For the first time in recorded history, a list on the internet will actually give some useful information. Happy days!
Today, you have many options for upgrades to a car. Most enthusiasts will do the normal upgrades of suspension and power to get more of that “race car” feel without having to sacrifice road comfort. This is all well and good, but what about if you’re daily driving a Dodge Caravan? No amount of upgrades short of lifting off the body and putting it on an actual race car will give you an upgraded, sports-car-esque feel. However, there is some good news though. Most upgrades do translate to real world drivers that aren’t enthusiasts. Here are the top 5 best modifications you can do to your daily driver (DD).
I feel like this should be a no brainer, but I continue to see too many DDs with heavily worn tires where the owners simply neglect them. Quick PSA, tires are the single most important component on your car. DO NOT NEGLECT THEM. I’m going to catch so much flak for saying that, but think of it this way, they are the only things contacting the road on your entire car short of the hydraulics crapping out on a low rider and you scraping your way down I-80. I can already here the rabble. “The engine is what makes it go! Your brakes are the only things that’ll stop you!” You car can still move without an engine (push it) and stop without brakes (large uphill/Fred Flintstone’s feet/friction), but your car would not move at all if it weren’t for tires. No, your wheels don’t count so shut up.
A simple fix is to replace your current set with another set of all-season tires, which is the normal OEM kit you’d get from the factory. Instead, what you should do it get a set of dedicated summer and winter tires, with a spare set of wheels for the winter set. You can source them off a forum, or purchase them online for much cheaper than you’d think. What this does is give you optimal traction in both warm and cold temperatures. All-season tires are all well and good as they are made of a compound of rubber that can handle all temperatures, but they will never be an optimal choice. If you are looking to make your daily driver a bit better in the hot and cold, have better grip, and provide more stopping and cornering prowess, tires are your #1 option. Don’t believe me on winter tires? Watch this and be amazed.
2) Brake Pads
Brakes makes you stop. They are the second most important part of your car directly after tires. Honestly, most cars, even lowly minivans, don’t need entirely new braking systems to be any good. Most brakes you get from the factory adequately stop your vehicle in an emergency if you’re paying attention. Though, there’s always room for improvement.
You don’t need to slap a set of Brembo brakes on your car, all you need is a better set of brake pads. If you upgrade the pads your car will have better stopping power for a fraction of the cost of a totally new brake kit. Buy, install, stop, profit.
3) Sway/Anti-Roll Bars
The sway bar is quite literally a bar that helps to control your car’s rolling-motion in a corner. You know that top-heavy feeling you get in a minivan or SUV? That’s where the anti-roll bar comes in. Here’s exactly how this works.
Nearly all modern cars come with anti-roll bars to help the car be more flat in a turn as opposed to feeling like it’s going to roll over. If you upgrade these bars, not only will your car corner flatter, but it’ll feel sportier. Yes there will be an increased wear effect on your tires due to the increased force on the outside tire in a given corner, but this isn’t racing we’re talking about here and that excess wear will be negligable. This will help every driver, enthusiast or not, especially in an emergency situation. Hell, it may even prevent a roll over in an SUV.
I think this is a given, but to what extent are we talking about here? Well, I’m specifically relating this article to usable features that will improve your daily driver. Let’s take every ricers dream and talk about the Honda Civic of the late 90s and early 2000s. You could have a civic, not the SI or R models, with anywhere from 115-150HP or thereabouts. The Civic is a light car and not a bad driving car either, but it is under powered in some instances. Getting to 60 aside, speeding up on the highway to overtake or even to merge onto it required careful planning and thought. With a bump in power, the Civic would be much happier and safer to get up to a reasonable speed.
A reflashing of an ECU, a few pipes, and an exhaust later, and you could be well on your way to getting 20-40 more horsepower out of your engine and a much more engaging, fun, and safe experience without breaking the bank. I highly recommend doing this to ANY daily driver. These mods are not only some of the easiest to do, but are also less likely to fail when compared to a K20 engine swap in the Civic’s case.
Most OEM technology that’s upgradable, like a head unit or nav system, is out of date the minute they install it at the factory. Technology moves at a pace that few can comprehend. When you upgrade technology in a car, you’re likely not even upgrading it to the most recent whatever-it-is that’s out on the market. Nav systems, for example, are behind what a Waze or Google Maps would offer you with real time traffic and even police and construction updates though crowd sourced information.
But sound systems are a different story. Pop in a new head unit only and even the most dull and tube-sounding speakers can be transformed by the better wiring and freer flowing power output. Think of it like upgrading from DSL to Cable internet. There are other things tech wise you can upgrade, but Nav and sound are the two most popular. Plus, the more you upgrade the more likely you have a chance at electrical failure. It’s rare, but it happens. Stick to a new head unit, possibly with a nice Nav system that has Apple Car Play/Andriod Auto and you’re good to go.
So that’s it. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a dip****? Let me have it in the comments.