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The end of the year is nearly here, which means it’s time for all the “new year, new me” social media posts. Instead of making a resolution you may or may not be able to stick to, why not resolve to upgrade your car in the coming year? Here are some easy upgrades you can do in 2019, regardless of your automotive skill level.
1. Add a Heads-Up Display
You don’t need a virtual-reality helmet to see a heads-up display in the real world. Many new cars come equipped with heads-up displays, but even if you have an older car, you can find an aftermarket one and install it on your dash. These displays show everything from navigation to your dash gauges on the windshield or on a small screen that sits on the dashboard. It’s in your line of sight, so you can easily monitor your speed or RPMs without looking down, but it doesn’t obstruct your view of the road ahead of you.
On average, an aftermarket HUD will set you back between $50 and $300, depending on the bells and whistles you want. Most of them are easy to install, so you can turn your car into James Bond’s spy-car with little to no effort.
2. Upgrade Your Brakes
Unless you opted for the fancy brakes package when you bought your car, chances are the parts that make sure your car stops when you want it to could use an upgrade. That’s an easy swap. All you need to do is find a set of calipers that will fit your make and model. Then jack up the car, pull off the wheels and swap the new calipers out for the old ones.
Finish off your upgrade with some high-quality rotors and a set of carbon ceramic brake pads that provide superior stopping power without gunking up the works with brake dust.
3. Tint the Windows
If your windows don’t have film or tint on them, you’re just asking for an expensive upholstery bill when years in the sun bleach out your seats and cause your dashboard and trim to crack. Adding tint to your windows can block out UV rays, protecting your interior and your skin, if you spend a long time in the car. You can even have clear film installed on your front windshield that blocks out UV rays and reduces glare.
In addition to these benefits, having tint on your windows holds the glass together in an accident, so you won’t have to worry about getting showered with sharp little pieces of safety glass if you happen to be involved in a crash.
4. Flash Your ECU
When you get your car from the factory, the ECU, or engine control unit, is programmed to control your car’s fuel/air mixture to find the perfect balance between power and fuel economy. If you prefer to shift that balance in favor of power, flashing your ECU is the ideal way to upgrade your car.
Make sure you find a program designed for the specific year, make and model of your car. The programming in the ECUs changes subtly from year to year as automotive manufacturers discover new ways to make their vehicles more fuel-efficient. Once you’ve gotten your hands on the program, all you need to do is follow the instructions, plug it in and let the equipment do the work for you. While this change alone isn’t guaranteed to increase the horsepower of your engine, it is a fantastic upgrade that is easy to do.
5. Swap Your Shifter
If you’ve got a vehicle with a manual transmission, installing a short shifter is a pure performance upgrade. Short shifters reduce the amount of movement you need to shift between gears, sometimes by as much as 70 percent. It enables you to shift faster and react to changes in the environment that much quicker.
Installing a short shifter is relatively easy. You need to remove the old shifter and replace it with the new one. Just make sure you don’t overtighten the bolts when you install the new shifter — it will make it harder for your car to shift gears and defeat the purpose of the new shifter.
New upgrades for your car in the new year don’t have to be expensive or complicated. Take a look at our list and see what changes you can make to your favorite daily driver in 2019.