Auto Upgrades 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Online Parts for Your Vehicle

All cars need some TLC, regular maintenance and the odd upgrade to keep interiors spotless and the engine humming. Simple, yet practical additions like carpet floor mats keep stains and spills away, and help with cleanliness. These are inexpensive and within reach for all. But if you’re looking for more street cred, better performance and a car that handles like a dream, you’ll need to invest more time and money. Choose from the wide array of body parts to up looks and add an aero advantage, slap on a high-performance exhaust for better sound, and upgrade the stock suspension for crisper steering response. And if the car is turbo or supercharged, like most new cars today, consider upgrading to bigger intercoolers to manage all that heat. 

Buying online auto parts is the easiest way to get all the mods you want. You can skip waiting in queues, have parts delivered to your specified address within a couple of days, and choose from several payment options. Online stores also offer lower prices and wider product ranges to cater to different vehicles. They’ll additionally stock parts hard to find elsewhere or have them ordered. All you need for online shopping is your vehicle identification number or VIN (attached on the lower part of the windshield) and the part number if you’re buying OE replacements. Let’s take a look at some online deals that bring the best bang for your buck, and set your car apart from the rest. 

Why Have a Body Kit?

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The body kit comprises spoilers, splitters, wings, bumpers, diffusers and other parts added to the car exterior. The parts have two functions – to enhance visual appeal and add more aerodynamics. How the parts are engineered and the materials they’re made of play a huge role. 

To turn heads, and have a car distinct from anything else on the road, choose an inexpensive fibreglass or polyurethane body kit. Both materials are inexpensive, relatively strong for the intended purpose (poly parts offer more flex), and relatively easy to paint and install. Fibreglass kit is lighter but more brittle, so expect scratches or cracks when scraping kerbs or speed bumps, while polyurethane body parts and somewhat heavier, but more resistant to damage. 

For an upscale look, choose a kit made of carbon fibre. The material is up to 10 times stronger than steel, is extremely light, and has the best looks out of the box. No need for priming, sanding or painting. The parts are also more durable and can handle brake heat and corrosive environments better. 

The other aspect of body kit parts is the performance advantage. When done right, parts like splitters and spoilers disperse oncoming air over, under and to the sides of the car, reducing the effect of drag, and helping to increase traction through the tyres with higher downforce. Side skirts prevent air from pooling under left and right doors, while diffusers and wings deal with remnant air. Drivers have better steering feel, the car can carry more speed in corners, and there’s less body roll. An unappreciated benefit is that with less air resistance, the vehicle will use less fuel. 

For the best results, combine front, side and rear body kit parts, and ensure they are installed by a pro. 

Exhaust Upgrades 

source: westechperformance.com

Stock exhausts can sound muted, and don’t the engine any favours, especially with strict noise and pollution regulations. They have too many restrictions, tubing is on the narrow side, and the exhaust gases can create elevated backpressure levels, or spent gases lingering in the tubes after each combustion cycle. As they are, factory systems hinder performance, and the subpar materials also mean they won’t last if you harder on the gas pedal. 

Aftermarket exhausts go wider and straighter to speed up exhaust flow (or exhaust velocity) and better deal with remnants of spent gases in designs created to increase a vacuum effect or scavenging. Parts are also modular in design, meaning they can simply bolt onto existing layouts and factory recesses, so installation is easy too. Another defining factor is the use of upscale materials (starting with high-grade stainless steel), coatings that deal with heat and corrosion, and exotic materials like carbon fibre for lower weight and better looks. 

Different systems offer varying results. Axle-back exhausts have revised parts from the rear axle to the tips and reworked muffler configurations for a deeper exhaust note with more substance. Spend a little more for cat-back systems to get higher exhaust velocity and even more power, or go with full header or turbo-back exhausts that swap out all factory parts and include redesigned headers for improved scavenging, with wider down and mid-pipes, and the inclusion of extras like high-flow catalytic converters and DPFs (for diesel engines) to further raise power and torque. 

When buying online autoparts like exhausts look for engine compatibility, fuel type, and cylinder count. Consider warranties to ensure they last, and that any faulty or damaged parts can be replaced free of charge. 

Lowering Springs

Lowering springs are some of the best-value aftermarket car parts and suspension upgrades. They do exactly as stated on the box, by lowering the vehicle closer to the ground. This eliminates unnecessary and embarrassing gaps in the wheel arches, sends the car lower, and has the added effect of increasing traction through the tyres. They also help reduce drag by lowering the centre of gravity and are best paired with full-body kits for a full aero effect. There’s more stability at higher speeds, better steering and braking feel and less sway in corners. 

Kits straddling all four wheels can lower the car from 0.5 to 3 inches, and come with linear or progressive compression (stiffening up when subjected to higher forces). The parts go well with other suspension upgrades (sway bars and sports dampers) to provide better handling and undeniably, better looks.