This is part 2 of this blog, check out part 1 here.
5. Buying fancy windshield wipers: Rain, dust, cold, and heat: your wipers’ biggest enemy is simple exposure to the elements. Over time the rubber will break down, regardless of how fancy and organic and sustainable it is. Just get the basic cheap wipers and change ’em out on the regular.
Basic wipers do work, but I have found you need to change them out more often, especially in colder climates. I’ve tried all the frameless replacements and have actually found some winners. “Fancy” wipers do cost more—sometimes by 3 or 4 times—but they clean your windshield better and work for a longer period of time.
6. Buying fancy air filters: For years, standard operating procedure amongst automotive enthusiasts was 1) buy a car, 2) clean it up, 3) put in a permanent, cleanable air filter. The theory was that, even if there wasn’t a noticeable gain in HP, it would still be better at filtering out particulate than the paper element that came with the car. Alas, there’s pretty much zero evidence to support that.
Changing out your air filter to a cotton gauze “performance” air filter has its pros and cons. Having a cleanable filter is nice because you can use it longer. I have used one for several years without issue. I would think twice about a filter with oil on it, because depending on how your car meters its air, that can cause trouble. There have been numerous studies that show cars can pick up horsepower after a filter change, but it is a percentage gain—so a car with 100hp will see smaller gains than a car with 500hp (but a gain is a gain). On the other hand, with more air comes more fuel, so you will most likely see a slight dip in fuel economy. However, buying a cleanable air filter means you don’t have to buy a new one every year or so, and that will definitely save you money in the long run.
7. Buying fancy brake rotors: The simple truth is that brakes are incredibly important, and for that very reason, the rotors on your car are more than capable of getting you stopped. Even if you’re preparing your car for intense track duty, you’d be surprised how much abuse—and heat—the OEM rotors can take with just a little preparation, like fresh brake fluid and better pads.
This is another point of what exactly does “fancy” mean? Most cars car don’t need performance brake rotors. Brakes are obviously very important, and so is having a good set of rotors. Most people look at rotors that are branded as performance and sold in pairs and are cheaper than the ones you would get at a dealer, they often come drilled and slotted, they are garbage. It really comes down to the quality of the metal used to make the rotors. manufacturers use high quality metal, but aftermarket companies often use a cheaper variety. Slotted or dimpled performance rotors do have their place, though. They help get the brake pads up to operating temperature faster, giving you better performance sooner. However, the slots and dimples take away surface area for the brake pads to work. There is a reason race cars use these types of rotors, even the super high carbon ceramic rotors are dimples.
8. Installing paint-protection films: There are two kinds of people who have a clear protective film installed on their car to protect against rock chips and the like: those whose OCD would go haywire if something happened to their baby, and those who simply wish to protect their investment. If you’re the former, well, carry on. But if you’re the latter, and you don’t spend a significant part of each day driving behind a gravel truck, you’re going overboard. You’re likely spending more money on protection than you’ll ever see in rock-chip depreciation.
This one probably bothers me the most. “Clear bra,” as it’s often called in the automotive world, is one of the best ways to preserve your car visually, especially here in Minnesota. This list makes it seem like preventing rock chips is just a vanity issue, but even small chips will lead to rust and corrosion. I tell people all the time to get clear bra done, because it isn’t that much money and with modern day products, you can barely see it. The most practical option for the average driver is covering the front half of the hood, but I recommend getting the most that you can afford. On my own cars, I’ve wrapped anywhere from the front half of the hood to the car’s entire front end. It saves your car from scratches, rock chips and environmental damages, and it saves you from a major headache later on.
There is more to the story then just saying you are wasting your money. Sure, many people spend money on silly things they think they need for their cars but really don’t, but most of the items on this list do have value if they work for the person buying them. While not everything is for everyone, I feel the article’s author didn’t really give most of these a fair look. He may have heard only horror stories from people who have invested in these items, but I have experienced the opposite on most of these. To sum it all up, look at your driving habits and spend money on what’s right for you and your car.