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Get in Gear with Hot Driving Accessories

Aug 26, 2008
There was a time not long ago when the hottest car accessories consisted of eight-track players and stick-on compasses. Thankfully, those days are long gone. But just because you drive a used car or truck, does not mean it can be outfitted to meet your own particular needs and desires.

Today's automobiles are light years away than those bare-bones forms of transportation of yesteryear. Modern drivers count on their vehicles to carpool entire departments, entertain restless and road-weary kids, and serve as mobile offices. The times they are a-changing, and have brought about a growing demand for gadgets and gizmos to provide a comfortable and productive trip. We can choose from coffee cup warmers and shiatsu seat covers to soothe our souls and video game portals and DVD players to calm our broods.

One of the best examples of modern accessorizing is the GPS or Global Positioning System, which allows users to view local maps and receive accurate directions. These gadgets are of particular value to fast-moving professionals trying to navigate urban city streets. And travelers love them, too.

For many hobbyists and professionals, cars and trucks have taken a U-turn from luxury to necessity, and manufacturers have been quick to meet the changing needs of drivers. A wide selection of standard equipment and aftermarket accessories is available to suit drivers of all types of cars. The market is so heavy with accessories that it's not always easy to know what's best, or even what's necessary.

Here are some tips about what to look for, and what to avoid.

Know Your Needs

Every successful purchase begins with research. Your first step should be to determine exactly what you need, and then go shopping for the best price. You'll find great research tools online, with instant access to countless articles, user forums and comparisons of products. When you're ready to buy, you can purchase virtually every type of car accessory over the Internet. Try placing a bid at on online auction to net a great accessory at a low price. Many retailers sell at discounted prices online, because their overhead is far less than conventional retail. There are no rental fees and fewer expenses, and these savings are often passed along to the consumers.

Shop and Compare

Once you've decided on the right car accessories to meet your needs, it really pays to shop around. There is an ever-expanded market of automotive accessories to meet the huge demand. Check the selection and prices at several outlets, including specialty shops and smaller stores. Don't be afraid to haggle for the best deal.

Seek Professional Advice

Retailers sell goods to make a profit; that's the bottom line. Of course, some vendors will try to overwhelm you with slick pitches and a huge repertoire of brand names, just to make a few extra bucks, and you could end up buying items that you really don't need. Don't let yourself be persuaded by pushy sales tactics. Speak with other car owners, and ask about the accessories they use. Do some online research and check industry magazines. When you shop around, you can compare features, quality and price and, ultimately, be a smarter buyer. Compare today and you can save a lot of money down the road.

Buy Only What You Need

Would you like fries with that? Encouraging buyers to take additional accessories is one of the oldest sales and marketing tricks in the book. You've been pressured to buy a belt when you pick up a new pair of pants, and the same tactic is often used in the car accessories market. A retailer may tell you that you really need a neon green GPS cover, but of course it's not true. Ask you friends and speak with a trusted mechanic who is familiar with car accessories. Use these reliable opinions to decide what you should, and what you shouldn't, buy.

Warranty and Policies

As with any product, you need to know at least the basic details of the warranty before making the purchase. Understand the retailer's return or replacement policy in the event that the item doesn't work in your car, fails to meet your expectations, or malfunctions.

Look Before You Buy

You should have the opportunity to inspect the product before agreeing to purchase it. Of course, this is not an option with Internet purchases, so make sure you're dealing with a reputable online dealer. Many retail stores ask that you sign a receipt stating that the product is in good condition upon receipt, and doing so may mean waiving your rights to return the product if it is indeed damaged.

Brand Names

Opt for OEM or "Original Equipment Manufactured" car and truck accessories whenever possible. This usually ensures that the quality is first-rate and the warranty will provide purchase protection.

Car accessories not only make driving more convenient, they can also impact your safety while on the road. Being prudent in your choice of what to buy and where to shop can ultimately save your life, so don't make price your first priority. Safety concerns should always come first, so don't compromise quality just to get a good deal.

Remember to have fun shopping. If your search for driving accessories is giving you a big headache, maybe it is not worth it. Don't give in to pressure that says you have to accessorize; just do it because it is fun for you.
About the Author
Contributor Michael Trusthold loves writing for numerous popular used car sites, on used cars and used cars by owner issues.
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