The 10 Worst Items at Auto Parts Stores
10. Steering wheel covers
9. Bedazzled/fake jeweled everything
8. Themed floor mats
7. Painful shift knobs
6. LED lighting
5. Driving lights
4. Gigantic exhaust pipes
3. Octane Boost
2. Skull stupidity
1. Stop leak/smoke
Auto parts stores sell a lot of great stuff, and can really help you out when you urgently need everything from brake pads and spark plugs, to fuel pumps and tires. There’s also a goofy side, where they sell every single idiotic chunk of plastic with a “made in China” sticker on the back. From the silly accessories, to the flat out dangerous bits, here are ten of the worst items found in auto parts stores today. Usually fluffy or cartoon themed, steering wheel covers offer you the chance to blow twenty bucks on something you don’t need. This one is last on this list, as I can sort of understand the need for a warm, fuzzy steering wheel in New England winters. Still, isn’t that what gloves are for?
Nothing says class like fake diamonds stuck in ABS plastic. As if accessorizing poor dogs and cats weren’t enough, some marketing genius decided to make cars the next trend for fake jeweled fashion. No one thinks those are real and it doesn’t hide the fact that you’re driving an ’89 Ford Escort.
Why do these exist? Is there someone out there that has a Betty Boop themed interior? Imagine what guest riders think upon first getting into a car that Hello Kitty puked into. You better be a Japanese high school girl driving a Fiat Panda in an anime, and even then I’m going to make fun of you.
Swapping out shifters for a shorter, more precise throw makes sense. A more solid or comfy shift knob is also a good idea. A bad idea is a shift knob with pointy bits and a structure made out of cheap Chinesium by some 7 year old kid. If you really want a shift knob to break apart in your hand from average use, get one of these.
Sure, LEDs are cool, from the factory. Audi nailed it a generation ago with their LED accented headlights, but those are a bit different from these cheap-os. These lights offer the build quality and light output of glow sticks, for 25 times the price and half the lifespan.
These aren’t actually “driving lights.” They are “seriously annoy other drivers” lights. These lights produce an unfocussed yellow light that doesn’t even help in fog. You can usually see these money-wasters on “racing” Grand Ams with peeling paint. Don’t be that guy.
Twenty years ago, someone read a tiny bit about exhaust backpressure, and decided they could make a killing selling a product that solves a non-existent problem. Now you can drop a hundred bucks on something that won’t make your car any fast, but quite a bit louder. Brilliant. It’s not just for “rice,” as the muscle car crowd has 4” pipes that bolt onto your existing pipes and do… nothing.
Some fuel additives work very well, as stabilizers or fuel system cleaners. What doesn’t work so well is an expensive octane booster. If you look closely at the back of the bottle, it says it raises the octane by anywhere from 3 to 9 points. Sounds great, right? Bring cheap 87 octane up to 90 or even 96 octane! Unfortunately, octane points are one-tenth of the Research Octane Number at the pump, so that expensive “9 point octane booster” brings your 87 octane garbage gas up to 87.9. Looks like you should save the $15 and buy premium.
Seriously, how old are you? If you are 12, and your car has a name something like “Super Turbo Ninja Dragon,” by all means, carry on. For real street cars though, it’s like advertising for a cheesy spinoff of the Bond films, where the sinister villain Skull Man drives his skull car back to his hidden lair. In the shape of a skull. If you are a functioning adult, it’s time to grow up and put away the skull junk.
Transmission stop leak. Engine smoke stopper. Emissions test in a bottle. Seriously people, just fix your ride. There is no bottle that can solve torn gaskets or beat to hell valve seals. If your vehicle smokes or leaks, it’s time to take it off the road and fix the thing, not dump a bottle in the tank. If you ignore it, the problem will get worse, and then you’re going to need a replacement engine or transmission, and those aren’t sold in $10 bottles. Next time you are cruising the auto parts store, keep an eye out for the worst items they sell. Let us know if you’ve seen any automotive atrocities that deserve to be on this list, and post them up. Together, we can shame manufacturers into no longer making this crap. Or we’ll have a good laugh. By Andy Jensen – Contributor
Auto parts stores sell a lot of great stuff, and can really help you out when you urgently need everything from brake pads and spark plugs, to fuel pumps and tires. There’s also a goofy side, where they sell every single idiotic chunk of plastic with a “made in China” sticker on the back. From the silly accessories, to the flat out dangerous bits, here are ten of the worst items found in auto parts stores today.