Car Must Haves and Wants

These are merely a few ideas found online of what drivers seem to think important in their vehicle. You may have a different opinion on the subject, but online survey respondents found these items useful.

Heated Seats

Heated car seats are useful on a cold day. You can fit heated seats on cloth seats or leather seats, but it can dry out the leather. It creates what is known as toasted skin syndrome, a type of rash which occurs on the thighs when you have this addition.

Entertainment

When it comes to music it’s important to be able to download the latest tracks. You can have several car music mixes but the real enjoyment comes from making your own. As well as MP3 players and Apple CarPlayer products, there’s also USB thumb drives which allow not just listening to downloaded music but also you can watch cartoons or movies on a video screen. They can only be used when the car is not moving. Presumably back seat passengers can use their own audio or video system.

Passive Entry

You may not have heard it being called passive entry. It’s just being able to enter the car without keys. It’s also known as Remote Keyless Entry or Keyless Enter ‘n’ Go. It uses a key fob which acts as a low-frequency transmitter which saves you from you looking for the keys.

Keyless entry tends to be combined with push button start, which is understandable as it is a keyless operating system. In order to convert to a keyless entry the hot wires need to be replaced by a professional.

Emergency Braking/Collision Warning

Automated emergency braking is a system which allows the braking to happen without placing force on the brake. Should braking prove impossible it reduces the force of the impact, though this shouldn’t be confused with a forward collision warning which provides a visual or audible cue but it’s up to the driver to brake.

Storage

It’s useful to have things to help organize your car such as a mobile phone holder or an organizer for the trunk – the most useful of which have Velcro at the bottom to allow you to keep it from shifting in transit.

Other storage space can be obtained by having a cargo box on the roof, but it always feels like you have to open it from the side of the car you aren’t on. Recently some units allow you to open it up from either side of the car, which is really handy and in some cases safer. Be sure the latch system is in good condition if buying a used cargo box because opening spontaneously in transit is a bad thing.

Car Offices

If you have to eat or drink at the wheel or even use a computer (it should go without saying when the car is not moving) you could always invest in a “wheel desk” – the double-sided ones have a cup holder on one side and on the other side a flat plane to write on. You laugh when we suggest no using these while driving but one early maker of these devices used computer graphics to put a driving scene in the window of their add which sponsored a ton of hilarious comments in their product review section. Things like “I’m so much more productive, how did I live without…ah…ohh lord…ouch.”

Windscreen Covers

If you don’t wish to spend time scraping ice off the window, try a windscreen cover. The best ones only take a few moments to attach.

Cup Holders

Okay, it’s been a few years since anyone touted the cupholders as a feature of a car, but hey, it’s a classic.

If you have a cup holder, why not go the whole hog and get yourself a coffee maker that runs off your cigarette lighter (such as the Handpresso Auto)? Well, for one thing they offer only a tiny shot of coffee so they aren’t that practical. For another, you could just stop for a drink at a cafe with the added bonus that it also breaks up your journey. But who are we to judge?

Hopefully you found the above list useful whether you purchase something new for your car or not.

A Look Into The Headlights (and Sidelights)

Not literally! Okay, it’s just a title pun. The primary function of headlights when they decided to put them on cars, was to allow you to operate your vehicle at night, however they’ve become almost as well known for their unintended side effect—they make you more visible.

Headlights typically have two light levels, bright and dim. Because it’s difficult to see on rural roads without streetlights overhead, your car should come equipped with “brights.” Because driving in crowded roads with “brights” on can make it difficult for other drivers to see, you’ll spend most of your time driving with your “dims” on. For many years, the dimmer switch (controller) was available on the floor, though now it’s more commonly found on the steering column.

Signalling with Headlights

Headlights may be used to warn other road users of upcoming hazards including speed traps. Some manuals even describe the headlamps as an “optical horn” which seems a novel way of putting it but there you go.

So, lights on a car have become primarily used for signalling.

  • It can let you know of another car’s presence especially in the fog or on a dark night
  • That you are aware of another car’s action
  • That a car is indicating right of way
  • That a car has a certain problem, though it might be clear exactly what the problem is
  • To say thank you
  • Or most often to let you know your brights are on and they can’t see

Do you have a right to use the headlight to signal people? Opinions vary. For example, we mentioned warning other drivers of a speed trap, it’s not legal in some states. Some states say this is covered by the First Amendment or freedom to speech. This is evidently open to some interpretation.

Hidden Headlights

Hidden headlights are also known as pop-up headlights or flip-eye headlamps. Whenever they aren’t in use they are hidden, though the hiding place used varies. Some are mounted in a housing, while others retract into the hood or the fender. Sometimes they may be concealed behind a grille panel feature. The Buick Rivera introduced this feature to the public.

Mazda Pop-up Headlights

The first pop-up headlight to be “seen” was created by General Motors in 1939.

But the feature came and went as a “fashion statement”-possibly it’ll come back in the future. It’s biggest point of popularity was during the 1960s. This was the point where the lights couldn’t be aerodynamically designed. Although the Lotus Espirit and CS Spirit both date from 2004 it’s the last time these types of headlights were on a mass-produced vehicle. For some reason it became dated.

Unique Headlights

Tucker Torpedo

Mazda Furari created headlights which resemble a smile of blue neon.

Directional lighting of a sort was available for one year (1935) on a car called the Tatra, which simply allowed the driver to flip a switch and electromagnetically shift a reflector to illuminate the curb side only.

The Cizeta V16T has two pairs of pop-up headlights.

The Opel GT rolls over from the side rather than popping up. The 1948 Tucker Torpedo has a middle light which must have been slightly off-putting.

Types of Headlights

LED Headlights

Most headlights are halogen, LED, Xenon/HID, and Laser.

Good old halogen have been around since 1962 (the H1) and has been vastly improved since by tungsten filaments and pressurized iodine or bromine gas to increase illumination and lifespan. Not only did these improvements make the bulbs not burn themselves out so quickly, they also made them tougher. On the bright side (pun intended) they’re cost effective, but on the downside they’re only so bright. (Halogen cast a slight yellow tint that never gets as white as daylight). Also, they don’t last too long and some models are difficult to replace.

Laser headlamps have the best illumination but also cost the most to repair, which seems to happen to anyone who owns them as they need to be repaired after the slightest bit of damage.

Xenon Headlight

The DAF LED headlamp uses (as the name suggests) a low beam of LEDs. This means that the heat isn’t focused on one place. It also lasts a long time and is able to cope with a strong amount of vibration through use. LEDs can be fit in tight spaces, and they are energy efficient.

High end vehicles often come equipped with Xenon/HID headlamps because the mix of Xenon and Argon gasses create a very bright light at a long range. The downside is that they take a few seconds to reach their full brightness and they can be too bright. If you don’t enjoy having oncoming traffic flash their brights at you, it’s probably not worth getting a conversion kit to install this type of light. It’s also a very focused light so you see well what these lights hit and see very little of what they don’t hit, which impedes parking or lane changes. One final positive is that these lights can last for years without being changed.

From headlights to sidelights.

Although they are contained in the same unit as headlights, sidelights are used for slightly different purposes. The front ones give off a white light and the corresponding tail-lights give off a red light which will also light up your registration plate.

The sidelights are dimmer than the other lights on the car. They’re not there to keep the way ahead lit but instead to ensure you are visible and that other road users are able to pass you.

You shouldn’t use your headlights if parked as they affect other road users too much.

So that’s the end of a short look at headlights and sidelights, hopefully it was illuminating.

The Squeeze – How to Get The Most of Car Space

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You may not be aware of the term “cargo space,” though it’s just a more complicated way of saying trunk space. A similar term used in the motor trade is “cargo capacity” which means the same thing.

Looking at the objects that people put it trunks in the movies it tends to be suitcases, cooler boxes, items like that. Everything you might need for a week or a fortnight away, though the items we’ll need to place in our trunks could be yard trash, a table, chairs… Well, you get the idea.

A way to increase the space is to have storage in the front of the vehicle, as Tesla does. This wouldn’t be possible in a conventional vehicle but because the Tesla is electric the engine doesn’t take up that much space. They nickname this new space as the “frunk,” a portmanteau of “front trunk”.

trunk-1478832_1920As well as the front space, you might look at the under-trunk space, although in most cars this is where the spare tire is stored. Minivans, however, often only use part of the underfloor to store the tire leaving part for additional storage.

Minivans aren’t alone in touting their ample surplus of space. The makers of the Pontiac boast that you could fit a whole mattress in the trunk of their car. This might be too much space for most people, how often do you wish to transport a mattress? But if you require space this is probably the ideal car to get.

When you have space you might like to utilize it in bizarre new ways.

Are you unhappy with the car’s current speakers? No problem, get yourself a huge pair of subwoofers and stick them in your trunk. Okay, you no longer have half your trunk space, but it does improve your listening pleasure.

Got a couple bikes to transport? You have two basic choices—inside or out. You can install a bike rack on the roof or the trunk, depending on your car’s body type. For those who have yet to purchase a bike rack or wish to carry more than one the bicycle can be a tricky thing to transport. One idea is to use a foldaway bike which not only allows you to store the bike but also, depending on the size of the vehicle, allows room for rucksacks and other items needed for your travels.

If you are someone who needs to look immaculate all the time as you travel around the country you might like to transform your trunk into a walk-in closet complete with space for jackets to be hung up, shoes and ties.

If you are worried about items being broken in the trunk, obtaining a trunk shelf might be the answer, allowing items like eggs and so on to remain in one place and not get crushed by other items. For minivans, a cargo net can be a lifesaver.

A number of the items above may seem like late April Fools but they are available on the internet. Anywhere there is empty space, someone’s going to have an idea of how to fill it.

The Future of Keys and Fobs

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In recent years, the idea of using a mechanical key to open or start your car has changed. You might have a chipped key, for example, which ties that key exactly to your car. Or, you might have a key fob which allows you to open your car at the press of a button, and without which, your car won’t start or drive. Most recently cars have begun using virtual keys, in other words, a way to open or start your car using your mobile phone.

Chipped Keys:

Chipped keys are technically known as “transponder keys”, short for “transmitter and responder”. The difference between a chipped key and a normal key is that if you try to use a chipped key for a car not designed for it (the serial number /code doesn’t fit) the car will become immobilized.

Car thieves often employed hot-wiring techniques which could be tot to teenagers, so if they were caught “booting” a car they could claim they were just joyriding and get off with little punishment. Chipped keys require a more technically savvy thief. While a teenager could still do it, it’s harder to play dumb when you’re bringing equipment with you and using advanced techniques. The drop in car theft may be linked to this–in 1990 when chipped keys became widely used there were roughly 660 car thefts per 100,000 vehicles which has dropped to 239.6 thefts per 100,000 vehicles so it does seem to make a difference.

The problem with chipped keys is the expense of replacing them. Most of us grew up running down the local hardware store and running off a copy of our car keys in case of emergency. Those days are gone. If you do lose your keys, and it’s not hard to do, it means ordering one from the factory or authorized key outlet. A replacement for a chipped key runs about $200 more than a mechanical key.

Key Fobs:

Some cars have a special fob designed, usually with the brand of car on them. The term “fob” dates back to days of pocket watches. First, the fob referred to the pocket, then the watch and then to items hanging from a chain. It now refers to items on key rings such as small toys, devices and so on. The fob is usually individual to special makes of car. Most fobs offer the choice of opening the car door, opening the trunk and raising an alarm.

Key fobs aren’t cheap either but ironically they can be cheaper than a chipped key, and it’s just easier on the brain to pay a bunch of money for an electronic device than what looks like a normal key.

Virtual Keys:

This leads us to virtual keys which allow you to open your car using your mobile phone. The general idea allows someone else to use your vehicle without handing over a physical key-ideal for rental companies.phone-690091_1920

The first drawback here is obvious. Someone has to gain access to your pocket to get your key or fob, whereas a cell phone can get hacked. The latest way to use the technology requires platforms such as Bluetooth technology, WiFi or Cellular Network, using the latest in secure chip technology.

To make it worse, there isn’t one standard phone-based system. One example of the system not quite working at the moment is the Ericcson Digital Car Key. It may unlock the car, but instead of using something like Bluetooth it works on the cloud. Unless you subscribe to the specific cloud you can’t access the key. Rival schemes like “Bosch Perfectly keyless” also have their problems. It is too confusing at the moment with so many different apps and designs.

A group of companies (including technology and car companies) called the Car Connectivity Consortium are attempting to create a universal standard. Though there are a number of businesses involved it still has not spread across all makes of car or mobile networks. Clearly, one issue is proprietary technology at car companies or mobile companies.

It would be a shame if the link between the key and the car totally disappears, but security and convenience should come first.

Garage Floor Coatings

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Garage floors are unfortunately overlooked and ill-maintained. It is one of the few spots in your home (or mechanical garage) where problems are not noticed until they get out of hand. Check out your garage floor, and you will likely be surprised by how stained, dirty and perhaps even cracked it may be. Garages have a big job, including holding up against the weight of vehicles and recreational equipment. It is no easy task to hold the weight of your SUV, commuter car, barbeque and ATV year-round. Garage floors need some upkeep, and one of the quickest and most affordable solutions is with a garage floor coating.

There are some garage floor systems that can instantly transform your garage floor into a veritable work of art. You personalize the color, pattern and look of your garage floor based on your tastes and needs. Any garage can become a showroom that showcases your rides, all while increasing the strength and durability of this critical flooring. By utilizing epoxies that are solid and specifically engineered to be tough enough to stand up against anything you can throw at it (or drip on it), the value of your home or business automatically increases.

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Your Latest Car Accessory

Lab-engineered products like Elite Crete Systems products feature polyurethane and polyaspartic resins that are just as good looking as they are durable. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to designing your new garage. Add in a logo, choose a wild design, keep it subtle and classy or make an enormous chessboard in your garage—the Elite Crete Systems products can do anything your heart desires. This is not a paint or stain that will fade or chip over time. The system becomes part of your existing garage floor, strengthening it and beautifying it.

Your entire project will be customized to perfectly suit your needs and ideas. Plus, the end result is a floor that is incredibly resistant to salts, oils and heavy weights, which are all common occurrences in garages. Depending on the size of the garage, most installations are complete within one or two days, and can be applied during the construction of a garage or afterward.

These products are a fantastic addition when repairing a garage, ensuring this critical part of the home is as durable as necessary. Give your garage the added protection it needs, and never worry about stains or spills again. With this system, your garage flooring can be just as gorgeous as the rest of your home.

 

Mustang Monday: High Performance Tires

tire-416189_1920As winter approaches its time to think about winter tire solutions. We’ll post a special report on the topic soon but first, we wanted to remind you that tires expire even when they’re sitting on a shelf. Rubber simply degrades so consider this, if you still have the spare tire that came with your car, and your car is more than six years old, you will want to get a newer spare or your back up tire might not back you up very well.

Now, please enjoy a look into high-performance tires as an accessory.

High-Performance Tires

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Although now a mainstay of racing culture, high-performance tires weren’t actually introduced by Goodyear until 1980 for the Corvette. That’s right, it was only thirty years ago before “regular” passenger cars could have race car inspired wheels. The original Gatorback tire had big tread blocks to better grip the roads and hard and low side walls in order to make a machine that was built for speed perform even better.

A new rating system was in order and the Gatorback got a “V” which meant it had been safely tested in a laboratory to perform at speeds up to 149 mph. Quickly, other speed ratings (which are now called “performance ratings”) were created including “S (112 mph)”, “H (up to 130 mph), and “Z (unlimited).” Instantly, horsepower enthusiasts were hooked.

What Hasn’t ChangedMehta_Tire

Unsurprisingly, high-performance tires have always been costly – much like other parts necessary for a “modded” ride. Original high-performance tires cost around $200 each and not much has changed over the years. Today’s price of high-performance tires varies, but drivers interested in these accessories should expect to spend a few thousand dollars.

Types of Performance Tires

“Performance” no longer means solely racing tires. There are performance tires for all seasons, for all weather conditions, and of course still for speed. There are many different tire makers touting an abundance of options. It’s important to consider what your particular car is used for. Touring tires are a popular option for luxury cars and provide a very high-quality tire to ensure comfort and great handling – this is the option for daily commuters.

Performance, and even ultra-performance tires, are the go-to for racers. Of course, there is never a “perfect” tire and if you opt for these tires there will be a decline in comfort. However, the way the machine handles and grips the road can be vastly improved.

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Do I Really Need to Upgrade?

The good news is that manufacturers of sport and muscle cars quickly realized the benefit of high-performance tires. Many companies include quality performance tires with every new vehicle. After all, what better way to add even more of a boost to a car’s performance than with tires that provide better grip and handling? If you have factory tires already, there’s a good chance that they provide more than enough for the average driver.

There is also a downside. Some people don’t realize, until it comes time to replace the tires, just how much they cost. If you’re at the point where you need to replace factory tires, it can be a tough decision. You can go with similar tires, or the same, as you had before, opt to improve them, or settle for something more affordable (just don’t expect your car to perform quite the same way).

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Who Really Needs It?

“But I’m not a performance driver!” is a common complaint when drivers realize they’ve been taking advantage of these prime factory tires. It’s true, most people don’t (or at least shouldn’t) be going over the lowest performance rating of “S.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t performance drivers. Everyone wants and deserves the best from their machine. A good grip on the roads, tight turns, and the ability to withstand a summer road trip all require quality tires – so look around. Choose a median performance and price, unless of course, you are a racer.

 

Mustang Mondays – Lighting Options

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Latest Lighting Options

Interior decorators will tell you that lighting can make the difference between a home and a house. A little mood lighting can go a long way and is one of the best ways homes reflect the character of the owner. Great news – homes no longer have a corner on that market. Beginning with later models in the “aughts,” key Ford Mustang parts now include custom lighting. Everything from headlights to third brake lights is one more thing for Pony pros to think about.

A Blaze of Glory

The color of your aura or chakra might be dismissed as hippie talk, but let’s be real – a glowing blue power machine sends a very different message than a fire red. Bulb covers come in a variety of colors to give your Pony style and more oomph. The best part is that installing a bulb cover is very affordable (often in the $5 range) and easy to swap out so you can change the color depending on mood or occasion. A more permanent option is a LED replacement bulb for not much extra.

Keep it Legal

Make sure you check with local and state police regulations when it comes to modifying lighting. Some precincts and states do not allow certain hues. Avoid any trouble down the road with a simple online search. However, one of the most common no-no’s is blue lights because of the similarity to police lights. If that’s the case, you’re still in luck – there are plenty of other options like red, green, or yellow. It might just be the excuse you need to heat up your ride with a fierier shade.

That Third Point

Some coupes come with that tell-tale third headlight. However, it might also be an add-on option for those who like the look. This additional red bar on the top of the rear window provides added visibility – not to mention a sleek look. Third light burned out? This is a very inexpensive fix at around $50.

It’s MyColor!brush-2915732_1920

Beginning in 2005, MyColor was introduced for Ford. Never before have Mustang accessories been so easily customized. The Delphi system allows drivers to control interior light “color themes.” Need some ideas on which are most popular? Option 555 is a clear, bright white which is a great option for driving at night. Selecting 512 will give you a brighter teal color which is a little jazzier than the default blue. Some people go with 111, which is a calming gray that gives the visibility of 555 but with less glare. There are 127 combinations in total, so get to experimenting. Feel like you’re in a completely different ride – with the same power that you’re used to – by switching it up.

 

Mustang Shift Knobs

 

It’s time for another Mustang Monday where an expert discusses how to trick out your pony. Are we only interested in Mustangs? NOPE. If you own another type of fast car that people love to makeover in their own image and you’d like to write us a set of posts we’d love to use them. In the meantime, most of the advice we get from our award-winning writer/Mustang enthusiast applies pretty much to any classy sports car. Enjoy, and thank you for your contributions, Jen.

Custom Shift Knobs

It’s understandable, really. That dream car is perfect – but just a little more customization would make the machine truly yours. The right Ford Mustang parts personalize your Pony and sometimes provide an injection of power. Where to start? Many aficionados begin with some upgraded engine work, performance tires, or exhaust systems. However, one of the most standout ways to make a difference is with one of the smaller Mustang accessories: the shift knob.

There are two types of people who have a hankering for a custom knob – those who are tricking out a fully modded ride, and those who are looking for a simple (and affordable) way to change things up. The good news is that no matter which camp you fall into, this is definitely one of the most cost-effective ways to make a statement.

Picking the Pattern

Whether you’re a four-speed, five-speed, or six-speed driver there’s a custom shift knob out there for you. The choices might seem overwhelming. Design, pattern, color, material – where to start? Maybe you already have an idea in mind of what type of shift know you want (and in that case, it may take a little digging). Maybe you’re open for whatever strikes your fancy. There are thousands of colors and options available. Think about what complements the rest of the machine.

Do you want something that blends in with the interior? Black on black interiors will go with a black knob great – but a bright red one can really make it pop. What’s your opinion on rally stripes? It’s important to always keep in mind your particular Pony when shopping around and not develop tunnel vision.Mehta_Mustang Shift knobs.jpg

How Much is This Going to Cost?

The answer is however much you want to spend. It’s possible that the perfect shift knob costs $20. It also might cost a couple of hundred. There are some insanely expensive luxury options out there touting precious metals and gems if you happen to be Li’l Wayne. The only limits are your imagination (well, and your pocketbook).

The good news is that, unless you have incredibly luxurious taste, this will likely be one of the least expensive accessories you purchase. Much like a necklace that graces a woman’s collarbone, custom shift knobs are a conversation piece. They’re your piece of flair. What do you want it to say about the car – and you?

Keep in Mind

Your hand is going to be all over the custom shift knob. What’s on your hand, anyway? Makeup, sunblock, grease, lotion, charcoal – the list is endless. Depending on what kind of lifestyle you lead, it’s important to consider which color and material is sensible. A woman with beauty products lingering on her fingertips or someone who works with their hands is going to have trouble keeping a light colored or porous material clean. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t have a white phone, you probably shouldn’t have a white shift knob.