Accessorise your car with care

The keys to your first car, the euphoria and freedom it brings, may motivate a blind spending spree on accessories that will leave you out of packet, and disappointed.

Getting your first car is a defining life moment, often as unforgettable as your first home or the birth of your first child. For many, it prompts a trip to their local auto shop for a selection of goodies, much as new homeowners rush to a décor store.

Do you remember what the first accessory was that you had fitted to your car, to make it uniquely yours? Most probably, it was a set of alloy rims. Most accessory experts agree nothing sets your car apart like attractive rims and slightly wider tyres.

We agree. You do, however, have to be aware that you may not be able to recover the costs of any accessories fitted to your car when you sell it. If you intend to drive your car till the wheels come off – sure, fit the best rims you can afford! At least you will have years of driving pleasure.

Once you have your wheels sorted, there’s a host of other accessories from which to choose. Do your homework first, though. Some accessories, such as tow bars and suspension upgrades, may negate your manufacturer’s warranty if original equipment manufacturer-approved parts are not used.

Be mindful of overcapitalising on accessories, which can leave you out of pocket. The simple answer is: Less is more. Fit accessories you will be able to remove without damage to the car.

Here are some tips to consider before you venture into the accessory environment:

Wheels and tyres

  1. Remember that although upgraded wheels will improve the aesthetics of your car, larger wheels and tyres add more weight, which will increase fuel consumption.
  2. Although the somewhat larger tyre footprint will improve road holding, it will not result in a more comfortable ride.
  3. Expert tyre fitters know the difference and importance of bolt pattern and hub sizes and will not fit wheel sizes outside of a manufacturer’s specifications. If you insist on side-stepping the latter, it may require additional changes to the suspension or bodywork of your car.
  4. Be wary of buying cheap or counterfeit rims. They will fail and the results could be deadly! TiAuto Investments recently warned buyers to look out for the aforementioned. “If the branding is not part of the set of wheels, or it is provided separately, steer well clear. This is one of the biggest tells. Unscrupulous counterfeit dealers will give you decal stickers of respected brands to apply at home. This is done to evade prosecution for trademark infringement.”
  5. Whether you keep your standard rims and tyres or upgrade them, you must perform a tyre rotation and wheel alignment at least every 10 000km. Check the tyre pressure monthly; preferably in the morning.

Sound systems

Modern integrated sound systems, even in entry-level cars, are good, but if you spend a lot of time in your car, it may be worth fitting higher-quality speakers or perhaps adding two speakers in the rear.

Again, fitting a decent quality sound system to your car is technical and will cost plenty, so ensure that the various components are compatible.

Exhausts and performance enhancements

Nothing beats the adrenaline rush generated by the sound of a performance exhaust and yes, if designed and fitted correctly, it can add extra power (kW) to your engine.

But remember, as with rims and tyres, some technical knowledge is required, and it is thus advisable to consult a specialist.

Performance enhancement systems have become increasingly plug-and-play or bolt-on, as some call it. Many do not require any mechanical work on the engine itself. They work with the engine computer and management system and are extremely sophisticated.

Be aware that there are many ‘experts’ out there and only allow accredited workshops or specialist technicians to do performance work on your car.

If you don’t do your homework, you will upgrade and fit accessories at your peril, so slow down and go about things the right way.


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