By on October 30, 2017

7-GMC-Denali-HD-Wont-See-Dirt-SEMA-2016-11-2

This week, the population of Las Vegas will explode with leagues of auto industry people attending this year’s SEMA Show, an extravaganza filled with aftermarket car products and over-the-top custom vehicles.

Pretty much every gearhead on the planet has affixed an accessory or five onto their rig — with varying degrees of success. From underglow lights to themed valve covers, most of us have at least one aftermarket accessory we’ve affixed to a car that we now look back upon with deep regret.

Me? Well, one of the rotboxes I chose to pilot in my formative years was a 1992 Ford Escort. You know the one. It was ‘round about the time Ford started copying Mazda’s homework. This particular example was a five-speed and everything. As far as I was concerned, it was the coolest car ever built. It wasn’t.

In short order, I marched down to an electronics shop and wasted money bought a stereo system. Speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers – the lot. Did I mention this thing was a wagon? Oh, yes. The coolness factor just keeps increasing, eh?

After an amateur installation, I immediately began running into problems. In an effort to show off the system (hey, theft wasn’t really a problem then), I decided to cut up the Escort’s door panels and mount some aftermarket speaker grilles. Once reassembled, I quickly realized the car’s manual window cranks would not clear the thicker grilles, reducing my maximum side window opening to half an inch. I stopped patronizing drive-thru lanes.

Then, in a perplexing electrical conundrum, my towering setup of subs and amps drew so much amperage that I obliterated the Escort’s electrical ground, causing all kinds of vehicular mayhem. Gauges pegged themselves, lights started doing the Watusi, and my Ford came to a juddering halt on the side of a rural road. After all, electricity is a simple concept… until it stops working, at which point it becomes very complicated.

Naturally, I fixed this problem by clamping one end of a jump cable lead to the car’s negative battery post and the other end to the subframe. Circuit completed, tunes (and the car itself) resumed working. Today, I do not endorse this repair.

Whether it caused mayhem or was simply a crime against fashion, what aftermarket accessory you most regret bolting onto your ride?

[Image: Off-Road.com]

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107 Comments on “QOTD: Having Aftermarket Regrets?...”


  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I will start with the pink ‘Oakley’ sticker on the windshield of a pick up truck. I’m still ashamed.

    I will need some more time to think on lesser offenses.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I installed a bug shield on the front of a XJ when I was in high school. What was I thinking. It was not a pretty piece.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    LeBra on a 1992 Saturn SL1. Looked good (at the time) until a couple of salt riddled winters worth of driving caused one of the only metal body parts to rust. That being the hood.

    Yeah, those Bras really protected the front end.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      LOL on bras. I could never understand why someone would drive around with a big ugly cover on the front of their car so the next owner could have it look nice without one.

      • 0 avatar
        paxman356

        And really, it wouldn’t look nice. The line between where it was and where it wasn’t would be obvious by either the fading of the non-bra area, or the decay on the bra area. They do keep you from getting paint chips, though!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      They were originally implemented by (I think) Porsche for use during test or delivery miles, to prevent stone chips on brand-new pre-delivery cars. Never intended to be installed for more than a few hours. Then somebody from an aftermarket company saw one and saw a potential profit center. The rest is a kalidescope of damaged paint finishes and ugly weathered black vinyl and velcro.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Cat-back exhaust on my 2008 Fusion.
    Too loud for my old ears. They are still ringing.
    Promptly changed it back to stock.
    Oh – and this happened 2 months ago.
    Totally ashamed.
    What was I thinking??

    • 0 avatar
      Maksym

      *face splat*

      Don’t feel too bad. I was dumb enough to think a cat free straight pipe exhaust on my 2002 I-6 Trailblazer was a good idea.

      My excuse is- “I was 16.”

      Maybe you can take solace in this confession. I feel like at the very least your heart was in the right place.

      • 0 avatar
        CaptainObvious

        Thanks.
        I’ve come to the conclusion that loud(er) exhaust systems only sound good when they are driving AWAY from you.
        When you are inside the car – the noise and incessant drone is just not worth it.

        • 0 avatar
          redmondjp

          The 1998 S70 T5 I purchased from a young male last year has a 3″ cat-back stainless straight-pipe exhaust (3″ – for a 2.3l engine LOL). It sounds awesome at idle and at 3800rpm, but the drone at freeway speeds will make your head explode after about 20 minutes.

          My friend and I drove it from CA to WA last year and we had earplugs in for most of the trip.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Yeah, that does seem like an odd car for an aftermarket exhaust.

      • 0 avatar
        CaptainObvious

        Yeah – I was getting bored with it.
        Wanted to add a little more of an aggressive sound to it.
        I listened to clips on-line – but nothing is quite like actually being inside.
        Never again.
        Lesson learned.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      Mine was a ’96 Ranger with the 4L (‘Cologne’) V-6. Probably got an extra 0.5HP off that cat-back, but it did drown out the CAI I’d previously added (for another 0.5HP).

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I installed an aftermarket electronic ignition box to eliminate the distributor points on my 73 240Z (can’t remember the name of the company). It failed late on dark and rainy night leaving me stranded.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      This is an absolute make sense upgrade, points were/are a total PIA. Not your fault the manufacturer was lame.

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        If properly installed and replaced at appropriate intervals, points are perfectly adequate. Even today, the vast majority of small airplanes are still running points.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          There are airplanes from 80 years ago that are still in the air because new planes are so expensive due to the FAA approval process. I can’t conceive of a universe where a brand-new Honda motorcycle engine, appropriately tuned of course, would not be more reliable than Continental A50 that has been rebuilt 20 times.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Pertronjx? Seems like that is/was the go to guys for drop in points conversions on Euro/Asian vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        We have Pertronix installed in 4 older cars: ’55 T-Bird, ’65 Mustang, ’56 and ’67 Austin-Healeys with no issues. Cars start easier and idle smoother and, keep in mind points start to degrade on the very first engine revolution. When you have many cars to maintain changing points becomes a real PITA, and the quality of points seems to be diminishing on some cars.

        • 0 avatar
          carguy67

          Replying to myself–tacky, I know–but with points systems you also need condensers, and I’ve heard of a lot of problems with faulty condensers. Pick your poison.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes you are right that it hard to get good points nowadays.

          I strongly disagree about cars with a pertronix starting easier than a car with points that is properly tuned. A properly tuned warm points system will start the car in less than one engine revolution while electronic ignition needs a min cranking speed to produce a good spark.

          Condenesors are a failure point, but in all my years I only ran across 1 case where they were the cause of a no start, and that was a N.E.W. unit, Never Ever Worked. After fighting with it for way too long I reinstalled the old one and it fired up instantly. Now granted we are talking about the ear when points had gone out of style, but there were still millions of cars out there with them and quality parts were commonly available.

          I certainly saw way more cars get towed in due to a faulting electronic ignition module back in the day than points. Of course that was the early generations of electronic ignition. The electronic ignition just failed w/o warning while the points vehicle would run poorly for a very long time before they out right left you stranded.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I can see some cash-strapped NFL lineman chucking in that monster truck at the title pawn store for thirty grand to pay his child support…

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    CAI on a then 4yo 1997 Altima. No one made a direct bolt-on, so I had to use another Nissan model – Sentra?

    I drove the car around the block – got a check engine light and it sounded so ricey I went back to the stock air box. I also didn’t notice any mad-tyte-yo! seat-of-the-pants horsepower gains.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Does using a coat hanger wire as a battery clamp count?

  • avatar
    mikey

    I do not like “add ons” or mods of any kind . Back in the early 70’s I would reluctantly concede to an underdash 8 track. I refused to hack door panels up, and went with rear speaker only.

    Over the years I have eliminated after market brakes, suspensions, filters, even wiper blades. I kept my GM vehicles all GM, as I have my Fords.

    When I see a $60K truck with a cheap bug shield, or them horrible plastic things around the side glass, I want to barf.
    I’m out in the yard yesterday when hear a “fart can” . I turn, and there’s is an otherwise unmolested 10 year old Civic coupe. My guess ? Somebody has looked after that Civic. No doubt the well maintained Honda fetched a big buck . I’m sure the fart can will be the first of many mods. I’m also confident that the resale of that Civic will plummet .

    I’m not judging ,or knocking the “mod” crowd..Your vehicle, your money, do whatever floats your boat. I’m just not a fan.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      I’d like more details on how you kept your Fords “all GM” while simultaneously maintaining your disdain for all things add-on and mod related.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “them horrible plastic things around the side glass, I want to barf.”

      The things around the side glass are wind deflectors, which allow you to roll the windows down a few inches for ventilation without getting the buffeting/helicopter noise.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @bumpy ii….I do understand the purpose of such an add on. As mentioned, I don’t care if someone is comfortable with cheap modifications . IMHO, no way would I add a cheap piece of plastic to an expensive truck .

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Well, you could buy an expensive piece of plastichrome at the dealer if you want to keep it OEM. The cheap-stick-on ones do look junky after a few years, but the ones that wedge into the door frame tend to be made from nicer plastic.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      The noisy exhausts usually go on small somewhat sporty cars that would be fun to drive if they have 3 pedals.
      More often than not, the exhaust tune screams out AUTOMATIC and the kid driving it doesn’t even realize they are embarrassing themselves as being clutch-challenged.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Not a fan of aftermarket either. I like to keep cars running for decades and spend an inordinate amount of time looking for clean OEM parts in the junkyard (auto recycling center for younger readers) or ebay. Lots of time the dealer no longer has the OEM parts available.

      Last personal aftermarket I can remember was electronic ignition and intermittent wipers I put on a 1969 BMW 2002 I had. Since then OEM replacement or upgrade only.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      I find it curious why some folks lump all non-OEM equipment into the same category. I get not wanting to put cheap “off-brand” parts on your car. But OEM does not always mean it’s the best.

      Brake pads, for example, come in a range of non-OEM brands that can go from crap to better-than-OEM.

      Brake rotors, too, can be cheap replicas of the OEM part or significant upgrades offering better cooling/ventilation, lighter weight, two piece designs, etc.

      Wheels- you can have cheap, heavy, cast Chinese wheels or something superior to OEM like BBS, HRE, etc. Even here, BBS and HRE are extreme examples when in reality there tons of wheels out there with better quality/design/features/benefits than the OEM’s offer on anything less than the most special models.

      There are hundreds of examples like this.

      Even Matthew Guy’s anecdote in this article speaks more to a terrible installation/execution and corner-cutting than the choice to upgrade the stereo. A stereo system can be upgraded without compromising other aspects of the car, assuming the installation was done well.

      That said, I’ve been a victim of my own corner-cutting/poor choices/cheap parts selection mods. Lessons learned the hard way, I suppose, but part of the journey for people who enjoy improving (as far as they can tell) their car. It’s more common to see those cheap stick-on parts applied to a young person’s car than someone who has been through those mistakes already.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        There’s an aftermarket heater core for Volvo 850/S70 models which corrects an OEM design flaw that causes failure and leakage every 80k miles or so. Volvo still sells the original flawed design.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Aftermarket wheels on a 1994 Nissan Altima. I could never get them balanced right, even though they were the same size and diameter as the original ones. Ended up re-installing the factory wheels and selling the aftermarket ones at a loss.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Aftermarket speaker and 8-track installation in my then-new ’71 El Camino saved my front doors from corroding quickly away. When I pulled the door cards to make the cuts/install the speakers I found 3″ of water collected inside the bottoms of the doors. Using my trusty ice pick I “aftermarketed” three drain holes through the bottom of the doors. Problem solved.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      My 1995 Achieva had the same problem, I used a cordless drill to give it some relief. It pi§§ed out of all four doors after a good rain.

      I had so much hope for that car, and so much disappointment after buying it.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        I rented one when they were new, and was really disappointed with it. Buzzy, boring, underpowered and underequipped.

        Have never forgotten about that car ’cause I forgot to fill up its tank before returning it and got slammed with an $80 tank fillup bill…

  • avatar
    arach

    I learned a long time ago not to overaftermarket a DD. If its not a DD, go wild!

    I had a 3000GT VR4. After dumping 20 grand into it, it was so low I couldn’t drive it on most streets or go into driveways/curves. The seats were so tight I felt awful everytime I drove it, and the body kit and paint job was so expensive I was afraid to be anywhere anyone might bump it. The suspension was so tight and the wheels were so big it jarred you to death even on a smooth road. I moved to New York where I couldn’t even register it due to emissions testing. After putting 200 miles on it over several years, I realized I overmodified it to uselessness, and sold it, losing 95% of what I put into it.

    When modifying cars, you lose reliability, trustworthiness, and useability.

    After that experience I’m much more cautious about what I do. Sure if I have a jeep I’ll mod the heck out of it because its for offroad fun only. If its a show car I’ll mod the heck to improve its showability, and if its a race car I mod the heck out of it to improve raceability… But if its a DD I only mod it for daily driving enhancement… Remote start? sure. Floormats? Sure. but not a lowering kit!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “When modifying cars, you lose reliability, trustworthiness, and useability.”

      That depends on the mod, does it not? I mean, I don’t see how installing vent visors on the windows affects reliability, trustworthiness or usability. It just allows you to crack a window in the rain (perfect for smokers, or anyone who gets stuffy, especially if the a/c doesn’t work or if the car isn’t equipped, like my 1999 Saturn), or when leaving the car in a parking lot on a hot day without fear of water intrusion should a storm come up while you’re away from it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        My aftermarket choices back in the day were usually a mild aftermarket stereo (my first 2 trucks were radio only), a push bar to armor up the grill/rad, offroad and fog lights, aftermarket tires/wheels, box liner, and running boards.

        I had installed window/vent visors on my F250. Was handy because I could crack the window in pouring rain or heavy snow and it would keep the elements out.

        The only thing I regretted was trying a tailgate net but hung onto it to use if I had the tailgate down to corral gear.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Re the Denali at the top of the story – Good to know there’s a new picture to go next to the definition of “trying to hard.”

    My personal worst? Raised white letter Firestone 500s on a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham sedan with the factory wire wheel covers.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    Aftermarket stereo in my 1984 VW Rabbit. I was a broke student at the time and needed some tunes, so I bought what I could afford which was an off-brand system from Crappy Tire. Digital display but actually an analog tuner inside level of cheapness. I quickly regretted not splurging on something nicer.

    There are some tacky add-ons on my current pickup truck, but they were installed by a previous owner and would be difficult to remove, the most egregious being the black plastic fender flares. The easiest to remove would be the side window ventshades, but I’ve actually grown to like them because I can leave the windows down about an inch to let hot air escape while parked, but I don’t have to worry about a light rain dripping onto the power window controls.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Well, I didn’t buy it aftermarket, but I did paint the bezel around the gauges, HVAC, etc on my 1993 Taurus. I thought I’d like it, but I hated it. I ended up getting another bezel out of a junk car to erase that mistake from history.

    I kept the bezel inside the gauge cluster, and in fact, that same bezel is in my 1995 right now. Its tasteful and different without being obnoxious. Unlike doing the whole piece that stretched halfway across the dash.

    I also wasted $50 (!) on a 1995 Windstar cluster to put in the 1993. Although it looked almost exactly the same (save for the 120 mph speedometer), it was physically too large and the fuel and temp gauges went wacky when I turned the key on. I kept the 120 speedometer and installed it in a Taurus cluster, which was fine until it waved like a prom queen on the back of a parade float.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d like to put a loud exhaust on my Charger but I think it would be annoying to people around me and I likely won’t keep the car much longer so I probably won’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I rented a Charger Scat Pack this summer, for a week. If you can get an aftermarket exhaust that’ll make yours sound like that car’s stock system, do it. I fell in love with that car’s exhaust sounds, they were absolutely perfect.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    This Saturday I saw a Grand Am with $3K (maybe more) worth of wheels on it. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      When Jeff Foxworthy jokes about his single days he talks about having a stereo that was worth more than the car it was in. At certain age/poverty levels (especially for men) it comes with the territory.

      I was sure it was a sign of the end times the when I first spotted a “Rent-a-Wheel” in Detroit, MI in about 2002.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Its not like they can’t be taken off if the car dies.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        Indeed. That’s why sound systems are an upgrade that makes sense. You might run into trouble only if you install a double-DIN system or big door speakers, then end up replacing the car with one where they don’t fit.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          That’s true, however it isn’t a total loss if you can resell them. Lots of people out there on a budget who would love a second-hand CD/AUX-capable deck to put in their hand-me-down 1999 Malibu to replace the factory tape deck.

          • 0 avatar
            pdieten

            Nah man, nowadays you need the cassette deck. They make Bluetooth-to-cassette adapters for $20. CD/AUX isn’t usable for anything anymore, you can’t aux out of a phone with no headphone jack and nobody uses CDs anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yeah, I bought one. Sounds like utter crap. Actually, my ex bought it for me. Anyway, the sound is very distorted and you can’t turn the volume up or the distortion becomes so great that you can’t hear the music at all.

            I’m sure there are better devices out there, but I plan to install a nice head unit in the car eventually. It’ll be Bluetooth capable and have an aux port.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Let’s just say that I bought into Super Street Magazine hook, line, and sinker in the mid-late ’90s. Yes, I was a wannabe ricer. But for the fact that I had a 1990 Pontiac Sunbird. Thankfully there were absolutely no aftermarket parts for me to waste my money on.
    Except for 16″ wheels
    a full bra
    GTS headlight covers
    and plug-into-the-cigarette-lighter blue neon behind the dash (which I had also completely painted blue to match the exterior)
    vent visors
    anodized ill-fitting metallic blue shifter (automatic) and pedals that were clearly meant to go on a full size pickup truck
    walmart brand bolt on fog lights that were illegal

    Sadly, I did some trim painting that would have looked pretty presentable if it weren’t for the rest of the nonsense I did to it. Thankfully, I like to think I got it all out of me on that car – and a bit more on the next. I’m good now.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    Best: one of the LED strips went out on my 2015 Yukon, so either I manually turn the daytime running lights off every single time I start the truck, or I have one on and one off. Both are pretty annoying, so I shopped for a replacement. The labor on a single light is 2 hours, which told me it was a job better left to a professional.

    You have to replace the entire unit, which was about $1200 with labor from the dealer, about $900 with labor if I bought a single junkyard unit and had a local mechanic do it.

    I settled on a pair of Chinese replacements for maybe $400 total before labor. Yeah the daytime running lights kinda look like a neon white strip of eyeliner instead of the stock look, but knock on wood they still work a few months later.

    I also replaced the stock tape deck/Cd player double DIN combo in my 1995 forerunner with a really sweet double DIN Pioneer unit. That was a great investment.

    Worst: I bought a 1998 wrangler off of a meth head last year. He chromed everything. Every hinge, the windshield wipers, the windshield washer spray nozzles…everything. It is comical up close to see how many bits and bobs are chromed, but I have no intention of spending money to replace those bits with non-meth head parts. I’m a middle aged man in an old lifted bright red jeep; subtle isn’t really happening there.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Best: one of the LED strips went out on my 2015 Yukon…

      Outside of the 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty?

      • 0 avatar
        Cole Trickle

        It had about 102k miles on it when the light went out. I got a honey of a deal on it…cheap enough to suck up the replacement cost on some wear items, considering it came with a lifetime powertrain warranty.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    Several of the stereos I’ve put in my cars were of the cheap variety. Once I put a cheap stereo in a Plymouth Sapporo because the Sapporo’s tape deck went bust. It was so bad in the sound department I put the original Mitsu stereo back in… then the tape deck started working.

    I’ve tried putting in cheap fog lamps on older (80s) cars. They never seem to work all that well, it was about as good as an extra set of amber parking lamps.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I bought a used E36 coupe with an ESS supercharger, and then promptly got the boost bug, smaller pulley,water/meth, numerous emails chip swaps with ESS, (kinda cool to talk to German engineers of the kit actually). It went like stink(great car for track days, very forgiving and linear) and never burned oil, smoked, etc. Sold it at 160k miles. It was a win.
    Then I figured my dream car was an e46 zhp 4 door. My goal was to be faster than an E46 M3. I was able to source a used Active Autowerke kit, which I had a local subie/evo shop install.I’d say the tuning was less polished than ESS, but not unreliable. It was faster than an E46 in a straight line but the car itself had numerous electric maladies(HID projector failures making HIDs more like flashlights, a/c issues, gassing off adhesives from trunk liners. I ended up in a G37S 6mt sedan.
    None of this was the SC kit’s fault though.
    One thing I never did was install coilovers in any of these cars which made them much more livable at 3/10ths.

    If you have time and choose your vendors/installers appropriately and not be afraid to do some mild wrenching it’s quite fun and probably less money than joinging a country club/golf club, season tickets for NFL/MLB.
    I’d join some forums to ask other actual users of their own experiences mods can be quite gratifying.

    That said, now I have kids, so I only peruse the forums to see what other folks are doing.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Most regrettable? A soft top bed cover on my Dodge Dakota. A buddy of mine unsnapped it in the winter and I was never able to get it back on properly again, despite all the recommended tricks.

    Most useful? An adapter that allowed me to use music on a USB stick in my 2006 Mazda 3. Plugged into the external CD player port, it worked great and with the steering wheel controls, as long as you organized the music files in folders CD1 through CD6.

  • avatar
    raph

    Adjustable dampers and suspension on a street car.

    Things I learned from installing adjustable dampers – unless You’ve got time to take it to a road course ( or a drag strip ) the 30 minutes you fiddle with the shocks and struts aren’t going to improve the handling. Your better off just buying a complete non adnistable kit from a specialist or manufacturer and suffering the ridicule of your “hardcore track day buddies that take the offramp at 10 over and hit VIR every other year.

    Things I learned from installing adjustable suspension – it increases maintenance costs by a factor of 2 at least and requires the same commitment in maintenance time and like the above example better to be called a posuer by your cool arse track rat buddies with thier clapped out street/track cars who perpetually keep tier 3 rubber companies in the black.

  • avatar
    srh

    I installed an after-market winch bumper on my Chevy 3500 CC LWB. Then I got to thinking….

    Given that I’d just replaced a bumper specifically engineered to crumple to improve safety in the event of a crash with what is, in effect, a steel battering ram: What happens if I get in a wreck, especially if it’s my fault, and someone (else) gets killed? Am I more liable? Even if I’m not, I’d sure feel awful.

    I ended up selling the truck, and will not be making similar modifications in the future. Just not worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      At stock ride height, a bumper mod is going to have minor effects in a collision compared to lifting a truck so that its bumper rides over those of other vehicles.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I just put adjustable camber arms on the front end of my lowered G37. Well, $500 and not much camber later, looks like the new ball joints are longer enough that I’m making contact with the A-arm and frame. Seriously debating putting it back to stock to get my travel back as it was fine before.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    Not my regret but a friend’s: metal brushguard on full size pickup. Hang 100 pounds of pig iron off of to learn about understeer first hand.

  • avatar
    raph

    Just remembered this. I can’t recall the trans builder off hand. Company out of some small town in Pennsylvania as I recall but I had been steadily reading about their modified Ford AOD transmissions that supposey could handle some serious power. They had received coverage in several magazines.

    At the same time I was living with a girl who had replaced her 305 powered IROC Z with a higher output 350 and was running into problems with the stock 4 speed auto behind it.

    I recommended that company, she ordered, had the trans installed by a competent installer and the trans crapped out on her in short order.

    The installer called us down to examine the disassembled trans and started showing us all the shoddily modified parts in a supposedly professionally built and modified trans.

    Looking over the bill later I noticed a disclaimer about any legal disputes had to be arbitrated in the company’s home town.

    A few quiet nights alone watching TV and 1500 bucks later out of my savings account lesson learned about major hobby magazines being little more than long form advertisements and don’t trust aftermarket suppliers that haven’t been in business for 25 years or more.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    When I was 16, I replaced the speakers in my 1987 Taurus. This was a sparsely equipped GL with just four speakers: two 5x7s in the rear deck and two useless 3 1/2 cones in the dash. Obviously the replacements didn’t improve things at all given that the most audible speakers were 3 1/2s.

    So I thought I’d add real front speakers in the doors, like Premium Sound cars had. I couldn’t find Premium Sound grilles or speaker brackets at the junkyard. So I tried mounting 6 1/2″ speakers directly to the door panels. Better yet, I thought that with careful drilling I could just drill holes in the plastic covers that occupied the spot in the door card where the Premium Sound grilles would go.

    Obviously my plan to drill holes was a colossal failure. It’s really hard to drill holes in slippery plastic in any sort of precise way, and in any case drilled holes were not sufficient to allow sound through. And direct mounting in the doors also didn’t help, obviously. Until I was able to find real Premium Sound brackets and grilles in a junkyard several months later, I had the world’s riciest Taurus interior and a stereo that still sounded like crap.

    Eventually I did it right, finding all of the Premium Sound components, and ended up with a 6-speaker system with outboard amplification that looked stock and actually sounded decent. But I had to learn from a few mistakes first.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    I’m pleased with the LED stop/running lights I put on my ’67 Healey. I’ve had other drivers tell me my brake lights weren’t working; often because I engine brake as much as possible, but the low-mounted, stock bulbs are hard to see.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Short of the aftermarket wheels and lowering springs (from the manufacturer) on my Mazda2, I haven’t really modified anything. The wheels haven’t been a problem, and the springs are less than a week old, so no issues yet.

    The only other change I tried to make was upgrading the cassette player in my Cavalier to a CD player. I first tried buying a junkyard player out of a Sunfire, before finding out it wouldn’t fit, and then found a unit out of another Cavalier, but found out my car wasn’t wired for it. The sensible thing to do would have been to just swap the original unit back in and use a cassette adapter, but I never got around to it. On the other hand, it would’ve cost me $20-30, so I wasn’t out a ton of money for my screw up.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I did an eBay cold air intake on my 01 Focus. It sounded “cool” until it popped off one day and the car stalled. I was able to fix it in 5 minutes, but I never trusted it after that. Plus, any WOT made lots of noise, so much that my little brother was followed by a cop once, even though it wasn’t fast and he wasn’t going fast.

    Aftermarket stereos and speakers I’ve done a few times, but no major modifications. If it’s not a “plug and play” kind of mod, not crazy about it .

    My new Golf has me thinking. I can make it GTI-lite, but do I want to? I’ll drive it awhile and see.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Actual gutter-shield mesh fitted to the inside of my ’90 Civic Wagon’s lower grille. Removed shortly afterwards thankfully. I also had and AutoZone “SiR” sticker and cheesy “Type R” something or other belt pads. I have no shame. The front ended up getting a ’94 Accord lower lip spoiler and some reasonably tasteful foglights, and some ’99 Civic Si rims. Blatant rice (stickers and shoulder belt pads) aside, it was a pretty nice looking car IMO.

  • avatar
    ColoradoFX4

    Installing a 3″ lift and 30″ tires on a 2WD 4-cylinder Ranger. It still sucked off road since it wasn’t a 4×4, the already stiff ride was made worse, front tire wear became problematic, and it went from being dog slow to being oh-my-God-that-semi-is-going-to-slam-into-me slow.

    It did look cooler though.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    Hurst Line-Lock on an ’81 Z28. Awesome fun until one -35 Alberta winter night. It just cracked open and I lost the front brakes coming up on a red light. Slid right through the (fortunately empty at 2:00am) intersection. Nursed the car home at 20 mph and parked it until it warmed up enough to rip the thing out.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I bought a Bavarian number plate for the front of my X5—you know, the one built in South Carolina. I had it on for all of five seconds until I realized it interfered with the parking sensors, and then I removed it and bowed my head in shame for ever having considered such a tacky idea.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Ha
      I put an old German plate on my 1984 300D. I liked it. I also got comments and complements on it. Ended up hating the car, and never planning to own a German car again (at least not in the foreseeable future), I left it on when I sold it.

  • avatar
    Weskyvet

    1988 Olds Cutlass Supreme Classic and I put 3 inch diameter chrome side pipes on it… Scraped over every bump and with every turn especially with people riding with me. Sounded freakin awesome though!!!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I spent STOOPID money on my 1989 Ford Probe. I didn’t DIY any of it, so at least the work was done right – but I spent STOOPID money on it.

    Full Ferrari Testarossa style aero kit and rear spoiler (door panels, front, rear, side skirts, all of it. Had the roof painted gloss black (body was red) to match the 30% tint (which was a whoa, you did what thing in 1990). Full Viper alarm system with remote locks, glass and motion sensor. Over $5000 in stereo equipment in 1990 dollars – 2-1/2 DIN chassis dash installed, all Alpine, AM/FM/Cassette/CD and 11 band EQ with bass crossover. Twenty speakers – you could melt earwax. The whole car would vibrate. Still had a serviceable trunk. Custom exhaust, catalytic converter, ehem, delete option, 15″ Fitapaldi Fitistar mono piece rims with the Yokohama 008R rubber summer, Y352 rubber spring/fall, and snow tires winter. A real car phone (I was doing sales) – think old school hard mounted car phone, with a green display to match the OEM green display and the green display of the Alpine equipment because I’m OCD like that. Between the stock buttons and switches, stereo, trip computer, and phone there were literally over 100 buttons in the cockpit. Take that modern Buick!!!

    You get the idea.

    STOOPID amounts of money. You only live once.

  • avatar

    Out of 27 cars in the past 18 years, my only regret is that I couldn’t keep them all.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    My only aftermarket regret was foglights on a Caprice. I had to talk myself into it because I disparage those with full time foglights, but I actually wanted foglights to use in fog. They were great at first but I could never get them to stay pointed, I couldn’t get the location right. I eventually scraped them off in an intersection with a dip.

  • avatar
    guardian452

    Set of 6 Denso-brand ignition coils and dorman cats, and a pioneer CD player with BT in our old ford escape.

    My current ND mx5 I have installed Lumileds brand LED wedge lights (t10) in the corner reflectors and license positions (in the appropriate colors, of course) I tried cheap philips-brand similar stuff in my old 3 but they were unreliable.

    No regrets.

  • avatar
    beachy

    Had a Sunbeam Alpine, it had cool fins so I thought I would get the recommended muffler from J C Whitney, so it would sound cool. Ridiculous farting noises and stinky smoke as the cheap black paint burned off of it.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’ve replaced stereo head units and speakers several times (multiple cars) in an effort to not only play MP3 CDs (didn’t finally breakdown and buy an MP3 device until 5 years ago), but also to acquire what I thought would be decent sound. I’ve even gone so far as to put in the tacky subwoofers which take up 90% of useable trunk space; these were the cheap Best Buy specials installed at home. Since I don’t listen to a lot of hip hop with crisp bass notes the subs don’t really do anything but sound muddy and vibrate. I haven’t installed them in a subsequent car since getting rid of my Kia several cars ago; they’re still in my shed. I mostly listen to podcasts now nd don’t require tons of audio equipment. My goal of decent sound never came to fruition.

    I do have a set of black dedicated winter rims and tires though, since the 19s on the Mazda are expensive and I’ve had these winter tires for awhile anyway. I also have an aftermarket heating element in the drivers seat.

    That’s all I’m likely to do aside from tint come spring.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I generally do my best to keep the cars as close to stock and showroom new in appearance as possible, and generally have no interest in aftermarket anything (except tires and suspension parts that can offer a more comfortable ride without a complete overhaul….shocks and bushings, mostly)

    Yet, I like the look of the a specific light up grille emblem for my Audi. Sadly, every single person I mention this to, even the non-car people in my life, seem to indicate that it’s gaudy or too flashy/douche-tastic….and is something for young drivers in riced-out cars.

    I’m torn….its aftermarket, and seems to give off the opposite vibe that I want (although, I really don’t think a lighted grille is the same as those awful undercarriage neon lights or colored headlamps), but I REALLY want to do this.

    While I’ve seen some awful neon colors and really bright ones, I think something like this (white, and not nearly as bright as any of the actually useful front lamps) would look fine on my Q7:

    https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.audiworld.com-vbulletin/1024×768/80-foto_raf0234_e60806ac9105dad83d3f7306f7ce46ec635feb4a.jpg

    What says the B&B…should I just discard this idea?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      If you want to do it, DO IT! Its your car, not theirs. Its also removable if you decide you don’t like it.

      Go for it, man.

      My ex said he dreamed that I had a lit up Ford oval on my Taurus. I can honestly say I’d never considered it before he brought it up.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Sure I put white letter tires on years ago and aftermarket wheels that are of course long out of style but I can’t say I really regretted it.

    I still modify cars but usually it is with OE parts. For example the F150 I bought this summer that lacked a hitch and running boards or a step bar. Sure there are many mfgs of hitches but instead of doing that I went to the wrecking yard and found an OE Ford hitch. Bonus was it was on half price day so I was out the door with tax and entry fee for under $20 and it bolted on and the 7 pin harness plugged right in place of the 4 pin. Still looking for factors step bars.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Very nice.

      I’m thinking of adding a remote keyless entry system to my Taurus. A buddy in Canada with a 1993 did and it works great. He even installed the trunk popper. I would really love to have a remote lock/unlock and trunk popper.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    UPS saved me from a bad decision.

    When I first got my Mazda3, I was very interested in a stainless, catless, header-back Corksport racing exhaust. No smog in Saskatchewan so catless is legal. But they shipped using UPS, and anyone who has used UPS to ship something from the U.S. to Canada without all taxes and duties pre-paid by the shipper would never do it again. So I passed. My hatred for UPS was stronger than my desire for the exhaust.

    Since then I have observed many failed attempts to improve a vehicle by changing the exhaust, and even experienced one myself. Most aftermarket exhausts are not pleasurable during normal driving conditions, and they certainly don’t smell good without a cat. So I’m glad I didn’t waste my time and money doing it to my own car.

    I’ve found that the intake is a a better way to experience the engine sound, and improvements can often be made just by removing resonators. Intake mods are much quieter under low load conditions and less likely to have any drone or resonance.

  • avatar

    I’ve installed after market stereos in everything I’ve owned pre-1998. Always an improvement over the factory radio/stereo. I was good at installing so whatever I put in looked like it was meant to be there. During that time I rarely listened to radio due to commercials and music I didn’t want to listen to along with music I did. Tape – later CD changer – made it possible to listen to what I chose. My favorite system was a Clarion quad 8-track, which in a car setting sounded great. Never went the separate amp trip, just used the 40 watts in the stereo itself which, for me, was fine. The only time I regretted doing the installs was the speaker installs in my 72 Charger. While it was done well, cut-outs were necessary in the front kick panels. When I got rid of the car I felt I couldn’t remove the speakers leaving the holes. Probably should have anyway as the car had 286K on it (318 in it). The next owner drove it for a few more years after having a collision with it during the winter which messed up the front bumper. My guess it went over 300k easily.

    The only other aftermarket thing I did was “rainbow tape” pinstriping. It looked cool at night under street lighting.

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