Four Things Your Car Doesn’t Need (And One it Might)
Posted on September 19, 2011
So, like many Americans, you drive some sort of vehicle. Usually a car, maybe a beastly “crossover,” whatever. You get the point. There are a multitude of items in the automotive world aimed at both avid and casual motoring consumers alike and, like most things it life, it’s a mixed bag. Kind of like that huge jar of mystery jellybeans your grandmother had in the living room when you were four. And 24.
Last year, MSN Autos decided to take a whack at a top-five list comprised of automotive splurges that shouldn’t see the sight of civilization. So they say.
Most of the descriptions are only snippets of information, but they ring true regardless, fiscally. For example, if your engine isn’t tuned for 93 octane instead of 87, it won’t run the way it was intended regardless of your extra expenditure.
There is still unfortunately a misconception amongst many consumers that a higher “grade” petroleum is better in some way. While debates still rages, the fact is this: the number you see at the pumps (aside from the $/gallon, or as so many Americans bemoan, “How much the government is robbing me today. They seem to forget our international friends pay more) is the octane rating, or basically how slowly the petroleum burns inside your engine.
Not to mention that higher octane gas burns more of your wallet’s cash. Twenty cents per gallon is a an average gap.
Now, the explanation for that is extensive, complicated, and admittedly a bit boring. So let’s summarize, shall we? A higher octane fuel burns more slowly than a lower one, meant for engines with higher compression to make more power. That’s why you’ll see many sports cars, like the old Subaru Impreza WRX STi and Mitsubishi Evo using the highest American “pump gas.”
Ahem, moving on from the tire-smoking, disruptive youth part of our program, let’s get back to money matters, shall we?
Second, concerning nitrogen-filled tires: in theory, it might seem a bit silly and altogether spendthrift to pay for “special nitrogen,” considering about 80% of our atmosphere is nitrogen. But hold on just a moment there, because this idea does have merit: in modern racing series, nitrogen is usually used instead of “air,” because it’s more stable. Over a day’s endurance race with radical change in weather and temperature, tire pressures can fluctuate more than te. Consistent tire pressures lead to consistent tire wear, which leads to consistent placing in races.
Third and fourth – wait, what? Do I really need to say anything about “magic fuel-saving” and “restoring” items? If you’re foolish enough to believe those ads and not do any research, you deserved to be ripped off. Items like the Tornado Fuel Saver aren’t worth the metal they’re made from. Be skeptical of “magic” products like these.
Finally, there is only one contention I find myself truly disagreeing with: wheels, stereo systems, and other electronics. The MSN author, James Tate, takes a wholly pragmatic and not completely unfathomable position – leave your car alone, spending money on silly things like that will not help the resale value of your car.
And that opinion is fine. If you’re 70 and drive a piece of bread. Or a Camry. Same thing, really.
But, see, that’s the thing: I agree with Tate on principle. But for some of us, a car is not just an appliance to get use from points A and B to C and D; it’s a personal space that we grow fond of, like a home. We spend a lot of time in our cars, why not do what we can to make the journeys a bit more enjoyable?
But again, if vanilla motoring and resale are all that’s on your mind when you purchase a vehicle, you might do just fine with a Camry. Or a newer Accord. There is, however, a way to be both economically mindful and automotively soulful as well, straight from the year 2004:
Seven years ago when the last of the MK1 Focuses rolled off the assembly line, it was ahead of its time: a funky, driver-oriented interior to make the car more than an accessory, a fantastic manual gearbox to keep you engaged, and independent rear suspension (something no other car in its class had) to put a smile on your face through the corners.
What’s old often becomes new again, but when did fun and saving money ever go out of style?