How Aftermarket Accessories Impact a Car's Value

Custom wheel and tire

Do aftermarket accessories help or hurt the value of your car?

Today, it seems our love affair with the car includes our love of everything that goes on them, in them and under them. As aftermarket accessories and car customization become increasingly popular, the answer of how accessories impact a car's value remains elusive. In this section, we show you the ropes of aftermarket accessories, including whether or not add-ons add value and which add-ons make the most financial sense.

Do aftermarket accessories enhance value?

Aftermarket accessories have the potential to increase a car's value, but determining how much of an increase is difficult.  Instead of focusing on the sheer mathematics of aftermarket products (how much they cost versus how much those additional costs translate into a higher asking price at resale time), it's important to focus on market demand.  Hence, netting a higher sales price is contingent upon finding a buyer who wants — and is willing to pay more for — specific modifications. 

Additionally, car owners rarely recoup all of the money invested in aftermarket accessories which makes assessing a suitable asking price, and getting that price at resale time, more difficult.

The bottom line?  Yes, aftermarket accessories can increase value.  Exactly how much, however, is at the discretion of the buyer and when it's all said and done, you'll probably spend more than you make.

Do car modifications boost sales?

Car modifications can boost sales if you find the right buyer, but they can also limit the number of prospective buyers and in turn, narrow your chances of selling it.

For example, a state-of-the-art sound system and low profile racing tires might be perfect for a cool college student, but nonsensical for a mother with three small children.  Conversely, a luggage rack and bike rack might be great for a mother with three small children but a deterrent for a cool college student. 

Bottom line?  While car modifications can boost sales if you find the right buyer, they can also narrow your chances of making a sale if you don't.  

Do I make a profit if I spend money on aftermarket products?

Probably not.  Industry data suggests that roughly a quarter of a vehicle's total modification costs are actually recouped.  That means if you spent $2,000 for add-ons, you could expect to recoup an average of $500 at resale or trade-in time.  Even if you net more than 25 percent, you'd still have a long way to go to make up the price difference.

Bottom line?  When it comes to aftermarket accessories, it's more about personal preference than profit.

Which aftermarket accessories make good financial sense?

As a general rule, add-ons that serve a purpose, such as making driving easier or maintaining a car's condition, are usually your best bet.  Things like installing a bed liner in a truck used predominantly for hauling or installing a security system in a car driven primarily in urban areas not only make sense for current owners, they make sense for future owners too.  

Bottom line?  The aftermarket accessories that make the most financial sense are all about function, not frills.

Add-ons can certainly improve a car's appearance and add value.  In the end, though, it's hard to determine how much value they add.  What's more, too many modifications can hurt a sale rather than help.  Your best bet is to install what you like and if someone likes it too — and they're willing to pay more for it — good for you.  But don't bank on it.

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