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The 10 Best Ways to Upgrade Your Car for Less Than $5,000

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You want your car to be faster, look faster, and make you feel cooler, so you’ve decided to customize it a bit. What you know is that you don’t want to end up like your friend who drives a 2012 Civic with two spoilers, un-padded seats, a bunch of fake sponsorships, and a general air of tastelessness. So you know what not to do, but you’re not sure where to start, and that’s why we’re here.

1. Get Better Brakes


If you ask a pro driver about what separated good from great, there’s a good chance he’ll say “braking.” We know that slowing down isn’t really what you think of when you think of racing, but it has to happen before every corner, and the better your brakes are, the more time you can stay on the throttle before entry.

Carbon ceramic brake pads also have the advantage of not gunking up your nice new wheels with grey brake dust.

2. Get a Custom Paint Job

paint job

Yeah, we know you can spend way more than $5,000 on paint, but you can also get a kick ass job done for $3,000 to $5,000. Pick a shade that is hard to find on a stock car, like a very deep pearl red, and name it something like sangue rosso (blood red), or get a tasteful, asymmetrical racing stripe.

If you’re looking to save some cash, go for a vinyl wrap. If you’re hoping to jump on the matte paint trend, we go vinyl too, as it’s nowhere near as finicky as real matte paint and looks just as good.

3. ECU Tuning

ecu tuning

This is probably the easiest way to get some more power out of your engine, especially if it’s a factory turbo engine. All that’s going on here is a software update. Needless to say, if you don’t go with a reputable tuner, your engine can get seriously screwed up. Just because you can push the rev limiter up to 18,000 rpms doesn’t mean you should.

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