Buying Used Modified Cars - Is It a Good Idea?

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The popularity of the film franchise Fast and Furious has shone a spotlight on the world of modified cars. While not all modifications go to the extreme lengths seen in those films, many owners will make smaller modifications to their vehicles, such as installing aftermarket wheels, tinting the windows, or adding a new air intake.

If you're searching the used car marketplace, chances are you'll come across some modified cars. The big question is, should you buy one? Read on to find out, as CARFAX Europe discusses the pros and cons of buying modified used cars.

Benefits of Buying Used Modified Cars

There are several benefits to modified cars in general. Often times, modifications can make small improvements to an existing vehicle. For example, adding an aftermarket air intake or a free-flowing exhaust can increase horsepower as well as fuel economy. Both of these are typically seen as desirable. Even better, these changes seldom negatively affect the value of the car. Other forms of engine work have the benefit of making the car faster.

Additionally, many people find modifications such as larger wheels and tinted windows make a vehicle look better. And since these changes don't typically increase the value of a vehicle, you should be able to get them included at no extra cost to you.

One of the major benefits of buying a used car which has already been modified is that if you had intentions to apply modifications yourself, the work has been done (or at the least, begun) for you. The previous owner spent the time, money, and effort so that you don't have to.

tunning cars

Downsides of Buying Modified Cars

In many situations, there are more negatives to buying used modified cars than positives. If we recall the benefit of having engine work done, there is a counterpoint to this as well. Sometimes, aftermarket parts which are designed to make a car go faster can add additional strains to the engine. If the modifications are too powerful or improperly combined, you may be stuck with a ticking time bomb for an engine.

In many cases, as a buyer, we don't know who did the modification work to the vehicle or what skill level they have. Was a home DIY job or was the modification done at a professional shop? Many small modifications seem easy (e.g. tinting windows or replacing the wheels), and often times owners will try to do them themselves. This can lead to mistakes being made or improper installation. Even if it was done by a professional, try to find out the name of the shop and look them up online to find out if they are reputable.

If the car you're buying isn't too old, the warranty may still be in effect. The problem with modified cars is that the warranty is often voided. Speaking of this, it is a good idea to find out if the parts used in the modifications carry any sort of warranty – and if so, for how long. The last thing you want it to have a problem a few weeks after buying the car only to find out you need to spend thousands to have it fixed.

Protecting Yourself when Buying Modified Cars

When buying a used car, regardless of whether it's been modified or not, it's always recommended to look a little deeper into the vehicle's history before buying. The best way to learn more about a vehicle's past is to check the CARFAX Vehicle History Report. The CARFAX Report contains loads of useful information about a vehicle's past, such as:

  • Ownership history
  • Import / export information
  • Accident reports
  • Service and repair records
  • Mileage history
  • How the vehicle was used (e.g. taxi, rental car, etc.)
  • Was the vehicle stolen? Scrapped?
  • Does the vehicle have a salvage title?
  • Flood / hail / fire damage data
  • …and much more

This information can help you make a better purchase decision and avoid buying a car with hidden problems. In addition to a CARFAX Report, when buying modified cars, get the vehicle inspected and ask for all receipts for the modification work which has been done. Taking these steps will help you protect yourself from making a bad investment.