Selling a modified car

how to sell a modified car

Everyone likes to personalise their car, whether that’s with a set of fluffy dice or nodding dogs on the dashboard. More enthusiastic car owners will go a step further, giving their car a custom paint job, flashy rims, or a new sound system. But how does this impact your car’s value?

How much are modified cars worth?

Precisely how much your car is worth after you’ve made your custom changes very much depends on who you’re selling it to. It’s worth knowing that the UK’s favourite colour car is grey, followed by black, and then white, all very inoffensive shades. 

So, if you’ve had at your car with a particularly bright shade of pink, you might find dealers turn their noses up at it simply because they know they’ll have a hard time reselling it. The opposite is true for private buyers, as you can appeal to them directly. So, you might just find someone who loves your aesthetic choices and is willing to pay more to have a pink car of their own. 

Selling a modified car

In many cases, selling privately may be your only option if you decide to make any dramatic changes to your car. Any modifications to hardware make the chances of finding a dealer to buy your car even slimmer. Improved sound systems, for example, may seem impressive to you, but you can’t assume every buyer is interested in high-quality sounds coming from their car’s radio. That’s how a dealer will see it, too. In short, if you’ve made any major changes to your vehicle, you should assume you’ll not find too many dealers to sell your car.

At Motorway, we consider cars on a case by case basis. We work with over 3,000 verified dealers, so we might just find a dealer who will agree to buy a modified car. As with any car sold the Motorway way, though, honesty is key.

Be sure to always list all the modifications you’ve made to your vehicle, especially if they aren’t visible modifications. As for the visible ones, we’ll need to see those clearly too, and when you build a car profile, you should make sure these are on display in the various angles you need to photograph. Based on this information dealers can decide if they want to take the risk on a car that’s a little different from the norm.

Please keep in mind that your Motorway valuation is based on the data shared — reg and mileage — and assumes that you are driving a standard version of your make and model. That means it doesn’t take your modifications into account. If you have a modified car, you should not take the valuation as an accurate representation of your sales price.

selling a modified car
Cars can be modified in endless ways.

What counts as a car modification?

Some car modifications are more extreme than others, but anything that makes your car look or drive differently to its factory settings will likely impact your selling power. Keep this in mind before you’re tempted to do any of the following:

  • Installing a sunroof
  • Installing superchargers
  • Using body kits
  • Upgrades to the brake discs
  • Alloy wheels
  • Changes to upholstery or dash hardware
  • Paint jobs or the addition of stripes and badges 

Removable mods like private plates are unlikely to cause issues for selling your car, most dealers will still be happy to buy a car regardless of old or new plates. You can also remove the plate and add it to a different car if you prefer.

Some modifications may be initially advertised as temporary but may actually prove troublesome to remove, like car wraps. Often cited as a great way to cosmetically change your car without modifying its original paint job, wraps can be tricky to deal with as and when you want to revert back. If you don’t get a professional removal, you run the risk of damaging your car and detracting from its value. 

Illegal car modifications

It’s also important to note that some car modifications are illegal in the UK, so not only will you be ruining your car’s valuation, you’ll make it totally unroadworthy, too. These illegal additions include:

  • Neon lights (with the exception of non-visible, modestly-lit neon tubes on the base of the car)
  • Any tint applied to headlights
  • Any lights or bulbs that emulate the blue light of emergency vehicles
  • Tinted windows (you may have no more than 25% of your windscreen tinted)
  • Purposefully loud exhausts above 74 decibels 
  • Spoiler modifications that are not securely fastened or have sharp edges that are exposed
  • Use of nitrous oxide in the engine
selling a modified car illegal spoilers
Some spoiler modifications may get you in hot water with the law.

Other things to consider when modifying your car

It’s not just would-be buyers you should think about when modifying your car. Any big changes you make will also impact other areas of car ownership, such as:

Insurance

Generally, when you tell your insurance company what car you have, they will assume you have the standard model and put you in the corresponding insurance group. If you modify your vehicle and don’t tell your insurance company, any future claims you make may fall through.

Servicing

Depending on how you’ve changed your car, servicing costs may be higher as you’ll be requesting servicing on a totally unique sort of vehicle. As well as this, you may find you can’t get deals on your car’s maintenance like guarantees or discounts. 

Warranty

If your car came with a warranty then you are likely at risk of voiding it by changing key aspects of your vehicle. You should always check the small print of your warranty before changing anything. 

Car tax

If you make changes to your car that impact things like engine size and emissions then you may have to pay more or less tax than pre-modification. You’ll need to tell the DVLA that you’ve made the changes. You can then either apply for a road tax refund or pay the extra that’s now due on your vehicle. 

General reception

It may seem silly to suggest but some mods might not be to everyone’s taste. Sure,  the only opinion that really matters is the owner of the car, but you don’t want to accidentally offend people. Just look at the DVLA which released a list of banned designs for the launch of the ‘21 plate, specifically having to stop people from opting for Corona-themed regs.

Looking to sell your car?

If you’re looking to sell your car, modified or not, then be sure to check out our handy guides first!

Top 10 tips to sell your car
How to sell a car privately
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Car depreciation — the ultimate guide
How much is your car worth?
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