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A new year is upon us, but is your car ready? You’ve probably already picked a purposeful, pragmatic New Year’s Resolution, or maybe you’ve been easy on yourself and pledged to eat lunch every day. These are all good ideas, but not the best idea. Have you asked yourself ‘What can I do for my car in 2017’?
We’ve got the answers you need to help 2017 be your ride’s best year ever. Unless it’s a car from a time when gas/petrol prices were measured in cents. Here are ten suggestions that’ll make you proud on any budget.
1. Remove Extra Badges and Insignias
Here’s a great way to separate your car from the herd. It removes some of the pretense that comes with all those “turbo” and “GT” badges, and you can do it with some floss and a hairdryer. It’s not a waste, either. Some boy-racer will have a grand old time adhering your ‘Kompressor’ badge right next to a ‘Vanden Plas’ bit they stole from mom’s car.
2. Install a Short-Throw Shift Kit
Would you like to shift better in 2017? Who wouldn’t, right? Most short-shifters can be installed right at home in a few hours, and the difference they make in driving is significant. What’s that you say? You drive an automatic? There’s still the option of a shift kit, or you could make driving a stick your new resolution.
3. Spruce up Your Dash
It’s ridiculous what you have to pay these days to own a car with an interior made from anything other than plastic. Even a little soft-touch texture costs extra. You can work with this, though. The right dash kit can transform your car’s interior, and they’re available for just about any make and model.
4. Change Your Brake Pads
If you’ve been hearing a squeal from your car’s front end when you hit the stoppers, that’s a sign it’s time for a new set of pads. You don’t have to upgrade to performance pads, but they are a great choice if you’re a fan of “spirited” driving. It’s a small price to pay for added safety.
5. Lighten Your Load
Take a hint from your old pal Colin Chapman. You know, the guy who started Lotus. This doesn’t mean that you have to drive a car with room for two metal floorboards. You could start by removing the collection of junk that’s in your back seat. Next, ditch those rear seat mats. Want to get crazy? Get rid of the seats themselves — you’ll be shocked at the performance improvement.
6. Change Your Bushings
Bushings are the offensive linemen of driving. No one appreciates them, but when they fail, you’ll know it. Weekend warrior types should consider going with polyurethane bushings, as they’re more durable and provide better damping than traditional rubber.
7. Install a Toolbox
This upgrade is for truck drivers only — do not install a toolbox in your CR-Z, it won’t go well. Nothing beats always having your tools handy when you’re at a remote job. Just make sure to install a box with a lock to protect your gear from thieves.
8. Upgrade Your Rolling Stock
The impact tyres can have on your car’s performance is shocking. In recent years, new rubber compounds and construction techniques have really turned up the wick on performance tyres. If you’ve the funds, why not get a sharp-looking set of wheels to go with ’em? Choose wisely, and you’ll even shave some weight this way.
9. Go to Driving School
As the old saying goes, the best way to get more performance from your car is to tighten the nut behind the wheel! There are many options for beginning and advanced drivers at all price points. Plus, you get to spend a day hustling your car — or better yet, someone else’s!
10. Upgrade Your Tunes
Go-fast goodies are fun, but most of our cars came stocked with enough power to get us where we need to go safely. A new head unit, some sweet speakers or the right Bluetooth connector for your smartphone could instantly improve the quality of every drive.
The future is now, but our cars aren’t driving themselves just yet. Make a commitment to enjoy the open road in 2017 and treat your ride to one or more of these affordable upgrades. Just don’t get too crazy with the stickers and decals, unless you’ve resolved to get more tickets this year.