Tuesday 9 August 2011

The wonderful world of aftermarket car products, just keeps getting better!

Fitting an Eight track to your pride & glory back in the day was sheer amazement; the transition from choosing your own music than listening to what the radio before it had to offer. Now, well now in car music has progressed to in car entertainment & more! Sometimes even called Infotainment. Music from practictly any source can be played, CD, MP3, SD card, USB, iPod & so on. But that is just the beginning; DVD play, Bluetooth cellular hands free including touch dial keypad, Navigation information so that you don’t get lost, even rear view camera when engaging reverse gear are all available instead of just having a dull CD Radio in the centre of your dash. Believe it or not there’s more...

After market products no longer just make the car look nicer or give higher quality of music, but, more importantly to me, provide much more convenience! Luxuries like electric windows & central locking could be installed to cars that did not come factory Through the 80s & 90s, German car brands started to introduce convenient features such as total closure; keeping the key in the lock position would lock all doors & at the same time close all windows & sunroof. This advanced to remote control activation. The after market brands started providing the same convenience to other cars that did not have this feature thus giving this more upmarket feel to the enthusiast; or to anyone who appreciated this convenience. This opened up a whole new world of aftermarket products to compensate what was not provided from factory equipped.

In reality, most ideas for aftermarket products actually begin with products that are introduced with new cars. If a car manufacturer offers an innovation on a new model, aftermarket companies will pick up on this. It is then analysed & if possible will be produced as an aftermarket gadget.

So, if a rain sensor for automatic activation of windscreen wipers is introduced on a new car, there is a good chance that some time later this will be available as an aftermarket accessory.

This brings us to what is available today. Many know about remote control locking or even light sensors for automatic lights activation. But after market products have gone way further than that & even make cars much safer too.

A perfect example is the mobile phone hands free kit. This is definitely one of the most convenient gadgets on the market; even better, it assists safer driving! Once an outgoing or incoming call is being made, the car stereo is muted whilst speech is heard through the car’s speakers. The driver may talk to the other party via a microphone. All of this without even touching a button. Not only that, music can also be played through the cars speakers from the mobile phone; wireless!

How about parking sensors? I remember the first time I saw these was quite some years ago whilst driving my friend’s car in Japan. At the time, when switched on, they would detect obstacles at each corner of the car to assist manoeuvring when parking. Now parking sensors can be installed front & rear which are activated automatically. In some cases, even speed activated. A beeper sounds more frequently the closer you get to another car, wall, high pavements etc, until a continuous beep is heard when too close as an indication to stop. This may even be complimented with a display to show which sensor is closest to an obstacle & by what distance. In some cases, believe me; they even look better than some factory fitted sensors. (Picture may be provided)

Yes, these are some things that can be achieved in the aftermarket world. As previously mentioned, it normally starts with OEM (original equipment by manufacturer). Therefore, as we already see upmarket cars including night vision in the dash or even radar activated safety braking; watch out for them, these could be available in the future as aftermarket products!

Maurice Gruppetta

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