The Body Kit Buyer's Guide

March 28, 2012

Nothing helps personalize a car more than a body kit. Learn about body tuning kit features, and how your car's insurance and resale value are affected.

When customizing your car, consider buying a body kit to help with the look of your overall customization job. Although most body kits are specifically for the improved look of your car, they can also help to improve the performance as well.

Materials

Body kits can be found in a range of different materials, such as fiberglass, carbon and polyurethane. The weight and ability of the body kit will vary according to the material that you choose. Although fiberglass is widely available, it is not always easy to work with and can be easily damaged. Polyurethane is known for being durable and easy to install. A carbon body kit will often be the most expensive type you can buy, and is quite rare on vehicles that are street legal.

The Maker

Research the company that makes the kit you are thinking of buying before you make a purchase. Find out what kind of materials they most commonly use, if they have a warranty and what it covers. You also want to know if you have to remove any parts of your car in order for the body kit to fit properly. If you have to remove any parts that were installed by the factory, you more than likely should not buy that particular body kit. Never buy a body kit that forces you to remove anything that deals with the safety of your car.

Budget

Before you purchase your kit decide how much money you are willing to dish out for your car. Understand that there are two different classes of fiberglass. There is the higher quality resin fiberglass made in the United States, and then there is the more brittle fiberglass that is cheaper. It is always a wise thing to remember that you really get what you pay for.

Components

The range of parts available in body kits vary depending on the maker of the kit and the make of your car. A body kit will commonly include bumpers, spoilers and side skirts, but side guards and roof scoops will also be available. It is not necessary to attach all the components contained within a body kit, as you can attach only those that help to create the look that you want. Replacing the parts of the vehicle will allow you to adjust its image, so that it looks completely different than it did originally. A lip kit will allow you to easily attach and remove the components, while a bumper kit will require a complete replacement.

Insurance

Fitting body kits can be classed as a modification to the vehicle, which your insurance company may have specific rules on. It is prudent to check the terms of any insurance policy that you have in place prior to starting any work on the car. This will ensure that you're not at risk of breaching any terms and invalidating the policy.

Appearance

The appearance you want to achieve for your car will play a major part in what type of body kit that you choose. Lowering kits can give your vehicle a certain look, but the ground effects will need to be considered alongside the use of these. There are different body kit types available to help you customize your vehicle, so it's important to consider the end look before committing to purchasing any one.

Performance

While many types of body kit are simply used just to adjust the appearance of the vehicle, others will enable you to change its performance. In the event that you want to create an aerodynamic vehicle, you must ensure that the weight and shape of the kit components are suitable for this purpose. This is especially necessary when you are modifying a car that is to be used for racing purposes.

You've finished the motor and suspension of your 2001 Acura, and now it's time to tune up the look and driving feel with tuning body kits. Tuner body kits can include hoods, side skirts, front and rear air dams and rear tuning spoilers, or wings. There are literally dozens of vendors that are vying for your dollars selling tuning body kits. Most vendors make products for every make and model, so use the following short list as a beginning guide.

Full Kits

A full kit is going to include at least four pieces: two side skirts, a front air dam and a rear air dam. Some kits add rear tuning spoilers, to increase downforce. Front air dams and side skirts can contain special ducting to increase brake cooling. The import market is full of vendors supplying full tuning body kits. Some of the more popular vendors include Silk Automotive, Aerogear, Xenon and VIS Racing.

Hoods

Tuning hoods can provide any number of benefits, depending on materials used and design. Carbon fiber and fiberglass hoods are much lighter than standard sheet metal hoods, and carbon fiber is much stronger. Hoods with scoops can channel high speed air to increase induction pressures and decrease intake temperatures for the engine, as well as providing smoother handling characteristics and brake cooling effects with special ducting. Some of the more popular vendors in the tuning hoods market are Vision Auto, Seibon and VIS Racing.

Spoilers

There are front spoilers that fit under your bumper to alter the drag of the car. You can also get a rear spoiler to help improve your traction when your car begins to accelerate.

Rear spoilers are those wings or up tilts on the end of the trunks you see more and more. They can go from the radical 9-inch-long, full width spoiler wing that's four inches off the body, to a mild upturned lip added to the rear edge of the trunk lid. Spoilers are both for enhancing looks and for providing downforce at speed. Some are even adjustable. Some of the more popular vendors include Carbon Creations, JSP Automotive Components and NRG Innovations.

Properly designed and installed tuning body kits will not only enhance the look of your ride, but will also give you enhanced handling qualities and traction at higher speeds.

Cheap Aftermarket Body Kits for a Custom Look

It is not necessary to resort to purchasing expensive parts and other custom work. With a single kit it is possible to completely recreate the car.

  • Extreme Dimensions Full Body Kit. This body kit uses urethane for its parts. Parts found in this kit include the rear lip, side skirts and front lip. These are built to fit the make and model of the vehicle perfectly. It comes with an authenticity card, mesh grille and hardware kit. These kits are all high quality and come with a full instruction guide. Extreme Dimensions creates kits using flex resins, plastic and fiberglass. The company offers free shipping throughout the United States. All kits come with a complete installation guide, though for the best performance it is recommended that adjustments be made by a professional.
  • Lambo Doors. These are vertical doors that come with special hinges. This is a way to make your car stand out from all the rest, as these doors are completely eye catching. These were once only found on super luxury cars but today anyone can have these doors. The main parts of the kit include the doors and the hinges. They can be bolted on, and welding is not required.
  • Presidente Aftermarket Ground Effects. A ground effects kit is used to specifically alter the air effects that occur when the vehicle is close to the ground. The ground effects of a passenger vehicle are different from a racing car. The side skirts and bumpers used in these kits will alter the ground effects so that they function more like race cars. This improves performance and handling, especially when cornering at high speeds. Presidente makes kits specifically for Ford automobiles.
  • ATT Racing Full Body Kit. These full body kits are an excellent investment, because they are affordable and contain everything needed to change the look and handling of the vehicle. The kits are made of FRP composite and aluminum mesh. The kits from ATT Racing are not only very stylish but also completely change the handling of the vehicle. They come unpainted, so some additional prep work may be needed. For the best fit possible, it's recommended to have the kit professionally installed.
  • Opus Auto Full Body Kit. Opus produces body kits for some of the hottest vehicles available. The parts in the kits are made of polyurethane, which is almost completely indestructible. Expect to find wings, side skirts, bumpers and more. These parts will flex and bend with the vehicle, resulting in near perfect fits.

Do Cars with Body Kits Lower the Blue Book Resale Value?

Cars with body kits may look cool, but remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A large number of people and potential buyers for your vehicle may disagree about the beauty of the body kit.

Small Pool
When you add a body kit to your vehicle it dramatically shrinks the pool of potential buyers. The majority of people looking at used cars are not interested in body kits. This means it will take longer to sell the car and you may end up taking a much lower price for it, especially if you're desperate to sell. On the other hand, if you manage to find the right buyer you might sell your car at a premium. If a buyer falls in love with the look of your car, they may have to have it, no matter the cost.

Warranty and Insurance
Both body kits and engine performance parts may void the warranty of the vehicle. Many manufacturer warranties are rendered null and void if performance upgrades are added to the engine. In addition to this, it can make the car harder to insure. The majority of mainstream insurance companies will not deal with heavily modified vehicles. Vehicles with body kits are often associated with street racing, which dramatically increases the risk the insurance company must accept. There are special insurance companies that are willing to work with modified cars, but expect to pay a much higher premium. This can scare away potential buyers.

Blue Book Value
The blue book value of a vehicle will drop due to body kits and performance upgrades. Kelley Blue Book values unmodified cars, so the listed blue book value will not apply to a modified car.

Adding a body kit and performance parts might help you create the car of your dreams, but it will lower its resell value.