For those who are considering making custom changes to the body of their vehicle, the first decision to make is what type of material should be used for the body kit. After all, whether you choose to just add a spoiler or make a complete overhaul, the materials you use will have to hold up to the same elements as the rest of your vehicle.

There are essentially five basic types of materials for body kits, choosing the right one starts by understanding the differences and knowing what will work best for your vehicle.

ABS Plastic:

This is a thermoplastic that combines acrylonitrile and styrene with polybutadiene which results in a material that is essentially a much better, more resilient version of fiberglass. It is heat, chemical and impact resistant and is crafted from high quality materials for a superb finish.

It is more expensive than fiberglass and heavier as well, but it is also easier to paint than polyurethane which makes it a great choice for most vehicles.

Carbon Fiber:

A polymer that combines carbon fibers with epoxy, the result is a very lightweight, yet strong material that has been growing in popularity over the past decade. Carbon fiber aftermarket auto parts are often used for bumpers, grills, hood, truck, spoilers and more, making it one of more commonly used custom modifications on a vehicle. In particular, high performance and racing cars use carbon fibre to lower the weight and gain impact resistance over steel.

However, carbon fiber is also very expensive, so much so that it is advisable to mix your body parts materials so that you can save money.

Composite:

Essentially, composite is a combination of materials that provides the best that they have to offer while trying to shore up the weaknesses. Depending on what is used, composite may be your best choice.

Fiberglass:

This is easily the most common material used in body kits. Fiberglass is inexpensive and lightweight, but they are not as good as ABS plastic or polyurethane.

Although it will not warp under hot temperatures and can be painted easily, the rigidity of the fiberglass makes it difficult to install and easy to crack even on very mild impacts. Plus, fiberglass will probably need more finishing because they come rough out of the mold. In addition, fiberglass tends to crack even on soft bumps.

Polyurethane:

Also called urethane, it is a popular material to use in body kits. Although more expensive than fiberglass, it is usually superior in terms of fit and performance. Polyurethane is more flexible than fiberglass and is more resistant to cracking.

Unfortunately, it is heavier as well which makes them a poor choice for a racing vehicle. Plus, getting paint to stick to polyurethane is difficult and it is more vulnerable to warping under heat than fiberglass. Overall, this is arguably not the best choice if speed or light maintenance is your preference.

Remember to choose the body shop that has experience in the materials and parts that you want on your vehicle. Just because a body shop has been around a while does not mean they are the right choice if they lack qualifications. So be sure to shop around first before making the commitment.