Want to spruce up your car without spending much cash? Here are the best DIY budget car mods we could think of!

If you’re smart with your upgrades, modifying a car can be more affordable than you might imagine. To prove it, we’ve compiled a list of as many budget car mods we could think of that cost less than 100 quid. Most of them cost much less than half that, and some are even totally free!

However, this list of budget car mods does come with a word of warning. Not all of them will work on your car. And it isn’t a case of the more of these you can throw at it the merrier.

But a careful selection of a few choice upgrades from our list will see your car looking or performing better than before. So, let’s take a closer look at the best DIY budget car mods you can do today!

Budget car mods under $10/£10

removing badges is a brilliant budget car mod

1 – De-Badging

There are a number of reasons why you might want to de-badge your car. Maybe your badges have discolored or delaminated over time and their crummy appearance is letting the car down. Maybe you don’t want everyone to know that you’re driving a 1.1 or a Popular Plus. And the number one reason that most people do it (for the same reason that they like to remove their rear wipers) is that it cleans up the lines of the car. Everyone likes a smooth rear end, right?

It’s a piece of cake to do, too. All you need is a hair-dryer and some fishing wire: heat the badge up so the glue softens, then slowly and gently drag the wire behind it to separate it from the car. Then all you’ve got to do is remove any residue with some adhesive remover.

2 – Tow Strap

It is designed as a recovery aid for track cars, so tow straps have become a common upgrade on street cars too – mainly because they look cool.

Removing weight is a budget car mod

3 – Remove Weight

Lighter cars are faster cars. Fact. So bin anything you don’t need for a free performance boost. Improving your power-to-weight ratio will make better use of your car’s power, and reducing weight is easy. You can start by removing all the junk in your boot that you don’t need to be carrying about, emptying out the glovebox and cubbyholes, and then think about what else you don’t need.

Ever carry passengers in the back? If not, the rear seats can go. Don’t mind a bit of noise? All that heavy sound deadening can go in the bin. Your stereo system along with its speakers and all the wiring can weigh a surprising amount. And maybe skip that second round of toast at breakfast time. It all adds up.

4 – Gloss Black Plastics

Your plastics have a habit of fading over time. Don’t take it personally, that’s just how plastic behaves. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays over the years causes it to discolor, and this is particularly noticeable when you’ve just cleaned the car and the rest of it’s looking all shiny.

Thankfully, there’s a raft of plastic resto options available, and they all work in essentially the same way: first of all you wash the trim/bumpers/etc. to ensure it’s totally clean, then wait for it to be completely dry. Then you apply the trim restorer, massaging it thoroughly in to allow it to penetrate. Once it’s dry, you then just give it a wipe to remove any excess, and bish bash bosh – your cruddy grey trim is now a pleasing glossy black.

5 – Battery Tie Down

Ditch the horrible standard battery tie-down for a shiny aluminum alternative.

Cost: from £10

6 – Crackle Paint

Not as common as it once was, but crackle/wrinkle paint finishes can transform the look of an engine bay.
Cost: from £6

Budget car mods under $25/£25

7 – Stereo

A decent headunit with loads of connectivity can be had within budget, perfect for hooking your iPhone up to older models.
Cost: from £25

Headlight restoration on a clio

8 – Headlamp restoration

As cars age, it’s pretty common for their headlamps to go milky and cloudy and start to look a bit rubbish. Not only does this ruin the look of the front end of your car, but if it gets bad enough then it can be an MOT issue too. But fear not, it’s actually pretty easy to remedy, and just takes a bit of elbow grease!

Now, internet old wives’ tales will tell you that you can fix it with a bit of toothpaste, and you’re very welcome to give that a go, but there’s also a whole bunch of products on the market specifically designed to restore your headlights and get them gleaming and crystal clear again. The usual suspects such as Meguiar’s, Autoglym, Holts, ArmorAll and Turtle Wax have some great kits on offer – and you’ll be surprised at the difference it’ll make to your car’s look overall. If you want to know more, check out our full headlight restoration guide!

9 – Black Eye Headlights

Prize the lens apart and spray the insides black for an upgrade to an OEM-plus look. All it takes is a rattle can and a spare afternoon.

Cost: from £11

10 – Steering wheel refurb

Don’t want an aftermarket wheel, but wish yours was better. Refurb it using a dedicated repair kit.
Cost: £25

11 – Cold Air Feeds

Colder air is better for your engine and your brakes – get it in there!

It’s super easy to create cold air feeds to your brakes – get some flexible ducting pipework, fix one end somewhere that it’ll be getting plenty of airflow (a front lower grille, for instance), and route it so that the other end feeds to the brakes. Make sure it’s all safely and securely affixed, and won’t be getting in the way of any moving parts, and hey presto!

Cost: from £15

12 – Leather Refurb

A quick touch-up and your seats can look like they’re brand new again. If you need it, we’ve got a full guide to cleaning car seats too.

Costs: from £17

13 – Number Plates

Not tacky fonts and 3D lettering, or illegal styles, but custom plates can look quite good. Maybe consider some tasteful pressed aluminum plates? As long as they’re showing the legal font size, spacing, colors and reflectiveness and are acquired from a proper supplier, they’re totally legit and look great.

Costs: from £20

rim protectors are a great budget car mod

14 – Rim Protectors

Cheap, easy to apply, looks cool (to some people), and could save your precious alloys from a grizzly kerb strike – what’s not to like?

Cost: from £25

15 – Headlight Bulb Upgrade

Switch to some decent bulbs (HID conversion kits are even within budget) for improved night driving. To learn more, check out this guide.

Cost: from £20

heat wrap is a great budget car mod

16 – Heat Shielding/Heat Wrap

Keep your under-bonnet temperatures under control with some heat shielding or heat wrap.
Cost: from £14

17 – Camber Bolts

Sort your alignment with some camber correction bolts.
Cost: £20

18 – Fire Extinguisher

Nobody wants to think about it, but a handheld fire extinguisher can save your pride and joy should the worst happen. Get one in the car!
Cost: from £16

19 – Bonnet Struts

Fed up with having a bonnet stay? Convert to gas struts, there are kits available for most models.
Cost: from £15

20 – Engine Protection

Additives like Liqui Moly’s Ceratec provide extra protection for the insides of your engine.
Cost: £18

wheel nuts are a forgotten car mod

21 – Wheel Nuts

Nice new wheels, and rusty old wheel nuts? Sort it out! New wheel nuts cost as little as £20.
Cost: from £20

22 – Caliper Refurb kit

Refresh your stopping power with a DIY refurb kit for your calipers.
Cost: from £20

23 – Locking wheel nuts

If you’ve grown attached to your alloys, you’ll want to keep them on your car. New lockers can be picked up for £35.
Cost: from £35

Boost gauge is great budget car mod

24 – Boost Gauge

Who doesn’t want to watch the little red dancing around as you accelerate? All turbo cars need a boost gauge.
Cost: from £15

Budget car mods under $50/£50

25 – Steering Wheel

Aftermarket steering wheels can be had on a budget these days and improve both the looks of the interior and the feel when driving. Safety is key here, so do your research.
Cost: From £45

26 – Cleaning Kits

It sounds simple but a clean car looks better than a dirty one. Invest in some decent cleaning gear and get your Ford looking its best.
Cost: from £28

Air filter is one of the first budget car mods to make

27 – Panel Filter

This has got to be the single easiest power mod it’s possible to carry out, and it does have measurable gains too. It’s a no-brainer. See, if you think of your car’s engine essentially being a big air pump (or better yet, a set of lungs), the fundamental way it works relies on you cramming a load of clean air into one end, then efficiently extracting it all from the other once it’s all dirty. And if you want to improve your car’s breathing but don’t have the ready cash to shell out on an induction kit with a great big cone, then a drop-in air filter upgrade is the next best thing.

All the big-name specialists have something to offer, from K&N and Pipercross to Ramair and beyond; they’re surprisingly affordable, and all you need to do is open up the car’s air box, take out the standard filter, and slot in your new freer-flowing one. Easy-peasy.

Cost: from £30

strut brace

28 – Strut Braces

Flexing is all well and good in the club, but you don’t want to be doing that too much on a B-road. And flex is a characteristic inherent to any car, that’s just physics. Imagine twisting the opposite corners of the lid of a tub of margarine – that’s what you car’s trying to do every time you go around a corner. But don’t worry, there are things you can do to mitigate this, and a strut brace is an excellent starting point.

This is essentially a rigid bar that you bolt to your suspension strut towers to tie them together, which will significantly improve axle rigidity. And once you’ve got one going across your front struts, there’s a whole world of additional braces to consider, from lower subframe and under-body braces to K-braces for the back end.

Cost: from £50

28 – Speaker Upgrade

Upgrading your car’s speakers is one of those age-old mods we’ve been doing from time immemorial, and it’s always a good idea (unless you’ve got a fancy-pants Bentley with a factory Naim system or something). And we’re not just talking about loudness here, but quality: OEM speakers are generally specified to a budget, and it’ll make a big difference to swap in some quality replacements from an audio name you’ve heard of.

It can sometimes take a few brave pills to unclip all of your trim and hope it’ll all go back together again, but as long as you take your time and take it easy, you’ll be on to a winner. Look, we’ve even got a whole guide on how to fit car speakers to help you on your way.

Cost: from £50

29 – HT Leads

Improve reliability and add some color to the engine bay at the same time.

Cost: from £40

31 – Flocking

Flocked interior pieces give your car a real motorsport vibe as well as reducing glare and looking a million times better than tacky plastics. Prices for full dashes start outside our budget (from around £130), but smaller trim pieces can be flocked for a lot less.

Cost: from £30

32 – Poly Bushes

You won’t get a full set of bushes for £99, but you will pick up specific kits within budget and be able to replace your worn ones with performance upgrades. Be sure to check out our suspension bushes guide!

Cost: from £30

33 – Caliper Paint

This a quick and easy way to spruce up your brakes – just don’t stick Brembo decals on them after you’ve painted them!

Cost: £28

34 – Silicone Hoses

Full kits will be out of budget, but an induction hose will add some color to the engine bay and improve reliability.

Cost: from £40

35 – Hydro dipping

Water transfer printing, or hydro dipping, can give some cool effects and works on pretty much anything that can be painted.

Cost: from £50

36 – Brake Pads

Performance pads can be had within budget and will make a noticeable difference behind the wheel. Here’s how to fit them.

Cost: from £50

37 – Gearbox Mount

Lower torque mounts or gearbox mounts are prone to failure, replace them with a polyurethane upgrade.

Cost: from £30

38 – Quick Shift Kit

Sharper gear changes for a more spirited driving experience.

Cost: from £50

39 – Wheel Spacers

Wheel spacers used to have a bit of a bad reputation, back in the era when it was just a case of bolting a dumb lump of metal between the hub and the wheel. But technology’s moved on a bit, and today’s aftermarket offers all manner of high-quality hubcentric spacers. Hubcentric essentially means that they’re machined specifically to fit the wheel exactly as the hub’s locating ring would, so that the car’s weight is being correctly carried by the hub and not by the wheel bolts (which is where the bad rep came from in the first place).

Why fit wheel spacers? Well, because they’ll make your car look cooler – spacing your wheels out a bit helps them to fill out the arches better for a more aesthetically pleasing fitment. And on a more practical level, widening your car’s track can bring handling improvements, and spacing out your wheels can allow extra clearance for big brake kits too. Loads of benefits!

Cost: from £30

40 – Remote Oil Filter

Make regular filter changes easier by relocating the oil filter to make it more accessible.

Cost: £40

41 – Oil Breather Kit

A decent oil breather kit will help both engine performance and reliability, so get one fitted.

Cost: from £30

Budget car mods under $100/£100

42 – Lowering Springs

Don’t cut your springs with a grinder! Especially when proper lowering springs can be had on a budget. Exact prices depend on the brand and car in question, but kits are available for less than £99.

Cost: from £80

43 – Rust Protection

Don’t let the winter weather eat your car. Get underneath and give it a liberal coating of rust protection to keep the dreaded tin worm at bay.

Cost: From £70

44 – Geometry Setup

Technically not a modification, but a geometry setup will transform how your car feels on the road.

Cost: from £80

Brake lines are a budget car mod

45 – Brake Lines

Any brake upgrade is worthwhile but braided lines are particularly cheap and easy to install offering instant benefits.

Costs: from £75

46 – Tinted Windows

Done professionally tinted windows can enhance your car’s appearance – just don’t be tempted to try it yourself as it’ll look whack! You won’t get all the glass tinted for £99, but you should be able to get the rears done.

Cost: from £99

47 – Wheel Refurb

A set of four will be out of budget, but you can get that one dodgy wheel repaired and ready for show season again. You could also check out our alloy wheel refurbishment guide to learn how to do it yourself!

Costs: from £80

Cosworth on dyne

48 – Rolling Road Health Check

It is not a modification but a worthwhile investment to ensure everything works as it should. Basic dyno tests are within budget.

Cost: from £75

49 – Oil Cooler

Add a decent oil cooler to help everything under control, particularly useful for track cars.

Cost: from £80

50 – Adjustable Fuel Pressure Regulator

Handy for making tuning tweaks, an adjustable fuel pressure regulator is a direct replacement for the stock part.

Cost: from £90

Well, we’ve come to the end of our not-so-shortlist detailing the best low-budget mods you can do, but what if you haven’t even settled on which car to use as the basis of your project yet? Well, if that’s the case, fear not – we’re here to help. Check out our guide to the best affordable beginner project cars you can buy right now on the used market. There’s bound to be something there that gets the creative juices flowing in that brain of yours!

Words by Jamie King & Dan Bevis