with inappropriately sized rims. There’s a reason that car manufacturers invest so much time and energy in matching rims to each vehicle.

When shopping for rims, it’s always safe to purchase rims from higher trim levels. They’ll make your car look newer while adding to its appearance and value.

5. Lowering the Suspension

Another modification that can work well on specific car makes is lowering the suspension. However, be mindful of the type of vehicle you’re working on. 

People usually install lowered suspension to make a vehicle faster, so it works well on sports cars. While lowering the suspension on a pickup can sometimes add value, it doesn’t make much sense. You’re limiting your pool of car cash buyers because not everyone is into that.

When installed on a sports car, lowered suspension lets less air underneath the vehicle. With better wind drag, the car can perform better.

6. Purchasing a Spoiler

A spoiler is an aerodynamic device used to lessen drag or turbulence while a vehicle is in motion.

When a spoiler is located on the front of a car, it’s called an air dam. While spoilers can improve a car’s performance, some people choose to install oversized ones that decrease the value of their vehicle. Plus, a poorly fitted spoiler doesn’t contribute to the car’s performance

When installing a spoiler, make sure the one you choose makes sense for your vehicle.

7. Installing Interior Lights

A couple of popular car modifications include installing lights around a vehicle’s tires or under the carriage. While these mods look pretty cool, they don’t add value to the car. 

A commonly stated reason drivers use to explain why they don’t like driving at night is that they don’t feel safe.

A vehicle’s interior is dark at night, which makes the experience seem more intimidating. To make the cabin feel more comfortable, consider installing lights in the interior. By illuminating the cabin, you’re giving yourself better visibility, which makes you feel safer. Potential car buyers will appreciate this effort as well.

8. Fitting a Dual Exhaust

If you can fit a dual exhaust on the right vehicle, it can increase the car’s value. However, put a giant exhaust on a Toyota Prius, and potential buyers will try to hold back their laughter.

A vehicle’s exhaust system impacts its engine operation and performance, which means a dual exhaust is best for sports cars. 

A dual exhaust system is comprised of two exhaust pipes that remove the exhaust from the engine. There’s also usually a muffler, which minimizes the noise, a catalytic converter to reduce toxicity, and a manifold to collect the exhaust.

9. Wrapping

Car enthusiasts like it when their vehicle stands out, and nothing makes as much of a difference to a vehicle’s aesthetics as wrapping. 

Wrapping provides you with plenty of exciting colors and design options to choose from—far more than painting does.

Both paint and vinyl wrap have their advantages. While painting used to be the go-to standard for over a century, it also requires expensive professional equipment and touch. Plus, if you want to get a showroom finish, this also slows down the process and ups the costs. 

Then you must consider whether you want special colors, multiple colors, or metallic finishes—each will significantly increase the cost and time. Custom designs and graphics are also options, but they’re typically hand-finished by a technician.  

However, when the wrap color doesn’t suit the vehicle, it’s a risky choice. Not everyone wants a skull and crossbones daily driver. If you’re planning on selling your vehicle down the road, don’t do something crazy like hot pink or lime green. Play it safe, and you’ll reap the benefits of a larger sale price.

10. Installing a High-Performance Cold Air Intake

Finally, one of the last modifications that can add value to any vehicle is installing a high-performance cold air intake. 

Owning an extravagant-looking car will certainly boost anyone’s ego, but it means nothing unless the engine’s performance is as elegant as the aesthetics. 

With the right air intake system, you can increase the vehicle’s acceleration due to additional horsepower and torque. The engine needs less fuel to power the vehicle, which provides a more solid performance overall. 

Consider These Car Modifications to Up Your Vehicle’s Resale Value

Remember: it’s your vehicle. Enjoying it while you own it is every bit as important as maintaining its resale value.

So, if there’s a modification you’re drooling over that isn’t on this list, go for it. Don’t be scared to modify your vehicle the way you want to and truly make it your own.

When it’s finally time to say goodbye, you’ll find a buyer who loves it as much as you do.

If you’re looking to sell your car quickly, fill out our form for an instant online offer.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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