Automakers build wide ranges of cars, trucks, and SUVS because they know every buyer has a specific range of needs when it comes to their vehicle. But even with the huge range of options available on so many different makes and models these days, many car owners get used to seeing the exact same car that they just drove off the lot every day, multiple times a day.
The urge to customize a car often becomes a black hole, sucking money, time, and effort into a neverending cycle of addition and modification—and every mechanic just loves it when a customer walks in hoping to get a few more horses out of their Civic or Corolla. And maybe a spoiler. Or a body kit, who knows.
The internet might make tuning and modding seem like a good idea, generally, but keep scrolling for 15 mods most people think are harmless that can actually blow up a car quite quickly.
15 Cold Air Intake
Many modders swear by their cold air intakes, which replace the factory air box—typically in the engine bay—for the presumed idea of easier airflow by cooler air. Unfortunately, most cold air intakes actually result in an engine being fed hot air because the installation removes the intake from outside the car. And pushing hot air into an engine just isn't smart.
14 Gapped Plugs
Most drivers never even think about replacing their spark plugs, and there's a good chance most dealerships just skip out on this little step when they tell their clients they've performed a "major service" that could also include coil pack replacement. But plenty of modders gap their plugs at home, an easy way to lead to misfires as worse.
Dominic Toretto and Mad Max might have huge blowers popping out of their hoods, blocking lines of sight while sucking in massive quantities of air to bump horsepower up into the quadruple digits. But most engines won't be able to handle serious power increases without serious internal improvements—failing to do so is a great way to blow up an engine.
12 Twin Turbos
Superchargers typically run at lower boost levels than turbochargers, which is evened out by the fact that they provide instantaneous pressure rather than requiring some time to spool up. But turbos are undoubtedly more effective once they're roaring, so twin-turbos must be a great idea, right? Wrong. Don't bolt on those snails without a full engine rebuild first!
11 Water Injection
As counterintuitive as it might sound to add water to an intake system, the technique can actually improve an engine's power output. But anyone with a normal car who might be considering a water injection kit needs to sit down and do the math: wouldn't it be better to just spend the cash on a better car with more power to begin with?
Slamming and bagging cars may seem like it puts them lower to the ground so that they can go fast like a race car, but in reality, this is a silly trend that needs to end now. Not only do Stance Nation bros ruin their cars' handling, but they're much more likely to tear off an oil pan, leading to an engine blowing up because of either lack of lubrication or straight-up oil fire.
Throwing some enormous rims on a donk creates a cartoonish look for cars while simultaneously ruining their ability to drive comfortably. Not only are the tires typically thin as blades but the entire drivetrain of the car, especially the axles, has to be torqued in strange ways. The strain on a differential and engine might just be enough to cause serious problems, especially on a hot day.
8 Rolling Coal
Rolling coal might be the single dumbest mod in the universe. Making a huge pickup truck spew smoke just to make hippies in Priuses angry is worse than a one-note song, it's more like a standup comedian standing up and telling the same joke on repeat. Obviously, this is one mod to avoid if you love your car or truck more than you hate greenie-weenies.
7 Huge Exhaust
Whether tuners and modders want to add enormous exhaust systems to their cars for the looks, the sound, or the dubious performance gains, huge tips like on the Camaro above aren't doing anyone any favors. Not only are those pipes more likely to scorch the rear bumpers and possibly light it on fire, but exhaust like that probably got installed by a teenager behind a shed.
Underglow lights might seem like about as harmless a mod as there is on the market, but guess again. The main reason underglow lights have been outlawed in many regions is that they're a distraction factor for other drivers. But a secondary concern is that whoever is willing to install the lights on a car despite many bans is probably an amateur who is equally likely to route an electrical wire directly through the fuel tank and then right over an exhaust pipe.
5 Whistle Tips
Whistle tips got big for a hot second because of a few hilarious videos coming out of Oakland. Sure, they're not entirely dangerous on their own—even if mucking around with exhaust is a pretty bad idea, generally, given the heat of the system. But driving with whistle tips is a great way to stop focusing on driving rationally and start focusing on making the sound get louder and louder—until that wall shows up and ruins the afternoon.
4 ECU Controller
The idea that a computer device could plug into a car's OBD-II port and control all the functions that make it go faster seems almost too futuristic to be true. And yet, the future must be now because companies like Cobb have released exactly this kind of tech. But the urge to turn up the boost to 30 psi and feel that thrust might prove too strong, leading to premature engine failure the second day after installation.
3 Body Kits
Anyone who thinks the body kit above looks good needs to have their head examined. And anyone who works at an auto body shop who is willing to install the body kit above on a car should be fired immediately. What could go wrong with bolting on pieces of flimsy plastic, creating extra drag, and increasing the likelihood of bottoming out on a regular basis?
2 Methanol Injection
Drag racers might use insane combinations of flammable and explosive substances to power their engines—but those engines only have to be reliable for a quarter-mile at a time. Adding methanol injection to a factory engine is a sure-fire route to improve quarter-mile times while making grocery store runs as dangerous as the strip.
Movies like The Fast and the Furious and Gone in 60 Seconds make NOS out as some kind of magical substance that requires only the push of a button to send a car into hyperdrive. But the reason nitrous-oxide can boost a car so effectively is that it's more explosive than gasoline, which makes it a bad substance to have some amateur bolt into the trunk of a tiny sports car.
Sources: Jalopnik, IMDb, and Wikipedia.