Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A spoiler is shown on a red vehicle.

Please Stop Buying These Things for Your Car!

Shopping for a car can be stressful: you have a lot of details to figure out while trying to find the right model at a price you can afford. Just figuring out the best financing for your next car can be quite anxiety-inducing. But shopping for a car can also be a lot of fun: looking at what’s out there, picturing you and your family in different models, and planning out the perfect combination of modifications and upgrades to make your ride one of a kind. With that in mind, it’s also easy for some people to start picturing things that maybe aren’t the best investment.

I’m not talking about adding an aftermarket speaker system or springing for a set of grippier tires – those are investments that pay for themselves for years. No, what I’m talking about are extra things you might be tempted to buy while you’re shopping for a vehicle or just after buying your new car in order to customize your ride even more. These are things that add no value to your car, truck, or SUV; in fact, they can sometimes take away from it, and they really stand out as a waste of cash. I’m not one to tell you how to spend your hard-earned money, but remember that the rest of us will have to look at this stuff too.

Let’s Talk Exterior Décor

These might not be the most serious or egregious offenses out there, but as the person sharing the road with you, these are typically what I find most offensive. I can’t see the choices you’ve made inside your vehicle, so I won’t call you out on them unless you’re a friend of mine. But we’re all subject to your exterior décor, so please go easy on us.

Front-End Faces and Details

When I look in my rearview mirror, it’s because I’m keeping track of vehicles around me, making sure no one is doing anything dumb, and considering how I need to act to change lanes. I’m not looking to see the eyelashes, nose, mouth, or other ornaments and details you feel like putting on the front of your car. I know they’re cute and silly, but they’re a distraction to other drivers who really don’t need another thing to grab their attention from the road.

The Truck Sack

If you know what I’m talking about, then you know. Guys: stop doing this. No one has ever thought they’re funny, interesting, or clever – they’re horrifying and annoying. Seriously, just stop with this, for all our sakes.

So Many Stickers

Bumper stickers were silly but largely harmless and pretty easy to ignore. Over the years, however, the sticker trend has grown out of control. Now there are stickers covering every possible surface of some vehicles, even windows that really should be kept clear for visibility. Oh, and in particular, stop buying the stickers of Calvin peeing on things. Genius cartoonist Bill Watterson has never licensed his characters for those kinds of products – so you’re just giving money to someone who has stolen his character.

A rack of steering wheel covers is shown.

It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts

I know. I said I wouldn’t give you a hard time about what’s going on inside your car, but these things still need to be called out. Your friends and family might not be willing to tell you the truth, but that’s why I’m here. Some of these are a waste of money, others a waste of time and energy, but all are not worth it.

Harness Bars

You might think putting a five-point harness in your Honda Civic turns it into a race car, but a harness bar is not a safe way to do so. A three-point seat belt is accepted at everything from Autocross to HPDE, and it won’t pin you upright in your seat while the roof caves in on your head, so please just stop. If you really need a harness in your car, then you should be putting in an actual roll cage to connect it to.

Gaudy Steering Wheel Covers

I understand wanting a steering wheel cover to protect your interior or for insulation in extreme heat. But if it’s purely decorative, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll pick some pattern that redefines the word “ugly.” If you really need a steering wheel cover, at least make sure it’s one that fastens securely so you stay in control and it won’t slip on the wheel.

Hideous Seat Covers

Speaking of ugly interiors, few things are worse than seat covers. These just seem designed to be as repulsive as possible. I understand wanting to protect your upholstery and interior, especially if you have kids or friends who aren’t nice on cars. But pick something simple and clean that accents your interior, not strange or hideous patterns.

Remember: Safety First

While most of the things I’ve mentioned are simply silly or unpleasant to look at, these things are actually a serious issue. Anything you buy for your vehicle that makes it less safe is a very bad choice. Remember: you’re controlling a couple of tons of machinery driving at speeds faster than your brain can actually process, don’t make the whole thing somehow less safe.

Massive Lift Kits

I know some of you are ready to get your torches and pitchforks, but hear me out: some lift kits are fine and serve a purpose. If you’re getting extra clearance and you love to go off-road, or you’re able to use larger tires for hitting the trail, then a lift kit makes sense. But if you just want your truck to ride higher because “reasons,” then stop it. Massive and excessive lift kits make your truck look ridiculous, and they can seriously impact the safety and stability of your pickup.

Spike Lug Nuts

At no point should your vehicle have big spikes sticking off from it. This isn’t a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and you’re not the Road Warrior, so knock it off. People drive and walk by your vehicle all the time, and they shouldn’t have to worry about tripping hazards or being impaled on lug nuts sticking off your wheels, so please stop doing this.

A close up shows a silver car exhaust.

Performance Upgrades Should Perform

No one is convinced that your car is more powerful because of these abominations; we just think they’re silly. We can all tell just how much muscle your car has when it struggles to desperately get up to speed on the highway. If you have a car with real power under the hood, then you can show it with the slightest effort – otherwise, you’re not fooling anyone.

Massive Spoilers

On a sports car or other performance vehicle, spoilers exist for a reason: they help with an aerodynamic design to allow the car to drive at its best. They serve no such purpose when installed on the back of your Ford Probe, okay? No one thinks your Dodge Stratus is going to lift off the ground when you finally manage to crank it up to 40 mph without spoilers.

Loud Exhausts

The exhaust system on your vehicle serves an important function: it cleans the exhaust from your engine as much as possible while muffling the sounds of your engine. Notice that last part? No one wants to hear your truck sounding like an F-35 fighter jet taking off in the driveway next door at 11:47 at night. You’re annoying everyone around you, and we don’t think you have some special alien technology in your pickup making it sound like the end of the world. We just quietly hate you and try to figure out when we can move.