After months of saving up to make that down payment on your dream car, the next step is how to make it look good and feel good as you drive it down the street. Customizing your car is not as easy as it looks. First is that you have to have a budget ceiling for it, and it must reflect your style and character. If you do it wrong, your car might go viral for the wrong reasons and make the “rice” list of custom car jobs gone wrong. It is also recommended to have a best friend who knows his stuff so your spending spree won’t go to waste.
In my years of covering the aftermarket industry, and going to shows such as the Tokyo Auto Salon every year, and the Gaikindo Auto Show in Indonesia, this writer has a thing or two up his sleeves when it comes to car customization and modification. As my long time friend Sam Liuson of Wheel Gallery always says, “If your car is stock, you don’t rock,”
1. Wheels and Tires
First thing on my list of “must do’s” in transforming a car into a rolling art on wheels are changing your wheel and tire set up. Aside from seeing and feeling the instant change of your car, having a good set of wheel and tires contributes to 50 percent of your car’s overall looks. Tires have seen the most technological progress out of any automotive part in the past decade, and choosing the best tires means better grip and handling. and your ride will perform better in all the weather conditions. My choice for wheels and tires have always been Wheel Gallery in Santolan, San Juan. Aside from giving you a good price, they also compute the right offset for your car.
“The contact patch is essentially just the width of your tires, so wider is better,” said Liuson, managing partner of Wheel Gallery and acknowledged as the “Aftermarket Godfather” in the local scene.
2. Brake Upgrade
While most guys immediately go for horsepower, this writer recommends a brake upgrade first. It is easy to gain power, the problem is how to control all that power being generated by the engine down to the wheels. If you have the budget, always go for Brembo, which has always been at the forefront of racing technology. If you’re on a budget, one can purchase performance brake pads such as Ferrodo or Project MU. Remember, power is nothing if you can’t decrease your speed on a fast corner or engage the brakes in an emergency situation.
3. Air Intake and Exhaust System
Replacing your stock air intake system is probably one of the most important and affordable way to increase your car’s performance. There are a lot brands out there in the market and for my own personal preference, this writer has a cone type K&N filter installed in his car. The air intake system allows more air to be pumped into your engine. Think of it as freeing up your nose with bugger and mucous and you get the point.
Next is replacing your car’s headers with what your mechanic prescribes. It is important to have a reputable car shop and mechanic to perform this process. If you have the measurements of your pipes wrong, all you have is a loud car with no power.
4. Suspension system
A car’s suspension is designed to keep the car’s weight distributed as equally as possible between the four wheels. Lowering your car will improve aerodynamic efficiency, decrease drag, and improve mileage.
Be cautious lowering your car because driving on public roads still requires ground clearance to avoid bottoming out and damaging a number of components. Tires can also rub against the inside of the fender when going over bumps or turning very hard, and camber changes can cause improper tire wear. Coilovers generally suggest a “kit” of springs and struts (hydraulic shock absorbers) and often allow ride height to be adjusted by moving the perch that holds the spring on the car up or down. In this case, you can never go wrong with the guys from Makna Marketing, where I got my car’s H&R springs, which greatly improved my car’s handling. I recommend KYB performance shocks that are pliant enough both for daily and track day duties.
Be sure to get reclining bucket seats for more comfort during every day driving. Performance bucket seats grip you more firmly and keep you from having to brace yourself while cornering hard. They hold you right where you belong: behind the wheel. This writer consider them to be a safety improvement, as well as a psychological performance improvement. You’ll certainly feel more in control with race seats than with an old bench seat that doesn’t hold you in place at all. It also levels up the look of your interior.
6. Foiling and Paint
Another important factor in making your car standout is having a shiny paint job or if you want to be more daring and different, a full-body foil application. This personalized film protection is a car exterior protection technology once exclusively enjoyed by the super rich, now made affordable by Foilacar Industries. “We have different color hues to choose from and our professionally trained service crew will take care of your paint. Imagine lesser maintenance and change of color anytime at a practical price. We also offer clear film protection to protect your valuable investment,” explained Lester Codog, president of Foilacar.
With hundreds of color hues to choose from, your car will definitely stand out by having a differently colored exterior.
7. Sound system
Having a good audio and video system is a must in this country given the horrendous traffic jams we experience on a daily basis. With a wide variety of in-car audio and video systems available in the market, the only problem I see is budget.
Although there are inexpensive in-car entertainment systems that would fit your requirements, this writer swears by the affordability and quality of Blaupunkt audio/video systems. Blaupunkt’s line of multi-talented car radio systems are equipped with a Bluetooth interface for convenient wireless telephone connections to allow for trouble-free, hands-free phone operation along with quick phone book management and audio streaming. You can also hook up and operate your iPod or iPhone easily and directly via a USB connector on the radio’s front panel. And of course, it goes without saying that all the other popular media devices can also be connected to the front USB slot – even memory cards can be read in via the integrated SD card slot. I had mine installed by an accredited dealer in Pasig City and it took three days to install the audio-video system.
8. Engine Protection
Changing your car’s oil at regular intervals isn’t just a good idea – it’s a vital part of keeping your car’s engine running properly. The purpose of engine oil is to keep the internal parts of your car’s engine lubricated and cool. It keeps the moving parts from grinding against each other, and cause wear and damage.
Without frequent oil changes, dirt and sludge can build up in the engine, and old, dirty oil won’t lubricate the moving parts as well as new, fresh oil will. Dirty oil leads to serious damage, and if things get bad enough, there may be an engine replacement lurking in the future. When it comes to engine protection, this writer does not gamble and always go for the best. Motul is the country’s only 100-percent fully-synthetic motor oil. Motul guarantees total protection for your engine with its latest line of fully-synthetic motor oils: the Multigrade Plus Mineral Group 2 base oil in 10W40 viscosity; Multipower Plus semi-synthetic Group 3 base oil in 5W40 viscosity; and the CRDi Plus Group 4 base in oil that is 100-percent fully synthetic.
As an industry pioneer in synthetic oils, Motul oils and lubricants were developed to provide lubrication for modern day sophisticated engines, while assuring fuel savings and automotive efficiency.
9. Body Panels
Most cars have more weight at the front, which throws off its balance and changes handling characteristics. Ideally, a car should be as close to 50/50 weight distribution from front to rear as possible. Replacing your stock hood with a fiberglass or carbon fiber panel may drop 50 pounds from the front of the vehicle, and doing the same of the fenders will help as well. Although a bit expensive, carbon fiber is as tough as steel and buying an original carbon fiber panel is a must for your own protection and safety.
10. Lighting systems
Adjusting headlights and foglights to point exactly where they belong will increase your visibility and keep you from blinding oncoming drivers with your headlights. Brighter headlights such as light emitting diodes (LEDs) will further increase nighttime visibility and safety driving especially during a heavy fog or rain. For pick-ups and SUVs, LED systems such as PIAA have brackets that can be installed on top of the front bumper. They also have LED bars that can be installed on top of the vehicle.
PHOTOS BY DINO RAY V. DIRECTO 3RD