Can You Still Get Great Performance From Affordable Aftermarket Part Upgrades?

If you drive a sporty car, you're probably constantly looking for ways to get more power and more performance from your vehicle. Unfortunately, many upgrades may seem like a relatively inefficient conversion between dollars in your wallet and horsepower under your hood. Even if you've got the money to spend, there's nothing wrong with looking to get the best bang for your performance buck.

The upshot is that there are plenty of ways you can get more performance from your car without breaking the bank. The most cost-effective upgrades will vary between models, so this guide will instead offer some general advice for buying high-performance upgrades without setting your bank account on fire.

Start With Aftermarket Alternatives to Wear Items

In many cases, the best place to start is with items you'll need to replace anyway. Your brakes, air filter, and suspension components can all impact your vehicle's performance, and they all wear out over time. If you know you'll need to replace some of these items soon, then you may want to consider aftermarket alternatives that offer a performance boost.

However, remember that choosing upgrades that will work for your car and driving style is crucial. Suspension upgrades are a great example of one situation where you'll need to decide what's best for you. Many suspension manufacturers offer parts that range from factory-like comfort to incredibly stiff and harsh, so you'll need to select an option that you can enjoy without ruining your driving experience.

Cover the Basics

If you're ready to move beyond replacing worn items, you can begin to consider what tuners often refer to as "stage 1" aftermarket upgrades. These include bolt-on modifications such as cold air intakes, braided brake lines, or anti-sway bars. Many of these upgrades are relatively affordable, and they may offer a difference you can feel (or hear).

You'll usually want to start with these basics even if you plan to conduct more in-depth modifications in the future.

Don't Ignore Your Computer

Your car's brain is its electronic control unit (ECU). ECU flash (or remapping) is one relatively cheap aftermarket upgrade you might want to consider, especially if you plan to do further modifications to your car in the future. You can usually work with a tuning service to develop a custom tune that works for your vehicle, or you may be able to buy chips that you can install yourself.

In many cases, these flash kits are most useful for cars with several other upgrades. By tuning your ECU, you can help your car's computer unlock the potential of your other modifications, ultimately making these highly effective upgrades for heavily tuned engines.

Check out a local auto parts store to learn more about your options for aftermarket auto parts.