It is really not what you do to your car, but what you do with it and how it makes you feel. Given the amount of investment to buy and maintain a car, it’s natural to pamper it, and add character to your personal ride.
And no, pimping your car does not have to be all about racy modifications to the car’s body kit, engine tuning or loud exhaust kits.
Tweaks to your ride can be subtle and tasteful with comfort, appearance and ease of maintenance in mind.
What you can and cannot do
As you think about modifying your ride, note that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has exhaustively categorised vehicle modifications into three broad categories.
Modifications that do not need LTA approval include aesthetic enhancements to the car’s body such as stickers, wraps, bumpers, spoilers, wheels and tyres as well as practical additions like bicycle racks.
On the inside, personalisation to the dashboard area, such as upgraded infotainment systems, sound systems and gauges can also be added without fear of breaking the law.
Lastly, wear-and-tear bits such as tyres, oil filters and fuel additives can all be replaced without worry.
On the other hand, modifications that require LTA approval are those that affect a vehicle’s performance.
As vehicle type approval is based on performance specifications from its manufacturer, any change to the engine, transmission and exhaust systems has to be approved for the sake of safety.
LTA strictly prohibits modifications such as changes to a vehicle chassis and the addition of details like tinted headlamps or undercarriage lights and air horns. These are considered safety infringements.
While the modified rides featured in The Fast & Furious film franchise are highly desirable for many, they might not be allowed, But here are a few practical and tasteful nip-and-tuck options for drivers to consider.
Besides superior stopping power, upgrading the brake rotors and calipers can also boost your car’s performance and looks. However, do your research and shortlist the right kits to match your driving style, and yet fit your car’s make and model. For better performance and durability, opt for semi‑metallic brake pads, carbon ceramic pads or brake rotors that are coated with anti‑corrosion plating.
If you are an avid cyclist or regularly haul loads around, consider investing in a rack or pod for greater convenience. Poorly fitted racks are not just unsafe, but will also compromise a car’s aerodynamics, which in turn affects fuel consumption. Do note that your car’s licence plate should not be obscured.
As the contact points between your car and the road, a good set of tyres can have a big impact. The options vary greatly too, from performance tyres that improve grip on wet roads to those developed to improve fuel efficiency.
Nothing helps your car stand out as distinctly as a sporty set of rims. While they can help shave weight and increase performance, do check that they sized correctly for your car to avoid compromising comfort.
Regular washing, polishing and waxing will go a long way in maintaining your car’s original showroom shine. Also consider long-term paint protection options such as ceramic coats or vinyl wraps. But do remember to update LTA on any colour change – it is a legal requirement.
Air and oil filters
Swopping your original air and oil filters for aftermarket ones can improve performance with better air and oil flow through your engine. Decide if you need your air filters for better filtration or for a much higher air flow to produce more horsepower. Choose the oil filters based on the viscosity of your car’s engine oil for them to filter efficiently.
With heavy rain and thunderstorms a common occurrence in Singapore, a good pair of wiper blades ensures that you always get the best possible visibility. Silicon blades are more resistant to extreme heat, last longer, and glide more smoothly across a wet windscreen.