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The five worst car investments

813 camaro.jpg

 (813 Customs)

By spending money on maintenance and some upgrades, you can improve your car's reliability and overall life expectancy. You can also reduce safety risks and expensive repairs. Changing the oil regularly, replacing worn-out tires, and getting your wheels aligned periodically are all no-brainers.

There are, however, some expensive upgrades that won't increase a car's value or performance. In fact, they will probably hurt them.

1. Aftermarket wheels

Aftermarket wheels can make a car look more sporty or luxurious than the factory rims. While they often cost thousands of dollars, aftermarket wheels typically don't add to your car's resale value, and can reduce the comfort of your ride. When you install larger wheels, the low-profile tires reduce the cushion between the car and the road. As a result, you can expect to feel more vibration as your travel over cracks, potholes and road debris.

2. Custom paint job

It's great to strive for originality with your vehicle, but a custom paint job can be a risky and expensive proposition. To start, a quality repaint of an entire vehicle will run you at least several thousand dollars. The professional labor and materials necessary to entirely repaint a car properly don't come cheap. Aftermarket paint jobs are seldom as good as factory originals, and once the car is painted, there's no going back.

3. Dark tint

Installing dark tint can provide privacy and keep the bright sun out of your car. However, in many states dark tint is also illegal because it obstructs the driver's ability to see the road. Tint can be installed for several hundred dollars, but make sure to research your state's laws before visiting the local tint shop. If the film is too dark, you could be paying several hundred dollars more to remove it without damaging your vehicle.

4. Custom seats

Aftermarket seats can provide an accent for your car's interior and sometimes reduce the car's weight. There are some little-known benefits to keeping your original seats, however. Modern cars come with sophisticated safety features to protect drivers from all sorts of different collisions. Often, the seats contain important sensors and electronics that activate airbags and other safety devices. Removing the factory seats can diminish the effectiveness of potentially life-saving technology.

5. Exhaust systems

Vehicle owners swap out factory exhaust systems for a number of reasons. Some exhaust systems advertise more power or create a deep growl when the vehicle accelerates. Installing such an exhaust system can be risky because some of these don't meet the same quality standards as the vehicle's manufacturer. Poor-quality exhaust systems can emit excess heat and corrode prematurely. Failing an emissions test due to a poor-quality exhaust modification can be very costly.

Plus, those loud systems won't make you too popular with the neighbors.

Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide, the online marketplace for used original auto parts.

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