Buying a new car can be so exciting (hello, new car smell!). But sometimes, all you need is to simply upgrade what you currently drive. And the good news is it can be surprisingly painless to make your car feel new again. Check out which modifications can breathe life into your current ride.

Make your car feel new with structural modifications


Depending on your car’s age, it might be time for a new set of tires. Kelley Blue Book recommends replacing the tires every 25,000-50,000 miles, depending on wear and tear, usage, and ongoing maintenance. A shiny new set of tires can make your car grip the road that much more, adding safety and security to your vehicle. Plus, brand new tires don’t look too shabby either.

Headlights and/or fog lights

Replacing the headlights can also make a world of difference — both in terms of safety as well as sprucing up your old ride. Depending on your vision for the car as well as how much you want to spend, you can choose from simply cleaning or changing the current headlight covers to adding aftermarket LED bulbs. If you’re happy with your current headlights but want to add a little something extra, you could also consider installing fog lights.

Intake and exhaust system

Another upgrade that’ll give your car an extra boost: a new intake and exhaust system. Adding more air flow to the engine and creating space for exhaust to leave essentially gives your car more horsepower, making it growl like a brand-new whip.

Make your car feel new with electronic upgrades

While structural modifications can help give your current vehicle more oomph and make it safer on the road, electronic upgrades can make an older car that much more current. Here are some aftermarket features that’ll help make your car “smarter.”

Remote start

Even if your car didn’t come with the option of a remote start, you can add one. Aftermarket remote start systems run the gamut of prices depending on features —from simply starting the car to extras like keyless entry, smartphone compatibility, and defrost settings. Think about which options matter most before making the final decision.

Stereo and/or speaker revamp

A perfect way to breathe new life into your current ride is to upgrade the stereo and/or speaker system. If it’s too expensive to upgrade all at once, you could also do it in stages.

Touchscreen dash display

Chances are, if you have an older vehicle, you got it before cars started coming equipped with touchscreen dash displays. The good news is you can add aftermarket in-dash touch displays. Whether you want a touchscreen radio, in-dash navigation, or wireless connection, there are plenty of options at a variety of price points.

Added electronic safety features

Newer cars now come standard with a number of electronic safety features that your older car might be lacking. But, as with many other elements, you can add some of these to your ride to modernize it without buying a whole new car. Some of these modern electronic safety features include:


  • Backup camera
  • Lane-departure systems
  • Forward collision warnings
  • Vehicle security systems
  • Blind spot detection

Aesthetic changes

Of course, there are also some aesthetic modifications that can make it look as good as new.

Custom wrap

A custom wrap can give your old car a new look in terms of finish. And though it’s not cheap, it’s typically less expensive than a high-quality paint job — and definitely cheaper than buying a new car.

New wheels/rims

If you want to smarten up your older ride, check out new wheels and rims. Swapping them out will definitely brighten up any vehicle.

Upgraded seats

Over time, car seats can get stained, start to crack, and generally show signs of wear and tear. Upgrading the seats can not only make the interior of your vehicle look better, but they just might make you also feel better while driving. If replacing the whole seats costs more than you want to spend, try simply swapping out the seat covers. They’ll still look better than before, but without the hefty price tag.

And, speaking of the seats, you might be shocked to see what a good cleaning can do for the interior of your car

Modifications could affect your insurance

Don’t forget that any significant modifications, including customized parts and equipment, could affect your coverage. Be sure to check in with your insurer before making any major changes to your ride.

And if you find that you want to upgrade your insurer too, we’ve here to help. Get a free car insurance quote today and see how much you could save.

DIY hacks | For your car | Car tech


about Hannah

Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, and making sure she gets in at least 10,000 Fitbit steps a day.