Selling a modified car header image

Selling a modified car: A complete guide

Many of us like to put our own stamp on our possessions, including our cars.

Of course, when it comes to personalising a vehicle, not all drivers are satisfied with adding a few decals here and there. Some may opt to install a new sound system, upgrade their rims - or perhaps even treat their motor to a colourful bespoke wrap.

There are hundreds of ways that you can modify your car to suit your own personal style and taste.

However, it’s worth taking a pause before making any radical changes. If you eventually plan to sell your car, you should think about how its next owner might view your design choices. After all, not everyone will share your aesthetic sensibilities.

In this guide, we’ll cover how modifications can affect resale value, which mods have the biggest impact – and the best avenues for selling a modified motor.

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How much is a modified car worth?

There’s no singular answer to the question, ”How much is a modified car worth?”. The resale value of a modified car depends on all the usual factors (e.g. its make, model, mileage, condition, etc.) - and the nature of the modifications themselves.

Some modifications, such as upgrading the car’s infotainment system, could add value to the vehicle and make it more appealing to private buyers. However, others (specifically aesthetic or superficial modifications) could limit the car’s appeal and reduce its resale value.

The effect of modifications on your car’s resale value generally comes down to whether these mods have wider appeal. For example, most second-hand buyers will appreciate a high-spec GPS system, therefore additions of this kind will usually increase resale value.

Conversely, the appeal of a loud exhaust modification or a brash paint job is far more limited. Therefore, you may have to lower your asking price if your car is sporting mods of this nature, unless that is, you manage to find that needle-in-a-haystack buyer who shares your exact tastes!

Illustration of a price tag

Is it harder to sell a modified car?

It is often more difficult to sell a modified car. Again, the problem is the effect that aesthetic modifications might have on the vehicle’s appeal.

These ‘improvements’ are very subjective. If they radically alter the look of the car, they may also reduce the pool of potential buyers – and the vehicle’s market value.

With that said, some modifications do objectively enhance the vehicle, such as upgrades to onboard tech, improved alloys and performance tyres. Some of these additions may make it easier to appeal to buyers in the crowded second-hand car market.

How do I sell a modified car?

In theory, you can sell a modified car through the same avenues as any conventional vehicle – such as selling the car privately or selling to a dealership. (You just might be working with a smaller pool of buyers.)

Selling a modified car privately

  • If you choose to sell privately, we recommend seeking out buyers who are specifically interested in vehicles with the modifications you’ve made to your car.
  • There are plenty of online car enthusiast communities with specific interests in certain aesthetics or performance modifications. Selling privately allows you to appeal to these buyers directly and offer extra information regarding the car and its various modifications.
  • Just remember that you should declare all modifications in your listing, including details and photographs for each one wherever possible.

Selling a modified car at a dealership

  • Selling a modified car at a dealership is often much trickier. Many dealerships are reluctant to purchase cars that have been modified in any major way, as they are less likely to sell.
  • Different dealerships have different policies as far as purchasing modified cars goes; what may seem like a negligible or beneficial modification to one dealership might seem like a red flag to another.
  • If you are going to attempt to sell your modified car to a dealership, we recommend doing your research beforehand. Contact local car dealerships and find out where they stand on modified vehicles - and enquire about the specific adjustments you’ve made to your car.

Where is the best place to sell a modified car?

If you want to skip the hassle associated with selling privately or at a dealership, you can sell your modified car quickly and conveniently with webuyanycar. On average, appointments take just 20 minutes.

Whatever modifications you’ve added, you can sell your car with us. Here’s how it works:

  • Enter your reg number into our free car valuation tool to get a quote in under 30 seconds.
  • Book your appointment at any of our 500+ UK branches.
  • Drive to your appointment. If you’re happy to sell to us, the buyer will assist with the paperwork, and we’ll send the money to your bank!

What counts as a car modification?

There are hundreds of different types of car modifications, ranging from reversible aesthetic changes to major permanent modifications. Any notable change you’ve made to the way your car works or looks as can be considered a modification. Common car modifications include:

Different mods will have differing effects on your car’s value and saleability. Your choice of selling method may also influence how easy it is to sell your car.

Illustration of paint

Illegal car modifications

One of the most important things you should consider before you make any modifications to your car is whether your planned mods are legal on UK roads. Certain modifications may render your car unroadworthy in the eyes of the law, including:

  • Exhausts purposely modified to exceed 74 decibels.
  • Excessive window tints - Front windows must allow at least 75% of light to pass through (and front side windows at least 70%) in most vehicles.
  • Lights that emulate or resemble blue lights from emergency vehicles.
  • Tinted headlights.
  • Neon lighting.

Making any of these modifications to your car won’t just drastically reduce its market value; it could also land you in hot water with the authorities.

If you’re caught driving a car with illegal modifications, you could be fined £1,000 or more.

Which modifications hurt resale value the most?

All modifications have the potential to harm your vehicle’s resale value and your ability to sell it - especially bold aesthetic changes or those with niche appeal.

However, the worst offenders when it comes to depleting resale value are poorly executed or irreversible modifications.

Even wrapping your car can decrease its value, as it’s very difficult to remove a non-permanent wrap without damaging the original bodywork.

In short, if you’re looking to achieve the highest resale value for your car, your best option is to avoid modifications altogether.

Illustration of a mechanic

Considerations before modifying your car

Modifications don’t just affect your car’s resale value. They can also affect various aspects of car ownership including:

  • Insurance policies – Your car’s insurance agreement is only valid if the car remains as it was when you took out your policy. If you modify your car, you’ll need to tell your insurance company and may face increased insurance costs. If you don’t tell your insurer about the modifications, any insurance claims you make will likely fall through.

  • Servicing costs – Some modifications can increase the cost of having your car serviced, as you’ll need a bespoke service rather than a standard one. Some garages may even refuse to service your vehicle if the modifications could complicate repairs.

  • Warranty – Your car warranty could be voided if you make certain modifications.

  • Car tax – If you make modifications which affect your car’s emissions or engine size, you’ll need to inform the DVLA. This is because your car tax band might change as a result of the mods, so you’ll be liable to pay more (or in rare cases, less) tax.

What to consider when selling a modified car

If you’re still thinking of selling your vehicle privately or to a dealership, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Will reversing upgrades increase my car’s value?

    If upgrades have decreased your resale value, reversing them might help to restore some of that value, providing the work is carried out to a high standard.

    While there are some upgrades that are easy to reverse, many modifications that are considered reversible are surprisingly difficult to remove. For instance, paint jobs and wraps are notoriously tough to remove – and often leave behind marks and scratches.

    If you’re looking to reverse modifications, we’d always recommend getting this done professionally at a reputable garage.

  • Disclose all known modifications

    When listing your car for private sale or taking your car to a dealership, make sure you have a full list of the modifications made to your car as well as any pertinent details regarding the modifications themselves, such as the brand names of any upgraded parts.

  • Get an accurate valuation

    Always get an accurate valuation so you can make an informed decision on how and where to sell your modified car.

    You can get a free car valuation in less than 30 seconds with webuyanycar. Just enter your reg number and find out what you could get for your modified car when you sell at any of our 500+ UK branches.