The 5 Worst Car Upgrades You Could Ever Install On Your Vehicle
What are some of the worst car mods you've ever seen? It seems like the litany of automotive offenses grows longer every day as ill-informed owners strive to improve performance, save a few bucks on gas, or up the style quotient of their car all without doing any basic research about the products they are buying, or using common sense when evaluating the claims made by the people selling these miracle parts.
We put together this list looking at the history of bad car upgrades and picked out some perennial contenders for the least-useful aftermarket gear you could ever add to your vehicle.
5. The Tornado Electric Turbocharger / Turbonator
What if I told you there was a tiny, 12-volt fan you could stuff into your car's air intake that would boost horsepower and fuel economy to the point where its $25 purchase price seems like the steal of the century? And what if I also told you that no automaker on the planet had ever thought to install this one simple device in any of their production models? Finally, what if I called it an 'electric supercharger?'
Would you buy it then?
Surprisingly, thousands of people answered 'yes' to all of the above and elected to stuff the 'Turbonator,' or some variation of it, inside the intake tube leading to their motor. Rather than actually provide any benefits by way of 'disrupting' air molecules to improve combustion, these sometimes passive, sometimes powered devices are actually more adept at blocking engine airflow than anything else, reducing performance and causing a motor to suck down more gas. Or maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones who have the fan's metal blades come apart and fly into the motor, doing thousands of dollars of damage in the process.
4. Lambo Doors
Once upon a time, Lamborghini decided to solve a problem caused by the body shape of the Countach sports car by installing a scissor hinge that lifted its doors up and away from the vehicle itself. In addition to helping the doors clear the vehicle's ultra-wide sills, this also made it easier for owners to pop open the door and get a clear view behind them while reversing—something that the Countach's vestigial rearward visibility from inside the cabin did not allow for.
In the ensuing decades since the Lamborghini debuted, hundreds of attention-seekers have created an entirely new problem by installing scissor doors where scissor doors were never intended to be found. While the Countach was designed around the feature, adding a hinge to any other vehicle that requires driver and passenger to lift a much heavier door that was intended to swing out instead just creates a hassle for everyone involved. This is especially true if found on a truck or SUV that already has clearance issues in a parking garage.
Oh, and good luck in a rollover.
3. Fuel Line Magnets
Fuel line magnets hail from a long line of automotive snake oil upgrades that claim to solve something that was never a problem in the first place. In this case, it's the fear from some vehicle owners that unseen contaminants are lurking inside gasoline, ready to do major damage to their engines over the course of regular driving.
Major fuel producers have already run the gasoline sold at the pump through a huge number of filters to make sure that it doesn't contain any impurities that could damage your engine. But wait—what if they missed something that could be easily pulled out of the fuel flow with a one-dollar magnet wrapped around your gas line or fuel filter? Surely this is something no one at Big Oil had ever thought to consider.
Even more far-fetched are claims that magnets can 'activate' fuel molecules and 'prepare' then for combustion. In terms of actual science, it's about as effective as a snap bracelet. And who still owns a snap bracelet?
2. Exhaust Whistle Tip
Whistle tips attach to the end of a car's exhaust system and emit an irritating high-pitch frequency that not just dogs but everyone within a half-mile radius can hear. If you thought a cackling exhaust was great at helping make friends with neighbors, just wait until the whistle tip wakes them up as part of a morning commute.
You know what segment of the general population is especially good at picking up the high-pitched tone of a whistle tip? Cops. Installing a set of whistle tips is like ringing a dinner bell for law enforcement offices of every stripe looking to beef up their quota on moving violations by the end of the month.
1. Anti-Static Straps
Of all the items on this list of dubious car upgrades, anti-static straps are among the oldest and most treasured piece of pseudo-technology ever attached to an automobile. Chances are you've seen a rubber strap of some kind hanging from the back bumper or chassis of a muscle car, pickup, or ancient sedan, and wondered what would compel someone to drag anything behind their vehicle all day, every day.
In word: static electricity. Apparently, random static discharge is a plague so heinous that it's responsible for killing your cell phone and radio reception, giving you car sickness, sapping your energy, attracting dust to your car so it's harder to see at night, and shocking you endlessly through your seatbelt buckle as your tool around town. Sound ridiculous? Those are actual claims made by strap sellers, which purport to keep the car 'grounded' at all times.
Unless you're driving a truck though a fuel refinery or work in the natural gas industry, chances are the occasional static shock isn't going to have a negative impact on your lifestyle. For everyone else, these straps, which often contain multithreaded wire wrapped inside their rubber or are infused with carbon—aren't likely to do anything other than get stolen by the neighborhood kids.
Once you're done with the worst car upgrades, why not check out some of the worst names ever to have been affixed to an automobile?