Last Updated at
- 09:36 pm, March 08, 2011
Forget the vinyls and unnecessarily loud exhausts. Here are our suggestions on mods & add-ons that are are more practical for your ride
You’ve got yourself a car, and you’re happy with it – for a while. You realise that your car could be a little better, but don’t know how to go about doing this. We, your friendly neighbourhood OnCars team, give you suggestions on what you can do to better your ride.
In a country where you share road space with motorcyclists who could give Rossi a lesson or two on sneaking past the competition, bicyclists with no more balance than a lame drunk, pedestrians who think the pavement is for them and cows who live life in the fast lane, the ability to see further at night is invaluable. Cars usually get fitted with halogen bulbs rated at 55/60W – that’s 55 Watts for the low beam, and 60 Watts for the high beam. If you find this insufficient, you can upgrade your bulbs to 90/100W or 100/130W. HID kits aren’t advisable as they attract the police’s attention. The new bulbs will draw more current to power themselves, so make sure you upgrade the wiring as well. The new relays should have their own fuses, so none of the original wiring gets affected should something go wrong. Don’t forget to carry a spare stock bulb or two in your glovebox. This upgrade generally doesn’t apply to projector units, since they are generally powerful enough, or have a very good focused beam.
This is also something you can do to increase visibility, especially if you live in a place where fog is a regular occurrence. First, you need to have cutouts for the lamps themselves in your bumper. Get matching lamps, install them with the relevant wiring and voila! No more blind drives on foggy mornings. If you’ve got a headlamp switch with the fog lamp switch built in (this is more likely on those cars with the rotary switch on the dash) then you’ll have individual control over them. In a car that usually has the fog lamp switch along with the headlamp switch on the indicator stalk, you can either get yourself a new stalk with the switch, which is a whole load of trouble, or just wire the fog lamps to turn on when you turn on your running lamps.
This may not be very necessary in areas that don’t get too much rain, but in a region like the western coast of India where it can pour for days on end, the ability to see where you’re going in the wet is a valuable asset. Upgrading to better wiper blades will ensure that you don’t have streaks on your windshield and they’ll last much longer, too.
Most cars today come shod with tubeless tyres, but in the event that your car doesn’t have tubeless tyres, upgrade to them. The greatest gain that tubeless tyres offer over ones with tubes is the fact that they don’t deflate instantly when punctured. The very nail that makes the hole in the tyre also seals it, so the driver gets fair warning that he’s got a problem. However, always carry a tube along – you never know when you might get stranded in a place where the only ‘puncher’ repair store doesn’t know how to deal with a tubeless puncture.
Preempt the hassle of changing a wheel by installing puncture sealant. They offer protection from punctures on the crown of the tyre but not the sidewall. If you’re the kind of person who likes to do things yourself, carry a tubeless repair kit and a small electric air pump that can run off the cigarette lighter socket. These are especially handy things to carry along on a long trip.
Tubeless tyres don’t mix well with steel wheels. Go over a bump or through a pothole too quickly, and the bent rim will start bleeding air from the tyre. Alloy wheels are stronger than their steel equivalents, and they don’t bend, so you can avoid having to change your tyre simply because you didn’t notice that pothole. Do note that alloy wheels aren’t indestructible; they may not bend, but they certainly crack or break if subjected to enough abuse.
Your battery has things like ‘electrolyte’ and ‘cells’. Essentially, the cells are individual tubes that need to be topped up with distilled water every now and again. If the water level gets too low, it won’t work properly. If they’re overfilled, the fluid will spill, and corrode any metal or paint that it comes in contact with. Sealed batteries take away the hassle of checking for the right fluid level – you bung them in, and they’ll work well enough for their lifespan provided the vehicle they’re in gets used regularly. Some companies like Amaron give an over-the-counter replacement for batteries that run out of juice within their warranty period, which makes them a really good choice.
You’ll probably get this as an ‘accessory’ from your dealer, but you need to make sure that you’re getting the best you can afford. Sun film can get very expensive because manufacturers tend to use precious metals like gold in their film, for their heat-reflective properties. The sun film’s job is to reflect heat – so darker film doesn’t necessarily mean a cooler car. There is a limit to how dark your film can be, so do check with your local RTO what it is. This is for your own safety, else you won’t be able to see anything in your mirrors at night.
Engine oil additive:
Opinion is divided over whether engine oil additives actually benefit the user in a discernible way, but we’ve found that if the engine is noisy and/or harsh, an additive tends to make a noticeable difference. However, if you’ve got a really quiet, smooth engine, there isn’t much for you in it. Manufacturers like STP make different additives for petrol and diesel engines, so make sure you read the label carefully before you add anything to your engine!
This may sound a little silly, but avoiding a hole-in-the-wall operation when tanking up can make the difference between your car performing at its best and you having to clean your injectors regularly. Upgrade to a branded fuel, because quality control is much better on those fuels. High-octane fuel is an added bonus if you’ve got a performance-oriented petrol car.
With some or all of these upgrades, you’ll have yourself a much-improved vehicle for not much investment. Most of them may not be noticeable, but they certainly make life with your car so much easier. Please be warned that making some of these changes to your car may void your warranty. Please check with your local dealer or service centre for information specific to your car.
First Published on 09:36 pm, March 08, 2011