Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A woman is hanging out the window of a white car holding car keys.

Tips For Buying and Modifying a Used Car

If you’re hoping to transform a vehicle from its factory-fresh form into an off-road vehicle or speed-demon, there are many ways in which you can do so without breaking the bank. Modifying vehicles is a long-held past-time, and for a good reason. There is a kind of freedom in being able to shape and mold a vehicle to fit your particular vision. That said, modifying a vehicle can get expensive quickly, which is why we and many others suggest buying your car (or clay) from a used car dealership. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as buying from a used car dealership can be just as challenging and complicated as it can be to buy from a brand new vehicle provider.

Why Buy Used?

A car is an investment, sure, but if you’re planning to heavily modify, the last thing you want to do is spend a fortune buying a car that you’ll be changing. When you buy new cars, you’re often strapped with quite a financial burden. While this isn’t that big of a deal for your typical buyer, modifying comes with its own financial demands. So, when purchasing your car, buying used can go a long way in allowing you to adjust your vehicle to fit your specific image.

When you visit a used car dealership, you’ll get the option between buying used and certified pre-owned. This is a big decision, on the one hand, you can spend more and get a relatively newer car that’s arguably in better condition. On the other hand, you can end up with a cheaper vehicle that may not be in as good of condition but gives you more resources to modify and transform your vehicle. So, before you even step foot onto a used car dealership lot, you should first ask yourself what your budget looks like. Proper budgeting goes a long way in your typical car buying process, but when you buy with plans to modify, adhering to a strict budget is incredibly important.

Once you’ve finished budgeting, you may still be asking yourself whether you should buy used or Certified Pre-Owned. Well, for starters, a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is a used model that is in like-new condition. These vehicles are more expensive simply because, in the factory, brand mechanics inspect and refurbish the vehicle to ride and feel like a new model. On top of that, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles often come with manufacturer warranties that add to the cost, warranties that may or may not be voided if you begin doing heavy modifications. For this reason, we suggest that you purchase a vehicle that is simply used, as there is a lower entry cost. And if you buy used from an established dealership, chances are the vehicle has been inspected and repaired by one of their onsite mechanics.

Hands are shaking in front of a white car.

To Buy from a Private Dealer, or Not to Buy from a Private Dealer

Many drivers who are shopping for a used car with the intent of modification often juggle with the idea of whether or not they should buy from a private dealer. Private dealers aren’t the established brick and mortar locations that you’re probably familiar with. These are often other drivers who sell their vehicles straight from the side of the road or even their driveway. While you’ll certainly get far more diversity in terms of vehicle models, your chances of buying a dud are far higher. Although, at the same time, when you buy from a private dealer, you have a better chance of haggling the price down. So, yes, there are some benefits from buying private, but you won’t get the highly trained technical staff of a dealership service center. When you purchase from an established dealership, you are able to get familiar with a more reputable part and servicing provider, which is a big deal when attempting to modify your vehicle.

Buy the Right Model

There are many ways to modify a vehicle. Some drivers are looking to transform their vehicle into an off-road champion; others want to turn their already sporty car into a performance coupe. No matter how you spin it, there are many different ways in which you can modify your vehicle, and certain models excel at certain things.

When you’re buying used, you should first ask yourself, ‘what do I want my car to be able to do,’ and ‘how would I like to modify it?’ These are pretty big questions, as they dramatically determine what kind of vehicle you buy. For instance, if you want to venture into the great outdoors unabated by rough terrain or uneven trail, you’ll want to invest in an SUV or pickup. While a sedan can technically be modified for off-road driving, you’ll have to spend a whole lot more to get it there. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy serious speed and performance, you’ll want to purchase something light on its feet. While any car can be decked out for speed, we suggest sporty coupes that aren’t just aerodynamic but far lighter than a beefy SUV or truck.

Buying the right model can go a long way in not just giving you a great driving experience, but it can help lower just how much you’ll have to spend on the modification process.

A couple is looking at a blue car at a used car dealership.

Modifications from a Parts Team You Trust

So, the time has come to modify your vehicle, but where should you go to get it done? This is a crucial part of the process as you don’t want to take your car into an automotive parts provider that has a less than favorable reputation. You also don’t want to end up spending far more than is necessary. While you can visit your local discount parts and modifications shop, there is no guarantee that they’ll have the knowledge and expertise to work on your particular vehicle. For this reason, we highly recommend that you visit the parts center of the dealership you purchased your car from. Chances are the dealership’s internal service, and parts team will already have a good idea of the vehicle’s inner mechanics. On top of that, these established dealerships tend to have access to manufacturer made parts, which can go a long way in helping you have a smooth modification process.

Buy and Modify Safely

There is no greater joy than buying a car and transforming it into the vehicle of your dreams. Vehicle modification allows you to create a unique driving experience that is almost completely based on your direction, interests, and intentions. Sure, buying new comes with its benefits, but there’s nothing quite like driving a unique vehicle. At first glance, the challenge of buying used and modifying can seem pretty intimidating, but if you take the right steps and do your research ahead of time, you can end up with a car that fits your specific vision through and through.