Coolest Car Mods
So you’ve been bitten by the bug. You just HAVE to modify your car. What are some of the coolest car mods you can do? Well, cool is certainly subjective but I think we can all agree that increasing performance making your car faster is cool. But sometimes, small increases in performance can be difficult for your butt dyno to register. So, let’s also agree that anything that enhances the driving experience through audible feedback or making your car look better is also cool. The coolest though, is actually gaining a measurable, objective benefit in the form of horsepower. We’ll go over the ways to achieve that too. Since the majority of the vehicles supported by COBB are turbocharged we’ll approach this list from a turbo vehicle perspective. With all that in mind, let’s marinate on some of the best car modifications you can do.
If you’ve already read the “How to Make Your Car Sound Better” post then you already know. But, in case you haven’t, making your car sound better is one of the coolest car mods. Enhancing the audible feedback can make the driving experience a lot more fun and will often come with some slight performance gains as a bonus.
When you hear noise from the engine it comes from air moving in or out. This is typically from one of two ends; the intake or the exhaust side. Opening up either end with different modifications in an easy way to intensify any drive making it one of the best car modifications.
An upgraded intake is first on the list for one of the best car mods. It checks all the boxes by adding to the aesthetic under the hood, potentially adds some horsepower, and best of all, sounds amazing!
The intake is the front-line of your engine’s operations. It intakes the air and distributes it to the turbocharger. If there is a restriction here, an upgrade can yield some significant power gains. Fortunately, for most vehicles, especially those that are factory turbocharged, the intake tends to be fairly well designed from the factory. This means that power gains are typically negligible unless additional significant modifications are added which require airflow beyond what the factory intake can provide. But, even with that in mind, the intake still looks and sound incredible. Most enthusiasts don’t realize just how much louder the intake can be. If you’re converting a closed box intake system to an open filter with a lot more surface area, you’ll definitely hear the difference.
As if that weren’t enough, an upgraded aftermarket intake can actually save you money! The COBB SF intake comes with a reusable filter that will last the life of your vehicle. Most users typically wash and re-oil their filter annually or every ~12k miles. Your mileage may vary depending on the conditions your vehicle operates. In any case, most upgraded intakes will have these types of filters which saves you the cost of ever buying a new filter again!
The exhaust is another common upgrade enthusiasts like to perform. Exhaust upgrades affect the sound and have power potential. If you decide to go with a titanium version like the one pictured above, there are also tremendous weight savings. There are several components to the exhaust system and you have the option to upgraded some or all of these components. The more parts that are upgraded, the more performance potential. Let’s go over each of the parts that make up the exhaust system.
Starting with the rear of the car, you’ll see exhaust tips and typically mufflers just beyond that. These are typically crammed in just behind the axle. If you wanted to upgrade only this section, you would purchase an axle-back exhaust system. This will typically offer limited performance gains but will offer enhanced sound though the upgraded mufflers.
A cat-back exhaust upgrade is one of the most common modifications. The cat-back includes the axle-back section above and additionally a midpipe. This midpipe links the piece of the exhaust with the catalytic converter to the axle-back. A cat-back exhaust will make the car sound better but, like the axle-back, will do little to add power gains. This is especially true with factory turbocharged vehicles that tend to have a well flowing cat-back exhaust already from the factory.
A downpipe is the section of the exhaust from the turbocharger to the end of the catalytic converter. Because it comes down from the turbo, it is called a downpipe. This section is typically the most restrictive and an upgrade here can free up some power potential.
A turboback exhaust is all of the above combined. It goes from the turbo charger to the back of the car. This is the best modification as it is an upgrade for the full exhaust system and offers the potential for increased power along with the audible and looks benefits of the additional exhaust sections.
Generally, those components closest to the turbo will provide the most restriction. If adding performance is your main focus, a downpipe only may suit your needs. If you’re wanting to make the car louder and aren’t concerned with performance, an axle-back may be the way to go.
Now that we’ve covered some of the modifications that add to the aesthetics and sounds our car makes, let’s see how to take advantage of those even further by using them to make more power. The best way to accomplish this is through tuning. Not only is tuning beneficial for horsepower but, chances are, If you’ve got an intake or a downpipe as a modification, it will need the appropriate tune to go along with it. The easiest way of how to tune your car is with the Accessport.
Off The Shelf Maps
COBB Tuning provides several off the shelf maps for each vehicle supported by the Accessport. These maps are designed to offer performance gains for completely stock vehicles along with those that have specific bolt-on modifications. There are also valet, economy, or anti-theft maps for most platforms. To see what all is available for your vehicle, along with the power gains and modification requirements for each map, head over to our calibrations section and select your vehicle.
If you have modifications outside of our list here, you may need a custom tune. Luckily, there is a massive network of Protuners that can use your Accessport and Accesstuner software to create a custom tune specific to your vehicle. This means they can accommodate any modification list, fuel type, and push the power limits, all via custom tuning. For more details on custom tuning, visit a Protuner near you.
Wheels and Tires
Tires probably aren’t the coolest but they are are definitely one of the best modifications you can do. If you couple that with a nice set of wheels, it doesn’t get much cooler. Nothing changes the way your car looks than a nice set of wheels. The most important considerations when shopping for wheel and tire combos is size. Being able to have a wheel that accepts a larger tire giving a bigger contact patch but still fits within the confinements of the wheel well is the best bet.
Traction is one of the most important factors but is often overlooked. You can have all the horsepower in the world but if your tires are spinning in place, failing to get that power to the ground, your car won’t be any faster. So how do we improve traction? Tires!
Tires are one of the most critical pieces of equipment on your vehicle. They come in a ton of different specs which can make it be hard to determine which ones may best for your car. The most important things to consider when choosing the right tires for your needs are size and compound.
Tire size is crucial. The wider the tire, the more contact with the road surface that tire can achieve. That area of contact between the tire and the road surface is called the contact patch. Generally, the wider the contact patch, the better. But, there is a limit to how wide you can go. Be sure to consider the width of your wheels and whether going too much wider will interfere with any inner fender or suspension components.
Tire compound is also important. Generally, the softer the compound, the more grip a tire will have. In a racing situation where you want your car to go faster having a softer tire will be best. The downside is that softer tires will wear faster. Each tire will have a Uniform Tire Quality Grade Standard or UTQG rating. This rating standard was originated to help inform consumers on tires based on their relative treadwear, traction, and temperature capabilities. Traction grades of “AA” are best but come with a low treadwear grade meaning the tire will wear out more quickly.
Wheel and tire upgrades can be expensive. Luckily, you can likely get more traction out of your current set!
Remember that contact patch from above? We can increase the contact patch with our current tires by simply reducing tire pressure. Lowering the pressure will cause the tire to compress against the road surface more, increasing the area of the contact patch, and thus increase traction.
There are other ways to get better traction at no additional cost. Those big smoky burnouts at the dragstrip aren’t just for show! Ever see cars on the track swerving back and forth during yellow flags? Both examples are working towards the same goal which is to increase heat in the tires. Generally, a warmer tire provides more grip improving traction.
Alright. You’ve got your tires ready. They’re hot. Pressure dialed in. But now you’re still having an issue of spinning or bogging down off the line. The solution? Launch control.
This modification incorporates tires and tuning. Launch Control doesn’t necessarily improve traction but it does help you more effectively use the traction you have available. Also, it sounds cool having a rev limiter for launching off the line. The launch control feature is available on the Accessport for most platforms.
It can be difficult to hold the RPMs steady to get a good launch, especially in a manual transmission car. COBB’s Launch Control feature allows you to floor the gas pedal at the starting line and hold a specific RPM. This enables the potential to build boost off the line and allows for more consistent launches. This value is adjusted to adapt to the current surface, tires, power, or weather conditions! Spinning out of the hole? Lower the RPM! Bogging? Raise it up! A good launch is crucial for fast and consistent ETs. Having a couple of tenths advantage in the first 60 feet of any race can mean the difference in winning and losing even if your competition has more power.