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BCA Warns Against Pimping Your Ride

British Car Auctions warns that modifying or customising your car could cost you more than you think.

‘Pimping your ride’ by adding modifications remains a popular hobby, particularly for young drivers seeking street cred. But as well as resulting in stiff increases in insurance (or even disquqlification from insurtance) it can seriously devalue a car's retail value.

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. When it comes to customising vehicles, BCA’s used car experts believe that less is definitely more for those who want to maintain the resale value of their vehicle.

"The majority of owners 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.”

BCA reveals what the most popular upgrades do to a car’s value:

Alloy Wheels

On the right car, these can add value, but mismatching car and wheels will potentially reduce its resale value. If alloy wheels are damaged, consider using SMART repair services to correct any faults before selling the car. These could add £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 Comms Packs add some value, aftermarket kits less so. ‘Phone-specific hands-free-kits should be professionally removed before sale and any damage to the dash repaired. Factory fitted comms packs may add £100/£150.

Re-sprays and graphics

Fashion changes very quickly, but generally motorists prefer relatively sober, manufacturer shades. BCA’s research shows that silver remains the most popular used car colour, ahead of Black, Blue, Grey and Red. White has become hugely popular on new cars in the past two or three years but still only represents 3% of the total monthly sales at BCA. In the used market, any re-spray is looked on with suspicion because it will be assumed that it is covering up some crash damage and if the car has a particularly individual colour scheme it could be hard to sell on. Vinyl graphics are good because they can be professionally removed before sale.

Body skirts, spoilers, wheel arches etc

If professionally done and well maintained, this might attract certain buyers, but generally these additions are more likely to devalue the car, because they scream ‘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. Could add around £250 or lose as much as £500

Lowered Suspension Kits/Body Lighting/Under lighting

The prevalence of speed humps around Britain’s roads mean used car buyers generally do not see the benefit in lowering a car’s suspension. The slightest bump may prove hazardous to the bodywork. And extraneous lighting systems are unlikely to add any value outside of a small, select audience. Morte 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.  Could add £50/£100 to the right buyer

Engine Chips/Remapping

With modern engines effectively governed by computers (ECUs), chipping or remapping the engine management system is a 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 and re-sale values can be affected because potential buyers will be wary of any future engine issues. Insurance companies also need to be informed as it is very likely premiums will rise in line with any performance gains. More likely to devalue the car.

Window Tints

Can appeal in the high value ‘Top Car’ market where privacy windows are very fashionable, but darkened windows on more modest cars can look pretentious (and on the windscreen and front side windows can be illegal). Retro-tints are generally disliked and there are issues over legality on darker tints that motorists are now more aware of. 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 be factoring in the cost of a new windscreen and passenger windows. Might add £100 (on select high-value cars). Overtinted windows could devalue the car by several hundred pounds (and that’s without the legal issues.)

In-car entertainment.

Once again, factory fits are best. Overall, most used car buyers are happy with a CD/Radio unit that works, and are not concerned about having state of the art equipment delivering crystal clear clarity at 99+ decibels. MP3 compatibility is increasingly important and buyers again like integral factory-fitted systems. No increase in value, 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 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.”

More at www.british-car-auctions.co.uk 

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