Friday, October 17, 2014

5 car accessories to avoid

Going overboard with accessories can make your car look better but can destroy other aspects

1. Massive rims
While big rims can definitely look good, a lot of times people go overboard with their choice of wheel sizes. Making a shift from stock 15-inch wheels to slightly larger and sportier 16-inch ones wouldn’t be much of a problem, but when you start going more than 2 or 3-inches over the manufacturer’s tyre size, you can soon run into trouble. If your overall wheel diameter (rim + tyre) exceeds what the manufacturer has made room for in the wheel well, the tyres can start rubbing against the wheel well liner each time you go through a bump. Plus, you have to note that large diameter rims are also wider, and these can grind against the wheel well walls. And larger wheels also make way for another problem – low profile tyres.

2. Ultra low profile tyres
Low profile tyres are perfectly at home on race cars where cornering grip is paramount over everything else. But going really low profile on road cars can cause serious problems. Low profile tyres have very rigid side walls and hence offer very little pliancy. While this might be desirable on the race track, where you want your car’s tyres to flex as little as possible under immense cornering forces, it does make for a very hard ride. And it’s not just a question of comfort level. A less pliant tyre will transmit more forces to the car’s suspension, adding significantly more wear and tear to the various suspension components.

3. Spoilers & other aero bits
Once again, these are things one finds on race cars and they’re designed for very specific reasons. Spoilers are mounted on the back of racing cars to create downforce at high speeds, which pushes the back down and provides cornering grip. Most aftermarket spoilers one gets at car accessory shops are merely show bits, and don’t really create any downforce. In fact, road cars are perfectly capable of cornering at the limits they’ve been designed with without the need for spoilers. All an aftermarket spoiler will do is add drag as the car cuts through the air, which will result in lower fuel economy. The same goes for any other “aerodynamics enhancing” accessories that one gets off the rack at most accessory shops.

4. Body kits
The list of automotive enhancements or accessories which have been derived from racing are endless. The job of wide-body kits and air dams is to channel air over and under the car to achieve the optimal drag coefficient, as well as channelling extra air to the radiator, brakes and intake system. All this is fine when your car is a high performance fire-breather. But to slap on a body kit on your humble sedan or hatchback is overkill, and more often than not is going to interfere with movement of the wheels, either in the suspension travel department or steering angle department.

5. Coloured/masked headlights
Masking a part of your headlights to get that eyelid effect might be very “Need for Speed”, but remember that not only is it illegal to modify you primary lamps in this fashion, it is also dangerous as it affects the illumination and pattern of your lights on the road. The same goes for coloured lights, most common of which are the blue-coloured bulbs which emit a bright white light. While these might be brighter than your stock lights, they have far less penetration and are more prone to scattering in the dusty Indian conditions. The standard transparent bulb with the yellowish light is the best option.

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