Humans have always tagged their property: “THIS IS MINE! Keep Off- Stay Away! You can admire- but only from a distance.” Having fun personalizing your car is one of the unique aspects of car ownership you don’t hear about often, making it an ideal topic for us to look at. There are so many ways you can waste your time and money, making this an ideal pastime, and we will list just a few of these ideas. If you like hardware and auto-parts stores then this is for you.
Let’s start by breaking things into categories: looks, comfort, and convenience. Hopefully, after reading this you will come up with other categories and ideas of your own. We’re always curious to see what people come with. As with many things, this can represent an opportunity to go beyond the boundaries of good judgment and taste. May we just remind everyone that, “Less is More”Continue Scrolling To Keep Reading
Click the button below to start this article in quick viewSTART NOW
20COMFORT: WINDOW TINTING
Nothing personalizes your ride as much as Window Tinting. It’s the 21st Century version of “Who’s That Behind the Foster Grants?” You are instantly both mysterious AND cool at the same time. Just be very mindful of your local DMV ordinances since the constabulary seems to LOVE pulling over all manner of dudes and dudettes regarding their TINTS. You can obey the law, or do it wrong until they catch you. Will they? Won’t they? This is perfect if you like making your life “more interesting” on purpose. Pricing varies.
19CONVENIENCE: BUSH BARS
Bush bars, bull bars, cowcatchers, whatever you want to call them. Is it appropriate on an SUV that WILL NEVER GO OFF-ROAD? Probably not, however, you will see more bull Bars in the flash City sections than you will ever see in the country. That’s for the LOOK. They come in handy in the city where parking is tight and you have to shoehorn your vehicle into super small spots. Remember though, those sexy chrome bars probably cost you at least 2-3 mpg, all the time. Priced from $250 and up.
18COMFORT: CAR DEODORANTS
Cars can get stinky- remember that Seinfeld episode? “WHAT IS THAT SMELL??” Everything we carry can and will leave its own “scent marker”- roses are nice, dogs can get smelly. The car itself could add to the problem with moldy ducts, and spraying an aerosol disinfectant into your system air intakes with the a/c on full once a year could help with that. Prices are $5.00 and up. (The original Pine Tree car deodorant is available for $14.95!)
17COMFORT: SEATS, SEAT COVERS, SEAT PADS
Let’s face facts: even with all the adjustments, some factory car seats are uncomfortable for some people. If that is your problem do not despair- there are many viable solutions. You’ll have to look- there are a few upholstery shops around who will be thrilled to add or remove padding until your backside is in heaven. A very cheap fix. Good for repairs, too. There is no end of cushions, pads, covers, and even complete replacement seats. It’s OK to be serious about your seat. Prices are less than you think- what is your comfort worth? From $50.00 to over $100.00.
16LOOKS: OVERSIZED TIRES
As with most things in the article, the aftermarket ranges from small, almost unnoticeable changes to outrageously obvious. With tires, we begin with Plus 1, which is meant as a performance upgrade, with a slightly larger tire. This can be taken to ridiculous extremes- i.e. monster trucks. This can get expensive, destroy your bearings and other parts, and lead to a dangerously handling vehicle. Proceed with ALL DUE CAUTION. This is usually an expensive modification- typically from $500 to well over $1000.
15CONVENIENCE: LED INTERIOR LIGHTING
Here is a tastefully enhanced Mercedes-Benz AMG, with its center console bathed in cool, luminous blue led light. You can be subtle, like this, or go all out. Changing your factory stock light bulbs to led is always a good move. They will last so long that you will probably NEVER have to bother with that again. Also, another opportunity to personalize your ride, which is what this article is all about. Prices vary from $25 and up.
14CONVENIENCE: LED HEADLIGHT CONVERSION
LED headlights are brighter, have a tighter focus, and last much longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs. You should look for Led units that will easily replace your original equipment bulbs, without any “conversion kits” or re-wiring. Be wary of cheap items available on-line, there is plenty of advice available on making the correct purchase for your car and needs. Expect to pay from $40 and up.
13CONVENIENCE: CAR CAMERA
Speaking from experience, we can report that a good Car Cam is an excellent investment, with many benefits, mostly, Peace of Mind. A good unit will give you 4K color, on the road, and with the proper accessories, when parked as well. The more you spend the more features, such as a 360-degree view with the image sent right to your phone. These are serious and can answer a lot of your worries. Priced at $150.00 and up for a good unit.
12COMFORT: CAR VACUUMS
Keep it clean. The editor is always telling us that. It’s a good idea regarding your car as well. The filth will accumulate astonishingly fast and you need a good car vacuum to keep ahead. If you don’t clean it up you wind up grinding it in. Nothing kills your resale value more than a grungy and grimy carpet and upholstery. Clean it before you need professional help. Price varies from $25.00 to $100.00+.
11LOOK: WINDSHIELD HEADERS
This is a look that has never gone out of style. If done well it will usually enhance the look of your ride. And they’ll see you coming a long way down the road. After all, this is what it’s all about. Make a statement and block the early morning and late afternoon sun in your eyes. It’s off in a flash with no remains. Price runs $25.00 and up.
10LOOKS: DECALS AND VINYL STICKERS
This is an extension of Badge Engineering done in vinyl instead of metal badges, but the same premise applies. If you refuse to pay the extra $30-$50K for the AMG model, you can always assume the look, with a few tactically placed decals or stickers. Not an AMG, which is precisely tuned and hand balanced, but you bought “the look”. No one will ever ask you, and if they do, just smile….. or you can just do racing stripes, or the Mach 5. Priced at $10.00-$200.00+.
9CONVENIENCE: CARGO COVER
SUVs and hatches are great- but a glaring downside that without a cargo cover of some kind, all your stuff is on display, tempting those of low self-control to do something bad and antisocial. Here’s the Cargo Cover to the rescue- out of sight, out of mind. The picture shows a homemade version with 2 curtain rods and some material with sewn hems. Wow. You can buy a factory-made cargo cover- the retractable type, and the fixed panel type. Look up your car and do some research. Prices from Home Made $30.00, to $85.00 for a knock off, to over $250 for a factory model.
8CONVENIENCE: CARGO ORGANIZERS
Being organized is the way. It helps to prevent the inside of your vehicle from turning into a wheeled version of the wife’s purse. Just throwing it in there, day after day, week after week, and before you know it, you’re an irredeemable mess. HELP! Keep it neat and clean. It helps to keep both the shampoo and the barbeque sauce off the cargo floor carpeting. Everyone, and everything, benefits. Prices from $15.00 to $50.00.
7CONVENIENCE: HEADS UP DISPLAY
Developed for jet pilots, this technology has trickled down to us, the driving public. There are 2 types of systems, A low-end using your phone in a holder that sits on your dash with its own built-in display. The other type is more expensive, tying into your OBD2 port and projecting a display on your windshield, right in front of you. As with other things in life, you get what you pay for. Look for poor performance at the low end $30-75.00, improving as you get to $250 plus region.
6LOOKS: CHROMED TAILPIPE TIPS
Nothing says ugh more than a rusty piece of blackened tailpipe peeking out from beneath your rear bumper. Easily solved- there is literally no end of choice for some shiny metal tubing to hide that. Singles, doubles, black and chrome, and for the extreme exhibitionist, LEDs- in color. This will change the color of your exhaust smoke, much to the delight of your friends and neighbors. Priced from $10.00 and up.
5COMFORT: WINDOW VISORS
These are actually very useful if you have them, especially since most late model cars no longer have “drip rails” (what’s that?). You can crack the window a bit for fresh air without getting wet when it’s raining. They look pretty cool as well. You can install them yourself- there are a few types. Look for ones that plug into the channel the window goes into. That one is the easiest. You can buy a unit that sticks on the outside of the door frame with pre-applied automotive tape. Also easy-peasy. Avoid anything requiring the drilling of holes into your car, or putting screws into your car. Priced from $30 to over $100.00
4LOOKS: FAKE VENTS, AND SIMILAR DOODADS
OK. Here we have a good example of what NOT to do. This should not stop you from using the easel that is your daily driver to express yourself. Everything is attached with double-sided automotive tape, which has amazing grip and can be easily removed, so there is never any permanent damage. Have fun with it. Get it out of your system. Prices vary.
3LOOKS: BADGE ENGINEERING
That new Civic looks great in your driveway. You’re a happy new customer- for the most part. You really wanted the R model- that’s the one with the TURBOCHARGER and MORE HORSEPOWER, and a bunch of other stuff, and an extra $4000+ on top of everything else. What to do…Search eBay, and you will find badges for R types- one for the front grill and one for the rear trunk. All for less than $20.00. No one will know- we won’t tell. Of course, you can do this with a lot of other cars.
2COMFORT: SUNROOF WIND DEFLECTOR
While we totally love sunroofs, it is true that they howl mercilessly at speed. This gets a bit tiring after a while, however, I’m happy to tell you there is a solution- the sunroof wind deflector. Does exactly that- deflects some of the wind and the noise as well. Look for one on-line that fits your car. It attaches very simply with pre-applied automotive double stick tape and viola! Not silent but much better. Priced from $30 to over $100.00.
1LOOKS: FANCY VALVE CAPS
This is all about personalizing your ride, remember. Even Ferraris lose their valve caps, but if you think these should adorn your car (by all means) and are willing to part with $140 to make it happen, go right ahead. There are a veritable plethora of valve caps on the market, ranging from $2 black plastic variety to these super fancy units you see here, in brass, chrome and anodized aluminum in a rainbow of colors and logos. Typically less than $10.00.