Tech Corner: Top 10 Areas to Skimp Out During a Budget Build

Tech Corner - BeginnerA budget build focuses on a particular goal and chooses to leave out most other upgrades. Because of this, there are a lot of times when builders debate what can and can’t be left out. For us to say the same things can be left out of every budget build is nearly impossible—simply because no two builds are going to be the same. And often the base platform for a budget build is a used vehicle, which means there are no constant variables when it comes to the condition or starting point. Additionally, every builder will have a different goal in mind. With that in mind, we aren’t going to talk about what to leave out—rather when it’s okay to leave it out.

Intake Manifold

Aftermarket intake manifolds and systems are a great way to squeeze more power out of almost any engine. However, they will almost always add around $300 to the build’s price tag. So, you have to ask yourself if this the best place to spend your money. A lot of sleepers use stock manifolds and heads on top of modified bottom ends and valve trains. Perhaps these are better areas to focus on modifying.

Fancy Hoses

Yeah, it sure is captivating to pop the hood when even the odds and ends are dazzled up, but it’s not always essential. And moving to AN fittings and braided lines adds a lot of money to a build. It’s a given to address these areas during any budget build. (After all, they’re likely at the end of their lifespan.) But unless the build has specific rules to follow, you can save a lot of money using original equipment where possible.


A budget build is a budget build. Yes, there are nearly unlimited benefits to having larger wheels on a car. And for this type of build, it is okay to go with larger wheels. However, just because they’re bigger doesn’t mean they need to be flashy. Wheels aren’t exactly cheap to begin with, so picking up a set from a closeout section or going with a set of steelies is a great substitute to dropping a bunch of cash on a set of mags.

Sway Bars

Sway bars are a great way to tie the vehicle together and improve handling. However, going too large can run you a lot of money. If handling is on the agenda, you probably won’t want to skip this step. But if factory equipment is in there, you might want to save the cash for some other upgrades.


Ratchet shifters, V-gate Shifters, Sidewinders, etc. certainly enhance the experience for particular driving styles, but they all cost money. You can save yourself a few bills by using what you’ve already got. Consider it a good excuse to make yourself appear more hardcore than those who need the added assistance of an aftermarket shifter.


Budget builds typically don’t make stupid amounts of power, which likely means that the stock differential can take what you’re throwing at it. Now, just like any other area, if it needs a rebuild—it needs a rebuild. Throwing in a good carrier and ring gear may not be a bad choice, but investing in the toughest differential for an economy build may be a moot point.


Headlight conversions are super tempting, especially with older vehicles. They don’t get the engine running, though. If you’re really pinching pennies, forget swapping to LED’s, even if you’ve got sealed beams in there. They’ll do the job, for now.


Race seats cut out a lot of weight, but they aren’t always a must-have. In fact, using the stock seats is a fine way to save some cash. If saving weight is a concern, consider removing the rear seat. (After all, it’s free.) And if your heart is set on that upgrade but you want to save some dough, refrain from reaching for the top brand and shop around for some special deals.


Ever wonder why high school students always go for glass packs? Because it’s affordable. Used vehicles and exhaust work go hand-in-hand. If the mufflers need to be replaced, you can save some money and gain some performance by going with glass packs. Yes, it will be loud and maybe even obnoxious. That’s okay, just blast some hair metal to drown it out. That’s what all the cool kids are doing, right?


Perhaps the biggest money saver is being comfortable in your own skin. Now, we’re not saying to ignore any major body work or broken glass, but the missing trim and superficial dents aren’t going to hold you back. In fact, they might just give you some character.

We want to hear all about your budget builds in the comments below—remember to include pics. Like and share!

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