Audi owners often seek to push their cars to their engineering limits. This frequently calls for tweaking an Audi’s parts such as the engine, suspension, and transmission. To many Audi drivers, the rewards netted after a performance upgrade aren’t the same without the knowledge that played an influential part in their achievement – besides paying for it, of course. To this end, many prefer to do work on their Audi’s themselves.

The relationship between driver and car is always strengthened when the driver gets involved in the happenings under the hood. However, there’s a way to go about it correctly and many ways to do it wrong. Getting your Audi to perform better and not worse after a DIY parts installation for the first time just takes the proper level of preparation.

That said, here is a basic beginner’s guide to approaching do-it-yourself installs of Audi performance parts:

Find a reputable Audi performance parts supplier

I’ll never forget the day I overheard a conversation between an experienced mechanic specializing in Audi and Porsche, and a befuddled young man pleading for the grease monkey to install an aftermarket catalytic converter he bought for his ‘95 911. The mechanic refused, telling the kid the exhaust part – bought from someone off eBay – was cheap for a reason: it will cause catastrophic damage to the vehicle.

Good mechanics – and those aspiring to act as a mechanic on their own car – must know the difference between good and bad aftermarket parts. At the very least, they need to know a source which only supplies quality performance parts. With this in mind, it’s critical to find a reputable Audi parts supplier. Only then can you confidently go forward with the next step:

Watch Audi Parts DIY installation video tutorials

Just because you watched your uncle successfully replace a radiator without major headaches doesn’t mean you’ll have the same fortune. Every car is different and every scenario presents its own array of unique challenges. Temperature can even play a role in whether a parts replacement job goes according to plan or not.

In the internet age, the key to successful first-time parts replacement is watching a YouTube video of someone else doing the same thing. Name your Audi model year and the parts you’re looking to change, and no doubt someone has already put a video or blog tutorial out there showing how to do the job right. Now, keep in mind that doesn’t mean these folks are actually doing it right, so it’s probably best to watch more than one video if possible. Watching a video tutorial beforehand has the benefit of preparing you for the following as well:

Get the right tools

Virtually any repair or replacement job on your Audi can be done on your own, so long as you have the right tools. Of course, not everyone has a mechanic’s spread of tools at their disposal.

Wannabe DIY performance parts installers can’t get far without some basic tools. A starter tool kit for car repair complete with socket wrenches and other essentials is key, but unlikely to do the whole job. By watching videos, you can get a sense of the special tools needed for a parts swap. Either by renting or making the investment, it’s crucial to have these tools at the ready come job time. However, all the right tools in your tool chest can’t save the day if you aren’t sensitive to the next factor at play:

Find the right place

The ability to get to the sections of the engine, suspension, or transmission where you plan to swap out parts depends on tools – but it also depends on where you are when working on the vehicle.

Access to the undercarriage, including drive-train parts and most of the exhaust system is made difficult when closer to the ground. The ability to lift your Audi up enables you to access all its parts with an open range of bodily movements. Leverage, reach, and visibility all come into play with setting up a garage for repairing car parts. Of course, not everyone has a garage let alone a lift, in which case, repairman ramps are a good investment. Lastly, if fluids are expected to be released during the work, have a collection method, such as an oil drain pan to avoid damaging the environment.

Have a second pair of hands

The videos you watch may only show one person working on the car. However, assume you need an extra pair of hands. Those hands lead to an extra brain, which is oftentimes the saving grace of first-time DIY performance parts installation.

Remember: common sense prevails

The number one mistake beginner performance parts installers make is not accounting for the engineering. Men and women spent months, if not years, perfecting the Audi which you now own. The decision to make adjustments to that design should not be taken lightly. If you affect one section of the car, you stand a chance of affecting other aspects of the vehicle as well.

In short, tread carefully. Installing performance parts to your Audi is a great way to push the boundaries of a beautifully crafted machine. Just make sure you’re abiding by basic common sense before going forward.