man with gloves holding a tyre

How to Upgrade Your Car on a Budget

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Are you tired of driving around town in a slow-moving, uncomfortable, and boring-looking vehicle? Upgrade your car to boost its performance and appeal!

From small tweaks to big system changes, getting a car upgrade is a smart way to achieve better engine performance, faster acceleration, and cooler appearance for a fraction of the cost of buying a new vehicle. It also makes your car stand out from the rest of the standard factory model and look newer than it is.

Generally, the cost of vehicle upgrades can be expensive. If you’re in a desperate need of a car upgrade without breaking the bank, start on one or two of these upgrades:

1. Replace the tyres

When it comes to achieving a great driving experience, you don’t just need power and performance for your car, you also need a better road grip for the wheels. This will help you accelerate, brake, and take corners safely even when the road is slippery or wet.

When replacing your tyres for better ones, think “performance” and not “bling” because style can't supersede substance. Aside from better road grip, a good set of wheels will reduce the unsprung weight of your vehicle. This, in turn, will significantly improve handling.

Of course, many better quality tyres are also stylish and will make your ride look better. Some of the best affordable tyres include:

  • Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus
  • Michelin Premier LTX
  • Firestone Destination LE 2
  • Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus
  • Michelin Defender LTX M/S
  • Continental TerrainContact A/T
  • Michelin LTX A/T 2

You also need to consider the correct tyres for whatever weather conditions you are driving. If you need a set of tyres that can perform in all weathers, then you will need to use all-weather tyres. Take note, however, that these tyres can compromise the performance parameters. If you want to get good traction and the ability to put the power to the ground in different weather conditions, invest in a set of summer and winter tyres.

2. Get better brakes

The ability to stop effectively is an important performance factor. Investment in your car’s brakes, whether it is simply purchasing better brake pads or upgrading the entire system, will increase its stopping power and maneuverability.

If you have extra bucks, buy carbon-ceramic brake pads. Aside from not gunking up your new wheels with grey brake dust, they have a composite and lightweight structure that reduces the car's weight of up to 65% when compared to the conventional, which in turn can increase your car's performance when handling turns.

Great brakes are also advantageous in fast driving. Sure, you don’t think of slowing down when racing but, hey, you need to slow down before every corner. With better brakes, you can wait a little longer to engage them and you’ll have more time to stay on the throttle before entry. Thus, you can maintain a higher rate of speed longer than your competitors.

3. Add a turbocharger

One of the easiest ways to make your car more powerful is to get a turbocharger. This device pumps out fuel and air mixture into the cylinder, which results in increased performance and improved fuel economy.

A car with a turbocharger produces more power because it can burn more fuel each second. In fact, it is more efficient than superchargers in providing a significant increase in horsepower. Turbocharged cars have improved:

  • Responsiveness
  • Straight-line speed
  • Drivability
  • towing

However, just because you can push the rev limiter up with a turbocharger doesn't mean you can readily get one fitted. Make sure that your ideal turbocharger is appropriate for the size of your car’s engine and your power target. This can be a daunting task that is better done by a turbocharging specialist.

Pro Tip:

Turbochargers greatly vary in quality, performance, and price. There are plenty of poor quality turbochargers and cheap imitations on the market, but a high-quality one from a reputable manufacturer is safe and cost-effective in the long run.

4. Use silicone hoses

If you’ve added a turbocharger in your engine to increase your car’s performance, you might as well replace the standard rubber hoses in your car for better quality silicone hoses. Unlike rubber, silicone has superior heat tolerance that translates into reduced engine temperature. This is important if you add a turbocharger to your engine because they can:

  • Handle the increased air and liquid pressures created by tuned turbochargers
  • Avoid deformity or crack if the temperatures within the turbo become too high

Silicone hoses also last longer than their rubber versions. They can conduct heat more readily, which prevents the formation of damaging hot spots at bends in the hoses. Unlike rubber hoses, they are also not plagued by rot.

Additionally, they are easy to install and remove. Unlike rubber hoses, they do not adhere tightly to valves and nozzles that removing them would sometimes require complete destruction.

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5. Install a cold air intake

The better your car breathes, the more power it has and the less gas it uses. Therefore, it runs better and lasts longer.

By replacing your original intake pipe with a cold-air intake, you will simultaneously increase horsepower and fuel efficiency. It reduces the air temperature in your engine and helps clean the airflow. It also feeds it with a cooler, more condensed air that sharpens the throttle response.

6. Modify the exhaust system

Upgrading the exhaust system does not just reduce the noise it makes when accelerating, it also improves the car’s performance. The exhaust catalytic converter can get clogged up over time, which leads to decreased performance. Therefore, replacing the exhaust system on old cars with a brand new stainless steel exhaust can make a big difference.

There are also performance exhausts that are usually wider in diameter to allow more air gases to escape, which in turn increases power output and leads to faster driving speed.

7. Replace the spark plugs

These small things have a big responsibility. They emit an electrical spark across a tiny gap to ignite the combustion required to start a vehicle. If they have a misfire, the speed and reliability of your car are compromised. Standard spark plugs are known for having this issue.

Meanwhile, high-performance spark plugs rarely have trouble firing, which reduces the emissions from the car and increases fuel efficiency.

Pro Tip:

One of the highly recommended spark plugs when it comes to value for money is Denso (4504) PK20TT Platinum TT Spark Plug. This affordable option has a double platinum tip for enhanced performance. If you have extra dollars, go for the pricier NGK (6619) LFR6AIX-11 Iridium IX Spark Plug, which is designed to avoid misfire or malfunction and has a long lifespan.

8. Add an exhaust wrap

An exhaust heat wrap reduces the temperatures around the engine and increases the longevity of key engine components, which results in more horsepower. By keeping the heat in the header instead of it dissipating around the engine, the engine’s efficiency is increased.

When combined with a high flow catalytic converter and performance muffler, the exhaust wrap can produce an even bigger horsepower boost.

Additionally, the exhaust wrap can also give your car cooler-looking headers.

However, the wrap can be hard on pipes and can hold and trap moisture and detritus against the exhaust, which will shorten its lifespan. Before going for this upgrade, consider the pros and cons carefully.

9. Repaint your car

A car paint job can make your old car with its rusty, faded, or peeling paint look brand-new. A newly painted commercial vehicle specifically will make a good impression on your important clients or customers. Aside from the aesthetics, it can also improve your car’s performance as cracks and chips can increase the drag while you’re on the road.

If you're looking to save some cash, use a vinyl wrap. Unlike the matte paint trend, it's low maintenance but looks just as good.

Pro Tip:

When getting a repainting job, go for neutral colours. While a bright, attention-grabbing hue speaks a lot about your sparkly personality, it can affect the car's resale value. You see, not everyone has the same taste as you, so if you’re planning to resell your vehicle after a few years of use, be mindful of its paint among other things.

10. Reupholster the interior

A complete professional car reupholstering does a great job of upgrading your car's seats, side and sail panels, headliner, carpets, dash and console areas, and other elements. Generally, however, this is a costly project.

While redoing a car's interior professionally can be costly, you can buy vehicle reupholstering kits and just have a professional to install the new features.

You can also DIY, but if you're not sure about your artistic skills, better leave the job to the professional to avoid butchering your car's cabin. DIY auto upholstery projects often result in shoddy craftsmanship. Add the subpar materials and amateur mistakes to it and, voila, your car looks worse than it once was.

Don't want to bother yourself with tedious upgrades? Get a new better-looking and more powerful vehicle with a car loan. If you're still paying for your car loan, you can also upgrade to a new vehicle with car refinancing. Ask us how on 1300 722 210.

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