Do tuned cars lose value?

Karolis Bareckas

Karolis Bareckas

A quality car tuning service can cost tens of thousands of dollars, increasing a vehicle’s value and attracting looks on the street. However, not all tuning adds value, and it can be hard to sell a tuned car.

There are numerous reasons why a vehicle may lose value after tuning. In this article, we’ll discuss how to minimize financial risks when tuning your car.

Looks can be deceiving!

Don't risk your safety - check it with carVertical first

Get report

How do custom modifications affect the resale value of a tuned car?

Car tuning can either increase or decrease your vehicle’s value. This not only depends on the modifications and the quality of the work, but also on the local used car market. In countries where economy vehicles dominate, it can be hard to find a buyer for a powerful and extravagant car.

The US, Japan, and Germany are often named among countries with a high interest in tuned cars, so finding a buyer in San Francisco or Bremen may be easier than in Northern Europe.

The cost of tuning varies greatly and also directly affects the resale value. Note that not everyone will appreciate all the modifications you made to your vehicle. Let’s dive deeper into this topic.

How do tuned cars lose resale value?

Tuned sports car
Source: Vlad Grebenyev / Unsplash

Increased risk of unforeseen breakdowns

Various modifications can push a car beyond its limits, adding stress to various components and systems. Tuning parts are costly – if something breaks, it can be expensive to repair. The maintenance of a tuned car is more expensive than a regular vehicle, which is why many buyers aren’t rushing to buy a modified car. Imagine getting into a small traffic incident and breaking your front bumper. A custom bumper can cost several times more than a regular one.

Engine tuning suggests a car may have seen more use

If you need extra power in your engine, you probably like to drive fast. This increases wear and tear on the engine, transmission, suspension, and the brakes. Buyers are cautious when buying a tuned car, because nobody wants to spend a heap of money on repairs later.

Low-quality body tuning makes a car look cheap

Sometimes when an owner wants to improve their car but doesn't have enough money, they go for cheaper upgrades. While you can get some basic tuning done at a local garage, it’s not necessarily a good option.Poorly installed ir ugly spoilers, fenders, or bumpers can make your car look cheap, discouraging potential buyers.

Can be more expensive and difficult to insure

Insuring a modified car will often cost you more money. Insurance companies see certain modifications as a theft or accident risk. More importantly, if you want to cover your modified parts, you’ll likely need a custom agreement, where you and the insurer will have to agree on the vehicle’s value with the help of an appraiser – this will invariably cost you more than a regular policy.

How does tuning your car add value?

tuned sports car side photo
Source: Christian / Unsplash

1. Unusual paint color sometimes makes your car worth more. According to our research, people in different countries prefer different colors, which directly affects a car’s value. A unique car color makes your vehicle one-of-a-kind, which allows it to stand out in the street. While it may be hard to find a buyer for a tuned car with exotic paint, many enthusiasts won't miss the chance to get something extraordinary.

2. A modified car may have more power, a smoother ride, and more. Performance tuning can improve your vehicle in various ways – things like improved acceleration and top speed, or better handling are all possible. People who like to drive will see the value in these modifications, while others may enjoy the improved audio system, the improved fuel efficiency, and countless other upgrades.

3. Certified auto-tuning companies make unique cars from boring regular models. By using performance upgrades and customizing a car’s body, tuning companies can turn even ordinary vehicles like the Honda Civic or the Renault Megane into masterpieces. People who want to drive an exclusive model will appreciate car tuning as a way to get a vehicle nobody has.

How to minimize the risks of losing a car’s value when auto-tuning

BMW yellow e36 tuning stanced
Source: Gabriel Dias Pimenta / Unsplash

Estimate the car’s value and get a history check before tuning

Knowing how much your car costs and its demand in the used vehicle market can help you set realistic expectations and minimize the risk of losing money. There are dozens of car valuation tools online that will tell your car’s estimated value based on its make, model, year, and condition.

A carVertical history report can also provide information on a car’s value – not to mention damage records, mileage rollbacks, technical specifications, and ownership changes that also significantly affect a vehicle’s price.

Records timeline in carVertical report

For instance, if a car has a mileage of 100,000 miles, but its history report indicates that the actual mileage is over 200,000 miles, this obviously reduces a vehicle’s value. Even if you tune your car with quality parts, you may not be able to sell it later for the maximum price if at some point it was clocked.

Mileage rollback record in carVertical report

Check your VIN

Avoid costly problems by checking vehicle history. Get a report instantly.

Choose input mode between VIN number and license plate


Set clear tuning goals

Starting car tuning without knowing where you’re heading isn’t the best strategy. Modifying a vehicle is expensive, so consider these useful tips:

  1. Decide what you want to achieve. Do you want your car to have a unique look? A more powerful engine? A luxurious interior? Or maybe you want it all? Come up with a plan and stick to it.
  2. Evaluate your budget. The sky's the limit in car tuning, so be prepared for the temptation to spend thousands of dollars on modifications. Discuss everything you want to do with professionals and get an estimated price. This will allow you to plan your budget and not throw more cash into your car than you can afford.
  3. Get creative. The internet is full of tuned car pictures, so use them as an inspiration. You can visit a tuning show and see modified vehicles from a close distance, talk with their owners, and seek their advice.

Choose a qualified tuning provider

Car tuning is a very peculiar business, so there’s not so many qualified mechanics that can do this, especially if you’re living in a smaller city. Do your research, ask around, read reviews, and talk to the people that have already used services of a particular tuning company.

Every car has a unique story, and there are many factors to consider before tuning your vehicle. However, with some realistic expectations and good homework, you can expect to increase a car’s value after tuning instead of losing money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Karolis Bareckas

Article by

Karolis Bareckas

Karolis is an automotive writer focusing on the industry part of things. His goal is to educate readers and foster transparency in the used car market. With a passion for storytelling and extensive experience writing in a variety of fields, Karolis enjoys sharing his knowledge and spreading the word about automotive and tech topics. He’s also a a big fan of muscle cars and long road trips.