Easy, most practical tips to accessorise your vehicle
Make your ride your own beyond the purchase receipt!
There is nothing like putting your stamp of individuality on the tasks you’re involved in or the things you work or play with. And this inherent human quality extends to the houses we live in and the vehicles we drive.
While the norm for millions of car owners out there is to keep their vehicles stock, some only going as far as adding a key chain, there is a world of accessories out there that can make you instantly recognisable on the public roads and to aid with the driving process. Here are some examples that may perk your interest!
Speaking of key chains, this just may be the simplest and most affordable way to get started. The choices are many. You can pick up the one with a brand logo or lettering from the OEM or from third party suppliers. This is especially popular with luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Porsche etc. even though, funnily enough, the vehicle itself may be from the commuter segment. You could also get licensed products, like miniature movie props and figurines from the Marvel franchise or even your favourite football club to quench your fandom.
For beauty that is skin-deep
Moving onto the vehicle itself, let’s do a quick roundup of what can be done to improve the aesthetics of your vehicle. If you don’t want to get the vehicle repainted to your favourite or the latest trending colour — which itself may be an awfully expensive exercise — you can choose to do a foil wrap for a relatively cheaper rate. Here in Dubai, we have seen it all from the subtle and tasteful to loud and bizarre wraps. This also gives you the opportunity to reinstate the vehicle to its original colour, which may be important when it’s time to resell.
The other most credible way to up curb appeal is to get a “new” set of wheels. You can either upgrade to one from the manufacturer catalogue at the dealers or a relatively unused one from local used items websites. Don’t forget to get matching tyres as they may have detrimental effects on driving dynamics and safety as well.
More common than not is swapping old fashion halogen bulbs, which have a yellowish hue, for bright white xenon lamps or the newer LED lamps that often have more range and luminosity. But there are regulations around them, so do your research before the actual purchase.
The other way to accessorise is to get a body kit or bits of kit onto your ride. It may include rear and front spoilers, rocker panels, fenders, hood scoops and bumpers etc. Some even add on so many components to a point where the vehicle becomes unrecognisable. You can pilfer these parts from the performance division of your vehicle’s brand, such as Toyota’s TRD, Mitsubishi’s Ralliart, Subaru’s WRX range, BMW’s M Division, Audi’s S-line pack, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG and so on and so forth. And then, there are also plenty of aftermarket brands that can help you spruce up your ride.
What’s on the inside counts!
A good-looking vehicle is as much for others to see as it is for yourself. But the most time spent is on the inside of the vehicle and that ‘me time’ has to be comfy, less distracting and has to have the conveniences to make your driving life more fun and easier. Again, there is lot more to cabin upgrades than just bobble heads, mirror hangings and magnetic cell phone holders.
If the base, often black, plastic panels are too banal for your liking, you can get fancy wooden or carbon-fibre faux stickers and panels or even the authentic trims. But let me warn you the latter may topple your budget.
The easiest way to get the most visual change is to get a set of seat covers. Leather or leatherette pseudo-upholstery are particularly advantageous. They certainly are easier to clean and I’m sure those who travel with kids in the back seat can relate. And just like how the exterior foil wrap comes off the paint, you can take these off when needed while they keep the original seats practically brand new. People also couple this upgrade with steering wheel covers that are leather, alcantara and even velvet or the faux versions of these.
Adding a scent of the cabin is also a great way to accessorise, but in the non-traditional sense. Choose aromas wisely, as often we have been in as many inviting interiors as we have in some off-putting environments. These are available at the local grocery stores and fuel stations, often at the impulse section right next to the purchase counter. But of course, luxury brands have their own such products with their own fancy terms like Mercedes-Benz and their “cabin atomizer fragrances”!
Perhaps, the other most purchased accessory is the phone holder which you can prop on the dash or fix to the slat on the air vent. A larger one can be used to accommodate a tablet for the occupants at the rear. And if they are infants or pre-teens, you may want to consider getting a child car seat(s). Uppababy, Maxi-Cosi and Chicco are some of the popular brands in this genre. Another good addition to the rear cabin is the detachable coat hanger, especially for the business and corporate types.
Keep the sun away with either tinting your car with window film by 3M and other manufacturers. The good news is, the government now allows up to 50 per cent light transmissivity (up from 30 per cent)… or you can go cheap with a few sunshade roller curtains that won’t cost more than a fast food meal.
Custom floor liners are only going to do so much to keep dust and food bits away. If you really want to keep clean, get a portable vacuum cleaner. These are easy-to-use and conveniently sized so that they can be stowed away in a compartment organiser — also a good accessory — in the boot. These organisers prevent your knick-knacks from rattling around like a ball in a whistle.
As for electronic devices, USB car charger then goes into the 12V slot or one that doubles as a Bluetooth FM Transmitter Wireless Radio Adapter is also great for those who are digitally distraught. Whether you have a keen sense of direction or not, a functional navigation system is always a good tool to have on journeys. Companies like Garmin are masters in this departments and have a large variety of products to choose from. Interestingly, nowadays you can get celebrity voices like K.I.T.T., Yoda, Arnold Schwarzenegger etc. to read out your driving instructions. How fun is that!
If you skim through the manufacturer catalogues, you’d also find a host of other car and non-car items to help you accessorise, like company branded luggage that usually perfectly fits into your boot, model cars for novelty’s sake and T-shirts, perfumes and cufflinks to help with your presence in public. But try not to overdo it, else someone may remind you of that famous line from Friends: “Did a Porsche throw up on you?”
You may also find in there OEM roof rails and cycle racks to help with your excursions. Whatever changes you plan to get done, remember to get the RTA to sign off on the major ones like exterior colour, window tint etc. And, of course, there are more products in the powertrain and suspension department, which we plan to cover in a separate issue soon.