How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget - General Forum

Forum Post / Reply
You must log in before you can post or reply to messages.
How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Thursday, May 23, 2013 11:55 PM
Hello everyone. It's 1:40 in the morning. I just finished smashing together some MATLAB code for a class I'm taking, and with all of the caffeine in my veins I'm not going to bed so I thought I'd write a little bit about setting goals and building a car.

I got the idea from a thread over on Honda-Tech.

Evaluate your situation

First, thing you need to do before you start thinking about buying parts or anything is to step back and take an honest look at yourself, your abilities, your wallet and your toolbox. Being able to do things yourself will save you money. Money = parts and parts = fun. But, on the same topic you need understand what you're capable of and what kind of help and tools you can get from friends or family. Everything else would need to be sourced from outside labor ($$$). Set yourself an honest realistic budget. If you're working for $7.85/hour and supporting 3 kids and paying rent, you shouldn't spend $30k on your car.

It's really easy to get in over your head or to bite off more than you can chew. Then youre not only wasted your time and money, but you're going to be paying someone else to fix your screw ups.I know we all like to say "built not bought" but what is there to be proud of if you built a hacked together piece of @!#$.

Set your goals

Sit down and decide what YOU want your car to be. Fun DD, AutoX car, drag car, etc. This will wholly decide where and on what you spend your money. A lot of people get automotive ADD and just start buying without even thinking about what they're buying the parts for.

Planning/Picking Parts

Once you know in what direction youre heading you can start to put together a parts list. This is A LOT of research and just like anything it will take time.

I like to do this is Excel. Make a column of parts, part numbers and prices. I also like to add notes to myself that will help with what I'm doing. It will help you to make sure you have everything you need. There's nothing worse than getting halfway into a project and realizing that you don't have half of the parts you need or half of the parts you bought are wrong. Its important to make sure that you're honest with yourself about EVERYTHING you'll need. 98% of engine mods work better with a tune. But, a lot of people don't account for it and never get their monies worth out of their parts.

It can really help you to cut costs and identify things that arent necessary. The goal here is to save money in the right places to get you what you really want.

Maybe this would help a lot of the "How much would xxxx cost me?" questions.

Something like this that I did for the motor swap in my Civic. I knew down to the penny what it would cost me. You dont have to go that nuts. It was winter time and I was going stir crazy:



Maintenance

The first parts to buy should be anything to get your car back to stable operating condition. Tune-up. Oil change. Ball joints etc. Maintenance first. Modification second. This is all in the interest of safety and longevity. Throwing stiff coilovers on old worn out suspension parts and then AutoXing will break and wear stuff out very quickly. Staying on top of your maintenance will help prevent anything catastrophic from happening.

Spend your money where it matters

I see so many people spending money on tons of tiny modifications that dont do anything to help each other or buying parts that will be of no use to your ultimate goal.

Like buying coilovers and sway bars but riding around on bald tires or buying I/H/E when the plan is to go turbo. Thats money that could have gone towards a nicer turbo manifold or turbo and proper exhaust to feed the beast.

If you want legit wheels or a Harrop don't go buy knockoffs and a regular M62. Just keep saving your money and wait. It doesn't do you any good to do mods just to get by or just because they're "a good deal." <= Im guilty of that.

Cost vs Reward

When I'm trying to pick parts I find it kind of helpful to do a little bit of cost vs reward work on a piece of paper or in my head. The reward value is a little bit subjective.

For a drag car, a nice new paint job will cost a lot but offers very little reward. The same paint job on a show car would have a high reward.

The Law of Diminishing returns is a good thing to read up on. Basically your return from a constant input gradually declines. You can make 100 more hp on your first 8psi but you wont make 200 more hp on 16 and you wont make 400 more on 32. The cost also increases exponentially. So you spend more and more but get less and less. Or because its a funny way to think about it: The first time you watch a video if someone getting kicked in the nuts its hilarious. The second time you chuckle. By the 15th time you're bored.

Cost vs Reward will help you to decide where to best make your big purchases (forced induction, coilovers, body work). This is also the time to deal with your budget. If you only have $2000 to put into the car make it $2000 that counts.

Failure cost

Failure cost is also something to look at and a lot of people don't. This is a good way to get yourself in big trouble in a hurry. For example, if you decide to go with forced induction, there are a plethora of things that can fail and grenade your motor. What is the monetary and time cost of blowing a ringland or having the seals blow out on your turbo? Can you afford the downtime if its your DD? Can you afford a new engine? What else can be damaged down in your car if something breaks?

In conclusion, its all in planning and having a good idea of what you want. Success is 90% planning and 10% execution. Be patient and bide your time

Its not 2:57am and I think I've said all I need to say. I'll add more if I think of anything later. If this helps one person to save money and get closer to what they want I'll be happy. So happy modding and stay safe. It's bed time for me.




Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Friday, May 24, 2013 9:38 AM
Awesome write up! STICKY!



Me: Mmmmmm, what is this? It tastes just like chicken and rice!
Him: Hey! That's my Civic bro!
Me: Sweet, I was right.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Sunday, May 26, 2013 4:30 AM
Brian wrote:

The first parts to buy should be anything to get your car back to stable operating condition. Tune-up. Oil change. Ball joints etc. Maintenance first. Modification second. This is all in the interest of safety and longevity. Throwing stiff coilovers on old worn out suspension parts and then AutoXing will break and wear stuff out very quickly. Staying on top of your maintenance will help prevent anything catastrophic from happening.


This, if nothing else from this thread, should be the most important thing people take away from this! I've seen lots of threads over the years of someone picking up a good budget car that needs a little tlc, but their first priority is to start collecting goodies for it, rather than giving it a good mechanical look over, etc.
I'd also point out, the more you mod the car, the more frequently you need to keep up on good maintenance, i.e. if you slam the car to the ground, you're going to put additional stress and see quicker wear with things like ball joints, axles, mounts, etc and should be servicing those areas more often than stock.
Maintenance first, modification second...remember that everyone.

I like to budget out bigger projects in advance too (I didn't go quite as far as making spreadsheets, but kudos for being more organized than me, lol), but when I LSJ swapped, I definitely knew within a few dollars what the whole thing was going to cost me before I actually pulled the trigger on it. I knew some modification and extra things were going to be needed, so I didn't want to drop the money on the motor to find out later that all the extras were going to add up to beyond what I was willing to spend.

Good write up, definitely some good advice!






Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Sunday, May 26, 2013 7:44 PM
Excellent post!

I can say from experience... Determine you're goals and Do it right the first time!

Now off to plan out my 4th set of racing seats, 3rd exhaust, 3rd suspension setup, 4th set of wheels...




Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Monday, May 27, 2013 7:40 AM
Wow amazing write up. It's crazy how people don't plan out there builds or modifications. Another thing is that you should have put in there is don't ever finance your mods I'm not saying you can't put something on a credit card but be prepared to pay it off there is no reason to rack up debt just to modify your car save your money and own it. I have seen this happen and it can get ugly.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Monday, May 27, 2013 7:52 AM
RED wrote:

Wow amazing write up. It's crazy how people don't plan out there builds or modifications. Another thing is that you should have put in there is don't ever finance your mods I'm not saying you can't put something on a credit card but be prepared to pay it off there is no reason to rack up debt just to modify your car save your money and own it. I have seen this happen and it can get ugly.


To be fair... this doesn't just apply to car mods. This applies to anything in life that you don't really need. About the only things that need financing are a house, a car, and an education. And, perhaps for you southerners, medical costs. Things like car mods, a new TV, or a vacation should be saved up for. People would be amazed at how much money they piss away on interest and other costs over and above the cost of the stuff they buy just to HAVE IT RIGHT NOW. You can have so much more if you save first!




Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:06 PM
Thanks for the kind words everyone. The farther along I get into my degree the more I find myself analyzing and planning stuff more than before.

Im glad people can take something away from this. I completely agree with the financing statements. Hobbies need to remain cash only. I have plenty of friends with sick cars that live with mountains of debt because they "needed" to have their car done right now.

I wanted to add something about used parts:

Buying used parts

Used parts are a great way to save money. But IMO its good to keep buying used parts to non-wear items unless you can verify service records or recent rebuilds. That smoking good deal you got on that new turbo may end up costing you more than a new one if you need new seals and bearings. This is a good thing to factor into your budget and failure cost. The rate of failure on high mileage or used parts is much higher than new ones. You can save money by rebuilding parts if you get them cheap enough.

There's a lot of precision work that goes into rebuilding automotive parts correctly. Cutting corners on an engine rebuild to save money will end up costing you more money when it blows apart sooner than it should. Working for a company that builds parts for GM I can vouch for the tight tolerances things are built to. A good set of micrometers and calipers are a definite must for anyone doing any serious work.

Don't rebuild a transmission, engine or anything else with a "measure with a tape measure, mark with a crayon and cut with an axe" mentality.



Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:08 PM
BTW. I would really appreciate a sticky if there's a mod out there that loves me.



Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 5:11 AM
Wild Weasel wrote:

RED wrote:

Wow amazing write up. It's crazy how people don't plan out there builds or modifications. Another thing is that you should have put in there is don't ever finance your mods I'm not saying you can't put something on a credit card but be prepared to pay it off there is no reason to rack up debt just to modify your car save your money and own it. I have seen this happen and it can get ugly.


To be fair... this doesn't just apply to car mods. This applies to anything in life that you don't really need. About the only things that need financing are a house, a car, and an education. And, perhaps for you southerners, medical costs. Things like car mods, a new TV, or a vacation should be saved up for. People would be amazed at how much money they piss away on interest and other costs over and above the cost of the stuff they buy just to HAVE IT RIGHT NOW. You can have so much more if you save first!


I only said cars because that's what this thread was about but yes I agree don't finance anything unless it's something huge (house, new car) the reason our economy is the way it is right now is due to spending more then you make and living outside of your means.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Friday, May 31, 2013 1:10 PM
To comment on Weasels remark, it is absolutely AMAZING at how much money people blow on interest.
If you want a $1000 55" LED TV, you can get it today without any money or little money down and easily affordable monthly payments. Its called a rent-to-own type of deal (Aarons, Rentacenter, etc).
You will literally pay 50-100% more than the value by the time you pay it off. If you had just saved up 6 months @ $200/month, you'd be $500-1000 richer by the time that TV sits in your living room. We only see in short term goals, people dont think about the big picture. And to Brian's mention of cost vs reward, the TV is NEVER going to reward you for the cost on anything you end up financing. You can prove this by attempting to defend yourself to someone that you paid $2000 for a $1000 TV, they'll just tell you youre an idiot or your priorites are whack.

think about that 'next summer' goal of boosting your jbody. That $1000 would have bought you some decent parts, that you dont have because you're still paying into the TV you just had to have.

But Im often asked locally at car meets and what not, what people should do with mods. What they can get for "X" amount of money.
The first thing I'll notice is where they work (if they do), do they have any dependants, do they owe people/parents money, do they have any emergency money saved up, and so on.
Its easy to quickly sum up the answer (that comes across as being mean), focus on maintenance, some supporting mods and do nothing else. If you can afford to buy wheels and tires but have to scrape by to put clean diapers on your kids ass, you have your priorities mixed up. In the right community, none of your fellow club members or friends will judge you for putting family and financial obligations first.

with the ranting nearly over on my end, basically i just think this is a great write up and needs to be said. more and more people need to be woken up to actually living within their means. If you dont make much, $40,000/year sounds great. But trust me, thats not a lot of money if you have loans and want to save up properly (retirement, etc). If you own a house, that puts your car even further behind on the priorities list. And the best habit to get into is, the more you make, the more you save. Going form $40k for instance to $60k, keep your budgets the same. Pay off loans a little more or double some payments specifying it goes straight to principal. Dont assume $20k more a year means financing a $40k car. Keep that $4k car and make it beat the piss out of $40k cars on a much smaller cost

There are a lot of ppl around here that think they're ballers, making $40-50k and upgrade cars like its a hobby. If they'd have kept their original cars and enjoyed them and put more money away, they'd be much happier and stress free knowing things are paid off. There is plenty of time in life to enjoy the finer things, better ammenities, and the like. One of my favorite things to hear from someone who has a really nice car fully modded (bought, not built) from the factory that cost them $30+, is 'ill get more power when I can save up to buy a cam/head/turbo' etc. if you cant afford a few hundred dollars for a part, you shouldnt have bought that car. Because that means you dont have the money to keep yourself out of financial stress in an emergency spending every penny as you make it.

Sorry for the long comment...but Im at work and its really slow today. Debating my current costs so this thread hit home...I can afford to fix my cav, but do i NEED to spend double upgrading things or just keep it affordable and be happy?


(and x3 on the supporting mods/maintenance prior to any upgrades)


04 Cav. 2dr. 5spd. My DD. 'Nuff said.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 3:03 AM
i am the epitome of the opposite of this lol



M45/OS crank/2.4 snout. It's nice to be injected but I love being blown!

Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 4:20 AM
Budget?????
I have put easily over 20K in the multiple rebuilds on my car.
I have kept all my receipts, they are about 2" thick.

I go all in with my hobbies.
Gosh ..... my pop-up camper has 6" memory foam mattresses, and barely closes due to the thickness!!!!!
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Thursday, June 13, 2013 8:08 PM
I love you Brian.



Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Friday, June 14, 2013 6:46 PM
blucavvy wrote:

I love you Brian.






Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Monday, June 17, 2013 3:32 PM
Don't forget the shipping, living in Canada and buying parts out of the U.S. means no free shipping and duties fees and taxes. That the main reason I'm not further along with my build, but I do strongly beleve in these statement

Quote:

It's really easy to get in over your head or to bite off more than you can chew. Then youre not only wasted your time and money, but you're going to be paying someone else to fix your screw ups.I know we all like to say "built not bought" but what is there to be proud of if you built a hacked together piece of @!#$.


Quote:

If you want legit wheels or a Harrop don't go buy knockoffs and a regular M62. Just keep saving your money and wait. It doesn't do you any good to do mods just to get by or just because they're "a good deal." <= Im guilty of that.


Build it right the first time and you wont need to build it twice.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Monday, June 17, 2013 3:36 PM
Don't forget the shipping, living in Canada and buying parts out of the U.S. means no free shipping and duties fees and taxes. That the main reason I'm not further along with my build, but I do strongly beleve in these statement

Quote:

It's really easy to get in over your head or to bite off more than you can chew. Then youre not only wasted your time and money, but you're going to be paying someone else to fix your screw ups.I know we all like to say "built not bought" but what is there to be proud of if you built a hacked together piece of @!#$.


Quote:

If you want legit wheels or a Harrop don't go buy knockoffs and a regular M62. Just keep saving your money and wait. It doesn't do you any good to do mods just to get by or just because they're "a good deal." <= Im guilty of that.


Build it right the first time and you wont need to build it twice.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Monday, June 17, 2013 3:37 PM
Sorry for the double post, I need to get a premium membership lol
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Sunday, September 01, 2013 1:49 PM
Will a 900 saab header bolt up to my 2.2 eco? Plz help one to get it,don't want to buy it and it be too late.
Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Sunday, September 01, 2013 1:56 PM
No.




Re: How to Build the Car You Want on a Budget
Sunday, September 01, 2013 6:35 PM
Take your dumb@!#$ questions and make your own thread



Forum Post / Reply
You must log in before you can post or reply to messages.

 

Start New Topic Advanced Search