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Selling Your Modified Car – An Easy Guide

It’s always a bittersweet moment once you’ve decided to sell your car. You’ve put a lot of love and time into it, but it’s time to move on to something new––hopefully something bigger and better! If you’ve got a modified car, you might be wondering what to do with it. You’ve probably spent more time and money on your car than the average driver, working to make it the ideal vehicle for you. Should you remove all of your mods before selling, or are they part of an appealing package to potential buyers? We’re going to break down what to do.

Be warned; it’s generally a good idea not to modify your car in ways that can’t be reverted to stock. A buyer is highly unlikely to consider a car that has been altered in a way that they can’t reverse. You will always want the ability to remove a modification, either for yourself or for the vehicle’s next owner. It’s not only a courtesy; it’s a smart decision. Otherwise, all subsequent drivers of the vehicle––including yourself––may be stuck with a modification they wish they could ditch.

Modified exhaust pipes on a dragster are shown.


Consider Your Target Buyers

The first thing you’ll need to do when considering selling your modified car is evaluate who your potential buyers are. Different kinds of buyers will feel differently about how modified your car is and what specific mods you’ve chosen to install. You may find a fellow gearhead who loves the same modifications you do, in which case the mods could be an incentive. You may even get more money than you would without the modifications from buyers like these.

On the other hand, selling to a dealership or a more mainstream driver will most likely mean removing most, if not all, of your modifications. There are definitely some buyers who may not even accept the car if it is too heavily modified. After all, many buyers are not going to be as enthusiastic as you are about your specific modifications and would prefer the car as it originally was.

If you’ve identified a potential buyer and are unsure of how they feel about modifications, it’s always helpful to contact them and see what’s on or off the table. You could convince them to take some or all of your modifications into consideration, or you could negotiate on which mods can stay and which have to go. For large dealerships, you may be able to find previous customers and see if there is a history of accepting or turning away modified cars like yours.

Modifications To Lose

While every selling situation is going to be unique, there are certain modifications that will most likely be rejected by the majority of buyers. These are modifications you’ll almost certainly want to get rid of before selling.

Tinted windows are an easy modification to remove (or add back later). As much as some of us might love a dark tint on all our windows, certain buyers may dislike it or even consider it untrustworthy. This might be because certain states have laws against how dark windows can be. You may be living in a more relaxed state in terms of window tinting but selling to a buyer in a state with stricter regulations. Removing the tint from your car shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive, and it will most likely increase your selling value.

Another concern potential buyers may have is how loud your car’s exhaust is. It’s another potential legal issue, and while some of us love a loud roar for our vehicles, others will hate it in their quiet neighborhoods. It’s usually worth considering a quieter exhaust before selling. This is particularly true if you have modified the emissions equipment in any way. The last thing you want is an angry buyer who failed an emissions inspection.

One more aspect to consider when evaluating your modifications and whether or not to remove them; consider if your mod is for performance or purely aesthetics. Shiny rims, underglow, and vinyl wrap are fun and flashy, but they are also fairly personal modifications that the average buyer will not care about. As much fun as it is making the car look and feel unique, that uniqueness can come back to bite you if you’re trying to sell to a more general audience. A pure upgrade to your car’s performance is a much easier sell than a more artistic choice that is subjective to the driver.

To sell your car a person is shown removing the window tint.


Are There Any Mods That Will Add Value to Your Vehicle?

Modifications tend to be a personal decision that does not translate well to new owners, as we’ve previously stated. There are certain situations, however, where a mod may increase the value.

Consider the similarities you and your potential buyer may have in terms of car preferences. If you’re both fans of taking a Jeep off-road into some mud or rough terrain, then bigger tires, a lifted suspension, or other off-road-focused modifications might sweeten the deal for your next buyer. Similar situations can occur for speed enthusiasts or mutual fans of the loudest speakers possible in your vehicle.

There is also an important exception to the rule that any modification will tank your car’s resale value, and that is when your “modification” is, in essence, a repair that your vehicle needed. Upgrading a faulty or deficient part in your car and replacing it with a new, top-of-the-line component will most likely be seen as an improvement by buyers and may actually increase the value you get for the modded car.

At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that any modifications you make will increase the value of your car. Unless you find a like-minded buyer that cares about the exact modifications you’ve installed the same way you do, it’s best to remove them. But that’s not to say such a situation is impossible; it’s just extremely relevant to know who your audience is.

Selling a Modified Car Isn’t Impossible

Modifying your car is one of the most personal decisions you can make as a driver. You’ve taken a stock vehicle and made it into a unique vessel for your personal needs and priorities. This can obviously improve your enjoyment as a driver, and you might think it makes your vehicle undeniably better than it was before. But it is that same uniqueness that makes selling a modified car all the more difficult. Most buyers will be more hesitant to accept a modded car than a stock one, mostly because they don’t know much about it. If you describe in detail your modifications to a potential buyer, and they are mostly general upgrades and tweaks rather than aesthetic redecorations or niche additions, the buyer will be more likely to accept your modded car as is.

We don’t want to make it seem like selling a modded car is impossible; it’s just going to be a bit harder than selling an unmodified car. For the best results, we recommend stripping the car of most, if not all, modifications before selling. It will make your life as a seller easier, as you will find more potential buyers willing to pay a higher price than they would otherwise. As sad as it may be to remove your mods, remember; selling your old car is a path to your next one, and then you can start modding all over again!