What are the best mods you can do for your car?

I've done about 3 grand worth of upgrades to my car, some amazing, some a waste. Here are the real winners:

Day of Delivery, Jan 8 2019

Day of Delivery, Jan 8 2019

In January of 2019, I learned that the last few Focus STs that were collecting dust on dealership lots would be getting a very healthy rebate from Ford to move them off the lot. For me, this meant that I would have more money to be spending on modifications. After scoring a killer deal on the last black ST in California, I, like many others, got the itch to start modifying the car. I did my research, sourcing the best parts that would fit my build. Flash forward over a year and a couple grand later, I've finished all the modifications I wanted to complete when I first set out to tune my car.

Turbocharged cars are the easiest to make more power with

In a turbocharged car there are a lot of parts in the forced induction system, and they can all be upgraded. The go to modification for all turbo cars is a nice cold-air intake. The verdict is up in the air if these make a huge difference in power, but they are a very nice aesthetic mod for the engine bay. Even though my focus came with one from the factory, I still upgraded to a beautiful Mountune intake, which makes me smile every time I pop the hood.

Source: Mountune USA

Source: Mountune USA

The most important modification you can do to your turbocharged car is an intercooler. The intercooler does exactly what you think it would do, cool the air. Upgrading to a larger, thicker core makes all the difference in managing heat-soak. Factory intercoolers tend to be small, light, and not very good at doing their jobs.

Source: Mountune USA

Source: Mountune USA

Here you can see a stock Focus core versus an upgraded Mountune unit. This is the first iteration of the Mountune intercooler; the one I have on my car is even larger. I saw a huge difference in how my car was keeping charge air temperature consistent even over multiple accelerations or consistent spirited driving. This upgrade is definitely worth it.

Modifications mean nothing if you don't tune for them!

Tuning a car today is almost too easy. I did everything from my laptop, and I used a tuner who does all the work over e-mail. With the sophistication of OBD2 port devices like the Cobb Accessport V3 that I use, tuning is merely dragging a file and installing it to your car. It literally takes 5 minutes.

Source :Cobb

Source :Cobb

Getting a professional tune was the best thing I did for my car. It takes into account all the modification on your car and optimizes them to work in sync with the car's ecu. I highly recommend the Cobb Accessport if it is offered for your vehicle. Its a magic little device.

Nothing beats a notchy shift

Source: James Barone Racing

Source: James Barone Racing

This is the best bang for you buck out there: a short shifter kit. From factory, many manual transmissions will have a longer throw, with some play in the shifter while in gear. Some don't mind this feeling, and that's why this mod is totally based on your own preferences. For me, I found that the stock shifter was actually very good, but needed a tiny bit of help. This shift arm from James Barone Racing puts a 20% reduction on the gear throw, as well as adds some counter weight. I paired this with their solid bushings for the shift cables to reduce play while in gear. Totaling 140 dollars, this is the best value out of all modifications on my car.

Summary

I have done more mods than I would like to bore you with, but i'm very happy with how my car has turned out. I can personally justify what I have put into modifying this car, as I am very pleased with the outcome. This little hot hatch absolutely rips through windy roads, and is an absolute pleasure to drive. I hope you all have good luck on the never-ending journey of modifying cars. Below I will put the full modification list, for reference. Please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments.

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Comments (41)

  • Great article, and great car. I was worried when I saw the title they would all be cosmetic and just ruin the car. But these are awesome. Great job👍

      2 months ago
    • I’m not one for cosmetic mods. I believe that the manufacturer usually knows how to design a car better than me. The ST comes with a body kit anyways.

        2 months ago
    • How much whp?

        2 months ago
  • I'm not going to lie I love your mods I have the similar on my mustang just with a procharger instead of a turbo

      2 months ago
  • In order:

    1 coil overs or some sort of suspension

    2 tires

    3 rims

    4 exhaust

    5 intake or tune

      2 months ago
    • My opinion so don’t kill me

        2 months ago
    • That’s your opinion man, not for me to judge. I would just say Wheels that aren’t for performance gains (lighter, wider) are a non priority. Exhaust is an important one to a lot of people, hence why some will spend 500+ on a catback. For me, a...

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        2 months ago
  • What would you say were the biggest waste of time mods you did? Let's not include the chrome bolts you bought for your rocker cover etc

      2 months ago
    • Nothing was really a waste of time, but there were some things that were a waste of money. I got an intake manifold spacer, it doesn’t do anything. The rear sway bar was meh, the stock one was more fun and allowed for more lift off oversteer. I...

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        2 months ago
  • Nice article, Jackson. That’s a well modded Focus you have there, love the plug in tune and the fact you’ve done suspension too. Only point id disagree with is the intercooler being the most necessary mod on a turbo car. Imo, this depends a lot on climate and the size of the stock cooler. There’s plenty of higher end Audi’s and BMW which push over 200 extra HP on the stock cooler. If you live in a colder climate then it’s even less necessary, and of course how you drive matters too. Guys doing track days will be the first that require an upgrade but many street guys who do no more than 10-20 second blasts will get little benefit out of a bigger one. I appreciate in some poorly designed cars it can be a real restriction but in many cases when looking at adding 10-20% more power, it can be avoided.

      2 months ago
    • You’re completely right. I may be overstepping my claim. For my specific car, it is very necessary. Higher performance cars sometimes have no need for bigger intercoolers. I also live in very warm SoCal. I’m glad you like my car and enjoyed...

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        2 months ago
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