What are auto accessories?

Have you ever bought a car or truck and thought something was missing? Maybe it just needed a few personal touches.

Just about every driver accessorizes their vehicle in one way or another, and the options are endless.

Accessories for your car or truck include a wide range of items, from safety to cosmetic features. Some accessories - such as car covers - help protect the vehicle from the weather, while others - such as a decal or graphic - add a personal touch.

Some of the more common auto accessories today, to name just a few, include car alarms, remote car starters, seat and steering wheel covers and window tinting.

Accessorizing your car for safety

One of the most common auto accessories is a car alarm.

Car alarms protect vehicles from thieves and make them more difficult to steal. In 2012, the FBI reported more than 720,000 stolen vehicles, leading to an estimated $4.3 billion in losses.

There are several options when choosing a car alarm, including sophisticated technology such as remote starters and two-way pagers, which alert drivers if the alarm is sounding.

Although cars today are built with an immobilizer - which prevents anyone from driving the car without a key - auto experts say buying a passive or active car alarm has several benefits. Passive alarms activate automatically, while drivers must hit a button onan active alarm.

An audible alarm is still popular too. These types of alarms blare the car's horn and flash the lights when they're activated. Another option is a silent alarm. Thieves won't know the alarm has been activated, but a notice is sent to the driver over a mobile device.

Car alarms cost as little as $150 and go up to $900 or more depending on the type of alarm you buy and how sophisticated it is.

It's important to hire a reputable auto technician to install a car alarm to avoid an improper installation.

Remote starters, meanwhile, copy the car's ignition switch by allowing drivers to start the car from the comforts of their home but keeping the door locked. This is handy in the winter as a way to warm the car up and avoid the risk of the car being stolen when the doors are left unlocked.

Prices can range from $100 to $400 for a remote starter.

Reupholstering your vehicle is a way to make the interior look brand new again. (Photo courtesy of James H., of Bellaire, Texas)

Accessorizing for practical purposes

One practical way to accessorize your vehicle is by reupholstering it. A reupholstering can be as easy as fixing worn seat fabric, faded or ripped over the years or may have collected some unsightly stains.

Reupholstering can also consist of repairing a hanging headliner, or replacing your car's carpet or seat covers. Common projects include repairs for ripped seat covers and bolsters.

A large reupholster project could consist of changing cloth seats to all leather.

The cost to reupholster the bottom of a seat typically ranges from $130 to $350, while a headliner ranges in price from $180 to $350 depending on the size of the vehicle.

Other common accessories are ones used to protect your vehicle, such as a car seat cover or an exterior car cover. Car covers are popular for people who live in areas that receive harsh weather and don't have a garage to protect the vehicle. A car seat cover is placed over the seat to protect from rips and stains.

Another common items used to protect vehicles from dirt and snow is a floor mat.

Splash guards, or mud guards, keep debris and mud from flying into the air by the rotating tires.

Steering wheel covers, meanwhile, allow better grip on the wheel. They cost anywhere from $10 to more than $100, depending on your car's make and model.

Other car accessories

Window tinting is another common accessory that millions of drivers pay for.

Tinting can offer privacy inside of your car and can block as much as 99 percent of the sun's UV rays. The same protection that protects your skin will also protect your car's interior from cracks and fading.

Hiring a reputable tinting company to do the work is important because they likely know the regulations in regards to how dark windows can be. A sign of a bad tint job is peeling or bubbling film. The average cost to tint all of the windows on an average sized car costs between $175 and $200.

Another popular auto accessory is an auto sticker, decal or auto wrap.

Auto wrapping is the process of placing a sheet of vinyl around the entire car or part of the car. Wraps can either be designs or a way for a company to advertise. Drivers can change the entire color of their car through either auto painting or a full auto wrap.

Paint protection continues to be a popular auto accessory as well. Paint protection consists of a urtehane film that's applied to the paint and protects against scratches and dents.

Other smaller accessories include cell phone chargers, emergency battery chargers, which can charge your car's battery if it dies and hands-free phone connectors.

Car air conditioning

If you’ve ever driven on a hot summer day without the benefit of A/C in your car’s cabin, you know the value of a working air conditioning system. Learn all about how A/C works and common A/C system problems: Angie's List Guide to Car Air Conditioning.

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