March Of The Mods
With the rise in popularity of such shows as “Pimp My Ride” customisation and modification is a hobby that many drivers see as adding value to their vehicle. But British Car Auctions (BCA), the UK’s leading vehicle auction company, warns that when it comes to resale, modifications can actually devalue the car.
Tim Naylor, Editor of BCA’s Used Car Market Report, is warning car owners to think carefully before changing the look and performance of their vehicle. “The majority of motorists are wary of any upgrades that are retro-fitted, particularly on younger cars, where there are concerns that this might void any warranties,” said Tim Naylor. “And by modifying a standard car you are actually reducing your potential audience of buyers.
“Of course, there are some exceptions, such as the professional aftermarket body-kits from approved suppliers, such as AMG or Alpina, or the bespoke rebuilds by Project Kahn. But generally, if it isn’t a factory fit, then it is unlikely to add value and may even cause steeper depreciation. If you want to maintain the value of your car, choose your mods very carefully.”
And the main point to think about is that modification is a very personal choice. One man’s meat is another man’s poison – to put it another way. In a nutshell; what you might think looks good on your car might not appeal to someone who may want to buy it.
Let’s have a look at what BCA feel that the most popular upgrades do to the value of a car.
Depending on the car, these can add value, but they have to be the right car. Mismatching car and wheels will potentially reduce its resale value, and if those alloy wheels are damaged, get them fixed before selling.
VALUE CHANGES: + £200 on the right car, or devalue by a similar amount on the wrong vehicle.
Hands-Free-Kits/Blue Tooth/Wi-Fi/Comms Packs
Factory fitted Communications Packs add some value, but aftermarket kits less so. ‘Phone-specific hands-free-kits should be professionally removed before sale and any damage to the dash repaired.
VALUE CHANGES: Factory fitted communications packs may + £100/£150.
Re-sprays and graphics
This is where personal choice has the biggest effect. These days motorists tend to prefer relatively sober, manufacturer shades, with silver remains the most popular used car colour, ahead of Black, Blue, Grey and Red. White has got hugely popular on new cars in the past two or three years but still only represents 3% of the total monthly sales at BCA. According to BCA, any re-spray is looked on with some suspicion because it will be assumed that it is covering up some accident damage and if the car has a particularly individual colour scheme it could be hard to sell on. When it comes to graphics, vinyl is best because these graphics can be professionally removed before sale.
VALUE CHANGES: More likely to significantly devalue the car.
Body skirts, spoilers, wheel arches etc
This all depends if the job is done professionally and well maintained or not. If so, it may attract certain buyers, but generally these additions are more likely to devalue the car, because they scream out ‘boy racer’. Adding wide arches and fat tyres is a double whammy, because few motorists want to drive something that looks like a stock car and the specialist tyres are relatively much more expensive to replace.
VALUE CHANGES: Could +£250 or lose as much as £500
Lowered Suspension Kits/Body Lighting/Under lighting
Generally in the UK, because there are so many speed bumps around, used car buyers generally do not see the benefit in lowering a car’s suspension as the slightest bump may damage the bodywork. And extraneous lighting systems are unlikely to add any value outside of a very small, select audience.
VALUE CHANGES: More likely to devalue the car.
Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems
Adding a stainless steel exhaust system is a way of increasing brake horsepower without modding the engine, but has little effect on value in the used market.
VALUE CHANGES: Could +£50/£100 to the right buyer
Modern engines are effectively governed by computers (ECUs) and chipping or remapping the engine management system is the popular way to increase a car’s performance – not just top speed, but throttle response, economy and towing ability. However, any manufacturer warranty won’t cover damage caused as a result of chipping. This means that re-sale values can be affected because potential buyers will be wary of any future engine issues and there is also the added ‘problem’ that insurance companies need to be informed as it is very likely premiums will rise in line with any performance gains.
VALUE CHANGES: More likely to devalue the car.
Very fashionable, but really only an appeal in the high value ‘Top Car’ market where privacy is important; darkened windows on more modest cars can look, at the very least, pretentious. Retro-tints are generally on the ‘No’ list and there are a lot of legal problems over the darker tints. The legal tint limit for side windows in front of the B Post (front passenger windows) must allow 70% of light through, while front windscreens must allow 75% of light through. Anything above that and potential buyers will have to allow for the cost of replacing both windscreen and passenger windows.
VALUE CHANGES: Might +£100 on select high-value cars but overtinted windows could devalue the car by several hundred pounds (and that’s without the legal issues!)
Once again, it is better to get this fitted professionally. Generally, most used car buyers are happy with a CD/Radio unit that works, and are not that bothered about having state of the art equipment delivering crystal clear clarity at 99+ decibels and a noise abatement order from the highway patrol!. MP3 compatibility is becoming increasingly important, as is iPod compatability and buyers again like integral factory-fitted systems.
VALUE CHANGES: None (but might make the car more saleable to the right buyer)
Tim Naylor concludes, “Before adding any retro-fitted extras, sellers should take into account that used car buyers, as a group, have traditionally had very conservative tastes so any additions should be carefully considered. While you may fancy lowered suspension, tinted windows and some fancy paintwork, it could cost more than you bargained for when it comes to reselling the vehicle.”
So think before you tink(er),