Getting stir crazy yet? I know I am. As I sit here writing this, I have no less than 23 browser tabs open on different parts and guides on how to do various jobs and upgrades on my money pit of a Bronco project. So I was thinking, since I already covered 5 repairs you can do yourself at home, why not expand that out to upgrades as well?
With all the time in the world to get this stuff done, what better time than now to pick up a wrench and save a little cash on labor by doing these upgrades yourself? Like I said previously, even with how complicated and overwrought with computers cars have become, the most of the core systems haven’t actually changed all that much over the past few decades, and you’d be surprised what you can get done in your driveway with hand tools, some elbow grease, and a few well placed curse words.
5 Upgrades You Can Do Yourself:
1) Cold Air Intake:
Skill Level: 1/5
Need something to occupy your kid’s time with that isn’t scribbling on the walls or spending money on the app store? This is a dead simple one that you can do with even little tykes, giving them a little experience turning a wrench and giving them a reason to get dirty that’s actually productive for once.
99% of our intake kits bolt right up in the factory location with no drilling or permanent modification needed. This is a great first mod to get you (or your kid) comfortable with doing something yourself. Plus, you’ll learn a little about how this stuff all works. Like the Mass Airflow sensor (MAF) that tells the computer how much airflow the intake is bringing in order to calculate how much fuel to add.
Skill Level: 0/5-1/5 depending
Most performance tuners plug right into the OBDII port under the dash and can reprogram your ECU at the push of a button. Depending on the model, you can attach the unit to your dash or windshield to make use of the digital dash or performance monitoring features, or if your tuner doesn’t have those options, you can stick it in the glove box until it’s time to tweak again.
In-line tuners can be a little more involved of a process, as they work by intercepting signals going to and from the ECU and tweaking them instead of reprogramming the ECU itself. Our SEO guy Jeff here at the office installed a Banks Derringer in his EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee in about 20 minutes and only a few choice curse words during install, and a few happier ones once he floored it on level 6.
Skill Level: 3/5
This one will vary more by your specific vehicle, and how rusted in place those god forsaken bolts have become. You also may need to rent or borrow a spring compressor (they can be had or rented at your local auto parts or hardware store). Though if you can get away with just removing the whole strut as one assembly, I highly recommend it. If I never had to touch another coil spring compressor, I’d die a happy man.
You can up the ante a little bit with a full lift or lowering kit, as long as they’re all bolt-on modifications, suspension work is usually pretty straight forward. Also, these brands are usually pretty good about giving solid instructions with the kits. You will probably have to take it somewhere to get an alignment done, though. No shame in that.
4) Catback Exhaust Kits and Headers:
Skill Level: 2/5-4/5 depending
This one is a mixed bag, though luckily most catback kits are bolt on with exhaust clamps and V-bands, and mount to the factory exhaust hangars. Something like installing just a muffler, or with factory kits that were fully welded, you might need a shop or handy friend to do the welding for you. Still, for most applications, they can be done in an afternoon.
Headers are another mixed bag. For some cars it’s a simple matter of a few bolts and an afternoon of your time, and for others it requires a serious headache in removing other parts and components to get to the headers. It’s a good idea to do some research and look up some instructional guides to get a feel for how doable it is for your vehicle. Also, keep that penetrating oil handy, those bolts usually do not come out easy.
5) Car Audio:
Skill Level: 1/5-3/5 depending
Replacing your stereo head unit isn’t quite as easy in modern cars as it was in the days of standardized DIN and double DIN slots (damn you, innovation), however it’s still not too bad in most cars. These days you can get kits with everything you need to adapt the aftermarket stereo to your dash, including a custom fit bezel so everything still looks relatively factory.
Then things like installing amps and replacing speakers is perfectly doable at home, and is just about as easy as it ever was. Door panels pop out with a few screws and pulling on some clips, wiring for subwoofers and amps can be run under the carpet, etc. There are tons and tons of guides out there online as well, as this is a classic DIY car project.
So what projects are you guys tackling? Have any questions on a direction to go with your project? Drop a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!