Most of the folks I know who spend any amount of time modding their vehicles will tell you, once you start, it’s difficult to stop. I don’t think I’d go so far as to draw up a “drug addiction” metaphor, but for many of us, the modifications tend to grow from minor cosmetic upgrades into full-blown mechanical makeovers. Not surprisingly, the extent of funding available for mods can have a major impact on the quantity and quality of the upgrades selected. But in my opinion, a limited budget can actually be beneficial when selecting and prioritizing which mods are completed, and in what order. In order to encourage others that may be interested in modding on a budget, I’ve compiled a quick summary of suggestions and points of view that might help.
The next time you end up frustrated because of limited funds, try using the extra time on your hands to learn something new about your vehicle. Pull out the owner’s manual, if you haven’t already, and scan through it. You might be surprised to discover just how complex vehicles are nowadays. Look through the maintenance guide, if one was included, to determine if there are services that you might be able to do yourself. In my experience, performing regular maintenance on your vehicle can provide some great insight into how your car operates and what’s required to keep it up to snuff. If the owner’s manual doesn’t satisfy those urges, try the Internet. There are a lot of great resources online these days that will allow you to learn more about your vehicle. Online forums and communities dedicated to specific platforms or manufactures can be a great way to learn more about your vehicle as well as a method for meeting others who may have similar interests or questions about your vehicle type. If sitting in front of a computer isn’t your idea of vehicular bonding, then perhaps a good spit and polish session is in order. Detailing your vehicle, inside and out, can take several hours depending on the vehicle type, but in my opinion, it’s time well spent. Not only do you get to know all the various nooks and crannies of your car, but a well-maintained vehicle will last longer and run better for your efforts.
Now please don’t misunderstand the above suggestions. Even vehicle maintenance will require some monetary investment, be it for soap and water or oil and filters. But as a general rule, spending time learning about your vehicle and performing as much of the work yourself can save you a significant amount of cash – cash that can be better spent on other mods. For those folks with a bottomless pocket, it’s easy to throw every upgrade under the sun at their vehicle in one sitting. And this may sound like a great deal, but often the results are far less exemplary than you might expect. Limited funding means really, REALLY prioritizing your mod list. Without a constant flow of funds, you typically end up with more time between modifications. This extra time has two main benefits: a) you have more time to research and select the perfect components for your next mod, b) you have more time to stow away the extra cash required for these upgrades. Reduced cash flow also means you’re less likely to blow hard-earned money on unnecessary or frivolous upgrades. Performing the upgrades themselves in whole or in part can also save modders some money. This approach has the added benefit of knowledge gained from the work performed (at least for those unfamiliar with the task required). In the end, for me, the best part about taking the slow-paced upgrade path is that it allows me to enjoy and savor the experience for that much longer since it essentially becomes a long-term hobby. Just remember that you should be enjoying the modding process, not lamenting it.