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The Top Performance Mods That Anyone Can Perform From Home

There are a number of different things that people look for in vehicles. Some people look for comfort, some look for a particular brand, and some look with performance in mind. An unfortunate reality is that many performance-oriented cars are expensive, and are simply out of price ranges for far too many people interested. However, this does not mean that performance has to be abandoned altogether. There are actually many different performance mods anyone can do from home. These are typically cheap, simple, and can be performed with a few tools and a couple of hours of hard work. While your car may never reach the amount of output a Ferrari can produce, there are many different ways in which you can improve your vehicle’s capabilities. While some of these require a professional’s touch, there are some that anyone can learn, saving you money while still adding a few extra horsepower.

Cold Air Intake

The first upgrade that can be performed from home is installing a cold air intake in place of your standard air filter. Most vehicles come standard with an air filter, which is contained in a rectangular plastic box. The whole premise of a cold air intake is to replace the air system with a more open and less restrictive filter. This will allow for more air to be pulled in, which increases the rate of combustion in the engine, which gives more power. Due to the design of cold air intake systems, they are able to pull in cooler air from outside of the vehicle. This cooler air is better on the engine, and allows for further power creation.

Think of a standard air filter as a person with a head cold. They are experiencing congestion, which limits the amount of oxygen they are able to inhale. On the other hand, a cold air intake opens up the breathing ways for a vehicle, like a decongestant would for a cold. By allowing a larger volume of cold air, the engine can produce power with less restriction, which will improve performance and may even give the vehicle a nicer sound.

HID Headlights

A close up of a upgraded headlight, one of many performance mods anyone can do at home, is on a sports car.

While it may not seem like a performance mod on the surface, HID headlights are actually quite the game-changer. You could have top of the line engine modifications and other performance parts installed, but they won’t be put to good use if you cannot see at night. HID stands for high-intensity discharge. They are lamps that produce light by creating an electric arc between tungsten electrodes. HID headlights are not only considerably brighter than standard halogen bulbs, but they also last longer and consume less energy overall. HID headlights come in a variety of different wattages, which can create different tints. Some look like a bright white, while others have a little bit of blue in them. These are fairly simple to install, though some vehicle types may need a bit more know-how, and can instantly double the amount of visibility compared to standard halogen bulbs. The further you can see at night, the safer you are when utilizing the other performance mods in your vehicle. No one ever wants to over-drive their headlights.

Spark Plugs

Another simple yet effective upgrade that can be performed from home is simply replacing your vehicle’s spark plugs. A spark plug is a device that delivers electric currents from the ignition system to the combustion chamber of the engine. This ignites the compressed combination of fuel and air by creating a spark. Over time, they wear out as the conductive elements in the spark plugs erode away. A failing spark plug forces the ignition coils to work harder in order to produce a more powerful spark, and eventually, the vehicle won’t start at all. While not being directly a mod, replacing your spark plugs every 50,000 miles will help keep your vehicle in tip-top condition. There are a number of different materials that spark plugs are commonly made from, giving you more than one choice. In terms of quality, iridium spark plugs are the most durable and the most effective, so they are always advised when looking for extra performance from a vehicle.

Performance Tires

Not a lot of people put too much thought into their particular tires, but many different performance-oriented tires exist on the market today. It is very important to regularly check the air pressure in your tires, as well as the remaining tread on them. By checking frequently, you can ensure that you do not run into any unfortunate issues. If performance is a particular thing you look for with tires, you first need to assess your driving situation. You need to keep in mind things like what kind of vehicle you drive, how often you drive, and what kind of conditions you find yourself driving in.

A close up of a high performance tire on a Chevy Corvette.

Tires are made from several different materials and are specialized for certain conditions. If you find yourself driving in several different conditions such as sun, rain, and snow, then a good set of all-season tires can really make a difference. If you find yourself driving in good weather conditions regularly, then you could get performance-oriented summer tires. They are designed to provide excellent traction and grip the road better in warm temperatures, as they allow for more contact with the road surface.

It is always a good idea to invest in a spare set of all-season tires, especially if you have to drive in winter weather. While performance tires specialize in high speeds and traction, they do not function in below-freezing temperatures. Although it takes very specific equipment to mount a new tire to a wheel, it is rather easy to change tires once they are mounted. By keeping a spare set at home, you can quickly swap between the sets as you need, allowing you to have that upgraded set of tires for the warmer months.


One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your vehicle’s handling and performance is to upgrade your braking system. Not only does a good set of rotors and pads reduce the stopping distance of your vehicle, but they also help eliminate repeated hard braking situations that you encounter. While it may be rather costly and require additional knowledge and tools to do a full brake system upgrade, simply replacing your brake pads and rotors with new and improved ones will still be a major improvement. There are a number of different options available when it comes to purchasing a new set of brake pads and rotors. While aftermarket options are varied and can be attractive, you will usually find the best quality in genuine OEM parts, especially for your at-home job. This way, you can be sure that your upgrade is not only effective, but installed without additional problems like parts not fitting quite right. For example, when it comes to upgrading the brakes for your Chevy, the best quality you will find will be directly from Chevrolet’s part distributor, ACDelco, which is a GM company. Additionally, high-performance aftermarket brakes are a solid step up in price, but provide some top of the line options to choose from, like Brembo, Continental, EBC Brakes, and others.


Another great and easy way to improve your vehicle’s performance is to use a plug-in tuner. This is a device that is plugged in to your vehicle’s computer port, which is where the OBDII scanner is plugged in to when performing service. This device allows you to alter various settings throughout your vehicle, which can be optimized to increase performance. Most automakers place certain artificial limits on various things like fuel control and engine strength, mostly for safety and environmental reasons. This limits what the vehicle is able to achieve in terms of power and control. The tuner allows you to bypass these limits, and set your own settings, allowing it to be optimized for things like speed, towing, and handling.