According to You: What small/mundane vehicle modification is most satisfying?

We asked you for the most satisfying small, mundane, or quick modification you like to do to a car or truck. The answers we received ranged from adding more power and improving handling to cosmetic upgrades, lighting improvements, and interior upgrades. This list is so good it might even inspire you to make some changes of your own to your own vehicle. So let’s see what everyone in the Hagerty Community came up with.


Illuminated Tires Goodyear
Douglas Miller/Getty Images

@Marc: Are tires small/mundane? Probably not, but I vote for them anyway. I dare anyone with a sporty-ish car to upgrade their tires to something on the level of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S and not be smiling afterward. Assuming you didn’t have a tire that good in the first place.

@David: Totally agree. Tires are often the most overlooked but single most important component of your car’s suspension system, and therefore its fundamental handling and ride characteristics. In my opinion, Michelin MP4S are the best all-around “summer” ultra-performance tire currently on the market. I have them on two cars: a ’00 Ferrari 550 Maranello, and a ’23 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and I love them. You get what you pay for. Buy the best.

ECU tuning

Car mechanic using computer in auto repair shop
Getty Images

@hyperv6: The best mod I ever did was to go from a 2-to-3 bar MAP sensor and a computer flash. This added 65 hp to my Chevy HHR SS, getting it to 300 hp. It took the boost to 23 psi and it was still under warranty.

Antiroll bars


@David: I tell everyone that the best bang for the buck (and generally “driveway accessible”) modification is to add or upgrade the antiroll (aka sway) bars. Reducing body roll while cornering significantly raises the fun factor of any car. Add good-quality brake pads and a nice set of tires, and you have the recipe for smiles on a twisty bit of road.

@Yes Dear: Especially on an NC Miata. I installed RoadsterSport sway bars from Good Win Racing and gone was the soggy, keeled-over, squirmy 1970s feel on long curves. Can’t imagine why Mazda installed such puny bars in the first place. It still has the unfortunate 4×4 stance due to the too-large wheel wells (see BMW for how to do that), but I don’t want to lower it and drag its underside over every “traffic calming” device installed here by the local nannies.

@David: Probably the best small/mundane modification I have come across is to replace the old rubber sway-bar bushings with a new set of polyurethane ones. This is particularly satisfying in older sports cars that are a tad past their prime. While you’re down there, if there is an easily accessible thicker-diameter bar from a higher-performance or later version of your car, that’s another big “bang for the buck” upgrade (particularly if you can find it at a junkyard).

Steering wheels

Brandan Gillogly

@Rick: I changed the giant steering wheel on my ’87 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL to a smaller (about 3/4 inch) from a ’90 SL. [It] looks exactly the same and utilizes the airbag from my original wheel. Helped tremendously in ingress/egress. Only downside is I have to move my head so I can see [the] fuel gauge, but I just watch odometer and fill it up at 200 miles as she is a thirsty girl.

Some vehicles make anything easy!

2021 Bronco Pope Francis Center First Edition interior

@Tim: Our Gen6 Bronco is probably a poster child for modifications. We bought ours nicely equipped, but even so, there was room for some small improvements. Nearly first on the list was replacing the prop rod for the hood with struts. This seems lame, but it sure is nice not having to work around a prop rod. Not that I’ll have much under-hood work to do, but I do open it up every time I need to connect the air compressor to air up the tires after off-roading.

The second simple, yet satisfying change was replacing the large whip antenna with a little stubby. I found one online that is only about 2.5 inches–so much better!

Then I added a glove-compartment organizer and a center console tray. It already has LEDs all around, but maybe I’ll get some further inspiration from other commenters.

OEM+ the wheels


@Douglas: I like different OEM wheels on the same make but different model. I had a set of the 1978 Trans Am gray “snowflake” wheels on my 1973 Grand Am and later on my 1977 Grand Prix SJ.

Headlights from other regions

icon underdog BMW E36 M3 Mercedes-Benz AMG C36

@RauckyM3: I changed the headlights on a ’97 BMW M3 as the OE-sealed beams were like shining flashlights to see at night. The set of Euro-style reflectors with replaceable halogens made such a difference, almost like night and day! I can’t believe the OE lights were acceptable to BMW for U.S. lighting standards.

Bed bars

Back to the Future replica Tacoma truck
Mecum/Joshua Bates

@Binksman: For the last 20 years, every truck I have gets a “bed bar,” as I call it. Bolt-in or weld-on, depending on the truck, but basically a piece of box steel mounted to the front of the bed rail. I have tied-down loops welded to it in multiple places to secure loads or act as anchor points for winching. Family members have mounted bicycle fork mounts or wheel chocks for motorcycles. The whole idea is it strengthens the front of the bed so it doesn’t dent toward the cab when you load motorcycles, mowers, etc.

I make my bed bars strong enough [so that] they also act as an anchor or mounting point for a small winch that I use to drag scrap, furniture, dead mowers, four-wheelers, deer, etc. into the bed. My knees and back aren’t getting any younger, so I have to work smarter. 🙂


De-badged and de-trimmed. Sajeev Mehta

@David: I have removed badging and lettering from every vehicle I’ve ever owned. It really cleans up the look in my eyes. It’s a LOT easier to do with modern cars as they are usually installed with two-sided tape. Removing older chrome bits used to mean also filling in the holes they left behind. In the case of the big chrome Nissan globe in the grille of my Frontier, I removed it, shot it with a couple coats of flat black plasti-dip, and snapped it back in. Looks great.

Necker/Brody knob?

Johnny Law Motors

@DUB6: This is about as mundane as it gets, but on my pickup, I mounted one of those steering-wheel knobs that I can grip and that swivels in my hand as I crank the wheel back and forth—especially neat when backing up and/or maneuvering a trailer. I can concentrate on watching mirrors and don’t have to worry about crossing hands and/or losing my grip. I used to have them ages ago when driving semi-trucks and they sure came in handy, so I’ve tried to put one on all of my “working” vehicles (including tractors) since.

@TG: Suicide knobs are what they are called in the trucking industry. Illegal in semis … not sure about cars.

@DUB6: Nah, they’re legal almost everywhere, and you can easily buy them in many truck stops!


1988 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway SledgeHammer BaT bilstein shock
Bring a Trailer

@Trekker: I lowered my ’78 Datsun 280Z about 2 inches with a set of Tokico gas struts and Eibach lowering springs. Not only did the car look 100 percent better, but the handling was greatly improved without sacrificing ride quality. The finishing touch for a classic ’70s look was to add white-lettered tires. The stock tire size (195 70-14) is no longer available with raised white lettering (I’ve looked everywhere!). Consequently, I used oil-based white paint pens (they cost $13 for 12 pens) to color the lettering and the tires, and the car looks amazing!

LED lights, again

JW Speaker

@Steve: Like the article was about, I recently bought a set of super bright LED bulbs for my parking lights, tail/brake lights, and reverse lights for my ’66 El Camino. They have superior daylight visibility, and I like the peace of mind when making upgrades that improve safety which makes it less likely to wreck my dream car.

A stick for your stick?


@02 original owner: You asked for simple changes … being old school, I love the feel of a wood shift knob (a real stick shift) so that’s the first thing I change. Have turned a few on a wood lathe to get exactly the shape I want. And what goes better with a wood shift knob than a wood-rim steering wheel–on pre-airbag cars, of course! Or maybe not …

Audio upgrades

Velocity Bronco restomod interior radio
Brandan Gillogly

@ap41563: I had an over-hour commute one way and a nice full-size comfy sedan, with just an AM/FM radio and CD player/cassette. Even in 2003, you could still get a tape deck in your new luxury car.

Wanting good tunes for the commute, I added a SiriusXM Reciever that fit nicely in the ashtray cubby. I could easily look down and see to change stations but hide it out of sight for a clean look. After seeing a Mitsubishi Mirage place the antenna on the dash (from the factory), I decided to do the same. Just a little one-inch square on the dashboard, in the corner of the windshield it was perfect. I always had a great signal.

Monochrome all the things!

@Brian: My favorite mod is strictly cosmetic and addresses my number one pet peeve—ugly, unpainted black plastic. It’s ugly and makes the vehicle look like the manufacturer was too lazy to finish the car’s styling. Favorites in order of preference is body color, gloss black, or even some DIY carbon-fiber-look trim. Almost anything is better than unpainted black plastic.




Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Attention, L.A. car fans: The Petersen’s “Splendor and Speed” exhibit is evolving


    So on the suicide knobs… I worked for several trucking companies during my tenure as a Diesel mechanic, and the instructions were always the same… remove them if you find them. I was led to believe they were illegal, but this appears not to be the case

    I did some research, and found that while they improve low speed maneuvering, they impair high speed (accident avoidance) type maneuvering and probably aren’t generally a good idea

    I drove both local and long-haul in the ’70s, and (with partners) owned two trucks in the ’80s, and have been close friends with a number of truckers for decades, and I can assure you: truck drivers are the kings and queens of doing things that “probably aren’t generally a good idea”!

    I epoxied two small magnets to the back of a USB rechargeable under-the-kitchen counter light. The light is approximately the size and shape of a nine inch long wooden ruler. It has a motion sensor. it shuts off in about 18 seconds. it was like 7 bucks.
    I stick it to the metal roof bar over my head in my convertible. I now have an automatic overhead courtesy light in a soft top car!

    Those knobs are also used in vehicles with hand controls since the driver needs one hand on the combined throttle/brake lever and thus has to steer one handed.

    Also known as hari-knobs. Not sure of the spelling, but it comes from hari-kari, and you all know what that is. Had one on my first car (’51 Chevy) that folded down 90 degrees inside the steering wheel rim when not maneuvering.

    before all the automakers put bucket seats in all the vehicles (bench seats) we put these steering knobs on our cars but we called the ‘necker knobs’

    Some years ago, I had hip-replacement surgery, which involves removing the top part of the femur — The “ball” of the ball-and-socket joint.

    It occurred to me that I should have it, as it wasn’t merely mine; it was ME.
    One possibility for its use would be as a steering wheel “suicide knob”.

    The staff member I posed this request to immediately responded with: “Oh, that’s already on its way to a pet store”.

    I asked for mine so I could give it too the neighbors little dog. Nurse stared at me for a few seconds and then said simply and clearly NO and went on with what she was doing. No explaination just no. I felt bad because I had promised the little guy I would bring home a treat for him

    Ah man, they cheated you out of – at the very least – a unique top for a cane, a floor shifter knob, or a killer hood ornament!* But I give the staffer high marks for a classic and clever response (which was hopefully tongue-in-cheek) – I wonder how many other patients had asked the same question, and was that just always the comeback!

    * I also thought of the part you twist on top of a home-made pepper mill, but that seemed a bit in poor taste, so I opted not to include it 🙄😏😣

    Debadging and installing larger/different OEM wheels are 2 of my favorite mods. I have always liked modifications that appear like they are OEM.

    Chuck T suggested window tint and I have to agree with that as well.

    I de-badge then re-badge with things like the emblem for my NFL football team, MLB baseball or a chromed “Batman” shaped ensignia.

    And then there’s dual exhaust … easy to do, not usually that expensive, lets the engine breathe better, usually improves mileage, and adds some horses ….

    Maybe one of the best articles I’ve seen. Honestly that’s surprising, but I’ve been rolling around the finishing touches on my 61 scout 80. The wood wheel/shifter, white letter tires, sway bar and nearly everything on this list are the little details that I can use to make the rig more enjoyable.

    Interesting. I’d be spending hard earned money getting RID of white lettered tires … a bad idea from the start IMHO. Beauty (or useless clutter) in the eye of the beholder. Like the wood wheel/shifter though.

    I remember having white wall tires and white letter tires being mounted facing the inside of the car to achieve the stealth black walled look back in the day. It seemed like black wall tires were hard to come by some times, so had to buy the more expensive ones with white walls or letters, just to turn them inside out.

    Definitely agree with LED lights Made a big improvement for my 6 volt system. Not mentioned, however, electronic ignition over points, No more setting points or trying to use a 12 volt timing light on a 6 volt system.New wooden steering wheel and shifter ball for the sports car appearance. I also went to bigger tires and wider wheels. That may have been a waste of money. There was a noticeable improvement when the purist bug bit me. Back to 4 1/2 wheels, skinny tires and inner tubes as the factory designed it. Big improvement with “as original” suspension geometry. 1963 Porsche 356B Super

    De-badging is something I like to do as well, but take note that there will always be an eagle-eyed prospective buyer (when you do want to sell) who will no doubt notice the missing corporate ornaments on the sheet metal. The whining about the missing chrome-plated plastic ‘bobbles’ is all too familiar to me. I purchase factory replacements from dealerships to counteract those who always chisel on the asking price as a counter action which seemingly takes prospective buyers by surprise.

    All great ideas here. In my ’74 BMW CS coupe I installed a period-correct German Becker Europa radio faceplate with a digital Bluetooth Retrosound unit behind it. Great combination of vintage looks, modern sound, and hands-free phone functions.

    I own a Corvette and the first mod was Firestone Indy 500 tires and aftermarket rims. Next came window tint, LED lighting and the list goes on and on.

    New cars have all these new features that stand in the way of modifications. Sometimes removal is required.
    Steering wheel’s have air bags, radio controls, cruise controls and all that nonsense. This creates the question, what do you need? A four or more belt harness and maybe cruise. Remember when cruise was on the signal lever?
    Leave the HVAC controls alone.
    Digital gauges and that TV screen? The average TV screen is good for six real gauges. This often includes the audio system. What happened to the 6 disc C/D changer? No, I’m not about to transfer 500+ discs to sticks or whatever.
    Nav system. Was a time that was a beautiful woman in a mini skirt. Getting lost was acceptable, and preferable. Keep a compass in the glove box.
    The suspension, brakes and engine can still be modified.
    By now you can see that I’m on the downward side of the hill. The trip up was more fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *