Automotive engineers make great efforts to develop cars that will work well for intended customers. Common people, however, always think they can do better. Now, sure, you can improve any car, especially with high-quality aftermarket parts. However, most upgrades and accessories you would put on your car are not worth it.
Moreover, some of them might even make your vehicle lose performance or look cheap. For that reason, maybe you should research some aftermarket upgrades more thoroughly, especially if they claim impossible things. Or, click through the next 40 slides and see what upgrades you shouldn’t spend your money on. Let’s dig in!
Large Rear Wings
Did you know that rear wings, aka spoilers, have real use? No, seriously! For instance, Formula 1 cars get downforce from spoilers. Or any racing car for that matter. However, that doesn’t mean you should put them on your vehicle. Rear wings only produce downforce at very high speeds, which you probably won’t achieve on public roads.
Moreover, while wings produce downforce, they also decrease the aerodynamic efficiency. As a result, your vehicle loses performance and consumes more fuel. And, honestly, rear wings don’t look good on every car. If they did, manufacturers would’ve probably installed them from the factory.
Lowering Your Car Too Much
Some dealers will be happy to lower your vehicle, and some carmakers offer lowered suspension from the factory. However, they ensure that your car is still road legal and has enough clearance for daily driving. Some people aren’t satisfied with that, though, and want a car that sits glued to the ground.
First of all, lowering your vehicle below a certain threshold makes it unusable – even a smaller pothole will be an issue. Also, it doesn’t make your car more stable. Since your suspension will have no damping properties, the wheels will jump even on smaller road imperfections. And, sorry, but extremely low-stance cars don’t look good.
Lifting Your Car Too Much
Let’s go on the opposite end, shall we? Lowering your car too much is definitely dumb, but lifting your car too much might be even dumber. Again, in some circumstances, you might need a higher clearance, like for off-roading. However, most people put lifting kits only to show-off on the road, and some go too far.
To begin with, your vehicle will be much less stable since the center of gravity will be way too high. Moreover, an extremely high car interferes with the visibility of other drivers and limits your view downward. Apart from looking monstrous, having your vehicle far off the ground doesn’t have practical advantages.
Here is another upgrade that has absolutely no practical use. But why do car manufacturers still use them on new models? Well, because in those cases, the vents are real, silly! A vent can cool various parts, including the engine and brakes. Moreover, fake vents can help with aerodynamic efficiency.
Contrarily, fake vents can help you with nothing. Zero. Nada. You may think they look cool, but I think most car enthusiasts will agree on the opposite. Don’t believe it? Do a quick web search on “Toyota Supra fake vents” and you’ll see what we mean. They are not popular, no other way to put it.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever made. It’s also the first vehicle with wing doors, which look quite amazing. However, that doesn’t mean winged doors look great on every car. Seriously, having them on your mid-size sedan looks silly, not attractive. And, it’s the same with Lamborghini-like scissor doors.
Besides, your vehicle will be less practical and less safe. How come? Well, in case of an emergency, workers will have a hard time opening the doors, especially if your vehicle is on the roof. Actually, they won’t be able to open them at all. Ultimately, wing-door kits are costly and not very reliable.
Aggressive Body Kits
The Fast & Furious franchise popularized the body-kit modification among car enthusiasts. However, most models from the movies had well thought-out kits that worked well with the nature of the cars. Like, a Nissan Skyline with 1,000 hp certainly looks better with a muscular body kit.
Unfortunately, the same body kits wouldn’t look that good on every car. Improving the bumpers a bit won’t hurt, but only if you do it with taste. Meanwhile, tasteless exorbitant body kits don’t look good on most vehicles, especially regular passenger cars. Also, they are very expensive. Thus, resist the urge of spending your money on making your car look tacky and invest them somewhere else.
Hey, look at that BMW M3! Imagine how much the owner enjoys driving it. Except, the “sports” sedan probably houses a diesel engine under the bonnet. Slapping fake badges on your car might fool a passer-by, but certainly not a car enthusiast. Besides, what’s the point in fake badges, really?
We know they don’t cost too much. There is always the urge to show your car some love, especially when you don’t spend too much on the accessory. However, fake badges don’t improve your vehicle in any meaningful way. Also, they make it look flavorless in the eyes of car geeks.
Not every person on the planet understands physics and chemistry. Thus, when the common person sees an advertisement for “fuel ionizer,” it immediately catches attention. It certainly sounds hi-tech, especially when you read the fine print. One manufacturer states that “it energies the fuel” at a molecular level, which means it must work, right?
Look, we won’t get into the specifics since there is nothing to explain. To put it bluntly, fuel ionizers don’t work at all. No power increase, no fuel economy improvements. Nada. Only wasted money. Besides, if fuel ionizers have worked, don’t you think cars would have them from the factory?
Fuel Line Magnets
Fuel line magnets serve exactly the same purpose as fuel ionizers, which means they don’t work at all. Again, it sounds like they might work since magnets are great for everything, right? Well, magnets work for many things but certainly won’t improve the fuel in your vehicle.
Bizarrely enough, manufacturers claim that their products use a monopole magnet to change the properties of gasoline. I mean, how cool is that, right? Well, not in this universe. Monopole magnets are against the laws of physics – they can’t exist. Slap that to the face of the seller when he tries to fool you next time!
Fuel Vapor Injectors
Have you heard about the PCV valve? It exists in every car from the modern era, starting from WWII. The valve inserts fuel vapors from the tank into the combustion chamber to release pressure. But it doesn’t do that continuously – only when there is too much pressure inside the fuel tank.
Well, there is a thing called a fuel vapor injector that constantly injects fuel vapors in the chamber. Why? Because fuel vapor burns better than liquid gas. So, in theory, your engine should be more efficient. However, in practice, these systems don’t work at all. That’s because cars atomize gas very well in the first place. Moreover, fuel vapor injectors spoil the engine management and may have adverse effects on performance and fuel economy.
Water injection, for once, at least works. Well, not for practical purposes, but it has a scientific background. Namely, when water enters the combustion chamber, it cools it down, which helps with burning fuel more efficiently. Moreover, it also decreases the chances of detonation, which is unwanted in engines.
However, this won’t help your engine in any way. Modern engines already have safety systems in place to combat detonation, and they do that successfully. For that reason, adding water injectors won’t do absolutely anything. It won’t improve horsepower nor fuel mileage. And, it costs a pretty penny to install it, so don’t bother.
Here is another hoax that recently hit the market. It’s called an ignition enhancer, and it promises to make the spark plugs more efficient. But how does it do that? Well, it simply increases the incoming voltage, say from 12V to 18V. That way, the spark plug would produce a stronger spark, which would burn the fuel more efficiently.
However, do you think that if higher voltage worked, car manufacturers wouldn’t use it in new cars? I mean, it’s a cheap workaround that might give them an advantage over other companies, right? Well, wrong, since ignition enhancers don’t work at all. Just use high-quality spark plugs, and your engine will work at its best.
Electrolysis Hydrogen Generators
Everybody knows that water electrolysis produces hydrogen and oxygen. Also, everybody knows that hydrogen is the quintessential element and that it’s an excellent energy source. Well, then, why don’t we put water bottles in our cars and use electrolysis to extract hydrogen?
This is nothing new in the automotive world, and some companies continue to sell electrolysis hydrogen generators. The premise is simple – using “free” electricity from the engine; the system extracts hydrogen from water and uses it to boost the engine. More power, baby! However, such devices don’t work in practice since they would break the laws of physics. Specifically, you can’t have a higher exit than entry energy – your engine would already burn too much fuel for the electrolysis. That would be a Perpetuum mobile, and those don’t exist.
When most fuel-improvement measures didn’t succeed on the market, hoax manufacturers thought of another smart-sounding solution. This time, it’s about injecting small metal parts into the gasoline, which would then cause a catalytic reaction. As a result, the gasoline would be free from impurities and carry much more energy!
So, do they work? If by that you mean decreasing your budget significantly, then yes. However, fuel catalysts won’t improve the performance or fuel economy of your engine. There is no scientific basis in the process, and no tests done whatsoever, which means that those small metals might even damage your engine. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!
Performance / Fuel Efficiency Chips
Look, we won’t say that performance chips don’t work since some would increase power. However, don’t believe the claims that they will also improve fuel economy or lower emissions. Carmakers already design the engines to run as efficiently as possible. They certainly know what’s best for the engine they designed, right?
Besides, the power enhancements won’t be significant. You might gain some throttle response at the expense of fuel consumption. Moreover, performance chips almost certainly void your car’s warranty and might have adverse effects on how the engine works. Be especially cautious about installing cheap performance chips from unknown manufacturers.
Rolling Coal Diesel Trucks
This is something that absolutely beggars belief and is against any common sense. If you aren’t familiar with it, rolling coal is modifying a diesel engine to produce more smoke. Yes, you heard that right – more smoke and no power increase.
These so-called rolling coal enthusiasts would say that the trucks look badass this way, but we think they only look idiotic. Like, it pollutes the air, not only with CO2 but poisonous gasses and harmful particles, guys. In our book, that’s not funny or cool. Besides, the truck would consume more fuel, without any real reason. Except if you think that spending money on anti-environmentalism is cool, that is.
Near-Black Tint Jobs
Darkening or tinting your car’s windows has a practical purpose. It decreases the amount of light entering the cabin, keeping it cool, and it also increases visibility on sunny days. However, that doesn’t mean you should crank this to eleven. You might think near-black tint jobs look awesome, but practically they are quite terrible.
Let’s start with the fact that you probably won’t be able to see anything in front of you, other than in direct sunlight. Driving during the night with extremely darkened windows is unsafe, not only for you but also for other traffic participants. Besides, you might also get a fine since they are illegal.
Okay, tinting your windows too much is bad, but what about the taillights? That looks cool, right? Well, if you want our opinion, no, it doesn’t. If it did, the best automotive designers probably would’ve used them on at least one car. But, no, there is none. Instead, they use some amazing LED lights that make a stunning light show during the night.
If you smoke the taillights, your car won’t make any show during the night. Actually, the taillights will be dim and almost invisible. You might think that’s cool, but it also significantly reduces your car’s visibility, and therefore, it’s unsafe. Instead, might we suggest some cool-looking LED taillights?
Fake European License Plates
We aren’t sure when this trend started, but we are sure that it needs to stop right now! Like, what’s the purpose of putting European license plates under the regular ones, anyway? Are European-imported cars really that much better than North-American ones? Is it cooler to have a Europe-spec BMW 5 Series? It’s baffling, to say the least.
What’s even more interesting is that owners put these plates on North-American versions of the same cars! Honestly, you’re fooling nobody – European cars look different enough (the turn signals aren’t red). Moreover, having two license plates on top of each other doesn’t look good at all.
Aftermarket Engine Sound Simulators
Modern engines are becoming quieter each year, primarily due to tightening regulations. Now, that’s great for people that want a comfortable ride, but a bummer for driving aficionados. A good-sounding engine makes a car much more appealing and joyful to drive. Fortunately, carmakers thought of pumping synthesized engine noise into the cabin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound as good as the original.
We will admit, some cars have “good” engine sound simulators, albeit they still don’t sound amazing. However, we can’t say the same about aftermarket solutions. They sound synthetic and don’t react to your inputs instantly. Moreover, they are expensive, so it’s probably better to invest in a good exhaust system.
We searched the internet to see who started the “truckticle” craze, but we couldn’t find an answer. There is also no answer to why people use these things, and we don’t expect one. Probably, it’s because trucks are macho and manly? And, testicles are a manly thing? We don’t know, honestly.
What we know is that they look tacky, and might we say, vulgar. Moreover, they don’t improve your truck in any meaningful way. They might say about what type of person you’re, but that’s not our area of expertise. They are cheap, sure, but that doesn’t answer the question – why?
Headlight Eyelids and Eyelashes
Okay, now we’re into women territory, or even men that use makeup. Nothing against that, truthfully. However, when you put the same makeup on cars, things become weird. Like, really weird. Sure, most cars have a face to them – some are angry, others look quite happy. However, they certainly don’t look amazing with eyelids or eyelashes on them.
With eyelids, your headlights will perform worse, which hurts visibility and safety. Moreover, they ruin the looks of the fascia, which was designed to look a certain way. Meanwhile, the eyelashes will start disintegrating after several months of use. Moreover, they are a sign of bad taste if we’re honest.
Static electricity can be an unpleasant thing. And, we must admit, it often happens when you touch the handles of your vehicle. That’s because the body connects to the surface via the tires and has no way of discharging the electricity. In other words, there is no ground.
Fortunately, there is a device called an anti-static strap that supposedly mitigates the issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Moreover, it includes rubber straps hanging from your car at all times. And, since it also costs money to purchase it and install it, we can certainly not recommend it.
Bass-Heavy Sound Systems
Bass certainly makes us feel good since we feel it physically. You can’t feel mid-range and high-pitch sounds, could you? However, too much bass can become tiring. Moreover, inside a vehicle’s cabin, it can produce high pressure, which can hurt your ears.
Besides, bass-heavy sound systems don’t sound very good. You might argue that point, but in this case, we’ll trust “audiophiles.” These people dedicate their lives to good music systems and will always tell you that balanced sound it’s the best thing around. Meanwhile, bass-heavy systems aren’t balanced at all – they only produce rumbling bass. No vocals whatsoever. Besides, sub-woofers add significant weight to your car, hurting performance and fuel economy along the way.
LED Strips and Neon Lights
Another upgrade that was popularized by the Fast & Furious franchise. Also, another upgrade that lost it’s mojo by now and looks quite tacky. Like, did you know that fashion changes? What looked cool in the 90s’ certainly doesn’t look good today. Have you seen anyone with bell-bottoms lately?
Well, it’s the same with neon lights. They look quite tasteless in today’s day and age. Moreover, the same applies to LED strips – the light source doesn’t change the cheesiness. We will also go slightly off-topic and say that aftermarket LED strips for headlights also look very cheap.
Did you know that a larger-diameter exhaust system can improve your vehicle’s performance? If you knew that, you should also know that coffee-can mufflers won’t do the same. There is absolutely no advantage in installing large-diameter tips on your tailpipe. Like, zero.
Now, you may think that your car sounds better, but we would argue against that. It is noisier for sure, but better? Don’t think so. Also, coffee-can mufflers look stupid on most cars since they weren’t designed to accept large pipes back there. Let’s leave these things to supercar manufacturers, who have a real need for large exhaust tips. Your four-cylinder car doesn’t.
Here is another tacky and tasteless thing you can do to your car. Unless you hate your neighbors very much, or anybody for that matter, this upgrade is not for you. We don’t know who started it, but we certainly won’t give him/her applause.
Essentially, whistle tips make your vehicle whistle as it drivers. Why on Earth would you want that on your car is anyone’s guess. Moreover, these devices are illegal in most states since they contribute to noise pollution. If you don’t want to be a jerk and don’t want a large fine, please don’t put a whistle on your exhaust tip.
Modern gas and diesel engines include many design decisions to burn fuel better. For instance, the piston’s head is designed to better circulate the air-fuel mixture, so it burns properly inside. Moreover, engineers design the intake manifold in a specific way, so it works with that particular engine design.
But of course, unknown aftermarket companies always seem to know better. The most recent thing in their playbook is the “intake vortex.” These devices alter the airflow so that they create a vortex, which should result in better combustion. Except, it doesn’t since it completely spoils the perfect airflow in the manifold. It might even make things worse, like increase fuel consumption and reduce power.
Fuel additives are available at every petrol station, and you can even find some in supermarkets. Moreover, manufacturers put some very bold claims, such as “improving power and reducing consumption” significantly. The thing is, fuel additives make little to no difference in how your engine works.
Your engine is designed to work with regular gas and additives won’t improve performance much. Besides, these things cost a pretty penny. For instance, if you want to “improve the quality” of a full tank of gas, you’ll need to pay on average $20. That’s almost nine gallons of fuel, a quantity that I’m sure an additive won’t be able to make up for.
Curiously, many manufacturers of oil additives market them as some miraculous fluids that will restore your engine to its old glory. Furthermore, they claim that the motor will continue to run, even without any oil. Provides, of course, that you used their oil additive.
The thing is, engines continue to run even without any oil. No additives required. Sure, they would break down at some point, but will definitely run. Besides, high-quality motor oils from reputable manufacturers are already excellent at lubrication and don’t need any additive. Change your oil at regular intervals and we promise, the engine will run just fine!
Stupendously Large Rims
Large rims certainly look better than smaller ones, but only up to a point. That’s because not every car works with oversized wheels. It even looks silly on some vehicles. Moreover, huge rims have a negative effect on how your car drives. The ride quality will be much worse, and straight-line performance will also suffer. Additionally, the fuel economy will go down.
Besides, you probably will need to make body modifications to fit the wheels, which certainly doesn’t come cheap. You will also need larger tires, which can be outstandingly expensive. Ultimately, huge rims also cost a fortune!
Very Wide Tires
Just like oversized rims, wide tires are also a dumb idea. They make sense on some cars, like Ferrari’s, Porsche’s, and Lamborghini’s. Recently, though, even those manufacturers resist the urge to make their models look like rollers. That’s because wide tires improve grip but also reduce the overall performance.
Moreover, extremely wide tires don’t feel that good to drive. They aren’t very responsive and don’t communicate with the driver well. Additionally, they put additional unsprung weight on your car, making it less enjoyable to drive, and less agile in the corners. Stick to the OEM size – carmakers always know what’s best for their models.
DIY Headlight Restore Kits
Fogged headlights not only look terrible, but they also perform worse. Fortunately, there are numerous DIY headlight restore kits available, which promise to get that shine back. These kits work as advertised – no question about it. However, they also come at a high price.
If you want to cut on costs, you can do a similar job using only wet sandpaper and polishing compound. Ensure that you start with coarser sandpaper, for example, 400 grit. Then, move over to finer papers, like 800 grit, follower by 1600 grit, and 2500 grit. To finish things off, use a polishing compound. The headlights will be as good as new!
Trays to Eat While Driving
Many people are so bored by driving that they would do anything else rather than keep their eyes on the road. And, losing sight on the road is unsafe and can have terrible consequences. Therefore, we absolutely don’t recommend installing a fast-food tray on the driver’s seat.
First of all, these things aren’t exactly stable. In other words, you will definitely swear the tray manufacturer when the drink spills all over your trousers and car upholstery. Moreover, these trays limit access to some instruments in your car. Ultimately, it’s not safe to eat while driving. Take a break and eat your hamburger at the fast-food restaurant – it’s more comfortable and safer!
Carmakers spend a lot of time and money on developing cabin upholsteries. That’s especially true for the seats, which need to be comfortable, stick well to your bottom so you don’t slide, and are also sturdy. Some people, though, think they know better and put seat covers.
The funniest thing is that the material is of a much lower quality than the original. Subsequently, the overall comfort will be perceivably lower, and you will slide more in the corners. Sure, you will protect the original upholstery, but then you would never enjoy it properly. Instead, the next owner will. Besides, there is a thing called dry cleaning!
Steering Wheel Covers
Did you know that the material on your steering wheel is specifically designed, so it doesn’t slide? It’s also designed to be comfortable and not make your hands sweat. However, people still think that aftermarket wheel covers work better since they provide more grip and/or better looks.
The car manufacturer already found the right amount of grip on the steering wheel. That’s because today’s vehicles have power steering. Moreover, those grippy covers will also sweat your hands more and generally feel less comfortable. In the end, let’s be honest – they don’t look cool.
Fake Carbon Fiber
Carbon fiber is an amazing material. It possesses outstanding high-tensile strength, higher than steel actually. On top of that, it’s also much lighter, even than aluminum. However, I think we can all agree that it doesn’t look that classy. Sure, it doesn’t look bad, but we can think of several materials that look better for fit and finish.
It does look expensive, though, since it is. For that reason, some owners slap carbon-fiber-like stickers on top of their vehicles. The thing is, fake carbon fiber is easily distinguishable from the real one, and instead of looking expensive, your car might end up looking cheap.
Racing stripes have a very long history and most people aren’t even familiar with it. At first, they were applied to racing cars, so the spectators could easily distinguish them from afar. Many car manufacturers then used the same concept on road-going sports cars, like the Mustang GT350 and Dodge Viper.
But the interesting history about racing stripes doesn’t mean you should slap them on your car as well. They might look “fast” on muscle cars or supercars, but they look stupid on economy cars. If you want to enhance the looks of your car, we can think of dozen other things.
Stickers have become an integral part of the racing scene, particularly drifters and autocross racers. The reason is pretty straightforward – racing teams use them to showcase sponsors or partners. Well-known examples are Bilstein for the suspension, HKS for turbochargers, Akrapovic for exhausts, etc. Put simply; they are obligated to do that.
That doesn’t mean you should slap the same stickers on your car, especially if you haven’t already tuned it properly. Having a Bilstein sticker on a vehicle with standard suspension looks quite jarring and silly. If you really want to show appreciation to the brand, stick them on your laptop. And, that’s for every sticker – not just those from the tuning scene.
Hatchbacks can look very cool with good wheels, a subtle body kit, and a slightly lowered suspension. However, removing the back wiper takes things too far. It might look slightly more minimalistic, but only you will notice that.
You will also notice another thing – the rear window will be almost always dirty. There is a reason why carmakers put wipers on hatchback’s rear windows. The aerodynamics of these vehicles create a vortex at the back, which lifts dirt from the road and sticks it to the window. Just a few miles later, the window will be a total mess. Stick to your wiper – it’s much more practical and safer!