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Automotive Aftermarket Parts - A Guide to Aftermarket Automotive Parts

aftermarket exhaust cold air intake aftermarket suspension parts spoilers and body kits

The market for aftermarket automotive parts is huge. While that new car smell and the excitement of getting a brand new vehicle can both be said to have a certain allure, sometimes you just want to customize your ride. Or, if more unfortunate circumstances have struck, you might need to replace some part of your car that has fallen victim to a fender bender, a vandalizing juvenile delinquent, or even something as random as a high-speed rock kicked up by one of your fellow motorists.

So if you’re looking for automotive aftermarket parts, you have a lot of options. All but the smallest towns are sure to have at least one Auto Zone-type store; sometimes there are dozens. In larger cities, you can even find stores that cater to specific niche markets. It’s likely, however, that car enthusiasts seeking to customize their rides won’t be satisfied with the offerings of the local brick-and-mortar establishments. That’s where the internet comes in. Thousands of automotive sites cater to the racers, the audiophiles, and the more casual drivers who just want to track down a hard-to-find replacement for a worn out component.

Most aftermarket parts can generally be sorted into three categories. Some parts directly affect the performance of your vehicle by enhancing its speed, performance or efficiency. Others are purely cosmetic – you buy these parts because you like how they look, but they don’t really have any effect beyond that. This category can include things like chrome accents or decorative hubcaps. The third category covers items that enhance your driving experience but don’t have any real affect on the car’s general performance – creature comforts. Stereos fall into this category, as do the increasingly popular GPS systems.

Some auto parts are always going to need replacement no matter how carefully you drive, oil filters, air filters and tires especially. This just goes with the territory, and it’s entirely up to you whether you want to spring for a pricier aftermarket part that purports to be “high performance.” If you like driving fast, or if you like to take your 4×4 off-road frequently, it’s probably best not to skimp on the tires.

Aftermarket Exhaust

Your car’s exhaust system is one of the most common places to install aftermarket parts. Drivers often outfit their exhaust systems with aftermarket parts just to achieve a certain sound – some may simply wish to make it louder, some are after a deep, throaty rumble, and others even strive to make it quieter. But aftermarket exhaust can have some more tangible benefits.

Pros
- You might find your car gets better gas mileage with a new exhaust component.
- Maximum horsepower can be increased as well.
- If a part of your car’s original exhaust system fails, it’s often easier, and cheaper, to replace it with an aftermarket part rather than an official factory part.
Cons
- Modifications can sometimes affect your factory warranty, so be careful.
- Some aftermarket exhaust systems involve removing the catalytic converter. This can result in fumes getting into the car, and the car may not pass inspection in places with stringent emissions laws.

Cold Air Intake

These are quite easy to install, making them one of the most common aftermarket modifications. An engine needs air in order to burn fuel, but most factory intakes sacrifice power and/or efficiency for reduced engine noise. An aftermarket intake can improve both horsepower and fuel economy.

Aftermarket Suspension Parts

With most factory vehicles, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the suspension department. Aftermarket shock absorbers and springs can drastically improve the comfort of your ride. You may also want to lower the car’s ground clearance, which can improve handling as well as appearance, but be careful with this if your area has a lot of bumpy roads.

Spoilers and Body Kits

These automotive aftermarket parts bridge the gap between practical and cosmetic. Spoilers are meant to direct airflow downwards and provide the wheels with more traction, and both can improve the aerodynamics of a car. However, they don’t do very much unless you’re going at breakneck speeds. At lower speeds the effect is probably negligible, so these are primarily aesthetic choices.

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