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As a college student, I understand the need for frugality and budget friendly options. But when it comes to cars, it's hard to compromise since you always get what you pay for; both good and bad. Reason for making this list is because these are some of the mods I've been researching into almost everyday here in these forums. I just wanted to start compiling a bunch of budget friendly mods for others to refer to when they aren't sure of what to do and how to keep costs low. Feel free to add on to this list or criticize any of the mods here.


<$20

- Dip/wrap badges, window trim, chrome "V", any chrome trim: With plastidip costing about $6 a can (depending on what color), you can easily change the look of your car by dipping / wrapping those trims if you're not a fan of chrome. It's a harmless mod that can be reversed by simply peeling off the dip if you're not satisfied.

- Painted engine cover: Although not seen from the outside, adding some color to that big plastic engine cover can make your engine bay "pop". Engine paint / caliper paint / high temp paints are recommended but may be slightly overkill but will work great. Cans could be had at any Autozone/PepBoys/O'Reilly's or Home Depot/Lowe's for a fair price. Match the color with your future SRI color and your bay will be look sweet.

- Debadge: Changes the whole aesthetic of the rear with a clean and uniform look. Only requires something to help pry off the badges, dental floss, and cleaning materials to remove the leftover adhesive.

- License plate frames: It's not much of a mod, but it's definitely a step away from those frames with your dealership's names on them. If you want something Mazda related and or want to support Mazda specialty companies, Racing Beat has some for $2 each, Corksport for $15 each, JBR for $7 each.

- Stickers: Before you say anything, I'm not saying go out and sticker bomb the thing or put a bunch of bumper stickers all over it. A few stickers with meaning (like Mazda3Revolution stickers and your favorite car culture brand) can actually make your ride look a little bit more 'personalized' if not better looking.


<$50
- Dip your wheels: Similar to dipping your badges and trim, this is a great start to giving your car a different look without committing to a new set of colored wheels. Depending on how you want it to be finished, you'll end up buying about 5+ cans of plastidip.

- Plate relocation: For those who aren't thrilled about the license plate placement right smack dab in the middle of the grill. There's various ways to relocate the plate, but the most common areas are the tow hook and lower center part of the bumper, with kits ranging from $20-$90. @minsanity has some no-drill relocation kits for the low center area, as well as some DIY solutions floating around. Corksport, JBR, and eBay have tow hook plate relocation kits.

- Window visors: It's a staple for that "JDM" look. eBay has you covered for visors that fit the 3rd gen that range from $30-$50.

- LED interior lighting: Aftermarket LED lighting kits like ones from Corksport can dramatically change the look of your interior in the dark.

- Footwell lighting: This is a bit 90's/early 00's, but if you liked 2Fast2Furious and don't think neon interior lighting isn't that ricey, footwell lighting kits can be had on Amazon and eBay anywhere from $10-$50 to give the lower part of your interior some color.

- Hella horns: For most, this is a mod to fix our quiet horns into something louder for when you have close calls on the road, but can also look pretty cool when you can see through the grille. Hella's Supertone twin horn kit goes for about $42 on Amazon, and with a little bit of wiring work and combined with the MIT grille, it adds a dramatic change when you get a front view of your car.

- Axela rebadge: If you're the type of prefer putting on the Japanese counterparts name on your car than the American name, this one's for you. In Japan, the Mazda3 is actually called the Axela, just like how G35 is the Skyline and how the RSX is the Integra. You can order the OEM 3rd gen Axela badge from JapanParts.com for about $27 + about $10 shipping depending where you're located for basically in the $40 range give or take. Just debadge yours and the Axela badge comes with double sided tape that can be applied straight onto the original badge spot, covering up the nasty holes.

- Aluminum pedals: Adds a a better look to those bland black pedals. Drill on pedals are usually cheaper than no-drill pedals, but do require you to actually drill a hole through your pedals. eBay has plenty for less than $50.

- Smoke/Tint lights: If you want to smoke or tint your headlights, taillights, fog lights, turn lights, you can do it with VHT Nightshade paint or by vinyl overlays. Depending on where you buy your overlays, they may either be cheap and affordable or quality and expensive, such as overlays from eBay or Lamin-X. eBay is the most frugal, but usually of lower quality, whereas Lamin-x can sell you pre-cut or bulk overlays that are of better quality but much more costly. However, an excellent compromise is to buy overlays from @Blue Batmobile who sells pre-cut and custom overlays that rival Lamin-x and is well known in the realm of many car forums.

- MV_tuning eyelids: From Russia, MV_tuning produced some eyelids/headlight covers to give your lights and front end a different look. Unpainted, they go for $20+$33 shipping, while the snowflake white pearl painted ones go for $45+$33 shipping.

- OEM style aftermarket hatchback spoiler: There has been an uprise of aftermarket body kits for the 3rd gen that have been putting the expensive Aero kit to shame, especially those who make more affordable OEM style aero kit pieces. Here's the real kicker: this spoiler is only $45! Although unpainted, it still beats the OEM spoiler by $350. If you want a spoiler for that hatch of yours, this is a great frugal option for you.

- AEM/K&N/JBR air filter: While it's not an appearance mod, it's definitely a frugal mod that helps with airflow and saving you from always replacing the stock paper filters.


$100 range
- BaysonR OEM style front lip: Polyurethane and OEM styled direct fit. BaysonR's for $86 vs. Mazda's for $400. Nuff said.

- BaysonR OEM style side skirts: $145 > $400.

- MIT grille: This popular grille is the first replacement grille for the 3rd gen that dramatically changes the look of the front end, with a more open and aggressive look that eliminates the large M badge and the license plate placement. In my opinion, this grille pairs well with a matching black "V", relocated plate, and Hella horns. At about $120, it's well worth the price and labor of taking off your bumper.

- Mudflaps: For added protection against dirt and mud, as well as going for a more rally or Subie / Evo look, Rokblokz makes some specially for the 3rd gen for $90 which is cheaper than RallyArmor's for $140. RallyAmor also sells universal ones for about $20 that require you to cut and install from scratch if you're that frugal.
 

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- MIT grille: This popular grille is the first replacement grille for the 3rd gen that dramatically changes the look of the front end, with a more open and aggressive look that eliminates the large M badge and the license plate placement. In my opinion, this grille pairs well with a matching black "V", relocated plate, and Hella horns. At about $120, it's well worth the price and labor of taking off your bumper.
I did the MIT grille and numberplate relocate, I love it. have also fitted some LED spotlights too (I need to get a new pic with the grille fitted).



 
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