Tech Corner: Top 10 Car Mods Beginners Should (or Shouldn’t?) Be Doing at Home

Tech Corner - IntermediateOne of the most useful skills a person can have is the ability to work on their own vehicle. Aside from saving money, it’s very rewarding to know how to take care of your own problems. Although, newcomers might be wondering where to start. There’s a lot of media out there making jobs seem either super easy or terribly over-complicated. Today, let’s clear up some of that smoke. We’re going to take a look at a few popular modifications and break down which ones are great for just getting started—and which are better left alone until some experience is established. Let’s start with some great car mods for beginners.

Go For It! Easy Car Mods for Beginners


This is probably the best place to get started when trying to familiarize yourself with the types of operating systems that are in a vehicle. Whether it’s replacing pads, rotors, lines, or making some upgrades to this area, the work is really easy to do and doesn’t take up a whole lot of time.

It is dirty work, however, and you’ll want a friend around to help you out your first few times. But after a few jobs, it becomes pretty routine. And once it’s mastered, you’ll feel encouraged to learn other parts of the vehicle.

Rocker Arms

The design of overhead valve engines makes it easy to pop off a valve cover and access the rocker arms. Which is good, because factory rocker arms with standard ratios leave a lot of room for improvement. With an older engine, newcomers will likely need to become familiar with this area for setting valve lash. Replacing them with aftermarket units is as easy as adjusting them, and we definitely consider this an easy enough project to tackle as a greenhorn.

Intake Manifold Upgrades

The intake manifold has been a focal point of projects and modifications ever since people have been seeking improvements in power and efficiency. What’s best about intake upgrades is how easy they are to do.

Whether it’s swapping out the old cast iron intake on a hot rod or slapping a cold air intake on a modern engine, this is a good way to start learning how engines work and how to upgrade them.


As far as easy car mods for beginners go—every newbie should learn how to tune an engine or install a tune. It’s a great way to increase a vehicle’s power output, fuel economy, and drivability. Whether it’s using a handheld tuner or tinkering with a timing light, screwdriver, and a keen eye, it’s a great way to tap into and understand a vehicle’s operating systems. With modern engines, a handheld unit with a comprehensive interface makes this a one-man job anyone can take on. Older engines require the other equipment we mentioned and a helping hand. Even though a few hours of studying this job will be pretty easy, we still recommend you ask an experienced person to be your on-site companion.

Carb/Throttle Body Upgrades

Factory carburetors and throttle bodies can be a bit restrictive for high horsepower applications. Luckily, anyone who’s thinking about trying to make this upgrade in their garage will be surprised by how easy it is to do.

In reality, sensors, a few bolts, vacuum lines, and throttle and choke cables are all that stands in the way—all of which can be easily removed. While making the swap, you may want to consider installing a spacer to help make even more power. This is a basic job with big rewards and any newcomer can tackle it.

The above listed projects are some ideal car mods for beginners to get their feet wet. But some tasks are better left to the pros until you’ve had a little more practice.

Eh, Newbie, Maybe You Shouldn’t Touch That Just Yet…

Machine work

Newbies can find themselves inspired to crack into automotive work after a gasket blows. In many instances, the problem can be warped surfaces.

Now, you may want to repair old heads or intakes rather than purchasing new units as it’s a good way to save money. And there are some people who would suggest that resurfacing machined components can be done at home. However, we suggest you just opt to go to a machine shop, as this type of work does require a little more precision than the typical tools laying around the house can provide.

Mounting Tires

Those who’ve been in the unfortunate situation of having their tire ripped from the bead know that there are some easy ways to blast the tire back into place. In some instances, these tricks can be rather dangerous. Besides, after a tire is mounted it must be balanced. For the labor it requires and the amount of money a tire shop charges to do it, we definitely recommend the help of a professional.

Engine Building

Tearing down and building an engine from the oil pan to the intake is the ultimate way to show off one’s mechanical abilities. But it really isn’t the smartest of car mods for beginners to start with if they’re on their own. We certainly encourage anyone to put themselves to the test, but engines have a lot of moving parts and operating systems inside. Not to say it can’t be done, but it’s easy to make one small mistake with big consequences.

Frame/Structural Work

Vehicles are subjected to abuse and at times, parts can become rusty or bent up. When it comes to body panels, it’s a great idea to sharpen your skills by getting into body work. But when structural pieces like the frame become rotted or bent, it’s best to seek out professional help. Safety of the driver and passengers is on the line when it comes to structural components, so if a repair is needed in this area—we say let the pros do it.

Windshield Replacement

Learn it the hard way. Replacing windshields sounds super easy on paper. But is it, really? This job can become very frustrating and at the end of the day the amount of money and time spent could easily justify sourcing it out to a professional. Ask anyone in the field: there’s no pride lost in letting the pros do this job.

Did we miss something you want us to explore further? Let us know your thoughts! 

%d bloggers like this: