Whether old or new, there's always something you'd improve about your car. Jalopnik readers have come up with the best upgrades you can make without spending a fortune.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers.

Photo Credit: Eddie

10.) Short-throw Shifter

Suggested By: Qckslvr

Why it's a standout: Adding a short-throw shifter to your car's transmission will not only help make your shifts faster but it'll help them feel better, too. This one's a no-brainer, as it can be done for far, far less than the proposed 1k budget.

Photo Credit: Steve Fishman

9.) ECU Upgrade

Suggested By: Nick Lee

Why it's a standout: For a car with a turbocharged engine, this is the quickest and easiest way to get more power. Coming out of the factory, the turbocharger on your engine is probably designed to perform "safely" and "reasonably" for reasons like "reliability" and "durability," whatever those words mean. Flash your ECU for MOARRR POWARRR instantly.

Photo Credit: Albertas Agejevas

8.) Get Better Seats

Suggested By: ScruffyMcDuffy

Why it's a standout: You could spend 10 times the budget of this list on suspension, tire, and handling upgrades to improve the cornering and grip of your car. If you're still sliding off its flat vinyl seats, those parts aren't going to matter much. New seats are comfy, too.

Photo Credit: Clemson

7.) Cold Air Intake

Suggested By: StreetsideStig

Why it's a standout: Jalopnik readers agree that improving the handling and braking of your car should take precedent over power upgrades. That being said, there is always a time for extra horsepower, and the cold-air intake is a good way to get a boost. This simple modification will increase power and efficiency by allowing your engine to breath more oxygenated air. And you'll still have money left over for some other quick fixes.

Photo Credit: Nick Ares

6.) New Wheels

Suggested By: Viperfan1

Why it's a standout: This one's easy to write off because most people upgrading their cars buy new wheels just to look cool. If you buy the wheels, though, you'll reduce the unsprung weight of your car, and help to improve its handling.

Photo Credit: Justin Wolfe

5.) New Exhaust

Suggested By: jaymcminn

Why it's a standout: A better-than-stock exhaust system will give you a little more power and likely marginally better fuel economy. No one is going to turn those two down. And to top it all off, this sub-1k upgrade will also help you in the audio department. You'll want to drive your car more just to hear it when you blip the throttle on a downshift or do something as mundane as merge onto the highway. Just avoid the systems that make your Civic sound like a high-revving lawn mower.

Photo Credit: t3hwit

4.) Sway Bars

Suggested By: Kiwi_Commander_likes_underscores_Y_E_A_H_

Why it's a standout: If handling is at the top of your list of things to improve, sway bars are a must. By stiffening the chassis, the sway bar is able to improve your vehicle's cornering with a minimal impact on everyday ride quality. They're a cheap, easy to install, and immediately noticeable.

Photo Credit: Nick Ares

3.) Shocks/Struts

Suggested By: waveridin1959

Why it's a standout: Even on the most expensive cars, a new set of shocks and struts isn't going to be a huge expense. If you're willing to install them yourself, you'll save even more.


The vast difference you'll see in handling is worth the trouble, too, because these are the access points between your wheels and the rest of your car. Invest, and reap the benefits.

Photo Credit: neunsechszwo

2.) Brakes

Suggested By: MrHarkinian

Why it's a standout: Cars are designed to move forward, and to do that quickly they need a powerful engine. However, you don't want yours going forward into a wall, so you'll need a good set of brakes. It doesn't matter how fast you can go on the straight, nothing kills your confidence more than feeling your brakes fade as you head into a dangerous corner. Upgrade your brakes for the performance of your car and for your own safety.

Photo Credit: Asim Bharwani

1.) Proper Tires

Suggested By: mattp123

Why it's a standout: You can put a 10,000 horsepower V16 engine, the most advanced magnetic-suspension known to mankind, a KERS-system F1 teams couldn't dream of, and a triple-clutch transmission in your car, and none of it will matter if you don't have good tires. That's because everything everything on your car is attached to the road by just four small patches of rubber. There's no better upgrade than a good set of tires, and it's the first thing any intelligent enthusiast will buy.

Photo Credit: Asim Bharwani