How to sell a car that has been modified

We are a nation of petrol heads and car lovers. While some people will strive to keep their car looking original and exactly how it rolled off of the production line, others will prefer to add their own personal touches. Car modification is big business and you can’t go for a drive without seeing several cars that have been modified in some way.

A common belief is that a modified car is a lot more difficult to sell than a car that has been kept standard, and there may be some truth to that. In this guide we’ll explain why that is and what you can do about it if you have a modified car and you wish to sell it.

What is classed as a modification?

When it comes to cars, a modification is a change from it’s original specification. The definition is broad, because modification can be something as simple as upgrading the exhaust system, or as extreme as swapping the engine or fitting a customised body kit. Here are a few common modifications:

  • Changing the radius of the wheel and tyre combination
  • Upgrading to higher performance engine components
  • Making cosmetic changes to improve aerodynamics.
  • Upgrading to heavier duty suspension components

Consumable items do not count as modifications if you replace them with like-for-like items. So if you replace your tyres you are not modifying your car. Unless you are fitting ones that are a different size to the original ones. In the same way changing your air filter will not count as a modification. Unless of course you are upgrading to one that offers better performance.

Does modifying my car affect its value?

Everyone is different and we all have our own ideas of what we find tasteful when it comes to cars. Cars that look the same as they did when in the showroom haven’t had changes made them to reflect the taste of any previous owners. However modified cars will have had some changes based on someone else’s preference for better aesthetics or improved performance. So in a nutshell, a car with modifications may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And don’t forget, some modifications such as changing the colour will require you to change the vehicle’s details on the logbook.

Typically speaking a modified car can be worth less than an unmodified example of a car of the same make, model, age and condition. How much the value of a car decreases when you modify it will vary depending on the extent of the modifications and how many people find them tasteful.

As with anything to do with cars there will be exceptions. A nut and bolt restoration of a classic or future classic car, that has had some minor upgrades to modernise it may be more desirable than one of the same era that hasn’t. However some collectors may perceive an original, unmodified example as being more valuable,

Modifications that improve the performance of a car might increase its value when compared to standard off-the-shelf models, but again this depends on the buyer. Nothing is guaranteed, including spending money modifying a car in the hope of making a profit when you come to sell it.

How do I sell my modified car?

The process of selling a modified car is the same as selling a car in original condition. You have two main options: selling privately or part-exchanging your car with a dealer. Depending on the popularity of the modifications that you’ve made, you may find that your number of potential buyers is more limited. Sometimes stock examples are simply more desirable, and your modifications may well not be considered as tasteful by others.

A great way to find a group of potential buyers for your modified car is to look online for an owners forum. People who are interested in the same make and model that you are selling are more likely to appreciate your reasons for modifying it. Most forums will have a section where members can arrange to buy and sell cars and car parts to each other.

Selling a car this way will of course be a private sale, which comes with disadvantages. With Car Monkey you can remove all this hassle and sell your car for the highest price by comparing valuations from all of the leading car buyers.

What if I remove the modifications?

Sometimes it’s easy to revert the modifications you’ve made. For example if you’ve upgraded the wheels. If you still have the original set then it may be worth putting them back on when it’s time to sell the car. This is an easy way to bring your car back to it’s original and often more desirable condition. The same applies to other small modifications such as vinyl decals or changes to the number plate.

How to sell a modified car

Do I need to point out the modifications to the buyer?

In the UK you need to declare any modifications from standard to your insurance company. So you should tell potential buyers about any changes that you’ve made – even if they are only small changes.

It’s always a good idea to keep the receipts for the supply and fitting of any modifications. That way it’s clear to see that parts have been sourced and fitted properly, which increases buyer confidence.

Should I include the modification cost when valuing my car?

As mentioned earlier, adding performance or aesthetic upgrades to your car will not necessarily increase its value. By adding the price of these upgrades to your car’s selling price all you are doing is making your car more expensive than comparable cars. This is going to result in less interest from potential buyers.

It’s a good idea to consider the depreciation of the modifications.. If this is something that you’re not comfortable with, then again consider finding a website for enthusiasts. Your modifications may be more appreciated by some more like-minded potential buyers.

Is there an easy way to sell my modified car?

If you just want to sell your car quickly and easily without any fuss, then Car Monkey will help you. All you need to do is answer some questions to provide us with details of your car. We’ll then compare valuations from all the leading car buyers out there. Then it’s just a case of choosing the valuation you like the most, and selling the car to them. They will then put you in contact with the relevant dealer and take care of all the paperwork. All you need to do is hand over the keys and decide what car you’re getting next.

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How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continually monitor motor industry news & research, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

  • 4th July 2023
    Current Article - By Gary McKrill
  • 11th December 2023
    Checked & Reviewed - By Sjoerd Bakker
  • 4th July 2023
    Copy Edited - By Gary McKrill
  • 31st December 2023
    Reviewed - By Gary McKrill

Car Monkey has strict sourcing guidelines and we try to rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and motoring associations where possible.

  1. https://www.gov.uk/change-vehicle-details-registration-certificate
  2. https://www.carmonkey.co.uk/

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