Article by Justin Pritchard

With today’s rampant slew of products and marketing targeted towards car nuts, it’s virtually never been easier to enhance one’s enjoyment from one’s ride. Simply, there’s just too much cool stuff on the market you don’t have for your car, truck or SUV.

Whether it’s an add-on cosmetic upgrade, a go-fast engine part, some electronics or lights or cleaning products or even a pour-in-your-tank-for-fifty-horses additive, the options to enhance your driving experience are virtually limitless.

So, like, not to unleash a radical new concept or anything – but with more products and more marketing come more ways to potentially waste great piles of one’s time and patience and hard-earned cash.

Since keeping more time and patience and cash for you and your ride to share is a good thing, I present some great candidates for products to avoid in pursuit of cost-effective automotive enjoyment.

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If you have a car like this, you probably do need high octane gas.

High Octane Gas: If your car requires 87 octane and you feed it pricier 91 or 94 octane hoping for some performance benefit, you’re wasting 15 or 20 cents a litre. Higher octane fuel has no additional energy or power in it – even if it comes out of a special pump with a lightning-bolt and scantily clad lady on it.

Translation? The high-grade stuff won’t make your stock Honda Civic or Subaru Impreza a speck more powerful. Unless you’re driving a high-performance car that’s factory-engineered to run high-test fuel, don’t waste the cash.

Is it the advertised ‘cleaning’ benefit you’re after? Remember that all fuel grades, not just the pricey stuff, are regulated to contain detergent cleaners. If it makes you feel better, add an occasional bottle of fuel-injector, rather than spending 5 or 7 bucks more every time you fill up.

Expensive Fluids, Because of Your Lead Foot: It was a normal day on Facebook, until I had a heated debate with a friend over his choice of putting only top-line synthetic oil, priced around $21 a litre, in his Integra. The logic?

“Well, I drive it pretty hard bro’”.

Okay, so.

Driving on the street in a 150- or 200-hp car won’t wear down standard engine oil – let alone synthetic –even if you redline the first three gears every chance you get.

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Unless you track your car, standard fluids are sufficient

Pricey synthetic oil is overkill for most drivers. It can cost three times the price of a standard oil change. There are benefits of course – like added protection during cold starts. But, do your homework and make sure you’re not wasting your money.

Same logic for brake fluid, transmission fluid and the like.

No matter how ‘aggressive’ a driver one is, driving on the street, even like a hooligan, won’t break down standard fluids that are properly maintained. If you’re regularly track-racing your ride, where heat levels and component stress are considerably higher and more sustained, the pricey stuff may make more sense.

Anything from the Internet Claiming to Add 25 Horsepower for $19.99: As a general rule, avoid chips, modules, or pour-in-tank products sold at department stores, online dealers and auto centres that say things like “+25 Horsepower” on the package. These are typically bogus and targeted towards shoppers with mullets who drive early-nineties Sierras covered with peel-and-stick chrome bits.

Remember, too, that vague marketing verbiage including “UP TO”, “MAY” or “CAN” are used to protect from false advertising claims. That new intake filter can add “up to” twenty horsepower – but if it adds zero horsepower, the claim isn’t a lie. Plus, without a dyno, you’ll never know the difference.

On another note, an air filter won’t add twenty horsepower – unless the one you remove is made of concrete.

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