Upgrade Car by Accessorizing

Aftermarket parts are replicas of original factory parts that came from the car manufacturers. Some people like aftermarket because they feel these parts look slightly more glamorous than the original ones. They’re often more affordable than the original parts but they’re still of good quality, which is why people like them. These parts are also available at most auto supply stores or online retailers so it won’t take as long to get replacement parts for your car.

Getting the Best Aftermarket Parts

  • If you’re buying aftermarket items online, then you’ll want to research the companies you’re interested in because some companies sell bogus and defective parts. Start by reading reviews of local auto supply websites by customers and look at what they had to say about the quality, customer service and prices of the parts.
  • Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website and inquire whether any complaints have been filed against this company for bad business practices.
  • Read auto magazines and Consumer Reports to learn more about what look for.
  • When you visit stores that sell parts, examine them carefully for defects and if the prices are too low or high, then it could be fraudulent.

Most Purchased Aftermarket Parts

  • Custom seat covers are among the most purchased aftermarket parts. This is because more people want the latest seat designs and colors for their car seats thanks to TV makeover shows that give cars a new look.
  • Hubcaps are also popular car accessory, and nowadays you can find hubcaps with diamonds, rhinestones and airbrushed with names or other designs.
  • Sound systems have become popular aftermarket parts, and there are lots more to choose from than in previous years.

Warranty Issues

  • Because of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, an automotive dealer cannot deny warranty service to a customer just because he modified his car with car parts. The dealer has to prove that the car isn’t working because of the installation of these parts. To be on the safe side, have an experienced mechanic install your Aftermarket Parts if you’re not experienced in this type of work.

Learning About Car Design Using After market Parts

  • If you want to learn more about the latest trends in car design using these parts, read some magazines about auto design and online articles.
  • Talk to friends who design cars with car accessories and ask which designs would work the best for your style and budget
  • Read some newspaper articles on auto design and write down addresses of car body shops you see in the articles

Buying New Tires

So, you go bring your car in for an oil change and when you pick it up, the mechanic tells you that you need new tires. You don’t know what size tires you need, what kind to buy, or even why you need new ones. Do you just trust the mechanic, or do you venture out on your own? Okay, so you are going to go for new tires, where do you begin?

First of all, it’s not a bad thing to have trust in your mechanics. They are going to have to fix a whole lot more than bad tires in the future. But, tires are one thing you have a little control over with just a little bit of knowledge. This way you can make sure you are getting exactly what you need for the price you deserve to pay.

The first step is to know why you need new tires. The reality is that all tires wear out eventually. Obviously if there is a huge hole in your tire, you need a new one. The rule is that if there is a puncture that is more than a quarter inch deep, you need to replace that tire. Some punctures are fixable, so make sure they are not trying to pull one over on you for more money. They will gladly show you where the problem is so that you can make a decision together. Be involved so that you can be sure of your decision.

Another common problem is bald tires. This means that there is not enough tread on your tires for good traction. People try to get away with this as much as possible until the tire is almost gone. This is not a good idea. It is unsafe to drive with bald tires during any season. There are a couple of tricks to knowing when your tires are bald. Every tire has what are called wear bars. These are narrow bands in the grooves across the tire’s tread. When the wear bars are even with the tread, the tire is bald and you need a new one. Another handy trick that you can definitely do on your own is called the penny trick. You place a penny in the shallowest groove of the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can still see the top of Lincoln’s head, then the tire is bald. Do not ignore bald tires. You are now aware of how to determine if the tires are bald or not, so use that information to make better decisions.

Now you know that you absolutely need new tires, so what kind of tires do you buy? There are all kinds of tires that are made for all kinds of specific reasons. There are tires for durability, aggressive handling, and snow tires, to name a few. The everyday person not looking for fancy customization is recommended to buy an all-season tire. This is the kind of tire that comes on vehicles when they are purchased, unless otherwise asked. It is also commonly recommended that you buy the same kind, brand, and size of tire that you purchased with the vehicle. It is important to take note of that information. Even if you are unsure about what you are doing, take down the size and the type of tire so you know at least a little bit about it. Then you and your mechanic will be on the same page. Also, once the tires are purchased, it is imperative that you have a mechanic install the new tires. You want the job done right.

Tire sizes can be a little daunting to try to understand. While it’s definitely important to know what size tires go on your car, it doesn’t hurt to know exactly what all those numbers and letters mean. I will use this example to run through each part of the tire size: P185/60R 14 82 H.

The “P” in this example stands for passenger. This tire would go on a passenger car. You may also see “LT” for a light truck, “T” for temporary tire, or “E” for a heavy duty truck. Simple enough when you know what kind of vehicle you drive.

The “185” is simply telling you the width of the tire in millimeters. On the door jamb of your car, there is a sticker that should tell you the size of the tires that the factory put on your car. Using this, you should never have to guess in millimeters how wide your tires should be.

The “60” in this size represents what is called the aspect ratio. In this case, the tire’s height is sixty percent of the tire’s width. Performance tires will have a lower aspect ratio. The “R” stands for radial, the type of tire it is. Every tire on vehicles will have this “R”. If you are buying tires for something smaller like a lawn mower or a four wheeler, that type of tire is called bias ply, not used on motor vehicles.

The size of the wheel’s rim is represented by the “14” in inches. You can’t put a 16 inch tire on a 14 inch rim or visa versa. That obviously makes sense.

“82” is the load index. There is a maximum load carrying capacity chart to determine what tires you will need based on the vehicle you drive. In this case, it shows that the maximum load carrying capacity is 4,188 pounds. You definitely don’t want to put too much pressure on tires that can’t handle it all.

Finally, the “H” represents the amount of speed the tires can travel at. An “S” would be able to handle speeds up to 112 mph, an “H” speeds up to 130 mph, and a “V” speeds 150+ mph. These are strict guidelines and should not be tested.

Again, this is all good information to know, but it is more important to just know the correct tire size for your car. There’s no need to get confused by all the information when all you really need to know is the tires that make your driving safe. If you have any questions about any of these, ask your mechanic.

It is possible that the wrong tire will fit onto your car. In most cases, the difference is so minute that it won’t cause any harm. However, what you should know is that all mechanics and car dealerships will absolutely refuse to put on tires that are different than what you are supposed to have. You are given a tire size specific to your car and there are no reasons why this should not be obliged. They want to fit the manufacturer’s guidelines exactly and that is for your safety. Make sure you don’t try to be adventurous in this area. When a wrong tire size is put onto your car, you may actually feel that the driving is different and you should go get it checked out. If you happen to buy the wrong tires and bring them to be installed, don’t worry, they will give you the correct tire size and send you back to return them.

It is extremely crucial to maintain your tires. It is important to note that tire rotation is crucial for the life of your tires. It is likely that your car will wear each tire a little differently. Perhaps on one corner, the inside tread wears a little more quickly than the outside, or vice versa. By rotating the tires on a regular basis, the tires wear more easily and will have a longer life. This is a good thing to do not only to get the best use out of your tires, but also for safety. You really don’t want one tire wearing down completely, while the other ones are okay. So, while inspecting your tires, don’t just check the tread one tire, check for wear on all four tires.

People living in places where it is very hot should be especially aware of the pressure in their tires. Heat can do a number on tires, and so you should do all you can to keep your tires in good shape. On average, it is normal to have your tire pressure be 30-35 pounds per square inch. This varies according to the type of vehicle and tire you have. You should obtain this knowledge when buying new tires, especially where and when it is hot outside. Every tire does have a recommended tire pressure.

It is said that tire pressure should be checked in the morning so that it may be adjusted accordingly as the day gets hotter or colder. The rule of thumb is that for every ten degrees Fahrenheit the temperature changes, the tire pressure will change by one psi. What this means is that if it is sixty degrees out in the morning and your tire pressure is at thirty-three psi, when the temperature rises to eighty degrees, your tire pressure will be at thirty-five psi. You should be aware of the temperature in your area and know whether to increase or to decrease your tire pressure when necessary. You definitely do not want your pressure to be too high or too low, both being unsafe conditions for driving. Many convenience stores do offer “free air” where you can check your tire pressure and adjust it as needed. It’s very quick and easy and worth it in the end.

If a tire gets too hot and there is too much pressure, the tread can actually separate from the belts on the tire. This is more likely to happen with the addition of high speeds. Driving on a highway and losing your tire’s tread can easily cause an accident. Do your part to keep yourself and others safe.

Another potential risk is that of hydroplaning. This happens mostly when your tires do not have enough tread. What happens in hydroplaning is that too much water builds between the tires on your car and the road. Water pressure in front of the wheel forces a wedge of water causing it to actually lift from the road. This leads to the loss of traction and you are then at the mercy of the water. You basically skid on the water and have a loss of control in your steering, braking, and acceleration.

The grooves on your tires are specifically designed to disperse the water so that you have traction even when the road is wet. If your tires are worn out or bald, or if there is low tire pressure, you are more likely to hydroplane. Your best bet is to make sure your tires are safe. This means do not use your tires until they are completely bald and keep your tire pressure at the recommended psi. It rains everywhere and you should be able to count on your tires when you need them the most.

In many cases, the wearing down of your tires should be obvious to you. You should make it your responsibility to check your tires frequently and to notice when something just isn’t right. You will more than likely know if you have run over something that could harm your tire. You will definitely know if your tire is flat. Even by taking a quick glance at your tires, you will probably be able to tell if they are getting bald. This will allow you to take action and have the proper maintenance done on your tires. It will only help them to last longer.

Since you will always now have your tire size handy, don’t be afraid to shop around when looking for tires. You already know what kind to buy, it will only take a little work to go out and find the best price for you. It’s absolutely okay to ask questions to make sure you are getting what you think you are paying for. Any store or car dealership that sells tires will always have someone around to help you find what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Of course you can always do exactly what the mechanic says and try not to be involved as much as possible. But, why would you? You know what you are doing and new tires are not a scary thought anymore. Your safety is in your hands and more than likely, your wallet won’t thin out as much as it could. Be adventurous and feel good about having some control over the maintenance of your car.

Used Car Buying Tips

  • Why buy used?

A used car (be it 1000 miles or 100,000 miles) is much cheaper than that same car when bought brand new off the lot (obviously). Craigslist, aka private party, lets us find these cars for the best price. Read on to learn how to become a master of the used car buying and selling process.

  • Finding the right car

First, find a budget that you are willing to work with. If you do not have the cash, and if the car qualifies, a bank or credit union may offer a loan.

Always refer to KBB (Kelly Blue Book) for the current private party value of the car you are purchasing. This will give you a better idea on how much you should be paying for the car, as well as potential negotiating power to lower the price.

If not familiar with cars, we suggest finding a shop to do a Pre Purchase Inspection. That way you know the mechanical condition and can use it as negotiating power. The thing to remember with all used car buying tips, you must always negotiate the price.

Pro Tip Most people expect to get lowballed, so they set the price much higher than what they would really like to get.

A Note on Smog

If you live in a state that requires a SMOG check, make sure that the seller has a smog certificate included. Verify that the smog was completed within 90 days, otherwise it is not valid for transfer of ownership (CA).

Double check to make sure the registration is current. A lot of times, people sell their car for a cheap price only because they cannot smog it due to a Check Engine Light, or other issues.

  • Setting up for finding the right deals

On the Craigslist page, navigate to your location’s web page, then click Cars and Trucks by Owner. In the search settings, set the range from $0 – (Your Max Limit). I like to add about 20% to my max limit to allow for cars that can be negotiated within the budget.

After you save your search settings, and refresh your page, you will see all the vehicles in your area that are for sale.

Pro Tip Save this Craigslist page to your home screen on your phone and your computer, that way its quick access and you do not have to mess with the settings again.

If you have this on your home screen you will see it more often, reminding you to check the listings and therefore increasing chances of finding the killer deal.

  • Contacting the seller

Remember, these used car buying tips apply for all private party car buying platforms, not just Craigslist. When I sell a car, the biggest thing I hate is when people ask “is the car still available?”.

Be polite, but do not waste anyone’s time. Contact the buyer through phone call when possible. If it’s a smokin’ deal, it will NOT last on Craigslist. The phone is the quickest and most direct method. Do not dilly dally around and have the sweet deal scooped up by a car dealer!

When buying a car, I look at the person selling me the car just as much, if not more, than the car itself. Mainly, it shows me what kind of treatment and service history the car received. If the person was older, spoke intelligently, and looked wealthy, we found that most times the car was in great shape to match.

Most Important Questions to Ask

  • “How long have you had the car?”
  • “What kind of maintenance have you done with the car”
  • “Why are you selling the car?”
  • “Are there any leaks or major mechanical problems?”

Ask these questions over the phone, and try to get a general understanding of the car’s shape before going out to see it, especially if its a long distance.

Saving time is key, you would be surprised how often people say “The car is flawless” on the ad. Asking these questions lets you determine if they are honest.

Set up an appointment to see the car if you feel like the information you’ve gathered about the car matches what you’re looking for.

  • Getting Ready to Meet and Test Drive

When meeting with a seller, I always bring:

  • Scan Tool for Monitors / Codes
  • Powerful Flashlight (I recommend Streamlight flashlights)
  • Pivoting and extendable mirror to check for leaks
  • My Drivers License / ID
  • Cash (I bring cash with me, but leave it in the car. I only do this if the amount is under $3000. Anything past that I just go to the bank with the seller and get them the cashiers check or cash when the deal is done).

Anti-Lemon Used Car Inspection Checklist

Before the meeting

  • Verify the sellers has the necessary paperwork, aka Pink Slip, proof of registration, and smog certificate (if required by state). Although not necessary, print out a copy of the bill of sale form.
  • Use CarFax or Autocheck to run a VIN background on the vehicle. This is key!
  • Set up personal guidelines to the maximum amount willing to spend on the car.
  • Make sure you have the funds ready, or instant access to them in the payment form the seller prefers.
  • Advise the seller you want the car to be COLD for your test drive. We want a cold engine to get a complete analysis. This is a key part to the used car inspection checklist!

At the car

    • Engine Inspection – Use the combination of the pivoting mirror and flashlight mentioned above to peek behind components and around the valve cover, checking for leaks. Inspect everything carefully, pay special attention to the serpentine belt area and leaks around the valve covers.
    • Check for Codes – Connect the scanner and make sure there are no engine codes. Make sure the monitors for smog are all completed – if not, be suspicious.
    • Check the body panels and paint, does it all look even? Is the texture the same everywhere? Look for panels that are a slightly different color or hue, which may indicate a sign of collision that was already repaired.
    • Check all the paperwork before starting the drive – make sure they own the car and that they have a pink slip with their name on it.
    • Check tires. Are they a matching set? Good Tread? Any signs of uneven wear? Could mean bad alignment or an accident in the past that prevents proper alignment.
    • Check brake pad thickness through the wheels if possible.
    • Check maintenance records (see if big service items have been done, like timing belt and water pump if the engine is a timing belt engine)
    • Check condition of oil. Open the oil filler cap and look under for any foamy, milky substances, which MAY indicate sludge or head gasket issues.
    • Upon vehicle start up, check the exhaust pipe for smoke. Listen to the engine for any uneven running aka “misfire” and try to smell for coolant or oil burning off which would indicate a leak.
    • Look over the serpentine belt(s) and all other engine components for any signs of damage, wear, or leaks.
  • Peek under the car to check for leaks, rust, and damage.

During the Test Drive

    • Engine Check – Make sure to use some power and get the engine to a high RPM (don’t redline someone else’s car). Have the windows down and constantly monitor for noise from the engine, as well as the suspension. Note how the vehicle idles, it should be smooth for the most part. Keep checking the instrument cluster for warning messages as well as overheating. Be keen to any burning oil or coolant smells.
    • Brake Test – Come to some stops at different speeds/intensities and try to listen for screeching or grinding noises
    • Alignment Check – During the test drive, while on a somewhat even road, let go of the steering wheel for a few moments and see if the vehicle drifts to one side. Keep in mind, most roads have “road crown” and will slightly cause all cars to drift to the right, but a barely noticeable amount.
    • Transmission Check – Make sure the test drive takes at least 15 minutes, ask the seller for permission first. This will allow the transmission to fully warm up. For automatics, issues could potentially arise online when hot, and not be present when cold. You will feel jerkiness when the auto transmission is malfunctioning. For manuals, do a clutch test by engaging 4th gear at a slow speed and go wide open throttle – see if the clutch slips (the rpms will climb extremely fast like you are in neutral).
    • Wiggle Test – At about 30 mph roll down your windows do a few quick left to right steering wheel maneuvers. Listen to the suspension and chassis – it should not make ANY noises while doing this.
    • Suspension Check – Go over some bumpy roads, and take some angled driveways / turns. Listen for any binding suspension components which will present itself with a loud knock. Also listen for failing wheel bearings by rolling up all your windows and checking for a loud whirring rotational noise.
  • Interior and Features – Finally, check all the features. This means A/C, reverse camera, navigation, etc. Check all window motors by rolling up and down the windows. Make sure everything is working to your desire.

During the Test Drive, DO NOT:

  • Drive the car like you are taking a hot lap around the Nurburgring
  • Go on an extended period test drive unless agreed upon with seller
  • Do anything that would put you or the car at risk, cosmetically or mechanically.

Remember – an honest seller will often also have a car that is in fairly decent shape. Verify that the story they tell you matches the clues you see with the car.

Ask one of the previous questions to see if the answer remains the same this time around. If something doesn’t match up, chances are the seller is hiding something, and I would investigate further.

“Gut Feeling” plays a big role in this game. Be alert to your senses and you will not buy a lemon. This is one of the key used car buying tips.

  • Inspecting the Car

If inspecting yourself, print out and follow our Inspection Checklist

Make sure to find a professional shop to do a Pre Purchase Inspection if you are not mechanically inclined. Anything wrong with the car, especially when NOT told about by the seller, can be potentially used to reduce the selling price or to save you from thousands of dollars in losses.

One of the used car buying tips I want you to take away from this is that any car can be a “good deal” so long as the issues within the car are discovered and price lowered to compensate.

Seal the Deal

First, before anything else, make sure they have the pink slip, as well as the smog certificate. Verify they are the owner by asking to see their ID and matching it to the name on the pink slip.

Make sure the smog certificate states that it has been completed within 90 days, otherwise its invalid for title transfer. Other states may have more paperwork so get familiar with your states requirements.

Reach a price that both parties can agree to.

Do NOT be afraid of throwing out an offer. They just spent their time showing the car, and people hate to lose time. Most times they will take a substantial amount below asking value as long as you show them things they have left out in their ad.

Sellers usually prefer cash money, but if the car is more expensive you should pay with a cashier’s check. Since there is a lot of check fraud going on, sellers are typically sketched out.

Invite them to come to the bank with you while you have the cashier’s check made out. If both seller and buyer have the same banking company, an instant transfer can also be arranged.

After completing the transaction, make sure to save the sellers phone number for any further questions. Also ask them for any sets of spare keys, and service records they have.

Thank you very much for reading

My name is Anton and I’m from California. My website CarLifeDaily.com is an auto repair and used car buying and selling advice blog. Check out the website and make sure to subscribe to receive exclusive member-only content weekly!