Consumer Awareness Update

Mainstream consumers are discovering the benefits of vehicle customization through an industry-wide consumer awareness program. Articles educating the public on how the industry’s products could give their older car or truck a new look or increase its performance were developed in June. The articles have attracted the media attention throughout the country, resulting in 985 published stories in mainstream newspapers and websites. Notable clips include The Chicago Sun-Times, Southern California’s Orange County Register, Flint Journal in Michigan and the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania.

See what other publications are saying about the industry.

Read the two most recent consumer awareness articles below:


How to give your old car a new look

  Consumer awareness customizing appearance
  Thousands of aftermarket products can change the appearance of a vehicle, whether the goal is to create a one-of-a-kind master piece, or simply to give a vehicle a fresh, new look.

You don't have to buy a new car or truck to give it a new look. Through the use of special products and accessories, drivers can transform the appearance of their vehicles quickly, easily and affordably.

According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), there are literally thousands of specialty parts that can give an older vehicle a completely new appearance. Whether the goal is to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, or simply to give a vehicle a fresh, new look, a few simple steps is all it may take.

Start with the interior. There are countless products available to update the inside of a vehicle, including aftermarket control knobs and steering wheels, seat covers, wood grain or carbon fiber instrument panels and dash kits. It's easy and inexpensive to get a new cover for a steering wheel, or you can spend a bit more to replace it entirely with a more sporty or luxurious one. Custom steering wheels come in a variety of shapes and styles, and are available in different materials such as wood, leather or high-tech plastics.

Similarly, seat covers are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and are one of the most dramatic ways to impact the interior. Best of all, they come in thousands of colors and fabric combinations. Like floor mats, seat covers can be ordered with emblems or logos on them, giving consumers the ability to show off their team spirit or school pride.

For those who want a new look for the outside of their car or truck, consider a new grille, taillight surround, bumper, hitch, ground effects kit or other exterior product.

Wheels and tires, both of which are among the most popular vehicle accessories, instantly update the look of a car or truck. Prices, styles and finishes vary greatly, so your options really are unlimited.

If your vehicle is a few years old, you may want to consider modernizing with new mobile electronics. Bluetooth integration, navigation systems, video monitors and DVD players can all be installed in just about any car or truck, regardless of its age.

Don't underestimate the impact that a good cleaning can have as well. Wax and car-care science has progressed to the point that there is a restoring program for almost any type of finish. Car-care companies have even designed power polishing tools that attach to any portable drill, so it takes less elbow-grease than ever to get professional results.

If your paint is damaged beyond hope, automotive paint companies offer a color palette far beyond the bland metallic treatments manufacturers usually use. Another option rapidly becoming popular is vinyl wrap, which looks like paint and applies like vinyl. It comes on rolls in a variety of colors and patterns, and when properly applied, does not damage the original surface. If you decide you want a change later on, simply peel it off and lay on a different wrap. It costs less than a custom paint job and the possibilities are endless.

Installing many types of restyling parts is designed to be simple, and can often be handled by anyone who approaches the job with reasonable care. But for best results, more involved makeovers -- such as those that require paint or bodywork, or replacement of components that have safety-related features, such as seat assemblies -- should be done by professionals who have the tools and experience for that kind of work.

To locate products or professional installers in your area, check, a consumer site produced by SEMA. The site contains information about specific automotive specialty equipment and the latest products, as well as information about how to connect with qualified expert installers.


Old car or truck? Tricks to boost its performance

  consumer awareness
  Most performance-enhancing aftermarket products can be found under the hood of a vehicle, but they can also come in the form of replacement hoods, body parts and even wheels.

Whether it's because of the economy or simply because today's vehicles are more durable, an increasing number of people of are driving used cars and trucks longer. A recent study from RL Polk found that the average age of both cars and light trucks is at an all-time record high at 9.4 and 7.5 years, respectively.

Those looking to re-energize these rides with a bit more power may want to consider installing a performance-enhancing aftermarket product. Thousands of such products are available to bring new life to a tired car or truck, and many are designed to elevate the car's performance beyond what it was capable of in the first place. Here are just a few ideas:

Bolt-on power
A carefully designed intake system combined with a high-flow air filter can add significant horsepower to any car or truck. Combined with a performance exhaust system, gains can be as high as 25 horsepower or more on some engines. Because these changes offer a good return for relatively small investment, they are among the most common bolt-on upgrades on an older car or truck.

Lighten up
Another easy way to improve performance is to replace heavy original parts with lighter ones. Replacement hoods and body parts made from carbon fiber and other light-weight materials are available for almost any vehicle, as are wheels that weigh less than the ones from the factory.

Handling products
Improving handling is an often-overlooked form of performance. It's rare to find a car that came with high-performance shocks or struts, and after a few years, the original suspension can wear significantly. By installing new, specially-tuned shocks, bushings and springs, a car can handle better than it did when it was new. Another easy way to improve handling is by adding better brakes. These are widely available in bolt-on form, which allow for upgrading older cars to disc brakes, or adding specially designed brake pads, stronger calipers, and longer, better vented discs.

Turbochargers and superchargers
For those who are serious about improving power, turbochargers that force more air into the combustion chamber can add 50 to 100 more horsepower. It's possible to replace the original turbo with a bigger or more efficient one, or add a turbo where no turbo was offered. Superchargers, another high-performance option, are commonly offered by manufacturers in their specialty high-performance cars and trucks. Most people don't know that the same parts are available for sale to individuals, often offered by the same companies that supply them to the automakers.

For Trucks and 4x4s
Replacing an easily-clogged air filter with a reusable one can save a lot on a truck that sees extreme duty. A wide variety of electric fans and auxiliary coolers allows trucks to pull more and work harder without overheating. For trucks and 4x4s, stronger axles, lower gears and better suspensions are available for models dating all the way back to World War II.

Generally performance parts come in kit form, with instructions and an 800-number to call for advice, so there are a lot of products that can be installed by the average backyard mechanic. That said, most performance upgrades are best handled by a professional installer who has all the right tools, including a lift and service bay and experience with the type of job at hand is recommended.

To locate performance parts for almost any kind of vehicle, and for information on the latest aftermarket performance parts and installers go to and, or call the Specialty Equipment Market Association at (909) 396-0289. The Web sites contain the latest parts, and links to professional local installers.