Do Aftermarket Modifications Add Value to a Car?
No, they do not. Modifications do not add value to your car.
Of course, nothing in life is quite that simple. But in general, aftermarket mods will not increase the resale value of your automobile in a private party transaction. They definitely will not increase the resale value if you’re trying to sell it to a dealership, who may not even accept a car that isn’t stock. However, there are some uncommon instances when high-quality mods that are properly done will increase a vehicle’s value, to certain buyers. The true value of modifications comes only to the person installing and using them the first time, not the next driver to own the car. If you're wondering if you should mod your car, you should purely be thinking about your enjoyment of the vehicle, not its value on the used market.
Which Mods Can Add Value?
Krimpstang's drag strip capability means that it does have more resale value, at least to the smaller demographic of weekend racers.
As Bill notes in the video below, high-quality mods that are tastefully and properly installed can add value to the car, at least in enthusiast circles. The 1996 Krimpstang’s roll bar, Coyote-swap, racing seats, and racing wheels and tires do likely increase its value because they are quality, purpose-driven mods for racing. However, vehicles like this that gain value from mods are almost always going to be intended for the track or the drag strip; street-legal cars are much less likely to see net gains in value from modifications, even if they add power. Moreover, you will never recoup the full value of the money invested into the modifications when it does come time to sell the vehicle.
While the 1996 Cobra might be sought-after for its Mystic paint, the aftermarket mods are very unlikely to lead to a higher sale price.
At the essence of this topic is the reason why enthusiasts add aftermarket modifications to their vehicles: to make it theirs. And if someone has already gone through all the work of customizing their car for themselves and had all the fun of shopping, installing, and using the mods...that doesn’t leave much left for the next owner to do. It’s especially detrimental to the value if you’ve used poor-quality mods, improperly installed non-bolt-on parts, or added anything that could be described as “niche” at best and “distasteful” or “ugly” at worst.
Jeep Wrangler Mods: An Exception to the Rule
There is a notable exception that we’ve seen: Jeep Wranglers. These vehicles are so sought-after and retain so much of their value to begin with, that a few modifications are likely not going to hurt resale. As they come from the factory, the 2019 Jeep Wrangler ranked #1 in the Off-Road SUV/Crossover segment by Kelley Blue Book in their annual Best Resale Value Awards. Plus, on their Top Ten list, the Wrangler was #2 only to the Toyota Tacoma, an equally coveted truck. For both serious off-roaders and those who want the weekender lifestyle image of the Wrangler, it’s worth forking over the cash.
From there, you’d have to really mess things up with tacky, cheap-looking mods to bring the resale value down from those peaks. Moreover, highly-desired add-ons like aftermarket tires or a snorkel could truly contribute to a higher asking price on the private market.
We Don’t Mod to Survive, We Mod to Live
At the end of the discussion, we can confidently say that modding your car will not add resale value in the vast majority of cases. However, it does add enjoyment. If we think back to our Economics 101 class, we may remember the concept of “utils”. This is a theoretical measurement of how much enjoyment (or utility) a consumer receives from using a product or service. We prefer to use the old metric of “smiles per mile,” and that’s where mods truly come into play.
Special project cars can also gain value from their mods, but even a SEMA car won't earn enough to make back the total amount invested!
The reason why stock or unmodified cars (especially those that are popular for modding like Mustangs, Focus STs, and Subarus) are respected on the market is because drivers want to have a blank canvas or a clean slate so that they can add their own preferred personal touches from that point. The flip side of that is exactly why heavily-modded bolt-on cars won’t fetch higher prices on the private market: Unless you’ve perfectly created a vehicle for an individual like you’re hosting “Pimp My Ride,” you’ve taken away all the fun that the next owner would have had modding the car just the way they want. And that’s where the true value of modding cars in the enthusiast community comes from.
So don’t be scared to enjoy your car the way you want to and truly make it your own. If you’re looking to modify your Mustang or add some parts and accessories to your Jeep Wrangler, check out our site for everything on your wishlist.