Its your first car and you’re dying to put on some new toys. Your budget is probably constrained and you’re first inclination is to either cut corners or go for the low hanging price points items. Both of which would be a devastating move. Regardless, if you’re thinking cosmetic or performance you’ll probably do okay and many of these initial pitfalls are, for all of us, just part of the trials and tribulations of breaking a few eggs to get to the perfect omelet. The best part is if you stick to it sooner or later you will get it right… we hope.
The great news is we live in a capitalist society that is dying to make awesome things that make you look better or go faster and they’ll be there for you when you’re ready. Unfortunately that also means there are some unscrupulous businesses that only want to get you on board once so they can take your cash and run leaving you with either nothing or worse, something that will do damage to your car or your wallet as well as your ego. To help you get over these pitfalls here are some examples of items you should steer completely clear off the planning board.
1.) Leather Bra
When you first start off you’ll notice that the front of your car is the first to take a beating. Rock chips and general road conditions are just par for the course and if you want to do something about it you’re already proving you’re a proud owner. Good job!
There are tons of options out there, but one you should steer clear of is the Leather Bra. Sure it’s cheap and bolts right to your car feeling that, “I’ve done something sexy” move, but in reality you’re going to regret it down the road. First that leather bra is going to flap around and every time the leather or a metal strap impacts the paint it’s doing damage. It also means that anything trapped under the bra is doing the same, including scratching and destroying your paint. Inevitably it’ll do more damage than the road will. Their appearance leaves a lot to be desired, especially when straps begin to let go from the elements they’re exposed to.
What should you do? Clear bras aren’t cheap but they are effective. There’s a reason that supercar owners the world over use them. They allow the good looks through and kick the bad paint hating items out. Clear bras are usually made from urethane and made specifically to deal with the harsh conditions and since nothing gets under them they’ll be doing extra job duty. Once you’re done with one your installation professional can take it off and put a new one on.
2.) Spinning Hubcaps
The first thing any self-respecting auto enthusiast considers on his vehicle is his wheels and tires. Wheels are indeed your blood stream connection to the road and everything else you do will be defined by that connection. As you flip through all the options you’ll suddenly get a queezy feeling as everything in the rim department costs in the thousands and once you see the associated tire prices you’ll be ready to call it quits before you even got started.
Now you’ll be tempted to start cutting corners and there are ways you can cut corners in the most self-destructive way possible. Now imagine when you pull up to the meet in not only steel rims but rims capped with cheap plastic covers that spin! Nothing says “ostracize me” any louder than being cheap and cringe inducing all at the same time. Add in an overabundance of stickers and you really will need to call it quits.
What should you do? This is the moment when you realize you’ll need to take one for the team. Look at any other vehicle and you’ll notice that they are defined by their shoes. We’re not going to knock any performance guy who throws on a set of steel wheels to enjoy their new hobby on the track, but if you’re going for looks and/or performance it’s time to start growing that bank account. With the multitude of rims and tires out there you’ll change directions a few times and with some input from others you’ll finally find what works best for you, which will give you plenty of time to invest in your new hobby. Pick the right wheels and you’ll find that people can forgive a multitude of sin.
3.) Engine, Turbo Simulators and General Noise Makers
Who hasn’t been tempted by some of these faux items and in reality, if you ever installed one, you realize very quickly it really is a faux pas. Plugging up an engine sound system, an item that tries to electronically mimic a blow off valve, or a cute little item that whistles through your exhaust tip is similar to going to a formal event wearing that fish tie you got for Christmas. All you’re going to do is get awkward vacant stares and people too afraid to even ask what you were thinking. I understand your electric car doesn’t make any noise, but making fake noise isn’t going to help it. Just don’t.
What should you do? You should be happy with what you have. Pretending to be something you are not isn’t suggestible in any genre because it’s not sustainable. Be proud of your car just the way it is and take what it has and build on it so well that people completely ignore its short-comings.
4.) Fuel Magnets, Intake Spinners, and Other Novelty Items
If you’re surfing any website you’re bound to see some funky little items that do some funky little things. From claims of helping your fuel economy to cleaning out your fuel it can be difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. Many of these items are just created to suck up your cash for minimum or no gain effectively leaving you back at square one with an empty wallet.
What should you do? The first thing you should always do is create a plan. If you want to make 300 horsepower then everything should be balanced to make 300 horsepower. If you have a plan it’s easy to stick to the plan, know what you need for a budget, and do what you need to reach that goal. Not to much, not to little. Let’s be honest, deviation is when we make mistakes and lose the plot and if we don’t have a plan right out of the gate we’ll get burdened by all the small stuff and will never save up to get the big stuff. It’s just like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach and when you get home you realize you can’t live off of candy bars and noodles. Down the road some of those items you thought were interesting will start to make sense and others will show their true selves as total junk. If you have a plan it can save you a ton of embarrassment as well.
5.) Performance Chips
So you’ve spent a thousand here and there and you’re thinking you only need a couple of horsepower to get you over the top. Those nifty little performance chips sound just like the option you need. They’re cheap and maximize the performance already in your car. Easy, right? Completely and utterly dead wrong.
The problem with performance chips is multi-fold. At best you could get something that the stock computer over-rules in a week and at worst it could be a totally non-functional item that inadvertently destroys your car’s brain. Most of the “chips” I’ve encountered are a fantasy that makes you feel better about your car and to the consummate performance guy makes you look like a joke and sound like an amateur.
What should you do? First you shouldn’t send me hate mail about how your chip is the best in the world. In the automotive world there is tons of items and some of them will defy logic and others defy rationale. I just know that if you’re going to do it right just opening up your car’s computer and attaching a chip thinking it will solve all your problems isn’t the logic path to success… ever. Your car’s computer is made to run within its performance range so changing anything is taking it out of its comfort zone and should only be done under the careful guidance of a trusted professional to make sure you don’t drastically shorten the life of your vehicle. Any respected upgrade that makes any significant changes in your cars performance will require changes such as intakes, exhaust, throttle bodies to injectors/fuel supply, braking… you get the point. So how effective can slapping a chip be if all it needs is the stock computer? Just like there’s no single pill that will cure all your ailments there’s no be-all, end-all chip that can do that same for your car.
That’s our list! I hope you liked it and I hope you stick around for more awesome articles. We’d love to hear your input as well! Got a question or an article idea? Comment below!