Mods and Rockers

A cautionary tale of car modification

Turbo upgrade BMW M4
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It sounds like the grumpy uncle trying to spoil the fun, telling the cool kids not to lower their vehicles, tune up the engines and run them on high octane fuel. 

But seriously, don’t mod your car if it’s not actually your car! 

Who would do such a stupid thing as to mod someone else’s car, grumpy? Yeah, well they may not realise that it’s not their car... 

The ubiquity of car finance means people who effectively are hiring or leasing a car sometimes behave as though the car is their own. It’s an interesting bit of cognitive dissonance but this kind of double think could have consequences.

It’s all fine if you just drive the car for three years and hand it back - or pay a balloon payment at the end of the term if it’s on PCP (in which case it is then yours). But if you mess around with it whilst it belongs to the finance company, woe betide you. You’re likely to lose the car (and a load of money too).

Spoilsports. How will they ever know?

Keep your head down and they *might* not. When we say ‘might’, the police take a dim view of uninsured vehicles and undeclared mods void motor insurance. Uninsured vehicles are often seized - and that’s not going to be easy to explain to the finance company. Not to mention in the unfortunate event of total loss - writing off your car and it being found to be modified without agreement of your insurer could mean your vehicle isn’t covered by your motor or GAP insurance. Which is really not a good thing.

But if you insist on posting all your mods on YouTube and boasting about your amazing finance deal, they may just have an inkling without any tangles with the law or other events. 

Who would do such a thing?

Er.... well...

Car finance and car mods

In this cautionary tale,  Mr LivingLifeFast acquired a BMW M4 2018 Competition pack. This is a brand new £68k specced M4 - and he was offered 0% interest and payments of £610 per month. 

As he says in his YouTube video ‘It was such a good deal I couldn’t resist.’ Also that whilst he bought it to mod - and whilst he knew he’d void the warranty and have to bear any repair costs himself he didn’t think beyond that.

Anyway, (among other things) he took it to Pure Turbos in Belgium who tuned it to increase the wheel horse power to 670 WHP (from 422 stock). They changed the transmission to withstand the new power levels through the car without messing up the engine timing. And he runs it on higher octane fuel blended with ethanol.

A few of the mods were more cosmetic - wheels, callipers and smoked front windows, but the biggest (and irreversible) ones were mechanical and performance-related. If you want to see the full catalogue there are quite a few videos of all this - seen by a few hundred thousand viewers. 

And BMW Finance. Who weren’t quite as impressed as the fans.

In this case, BMW Finance wrote demanding full payment for their car within 14 days otherwise they would recover it. Their letter was based on a breach of the finance agreement by altering their vehicle without consent, and also on the grounds that he may not be able to afford repayments in the circumstances.

The process for squaring the situation - unless full payment is made - is to recover the vehicle and then sell it on. Once they’ve deducted this, the customer is liable for the outstanding finance. Ouch.

The massive lesson for everyone is to always read the terms and conditions. Make sure any amendments and modifications are covered by insurance and agreed if the vehicle is financed. 

And if the vehicle is financed, remember many agreements mean that it is owned by the finance company until the day you’ve cleared the final balance.

by Beate Kubitz at 16 Jul 2019, 00:00 AM