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6 CHEAP and FREE Car Mods Anyone Can Do!

samurai shift knob

Alright, so there haven’t been many car meets lately due to COVID-19, but back when I was going to them, I remember seeing some wild mods out there. Crazy coilovers, insane exhausts, badass blowers, and some super obnoxious sound systems. And I was just thinking, Damn, bro! How much did you spend on that?

It’s no secret that some people blow ridiculous amounts of money modding out their cars. And as cool as that is, that’s just not a wise financial decision for some of us. But I’m here today to show you that you don’t need a million bucks in the bank to make some super cool mods to your car. These mods are cheap, easy, and some won’t even cost you a dime! 

These are the 6 cheap and easy mods for your first car! 

Plasti Dip – Plasti Sick!

plasti dip car emblem
Axle Addict

Want to add a sleek matte black finish to your wheels? I bet that grill would look sick in black too. And we can’t forget about those emblems. Hell, you want to murder out your entire car? You could go to a shop and have them charge you an arm and a leg, or you could run down to Ace Hardware and pick up a couple cans of Plasti Dip for next to nothing! 

I think a can of Plasti Dip is like $10, and if you can’t afford that… I don’t know… start delivering pizza or something. Anyway, the possibilities with Plasti Dip are endless. You can turn your emblems from chrome to badass black in a matter of minutes. That’s going to look sick even if it says “Civic”.

Some people are even opting to Plasti Dip their car over getting a vinyl wrap. Why? Because it’s cheap as dirt, and if you absolutely hate it, you can easily remove it without damaging the paint underneath! You just peel it off like a bad sunburn! 

Seriously, though, even though some purists may hate on Plasti Dip, it’s the cheapest and easiest way to add some custom color to your ride. If you need some help plasti dipping your car’s features, check out a couple videos on YouTube!

One place you don’t want to put Plasti Dip, though, is your headlights. So, what do you do if you add some luscious color to your lamps? Listen up!

Headlight Films – Colored Contacts For Your Car 

porsche 911 headlight film
Ideal Media

You know those colored contacts that people sometimes wear to make their eyes a different color? Yeah, I think they look kind of weird too. But on a car? Now, that’s a different story! I mean, just check out these yellow films I got on my 911! You’re can’t tell me that those aren’t sick!

If you’re interested in adding a little personality to your car’s eyes, you can pick up some colored films for as little as $10, or 1,000 Japanese yen if you’re tearing it up in Tokyo. And installing your headlight films will be a breeze for you DIY guys out there. All you really need is a squeegee, a heat gun, and an X-Acto knife. If you can put a sticker on your laptop, you’re halfway there. By the way, if you like stickers, you can get yourself an Ideal slap on our website!

But before you start thinking that I’m some prima donna who only cares about how a car looks, let’s talk about a mod that will actually improve how your car drives. No, I’m not talking about a $10,000 Paxton supercharger, although those are pretty cool if you can afford them. This next mod is free!

Throttle Cable Adjustment – Wake Up, Camry

loose throttle cable
Tacoma World

Okay, so we all have dreams of cruising around in a brand new Lamborghini Diablo, but in reality, you’re probably sitting in a busted-up Toyota Camry. I get it. You’re waiting on that winning lottery ticket. But when you stomp on the gas in your old rustbucket, do you ever notice that it takes your car a little too long to start accelerating? Well, Dr. Brad’s here with a diagnosis, your throttle cable probably needs to get tightened. 

In older cars, the throttle cable tends to get loosened up over time, and this can cause your gas pedal to be less responsive since it’s not rotating the throttle switch unless you really put your foot down. Luckily, this is super easy to fix.

All you have to do is grease up those elbows, grab a 12-millimeter wrench, and pop the hood. You should see two nuts that are holding your throttle cable in place. All you have to do is take that trusty wrench in hand, and adjust the positions of those nuts until that throttle cable is nice and taught. Boom! You have better pedal response!

You do, however, want to be careful not to tighten the cable too much so that it’s actually turning the throttle switch, because that’s going to increase your idle speed and basically just waste a ton of gas, not to mention, burn a hole in your wallet.

The next mod on our list isn’t really about performance. In fact, it might up your drag coefficient. But here at Ideal, we’re all about keeping it Zen, and sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air even if it’s dumping rain. 

Rain Visors – Seattle Must-Have

car rain visors
WeatherTech

Ain’t nothing better than cruising around with your music blasting and your windows down! Yessir, it’s another beautiful day out here in sunny Seattle, said no one ever. For real, though, it rains like every single day out here. So, what do you do when you want to get some fresh air while you’re driving, but it’s raining buckets outside and you don’t want to get your beautiful leather seats wet? You need some rain visors

You can get a set for your doors for around $35, and they take all of 10 seconds to install. Most of them have an adhesive strip on the bottom that let you just stick them right on the top of your door, and you’re done. Screw that rain! Go get some fresh air, blow your vape clouds out the window, or talk to random people on the street if that’s your thing. 

So, we’ve already established that if you live in Seattle you definitely need a raincoat, and some rain visors. But all that rain won’t just get you wet, it can seriously hurt your visibility when you’re out there hot-dogging it down the boulevard. And if you’re working with some bum headlights, you could be putting your life at risk. Save your mom the sleepless nights and upgrade those headlights!

Headlight Upgrade – Shine Bright Like a Diamond

led headlights car
TrueCar

Now, you may think that you’re Sandra Bullock in Bird Box and you can drive with your eyes closed, but the fact of the matter is you’re not, and you need to see the road while you’re driving. Apparently, some 17-year-old girl in Utah actually tried driving blindfolded and crashed into another car. Seriously? Anyway, if you’re smarter than that girl, you should at least consider upgrading your headlights. 

You can find a nice set of LEDs online for around $30, and trust me, these things will dramatically improve your visibility. Most cars come standard with halogen headlamps, which get the job done, I guess. But upgrade to LEDs, and you’re going to notice the difference immediately. 

They’re brighter, they cast a wider pattern, their light is whiter than the light produced by halogen, and they even use less energy. All those benefits for just $30? You’d have to be a crazy person not to go for that! 

Now, most car manuals have instructions for replacing your headlight bulb, but let me run it down for you real quick. Basically, all you have to do is pop the hood and you’ll see the back of the bulb sticking out from behind your headlights. There should be a little clip sticking out. Press that down and then pull the bulb out. Some bulbs have two clips that you’ll have to push, so just do that twice. Then, just slide the bulb out and slide in the new bulb. Easy like Sunday morning. 

Then, just wait for the moon to come out, hop behind the wheel, and night-ride down a dusty highway with your cool new LED headlights! 

Now, if you’re doing that, I pray that you’re driving a manual transmission! But what’s even more fun than driving a manual? Driving a manual with a sick custom shifter knob!

Shifter Knob – Holy Shift!

custom skull shift knob
Instructables

We’ve already gone over some cool ways to trick-out the exterior of your car, but now I want to talk about one of the coolest custom touches you can make in your interior. If you’re driving an automatic, this part of the video ain’t for you. But, if you’re onboard with the Save The Manuals movement, then listen up. 

There’s nothing like the feeling of your hand on the shifter, doing throws in a six-speed. And if you’re driving a manual like you should be, your hand is constantly on that shifter. So, why not upgrade your shift knob and really make it your own? Get a nice leather one that feels great on your hand, or a rubber one for some grip. 

Hell, I was looking on Amazon, and they even have a shift knob that’s shaped like the handle of a samurai sword! Absurd! Or how about a Dragonball Z one for you anime nerds? Or a grenade for the gutter-punks?

More basic shift knobs start around $15, and they’re just a really cool way to keep your hand comfortable while shifting gears, or maybe even add a little personal flair to your interior. And if you’re reading this and you drive an automatic, I hope I’ve made a convincing case for you to trade in that slushbox and start rowing your own gears. 

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