To Modify or Not To Modify, a Dealership Mechanics View

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As a dealership level mechanic, this is not really something that I run into very often. Most of the folks that modify their cars do not take it to the dealership for repairs. I do occasionally run in to a modified car. Whether it is for performance, or just for looks, it can create a few issues, especially when a car is covered under vehicle warranty.

From a personal standpoint, I think modifying cars is great. It allows folks to make something their own. It lets their personality and love for their car show. It can truly be a great reflection of a person. It shows a great passion for their car. It doesn’t matter what other think, its about the person modifying the car.

From a profession standpoint, I actually look at it a few different ways.

I couldn’t care less

Looking at it solely from a nuts and bolts machine, it really makes no difference to me if the car is modified or not. I do not have any type of relationship with the CAR. My relationship is more with the customers. This is really where my opinion doesn’t matter. I have seen some “less that tasteful” mods come through the dealer, but again, I couldn’t care less. (actually, I usually get a good laugh)

I love it

It makes for something different in the shop. I have seen thousands of VWs, over the years. When a tastefully modified car come in, I will admit, I get excited. Some nice wheels, a PROPERLY done suspension, some performance upgrades, all make a car stand out in a good way.  Now, poorly done mods are good too. The worse they are, the funnier they are. The more duct tape, the better 😉 I wish I had more pictures of awful mods.

I worry about it

Like I said, I have seen some poorly done mods. The thing that concerns me most is safety. Cars that ride WAY too low, is a prime example. Lowered suspension changes lighting angles, changes impact points in a collision, and reduces your visibility to other cars. The other one I see a lot is adding car stereo equipment. I have seen wires ran under the car unprotected, pinched in doors, ran through metal with out protection. This can be a fire hazard to say the least. If you choose to modify, PLEASE do it right/safe.

I hate it

This is where I usually fall in the dealership. This comes from a completely selfish place. Just about any time someone has their car modified, it makes more work for me. Lowered suspension mean extra work getting the car on the lift. Cold air intakes can make batteries harder to replace K&N air filters are good about tweaking Air Flow Sensors, making them do weird stuff Aftermarket stereos give another element to disconnecting batteries and dealing with wiring. On the newer VWs, people can change coding in modules. This can make things like, windows down with remote. The problem is, changing to the wrong coding can make the car do the craziest things ever!

There is also the question of vehicle warranty. Did the customer damage something when doing the mod? Is the problem directly related to the mods? As far as that goes, it really depends on who is working on the car. Personally, if I can’t PROVE 100% that the mods caused the issue, I take care of the problem. If the customer were to call VW, they would say fix it anyway. This way just makes me a hero!

Anther issue I have is mantenance. When you modify a car, the maintenance cost will be higher, and its often overlooked. The fancy wheels and boomin stereo, doesn’t look good when your car is broken down

11 replies
  1. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    I’m currently saving up for my coilovers. I want to lower my car a bit but other repairs keep getting in my way. I guess it’s better to fix my car before slapping on unnecessary suspension.

    I like all of your viewpoints mentioned. I couldn’t agree more on each of them.

      • Jeremy
        Jeremy says:

        Will do.

        I’m probably going to wait until I learn about suspension in school before I do it. There are DIY explanations with pictures on the VW forum I go on but I’d rather know 100% of what I’m doing better than following pictures.

  2. Jeremy Bechtold
    Jeremy Bechtold says:

    I’ve seen plenty of mods on forums over the years that I would have loved to have done myself when my car was younger… and mobile. (hopefully I’ll start to get the tranny looked at next week.)

    all that said, I never would have considered that a modded car should go back to the dealer. if you wanted to do anything to risk your warranty and/or intended use by the manufacturer, then you should look to fix anything yourself after that. it’s part of the reason (cash being the other part) that I never did do anything with mine. I wasn’t planning on doing anything drastic. I liked some of the extra body panels, maybe better headlights, audio, etc. simple stuff. I never, especially living in the low hills around pittsburgh, would consider lowering my car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people have to take extended routes just to avoid a simple intersection where they’d bottom out or just plain not be able to cross the tracks or junction in the pavement. hell, I’ve done 3 oil pans on a car that I’ve considered to have very high ground clearance when compared to others I’ve driven and rode (ridden? rode? anyone?) in. I’m not tough on my car, and every time it happened, I knew right away and it was on normal roads here around town. back to my point though…

    if it’s body work, or something inside not related to performance or the warranties that are still intact, I can see going back to a dealer and not making a big deal out of it (though I would mention the mods so the tech was aware). the back side of that goes to something you mentioned in a previous post and I think it’s something to consider and I wonder if any allowance is made for it… you mentioned that your work gets a book-defined rate and if it takes longer, you make “less per hour” and if you’re quick or efficient then you’re earning more. what happens when a modded car causes a repair to take longer? in my mind, that should go back on the person. the book should be defining stock work. their mod might not have caused the problem, but working around it changes the work implied in the work and should be considered. how is this treated?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] warning to be careful when modding your Golf R, or any car for that matter. We have talked about a dealership mechanic’s view on modified cars before. I generally don’t care much about folks bringing their modified cars into the shop. […]

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