Getting a new car is (almost) always fun, once you get past the fact that you just laid out many thousands of dollars for something that will (almost always) only decrease in value. One of the things you can do to ease the pain in your wallet is buy buying a few things that won't cost much, but will make your car look much better. Plus, anytime you work on a vehicle and add your own touches it makes it feel a little more like it's yours. Think of it as bonding with your car.
So let's get started on a few simple vehicle appearance upgrades that will help make that car of yours look much better.
This upgrade may or may not apply to you, but if it does it should be one of the first things you do to your new car. 19 US states only require one license plate on the car, and if you're lucky enough to live in one of them you can get rid of that ugly front license plate holder if it's installed on your car.
A company from Charlotte, NC has made a simple solution to filling in those front license plate holes, and they're called BumperPlugs. Usually, the process to fill those holes would involve buying a new bumper or paying someone to fill, sand, paint, and clear coat the front of your car. If you can afford that and don't want anyone to know you ever had a front license plate, feel free to do that. For the rest of us who want to save several hundred (or thousand) dollars we'll go ahead and use the BumperPlugs.
They're custom made to match the paint on your car, and the installation is dead simple. Just go to their site, pick the make and model of your car, then the color. Once they arrive, you just remove the front license plate holder, make sure the holes are drilled to the right size, and push in the BumperPlugs. The entire installation on our Chevy Camaro test vehicle took 15 minutes, and 5 of that was running up and down the basement steps since we kept forgetting the right size drill bit.
The plugs for your car will run you between $30 and $60 depending on your vehicle setup, but in our opinion they're well worth it. It's much less expensive than a full bumper restoration, they are custom matched to your paint, and will make your car look much better.
Here's the breakdown of Pros and Cons:
PROS: Simple installation - we only needed a drill and a screwdriver, looks great on the car, way more affordable than a full bumper restoration, gets rid of that really ugly front license plate holder.
CONS: They leave little plugs on your front bumper.
Purchase them here: BumperPlugs
Go ahead and look at the carpet in your car. Is it disgusting? Then you should probably upgrade your floor mats, especially in winter.
Husky Floor Mats
When we were deciding on which floor mats we wanted to feature, we wanted them to have three qualities: a good fit in our test car, a high quality feel, and we wanted them to be made in the USA. Luckily, we found a company that met all three of our requirements. Husky Liners are a great investment for your vehicle so you can protect your carpet. Now, this might seem a little odd as a vehicle appearance upgrade when you're going from cloth to rubber mats, but we'll explain.
You don't need to leave these mats in year-round. Sure, if you're driving a work truck that would be a great idea, but we're going to put ours in our vehicle each winter. That's when you get most of the sludge, ice, snow, salt, and grim in your car so it's the perfect time to have an easy to clean floor protector in your vehicle. The mats installed easily, fit perfectly, and actually looked surprisingly classy. So if you're going to keep them in all year, you won't have to worry about ugly mats dragging down the eye-candy appeal of your car.
Now for the Pros and Cons:
PROS: Ridiculously easy to install, fits perfectly, Made in the USA, looks good, protects your floor.
CONS: They're rubber so you may not want to have them in year-round.
This might be one of those things that doesn't bother you until you notice they're there, but we have always hated those air bag warning stickers in our vehicles. Get out of our vehicles, big government! With that being said, let's check out an easy way to get rid of them.
Air Bag Warning Sticker Removal
Are you the kind of person that rips the tags off of mattresses? Good. This upgrade should be right up your alley. Those air bag warning tags that are plastered all over your rear view mirror should be outlawed. Nobody reads them, and they just serve to clutter up your interior with bright yellow trim on top of that huge white sticker. If you try to take them off, it's near impossible. Even if you take the time to use a heat gun to get the sticker off, you'll still leave an ugly coating of adhesive residue behind. That's where Tower Decals comes into play, since they make a handy vinyl covering to go over top of the warning stickers.
Now, you may be saying "why can't I just buy my own vinyl?" Yes, it may cheaper if you have some laying around, but it's definitely a convenience to have them pre-cut. Plus, you should feel proud to support the owner of Tower Decals. His name is Tony Barranca, and he is currently an active duty Air Force Special Operations Aerial Gunner on the AC130U. His dream is to have Tower Decals be a place that employs present and former special operations members and their families. Do you want to support your country, and an awesome guy? Then buy your vinyl from Tony's crew.
The cover-up is made for the size of the sticker in a Chevy Camaro, but any sticker that is 9 inches by 2 inches or smaller will work perfectly. Oh, and if you're worried about safety this is perfectly safe: you're not removing the air bags, just the stickers.
PROS: Cheap, works perfect, reduces clutter in your car, looks great, you're supporting our US military members.
CONS: None - now go support Tony's crew.
Purchase them here: Tower Decals
Do you go off-roading in your vehicle? If so, you should have mud/splash guards. But what if you don't go off-roading? You should still have them.
Husky Splash Guards
Most people overlook this simple addition to their car. Your vehicle is a several thousand pound beast that sprays rocks and grime at high speed. You definitely don't want those rocks hitting your paint, but that's what happens all the time. Depending on your vehicle, a Husky mud/splash guard will be a very simple install and increase your paint life around your wheel wells. The install on our test vehicle took about 10 minutes for the rear guards and about 25 minutes for the front. The rears when on using the stock bolt system, and we had to drill two holes for the front guards.
The nice thing about custom guards are that they don't stick out much and they protect your paint. If you're worried about paint chips from any rough roads you may have on your commute, this is a good option to keep your vehicle looking fresh with the paint job.
PROS: Relatively easy to install, good fit on vehicle, protects you from expensive paint repairs, Made in the USA.
CONS: You may not like the look on your vehicle - it comes down to your personal preference.
There you go, four easy ways to make and keep your vehicle looking great. Now go and bond with your vehicle - you two need this time together.