Why you shouldn't modify new cars
Durban - So you've bought a brand new car and you're already feeling that itch to modify it. You want to squeeze more power out of it, improve its looks and add your personal touch to your ride. But before you get all carried away there are numerous pitfalls to consider before you carry out any performance enhancing modifications to your brand new car.
As far as your insurance company is concerned, your car is brand new and exactly as it came from the factory. If you embark on a performance modification spree, you run the risk that insurance will not pay out in the event of an accident.
When posed with this question, Outsurance client care advisor Sipho Nhlapo pointed out that full coverage can be offered to clients who modify their vehicles, provided that all performance enhancing modifications done to the vehicle are disclosed.
This will however, affect the client's risk factor and increase the insurance premium. It goes without saying then, that you need to have a conversation with your insurer before you even think of modifying your ride.
Warranty and service plans
While all cars come with a warranty, most vehicles these days are also sold with a service plan as standard, with some higher end products covering even more than the routine services with comprehensive motor plans. Yet with modifications, you risk losing these aforementioned perks, all of which have been built into the purchase price of the vehicle.
We consulted two car manufacturers for clarification on this and the news is not good for those with the modding itch.
Ford SA's PR officer Minesh Bhagaloo told us that Ford does not endorse any tuning companies and that any performance enhancing modifications done to their vehicles will render the motor plan, and vehicle warranty, void if it is ascertained that the problems relevant to any given claim were as a result of the modifications done.
Volkswagen SA's PR manager Andile Dlamini said: "The manufacturer warranty will be impacted in a case where a claim is directly related to a problem or problems that may have been caused by any modifications to the vehicle. Volkswagen South Africa does not endorse any tuning or modification companies."
Both Volkswagen and Ford will conduct their own investigations in such cases.
As most people who modify cars know, performance modifications will generally make your vehicle less reliable in the long run due to the additional strain on its various components.
So what mods can I do?
For a brand new car, the only modifications that you should consider doing are aesthetic ones that do not tamper with the structure or mechanical functioning of the vehicle.
You could consider a snazzy set of rims, anti smash-and-grab window tint and perhaps even a bonnet guard that looks appealing but serves the function of protecting your vehicle from paint damage and stone chips.
You could also consider upgrading the audio system but make sure that you do not interfere with the existing wiring of the vehicle or make modifications to the structure of your vehicle.
Is there really nothing else?
If you have a vehicle that has exceeded its service/maintenance plan and the warranty has just expired but the mileage is not very high, there are solutions available to you in the world of car customisation.
One such option comes from a company called Racechip Chiptuning. Provided that your vehicle engine has less than 100 000km on the clock, Racechip Chiptuning offers engine warranties on the work that it performs. For the product 'Racechip Ultimate', a two-year warranty is offered on the engine and drive components (excluding clutch and transmission components) and a one-year engine warranty is offered for the 'Racechip Pro2' product.
There are other companies such as CPI Tuning and Revo Tuning that also offer warranties on workmanship and engine warranties that are tailored to the vehicle that you intend modifying.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that if you want to modify a car, it is better to start working on a vehicle that is not brand new and which has exceeded its service plan and warranty. If you can afford to, keep your brand new car completely standard and purchase an older model car to tinker with in your spare time.
This concept is called having a 'daily drive' and a 'weekend car'.