Home Cars 30 Expensive Car Mods That Are Completely Useless

30 Expensive Car Mods That Are Completely Useless

Cameron Eittreim January 29, 2021

The market for automotive customization has grown exponentially since the earlier days of the automotive industry. Automotive accessories account for a major part of the market and what we spend customizing our vehicles. Some of these accessories can improve performance and exterior appearance while others are expensive but still downright useless.

The feeling and joy of owning a new vehicle can make it addicting to start personalizing. However, many mods are illegal or simply a waste of money. We took a look at 30 expensive mods that are still somehow useless via Goliath below.

Photo Credit: Mopar

30: Oversized Spoilers

From the advent of the original “Fast and the Furious” movie, too many drivers wanted to “rice” out their Honda Civic or Acura Integra. One of the most obvious ways to do this was with a giant spoiler. There is no real benefit in slapping an oversized spoiler onto the decklid of your car. You are going to have to drill holes into it and eventually remove the spoiler at some point. An oversized spoiler won’t give you better gas mileage either.

SRT HellCat
Photo Credit: Mopar

Although the tuner’s look and feel can be addictive, don’t take it overboard. Nothing is worse than seeing a car that looks like it was pieced together on the road. You aren’t going to increase your speed by turning your car into a life-size Hot Wheel.

2014 SRT Viper TA (Time Attack)
Photo Credit: MOPAR

29: Fake Performance Badges

Badge engineering is a common practice in the automotive world on the business side. You take a great model and slap a different product name on it for the same result. But another common practice with consumers is to falsely badge a performance vehicle. Sticking an AMG sticker on your friend’s C-Class doesn’t make it an AMG. Many of these performance badges are expensive to get, as are the modifications.

Dodge Viper SRT-12
Photo Credit: Mopar

Mimicking the look and feel of a performance car isn’t cheap, many aftermarket bumpers, wheels, and more can cost quite a bit. You’re not going to build an AMG by hand, so why waste the money on trying to put on a fake front? Fake performance badges are an extreme waste of money.

Ford Explorer Police
Photo Credit: Ford

28: Radar Detector

As with any act of lawlessness, there is a sense of victory that comes with it. A radar detector is a way that most speeders can try and avoid costly tickets, but they are a waste of money. Most items you are still going to get hooked up by the highway patrol. It doesn’t matter if you have a radar detector or not. Trying to defeat a speed trap generally won’t yield positive results.

2014 Dodge Charger - 2012 Dodge Charger
Photo Credit: Mopar

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the fact that no matter what you do there is no real way to avoid a speeding ticket. Yet thousands of these radar detectors are thrown onto the dashboards of new vehicles every year.

Velocity Stacks
Photo Credit: Stang TV

27: Fake Velocity Stacks

The new C8 Corvette has done a lot to reinvigorate the brand, and with that being said, there’s a unique new item circling the community. This set of fake velocity stacks will set you back a whopping $1495. With that being said the accessory is just that, an accessory. The fake velocity stacks do nothing to increase the performance of the C8, instead only replacing the stock engine cover which is plastic.

Velocity stacks
Photo Credit: Profabrications

The fake velocity stacks that we’re seeing for the C8 Corvette are only an inclination of what’s to come. As electric drivetrains start to dominate the market, the need for faux performance modifications will increase. Yes, that means even more fake velocity stacks are going to be making an appearance.

Lexus FC500
Photo Credit: Car Domain

26: Carbon Fiber Wraps

Something about the tuner crowd and carbon fiber makes for a winning combination. The thing is that you can spend quite a bit on carbon fiber inserts, only to miss out dramatically on any performance increases. Wrapping your car can be quite fashionable and it beats having to pay for an entire paint job. Nevertheless, using a carbon fiber wrap does nothing for the performance of a vehicle.

Photo Credit: CarDomain

This is a fad that has become all too common in the past decade. Sure, you can wrap your vehicle with carbon fiber or add inserts. But all you are doing is putting on a front of false performance, and this isn’t what most true enthusiasts are looking for.

Photo Credit: Ford

25: The “Bro-Dozer Lift”

Time and time again you see obscenely high pickup trucks driving around town, and the common misconception is that these vehicles can go anywhere. That couldn’t be further from the truth, just because a truck has a high ground clearance doesn’t guarantee offroad capability.

Photo Credit: Ford

The Bro-Dozer fad has taken the pickup truck market by storm, unfortunately from a performance standpoint, nothing has changed. Bro-dozers are a fad in the automotive community that has been around for decades. Nowadays, lifted trucks are more or less concrete princesses instead of actual offroad vehicles.

Subaru WRX
Photo Credit: Subaru

24: Performance Coilovers

Have you ever seen a sports car that was slammed to the ground? Well, nowadays it seems like anyone who has a sports car is trying to slam it to the ground. Does this do anything for the performance? No, but it looks cool. Nevertheless, doing a suspension job can be a costly investment and the result isn’t that promising. You are going to spend more replacing tires and getting alignments than enjoying your car.

Subaru WRX
Photo Credit: Subaru

The market for these accessories is huge and growing. But unless you are set on owning a lowered or stanced vehicle, there just aren’t any benefits. The lowered vehicles are an enthusiast item that a certain sort of driver mindset enjoys.

Bentley interior
Photo Credit: Bentley

23: Booming Stereo System

We’ve all heard that car that drives down the road rumbling the walls. We wonder how the change in automotive technology will affect the future of aftermarket sound systems. The overdone sound systems are as old as the car culture itself. There’s just something about driving down the boulevard where everyone can hear you. But oftentimes these sound systems are taken far overboard.

Porsche Cayenne via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Enthusiasts will spend thousands on a competition sound system just to make themselves deaf. Even the best sound system in the world will not improve the performance of your vehicle, and will just in fact end up adding more weight to it.

Photo Credit: BMW

22: Xenon Blue Headlights

You’ve probably seen these lights creeping up everywhere over the past couple of years. What used to be relegated to the tuner community has now been implemented by many more drivers. Nevertheless, the fact is that the blue headlights are a true fashion statement. These annoying, ultra-bright headlights do nothing to improve your car’s performance. Most of the time the owners are just looking for a way to stand out.

Photo Credit: BMW

Xenon headlights are just an expensive mod that has no real purpose on your vehicle. Well, no real purpose other than blinding the drivers who are in front of you, which is quite annoying to say the least. These headlights will remain popular for quite some time.

Photo Credit: Discount Tire

21: Brand Sticker Decals

Another mod that has gained popularity since the 2000s is to slap a collection of brand stickers all over your car. We’re not sure what the Nike Swoosh is going to do for performance but people still do this. Brand stickers can be expensive to order, especially in the larger sizes that are needed to coat these car windows. In addition to that, the stickers do nothing to give your car a real boost in performance.

BMW Drift Car
Photo Credit: BMW

The fact that you’d flaunt how much money you have only made your car a lot more susceptible to theft. In the long run, this isn’t something that you should push for. Especially if you are in one of the most stolen vehicles such as a Honda Civic.

Lifted Silverado
Photo Credit: GM

20: Polyurethane Steering Rack Bushings

The steering system in your vehicle is one of the most costly aspects to maintain. As the vehicle gets older, these parts tend to wear and eventually fall apart. With the rack and pinion, the bushings are generally rubber and very fragile. You’ll notice as you are doing brake changes that these bushings tend to disintegrate altogether. Replacement can be costly and time-consuming, which is why you would think that Polyurethane Steering Rack Bushings are worth the cost.

Photo Credit: GM

Sadly, that is not the case though, as these bushings wear out just as bad. If you are rough driving or taking your vehicle off-road you are going to blow through suspension pieces no matter what you do. While parts manufacturers would like you to think otherwise, you’ll be greatly disappointed.

Range Rover
Photo Credit: CarDomain

19: Winter Tires

Some areas of the country have it pretty rough in the winter season. So logically speaking, a winter set of tires would make sense. But what do you do in the summertime? Well, a lot of drivers don’t think that through and they lose mileage in the long run. A good all-season tire is an excellent alternative because you’ll get durable traction in all weather conditions.

Range Rover
Photo Credit: CarDomain

With all of the hoopla surrounding offroad lift kits and wheels, you’d think that winter tires would be the way to go. But unfortunately, this is not the case in any sense of the word. You’ll end up spending a lot more on a set of winter radials than you would by just getting some all-season rubber for your vehicle.

Photo Credit: Ford

18: Cold Air Intake

The most common modification for any newbie to their vehicle is a whopping cold air intake. But just adding a giant air hose to your intake isn’t always the best option. When a vehicle comes from the factory, it’s programmed to operate at a certain degree of air and fuel mixture. By circumventing this, you are going to cause a lot of unwanted issues if the vehicle is not properly returned.

1965 Mustang
Photo Credit: Ford

To simply just throw an air intake on and think that you are going to get massive gains in performance is just a downright stupid idea. Yet a lot of drivers go ahead and do just that, at the same time negatively impacting the vehicle.

Subaru BRZ
Photo Credit: Subaru

17: Harness

So you’ve got the boy racer in chains look going on huh? Well, a racing harness seems like the logical next step. Unfortunately for the random everyday driver, this is not something that you need to invest your hard-earned money into. Having a racing harness in your car can seem like a cool thing to do, but in reality, you’ll never use it.

500X Via Car And Driver
Photo Credit: Car and Driver

Unless you are going around a track at 200 mph, the racing harness is only going to be uncomfortable. On top of that, you are going to have to contend with the maintenance and upkeep such as getting the harness tightened and inspected.

Interior racing seats
Photo Credit: SVT

16: Racing Seats

Some cars come with racing seats right from the factory. These are great and you’d probably spend a good deal of money on that option. But to throw racing seats in your Ford Explorer just doesn’t make sense. You’re going to spend more time dreaming of being on the road than actually enjoying the seating.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

Racing seats are very stiff and not suitable for a long drive. Thus, many drivers end up making the switch to racing seats after a short while. In addition to that, the racing seats are generally very expensive to get, and if you want quality it will cost you even more.

Ultima Evolution
Photo Credit: Car and Driver

15: Limited Slip Differential

Do you ever notice when you do a donut that only one of the wheels is spinning? Probably not, but for those of us in the car business that your differential. Thus, a lot of people are opting to purchase a limited-slip differential. The thing is that for the average driver you aren’t going to need this often heinously expensive upgrade. Most anything that has to do with the rear end of the vehicle is going to cost a great bit of money.

Photo Credit: Ferrari

Getting the performance from this aspect of the vehicle is just useless and expensive. You aren’t going to be taking most vehicles out on the track, and naturally, that means that you aren’t going to get a whole lot of performance increases.

Photo Credit: Ferrari

14: Car Bras

This isn’t a joke because there are bras for your car. These are generally used for longer trips where you’ll acquire a lot of paint damage. Freeway driving especially is tough on a new vehicle’s paint job, and having a bra can be a great way to protect it. But for most of us, we will only do a trip like this every once in a while, and thus the use of a car bra is minuscule at best.

Photo Credit: Ferrari

Although most people think that a car bra can improve the exterior appearance of a vehicle, that is not generally the case. There are variations of car bra that you can choose from, but the most commonplace selections can be quite expensive.

Ford Explorer
Photo Credit: Ford

13: Trunk Organizer

Another popular type of modification for vehicles is the trunk organizer. While most commonly purchased for SUVs or minivans these are practically useless. How often will be packing the actual cargo area? Not too often, which is why many consumers just steer clear of these altogether. But you have that portion of the market that will dump larger amounts of money into a specific trunk organizer.

2017 Ford Explorer - 2020 Ford Explorer
Photo Credit: Ford

Sure, there are plenty of choices on the market, but if you think about it this is an accessory that will seldom be used. Trunk organizers are one of the more useless accessories you can get for your vehicle.

Chevrolet Donk
Photo Credit: GM

12: Bluetooth Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Perhaps one of the more unique items to come out is the Bluetooth Tire Pressure Monitoring System. When you start modifying a vehicle, you want the wheels to be a focal point of the design. But keeping an eye on the tire pressure is not always the priority, so a Bluetooth TPMS might seem like an ideal solution. Sadly though, this is something that doesn’t always work exactly how it should.

Donk Caprice
Photo Credit: Donklife

Most of these Bluetooth systems are still in their infancy and the results are generally sporadic. The use of a tire pressure monitor means that you can keep a greater eye on the safety of your vehicle, but these Bluetooth models are just not effective enough.

Ford Raptor
Photo Credit: Ford

11: Extreme Seat Covers

Tricking out the interior of your car can be an expensive and fun thing to do. But we don’t always have the funds to do a full interior overhaul. The most common type of seat cover that seems to be selling extremely well is the real tree camouflage sets. Does a seat cover benefit the interior in any intrinsic way? No, and you’ll spend more time trying to get the right fit on your seats.

Photo Credit: Nissan

For some getting a new set of seat covers can be an exhilarating experience. Nevertheless, you can do a lot better by just saving up and redoing your interior upholstery. Seat covers are a definite waste of money for the most part.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

10: Diesel Smoke Chips

We’ve all been at the red light and had a “bro-dozer” blow a plume of black smoke in our face. This is not a common occurrence from most diesel engines; in fact, these are customized performance chips that are purchased. The problem is that the black plume of smoke doesn’t increase the performance at all, and in the long run it just negatively affects the environment.

Dodge Ram
Photo Credit: Mopar

In some municipalities, these chips are downright illegal although many still opt for them. It is cool that you can tweak your exhaust to make different colors and smells, but in the long run, there is no point to this. Most people who own a diesel truck are going to be using it for hauling and not the other way around.

370Z Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

9: High-End Tunes

Tuning the engine is something that a lot of people in the performance community will do. Tuning can be a great way to unlock the hidden potential of your engine if you are running on the track. But for the average driver, a full tune is not going to unlock any intrinsic benefits and for the most part, your car will be the same. Nevertheless, the popularity of tunes has skyrocketed with more affordable technology.

Nissan 370Z
Photo Credit: Nissan

Pretty much anyone can buy a tuner kit off of the Internet now, but if you aren’t trained on how to use it you can seriously impact your vehicle’s computer system. Once this happens it can cost thousands of dollars to repair the damage.

Photo Credit: Nissan

8: Engine Swaps

For the mechanically inclined person doing an engine, the swap can make a lot of sense. You can upgrade to a more powerful core, such as the GM LS family of engines. This is great if you are in the market for increased performance on the racetrack. Not so much so if you are just the average driver commuting to work though.

Photo Credit: Nissan

Most consumers who invest in an engine swap are looking to redo their entire vehicles. The fact remains that you won’t have to do this, instead, you can focus on improving the performance with the engine you already have.

Photo Credit: Mopar

7: Supercharger

Bolt-on superchargers are another seemingly harmless option for increasing performance. The addition can be quite expensive though, and you can look forward to spending quite a bit on the labor. Even with all of that in place, the actual improvements of the supercharger are minimalistic at best.

Dodge Charger
Photo Credit: Mopar

You need to beef up the other aspects of the engine and most consumers aren’t going to do this. Most supercharger setups are extremely expensive to get going, and the rest of your setup will need to be upgraded as well.

Photo Credit: GM

6: Transmission Swaps

Moving onto more detailed performance modifications can cost a fair bit of money. Because most cars don’t come from the factory with a performance transmission, this is another common modification to do. The problem is that the transmission can be very expensive to replace, sometimes over $3,000 or more.

Silverado Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

You’ll get a better shifting experience but the overall cost isn’t worth it. Unless you are going to be driving on the track or drag racing the difference in a performance transmission is subtle at best. The overall cost of these transmissions is much more than doing the upgrade will be worth for the mainstream.

BMW 850 CI
Photo Credit: Car Domain

5: Interior Reupholstering

You’ve probably watched Pimp My Ride, and as such you see the various custom interiors that can go into vehicles. Nevertheless, the majority of us are not going to put this kind of work into redoing an interior. The most popular form of interior reupholstering is generally in the lowrider community. The vast majority of these owners will spend thousands on a new interior.

Photo Credit: BMW

But for the rest of us, this just isn’t something that we need to do, instead, you can focus funds on other aspects of your vehicle. The aspect of a new interior could be a nice comfortable thing to enjoy, but you’re not going to get your money’s worth in the long run.

Photo Credit: BMW

4: Run Flat Tires

One of the more expensive automotive accessories that you can get is run-flat tires. The thought of having a run-flat tire is appealing because you wouldn’t have to stress about having a blow out on the road. Nevertheless, the actual effectiveness of run-flat tires for the causal driver is debatable. You’ll probably never end up needing a run-flat tire in the long run and for the most part, this is a waste.

850 Gran Coupe Shifter
Photo Credit: BMW

When you couple the long travel times that you’ll likely never take with the cost ratio these tires just don’t make sense. The ability to upgrade the rubber on your vehicle is one of the most expensive habits that we can do.

Photo Credit: Mazda

3: Quick-Ratio Steering Rack

The steering column of your vehicle could affect how the overall performance is on a race track. Fortunately for most drivers, you aren’t going to need this type of response. The average driver will seldom pilot a vehicle with this kind of feedback, and thus modifying the steering rack is just an expensive waste of time. Similarly to standing a vehicle, there is just no point for the average driver.

Photo Credit: Stance Life

Performance can be delivered in a lot of different ways and the steering rack is not that important. Few performance modifications should be done by the average consumer, and the quick-ratio steering rack is just not that important.

Photo Credit: Mazda

2: Performance Rubber Pieces

Throughout the suspension, you’ll notice that the vast majority is made of rubber. The various rubber piece includes parts of the bushing system, the rack and pinion and the rest of the suspension system. While durability is a promising aspect, the cost to value ratio just doesn’t add up. Oftentimes drivers will upgrade these rubber accessories to no avail.

Photo Credit: Mazda

While you can enjoy upgrading every aspect of your car the rubber pieces are probably the least important to change. Most automotive enthusiasts take full advantage of what their cars can do and what upgrading certain parts will do.

Photo Credit: Mazda

1: Chrome Pieces

One of the most popular trends of the new millennium was adding chrome to the exterior of a vehicle. Most drivers find this to enhance the exterior appearance of their vehicle, but for the most part, there is no benefit. These chrome pieces can be expensive, especially if you are upgrading to factory OEM pieces.

LC 500
Photo Credit: Lexus

While you can enhance the look of your car with chrome accents, the cost that is associated with getting it done professionally just isn’t worth it. You’ll notice that the look of chrome accents on most cars just doesn’t look right.

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