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5 Easy Performance Mods Anyone Can Do

Every gearhead of a certain age has at one time or another waxed nostalgic for the '60s and '70s, when cars were basically an engine on wheels. With plenty of room under the hood and no complex computer-controlled components, cars were much easier to work on. Then came the Japanese invasion, fuel shortages and emissions controls -- the race for higher performance in smaller packages began. Suddenly, one needed specialized training and expensive equipment to work on parts any backyard mechanic used to handle with a basic set of hand tools. Anyone who's ever removed half an engine and performed a contortionist act to replace a broken starter knows what I mean.

Today's automobiles aren't as user-friendly as they once were, but some repairs are still surprisingly simple. For example, I recently had to change the radiator in my 3-year-old Integra. It was easy to find Acura parts and less challenging than replacing the same part in my dad's '77 Cadillac. That experience got me thinking about additional alterations I could make to my car.

Tons of quick performance enhancements with aftermarket parts can be done at home. Here are 5 projects that you could easily tackle this weekend:

Radiator replacement

Maybe your radiator is in working condition, but that doesn't mean it's performing optimally. Factory radiators are only intended to meet minimum requirements for the stock engine. Modifying your car for performance and power will cause the vehicle to generate more heat. Keeping the engine cool with a new radiator is a simple matter of a few hoses, a shroud and some brackets. It won't cost much to beef up the fan while you're at it.

Brake lines

Factory rubber-brake lines tend to expand, stretch and increase in volume with hard use, which leads to mushy and inconsistent braking. Metal-sheathed, braided brake lines will hold up better because they're easy to replace, and you can change the fluid at the same time. No special tools are needed for the repair, just open-ended wrenches.

Spark plug wires

Installing high-performance wires, which are readily available from most parts stores, will boost performance and gas mileage. Some cars require the engine mounts to be loosened to get to the plugs, but that's a quick fix with the right tools.

Windshield wipers

I've always thought wiper blades are one of the most frustrating things to change on a car - but that's just me. The high-performance blades available today, especially the triple-bladed variety, can make a huge difference in visibility during a rainstorm.

Window tinting

A good tint job used to require a trip to the shop, because doing it yourself inevitably resulted in bubbles and a poor fit. But with the kits available today, anyone can get professional results in no time at all. You'll look cool while protecting your vision.

These simple and affordable mods can significantly increase your car's performance. With any luck, you'll be done in one afternoon and your souped-up ride will be ready for the road again.