Top 10 Must Have Auto Accessories

Personalizing the appearance and improving the driving experience of your auto is one of the great pleasures of owning your own car, SUV or truck. There are so many different auto accessories out there on the market it can be tricky to narrow down which ones you might want to consider getting to improve your vehicle. The following 10 accessories are those which we consider really are the “must haves”:

1) Floor Mats – It really is pretty ridiculous that an item so basic as a floor mat is an optional extra on many new cars. If you want to protect the interior of your automobile and prolong the life of the cabin’s upholstery then floor mats are an essential and worthwhile investment. Floor mats can be easily picked up from just about every auto accessory shop and even in many supermarkets.

2) Auto Covers – The last thing you want to happen to your pride and joy is for its shiny paintwork to get damaged by the elements, falling objects, or even bird droppings. By using an auto cover you can give your vehicle the protection it needs from the harsh summer sun, heavy rain and hail, corrosive bird droppings and destructive objects falling from trees or blown by the wind.

3) Cargo Liners – Like floor mats for the passenger compartment of vehicles, cargo liners are also a great accessory for keeping the trunk clean and tidy. If you are often putting dirty boots or tools in the trunk of your vehicle, for example, then a cargo liner will keep all that filth off the lining material as well as protecting against any scratches and dents.

4) Brake Dust Shields – With modern vehicles getting more and more powerful and having larger brakes, the amount of brake dust produced is increasing. Using brake dust shields on the insides of your wheels helps to prevent the dust from gathering on your shiny alloy rims, making keeping your auto clean much easier.

5) Car Bras – Bumpers on modern cars are often made from plastic which might look good but isn’t able to put off with much abuse caused by stones, grit and other street debris. A car bra is a specially made protector that wraps around the bumper to shield against flying stones, insects and other debris that can cause damaging stone chips and dents.

6) Fender Flares – Travelling at speed on country roads or rarely used streets can lead to gravel, rocks and other objects flinging up and striking the paintwork of your vehicle. By fitting fender flares you can greatly reduce the amount of debris that can reach your auto’s exterior. For most cars it is possible to find fender flares that match the original color and finish.

7) Mud Flaps – Further protection can be provided by the use of mud flaps which also prevent the dirty water spray containing all manner of pollutants and oil from reaching your car’s paintwork.

8) Heated Seats – Driving a car throughout the long winter months without heated seats can be somewhat torturous, especially when first entering the vehicle. Heated seats can make a journey in cold weather 10 times more pleasurable.

9) iPod / iPhone / MP3 Docks – Tape cassettes and even now CDs are getting very long in the tooth. Why not make use of your iPod or MP3 player in your vehicle and invest in a dock that allows you to listen to your tunes through your car speakers. Many docks also double up as a hand-free system; much safer than talking on the phone normally.

10) Bug Shields – These are an absolute must have, particularly in the South where insects are even more prevalent. A good bug shield made specifically for your model of car or truck can do wonders in limiting the amount of insects and other debris hitting your windshield and hood. Bug shields not only help to keep your car clean, but are also a useful safety accessory helping to maintain good visibility.

Natural Gas Vehicles Are Beating Out Electric Vehicles for Consumers Top Pick

Consumers have been selecting natural gas vehicles over electric vehicles at a rate of two to one. By year end there will be approximately 123,600 natural gas vehicles on our nation’s road as compared to 65,500 electric vehicles. Despite the lack of marketing or fueling infrastructure for natural gas, it is now the first choice among consumers looking to alternative ways to fuel their vehicles.

The drop in natural gas prices has helped fuel the demand; beating out the more heavily marketed and federally funded electric vehicles (EVs). Four years ago President Obama unveiled his vision of 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by the 2015 and pumped $5 billion into funding for electric cars. In February the Obama admiration proposed the tax credit for plug-in vehicle be increased from $7,500 to $10,000 and also extend the credit to other alternative vehicles like natural gas.

In response to the higher demand from motorist, Honda began showing it’s Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle in car showrooms across the country, where previously it had only been marketed as a fleet vehicle. It is currently the only NGV sedan on the market. Honda says the marketing is paying off big for them, and sales of the vehicle are continuing to break new monthly highs. Although the choices are few for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, it should be pointed out that conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles can be retrofitted for CNG. If natural gas is available at your home you can install a pumping station inside your garage.

CNG is safe or at least safer than gasoline, Although CNG is flammable, it has a narrow flammability range, and if released by accident it quickly disperses making it less likely to ignite than gasoline. CNG is also non-toxic, it dissipates when released and will not leak to contaminate soil and water supplies.

The natural gas used in vehicles is classified into two types compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas(LNG). According to fueleconomy.gov “eighty-seven percent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S.is also produced here; which greatly reduces are dependency on foreign imports. It is 60%-90% less polluting than traditional fuels. With 30%-40% less greenhouse gas emissions and is less expensive than gasoline. At the present time the main disadvantages of CNG vehicles is the lack of facilities available to pump the gas, fewer miles to the tank and few choice available by auto makers.

All gas vehicles depend on fossil fuel. The natural gas obtained from drilling is a fossil fuel and while no fossil fuels are considered to be renewable resources because of the millions of years needed for the earth to produce them; natural gas is primarily methane and methane gas can be produced as a renewable resource. Methane gas is currently being collected from landfills and produced from rotting vegetation and animal manure.

CNG vehicles are cheaper to operate than conventional vehicles and burn cleaner than gasoline vehicles. Electric vehicles running on electricity alone put out “0” emissions at the tail pipe, but the electricity providing that power is generated at power plants running off fossil fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “PHEVs (plugin hybrid electric vehicles) and EVs (electric vehicles) typically have a well-to-wheel emissions advantage over similar conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

However, in communities that depend heavily on conventional fossil fuels for their electricity generation, PEVs (Plugin Electric Vehicles) may not demonstrate a well-to-wheel emissions benefit.”

The switch from diesel to CNG is the larger trend for cities and municipalities across the country. The U.S Department of Transportation provides grants for upgrading mass transit and many cities are already using those dollars to advance their fleets over to CNG vehicles.

The future for NGV remains uncertain; although the advantages seem clear, reduce dependency on foreign oil, cleaner energy for the environment, lower cost to fuel. The largest drawback is the lack of infrastructure for refueling. As government agencies along with private fleet owned vehicles begin to convert vehicles from gasoline to NGV the private sector will also begin to benefit from their expansion. Improvements in refueling technology and engine performance will also soon follow. It will likely be the consumers, who ultimately decide our next energy of choice.

Discount Auto Accessories Make the Grade

Everyone is trying to save money these days and trying to curb any major purchases like cars. Not creating extra expenses is the name of the game especially when it comes to vehicles. Payments can jump for not much of a car in many cases. That is why it is important to learn to find discount auto accessories.

It also helps even if you are auto repair challenged, to keep a small tool kit in the car. A pliers, screwdriver, a set of jumper cables and some fuses plus a small wrench set can get you out of a lot of jams. Even if you don’t know what to do with the tools, there may be someone around that knows what to do with the tools. Many cars are now operated as much by computer as anything else, but if your battery goes dead, having a set of jumper cables can get you on the road sooner. Make sure your tool set is what you need either inches or metric. Check to make sure you have the correct type for your particular vehicle.

The discount auto accessories industry is very competitive and there is a healthy secondary market. You can check out the local salvage yard or auto parts shop but if you need something major like a radiator, there are entire networks of salvage yards and garages that you can post what you need and they will find it for you. Then you can decide on the best deal and then the part is delivered to your door. In most cases, it is at least as cheap as having to find and remove the part yourself at some obscure salvage yard and not have the right tools. It’s a lot less messy and the part is torn up before you get it.

To make the most out of discount auto accessories, it is probably wise to get a complete manual for your vehicle. No, not that hokey booklet that passes for a manual that comes with the car, but a detailed manual that has parts, fittings, etc. This will help you get the right part yourself without having to go to a dealership and pay full retail. Sometimes you can get the part and then find someone who can put the part in. In many cases however, you will have to get a code reader and hook it to your car if you need to figure out why a certain light is on and what can be done to fix the problem.