8 Smart Splurges for Your Car
We've identified some purchases — for car shoppers and car owners — where the payoff's worth the extra expense.
Cars are expensive enough, gobbling ever-pricier fuel, but there are times when even automotive skinflints should consider loosening their grip on that dollar. We've identified some purchases — for car shoppers and car owners — where the payoff's worth the extra expense. Don't cheat yourself out of safety or the joy of driving.
Tires are notoriously hard to shop for. They're round! They're black! They have different squiggles on the tread! Many folks just throw up their hands and buy the cheapest thing that can keep their rims off the pavement. Big mistake: Tires are the single most important thing you can purchase to affect the safety, handling and ride of your car.
We can't tell you exactly what the best tires are for your car: That's part of the problem — it varies. You'll need to do some homework, and this tool from online vendor The Tire Rack can help. One tip: As you shop around, don't make the tire's wear rating (how long it lasts) your top priority. Look instead for a top traction and temperature rating. Those indicate how well the tires will stick to wet roads and run at high speed under a heavy load (basically, an indication of the tire's resistance to blowing out). Surely that matters more than getting a few more miles out of your donuts.
Built-In Navigation System
A built-in navigation system can add thousands to the cost of a new car, and that gives many folks pause, especially if they're already holding a GPS in their hand — their mobile phone. But dealing with a phone as navigation device while driving can be fiddly and dangerous. You wouldn't text while you were driving, right? (Don't answer that.)
The top reason to buy the factory system is safety: not just because navigating with a built-in system is easier, but because it frequently serves as a big screen for a rearview camera. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 200 people are killed each year in back-over accidents. Also, the screen typically serves as a multifunction display that allows you to control your music, climate, and other aspects of your ride more easily (and easier means safer, thanks to less time with your eyes off the road).
A Nicer Towel
No, not for you, silly — for the car. For some people, washing the car means taking it to the car wash. For others, it's a driveway ritual involving exotic potions and cotton swabs. And for a lot of us, it's just another chore to squeeze in on the weekend. But you can make that task a whole lot more pleasant, and better for your car, with one of the new microfiber drying cloths. It's a splurge not to use those free old bath towels, but the $10 - $20 you shell out for a few of these will save you time and laundry, and reduce the risk of scratching your paint. A friend swears by Meguiar's Water Magnet Microfiber Drying Towel.
Must-See on MSN
I disagree on built-in navigation systems for one reason - the vendors all try to GOUGE you with map updates! It used to be you could order a DVD from the manufacturer and do it yourself, but some vendors now require you to go to the dealership. So you pay the vendor for the new map info and the dealer for "installation!" The net result is a cost that easily exceeds many standalone GPS devices that you can purchase today.
I bought a Garmin standalone with lifetime map updates, and although not as aesthetic as a built-in unit I'll save a ton of money over the next several years.
Note to navigation vendors (NavTeq for one) - either offer lifetime updates or let us buy the media and upgrade the maps ourselves!
1. Bosch Platinum spark plugs.
2. .K&N filters.
4. Sea Foam a couple times a year.
5. Anti-freeze/coolant that is vehicle specific..
6. Ceramic brake pads.
7. Black Magic wax and protectants.
8. A chauffeur or taxi if you believe the above nonsense written by David Muhlbaum.
Tires should be what the factory put on it or recommends for the driving and conditions to be encountered, rims, if it didnt have 24's and you get em you need to upgrade the brakes and suspension accordingly to avoid excessive wear all around on everything. My navigation system is a map that I look at before I go, not some thing (like the Garmin my wife has) that does not give you the best route all the time if even at all, I drive a truck for a nationwide auto parts chain and know better. Nicer towel?? WTF?? Safety options, just more junk to take your mind off the road and what your doing/where your going, like the nav crap, why not just pay attention? Wiper blade refills (mid price) from any auto parts works fine and just as good as the high dollar ones. They will all freeze up if you don't defrost the windshield and they all wear out with use. Synthetic oil not necessary and in some cases will cause engine problems, google engine knock or failure after changing to synthetic oil. Factory installed radio, if you want it loud add and an amp between the radio and speakers, easy to do, my 12 year old daughter helped install my wife's. Car clubs are a waste of money when its said and done. Remember, they have to make tons of money (profit) or they wouldn't be in business. I drove a wrecker in a major city (Houston) from 86 to 98 and though I wasn't affiliated with any clubs I would get calls from some because their trucks were busy or out of service. People would get pissed cause they had to pay me and then get reimbursed later. Now days in Houston if you break down or run out of gas tows are immediately mandatory by the assigned company for that section of highway and car clubs are not in that equation. Argue the point and you may wind up in trouble with the law. Besides if you need to be jump started enough to come out ahead with a club you have a battery electrical or too lazy drunk or dumb to turn the switch off problem and if you need a wrecker that much I would say either you need a new car, gas money (that was given to the club instead) extra set of keys .......... or a chauffeur. Pay attention to the road, others, what your doing and not a text or electronic co-pilot, YOU ARE the one driving NOT Garmin or cell phone! Keep up with your vehicle maintenance and drive right. I bought an 89 Chevy van in 1990 that now has 286415 miles on original drive train no leaks don't smoke runs strong (friends say surprisingly strong since I haven't done any major engine or transmission work) has been all over the U.S. and Canada only bad thing is its starting to rust :-(. If I could find a rust free body to put on the frame I would. MSN needs to get rid of the dumb$h!t that wrote the above article. Stay safe out there.
How about removing all the wieght added by these gimmicks that distract the driver to increase gas mileage, reduce wear on the car, and cut the cost of the car by $15K.
The problem is the stuff is designed to last 3 years. I'd rather by a $200 gps that I can move from car to car or carry with me than add $1800 to have it mounted in the dash, and then another $4000 to buy the same dealer replacement when its stolen or broke.
And as for the wiper blades uhh the $6 blades have never broken on me. The $20 per blade ones have. Strange thing is they work the same.
Wide tires don't make a car handle better necessarily. In fact they can cause a car to hydroplane easier, wear out much faster when the alignment is off (which often is caused by larger/wider tires), and wider surface against surface equals more drag (lower fuel economy).
The combustion engine has changed little and electric isn't much farther along. Yet the exact same starter the cost $59 ten years ago is $200. Because these so called enthusiasts are nothing more than folks willing to dump money on any and every thing. Most have iPhones, and need a dock for it too!
I had one guy tell me the transfer case on a 4 runner was bullet proof. Cool next time I want to do some stunt riding in a shooting range I will rent one. Are the u joints titanium, what about bushings and bearings are they high carbon steel or plastic. Opps forgot I wasn't supposed to think past bullet proof.
The bottom line is you don't really need most of the junk on these cars. Including the safety junk. All of it makes you rely on something other than your skills. Then you end up with no skills. It's why noone can merge onto the freeway.
You need brakes, a windshield, wipers, tires that are round with tread, and some kind of motor. Seat belts are good, maybe some survival supplies (flashlight, water, twinkies), air bags but cameras and other toys are just that. When light and other glitches cause the frame to freeze and you backup over some kid a $2000 camera system won't bring them back to life or you back to sanity.
Got to add that my wife's KIA went thru 3 low-profile tires because of damage to the sidewalls in it's first two years. The last time the dealer wanted $280 for the stock tire. Geezus! We went to a local tire dealer and got it for $180.
Tires at dealerships are overpriced for sure.
Someone – I’m sorry but synthetic oil is not "over-hyped". It actually lasts at least twice as long as non-synthetic oil, and that means less frequent oil changes. And if you do all your own work, like I do, then you can really appreciate not having to change the oil as often. Conventional motor oils can suffer viscosity break down in a little as 3000 miles, depending on driving habits, and once that happens your engine is wearing out faster than it should. In fact the only reason I don’t use synthetic oil in my car is because I have a rotary engine. Rotary engines you see inject oil into the combustion chamber, much like a two-cycle engine does, and since synthetics don’t burn as cleanly as conventional oils they could leave harmful engine deposits behind which can be death to a rotary engine. Having a rotary engine is the ONLY reason I can think of not to use synthetic oil though.
As for the GPS I don’t use one either, although of course I am more likely to use a map on a laptop or tablet than I am a paper one. Either way I never use verbal instruction to get anywhere because I can just look at a map and visually memorize the route in my head before I leave, which allows me to drive to the location just as fast as if I’ve been their a million times before. Interpreting verbal directions is just a much more complex and confusing mental process than taking a picture with your mind. But for people who are more verbal than visual I can certainly see why they might like GPS units and I certainly don’t begrudge them making use of these devices.