How can I Pimp my sorry ride?
November 4, 2007 4:10 PM   Subscribe

What kinds of gadgets or convenience items can I add to my car?

I have a 1999 3 cylinder Geo Metro hatchback. Yes, I get laughed at a lot. It gets good gas mileage but is seriously lacking in all other areas. I'm going to keep it for about another year. What kinds of things can I do to it or buy for it that will make driving in it more comfortable. I'm not so much interested in changing its appearance (rims and paint). I'm more interested in convenience or gadget items that would make the vehicle more comfortable inside or run better. If there's a cheap way to get a few more horsepower out of it that would be cool too.
posted by philad to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You probably shouldn't paint it like this. However, I would consider a lift kit. Also, don't forget the sidepipes and ram air.

Or you could sell it and buy a nice bicycle.
posted by wfrgms at 4:20 PM on November 4, 2007

I'm in the same boat with my 1999 Corolla. Things I've added:
Dr. Scholls Seat Warmer/Massager
Solar battery charger

Suction-cup windshield compass
Keyless entry/remote starter
posted by djb at 4:21 PM on November 4, 2007

Honey please...cut out the bottom and run it like Fred Flintstone's car if you want it to go faster. It's a glorified lawn mower and you know it.

I own one, too--I ain't proud and it ain't pretty but it's paid for and allows me to make accelerated payments on my mortgage. Driving my ugly old car will give me a house free and clear within the next 4 years. Suddenly it doesn't seem so bad. I wish it had better cup holders. I've spilled more than my share of extra large Starbucks because the cup holders are so chintzy. I'd splurge on that and cow seat covers.
posted by 45moore45 at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2007

To be perfectly honest, if there were a cheap way to get a few more horsepower out of it, it would probably have been done. Most 'cheap' performance mods aren't really doing much. About the only thing you might find is an aftermarket air filter (K&N or the like) that allows the engine to breathe a little easier. You could change out the stereo, try and add a head unit that gives you navigation and bluetooth or the like, but the question would be what you're willing to invest...

Here in the states the '99 was badged as a Chevy (they killed off Geo stateside after the '07 model year I believe), and that helps find some higher-performance replacement headlamps and such, but there was never a huge upgrade market for the Metro. There are stories on teh web about guys building fuel pre-heater systems and installing aftermarket headers, but again, ROI seems kinda steep...
posted by pupdog at 4:30 PM on November 4, 2007

If you're driving anywhere other than the daily trip to and from work or school, how about one of those bubble-shaped compasses that sticks to the dashboard? That, and the big ol' book of maps for your nearest metro area.

I think driving is a lot more pleasant if I know I'm not going to get lost.
posted by cac at 4:30 PM on November 4, 2007

Tinting on the windows, to reduce the solar oven effect during summer.

If you're a phone talker, a proper car kit for your phone.

Small trash can which fits properly in a convenient spot.

For cheap better cup holders: take a large plastic tray (something like the cheapest level of heavy plastic breakfast trays--the kind without legs) and a large plastic cup (a fast food cup would work, but thicker is better... like maybe the cup half of a cheap water bottle). Chop the cup down to a reasonable height, bolt it to the tray, and set the whole thing in your passenger seat. If you want extra safety, buckle it in...or just wait for the sun to do its magic and melt the plastic in the tray to the plastic of the seat. (Yes, I actually have a cup holder like this... my car didn't even come with chintzy cup holders.)
posted by anaelith at 4:44 PM on November 4, 2007

Here's what I did with my car:

Splitting off from the cigarette lighter, I ran power to the trunk of my car where I have an AC converter for powering various things that occasionally need powering. I also split off another line that goes to a 4 port power adapter (for powering various things at the front of the car) in my glove compartment. Through creative wiring, I have neatly stashed power plugs for all of my electronic gadgets (various cell phone adapters, laptop power, etc)

The stock stereo died, so I picked up a new one that has an ipod connector (so I can completely control the ipod from the deck).

Everything, stereo, converter, wire and 4 port adapter cost about $150 total (I've had all the power things run for 5 years or so; I just installed the stereo recently).

My next goal is to install some kind of hideaway mount for an old laptop I have. Something that is easy to get to, but is also stowed away securely.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:59 PM on November 4, 2007

I looked into lifting my Geo. Can't be done. Tragic, no? Monster tires and a huge spoiler on a Geo? Sweet.

I would want a stereo with front aux input to play mp3s in my Geo. I also had fringe around the windows for a while. Anything you can do yo increase your visibility is adviseable. Once an SUV backed right into me in a parking lot, due to the size and height differentials I wasn't visible to the driver five feet behind her car.

If you never, ever have more than one passenger, taking out the back seat could make it a really good haulin' stuff around hatchback, or you'd ahve room for the biggest woofer on Earth.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:12 PM on November 4, 2007

I can't believe I forgot to mention speed holes - no Geo is complete without them.
posted by djb at 5:14 PM on November 4, 2007

If you ever go places that you're not quite sure where they are, a cheap Garmin GPS is a great addition to any car.

I wouldn't try to get any more horse out of a Geo Metro. It's already optimized for gas mileage, so I invite you to consider that modifying your engine would basically be de-optimizing it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:28 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: I have thought about taking out the back seat - I might get a few more MPG out of it as the car would be lighter.
posted by philad at 5:37 PM on November 4, 2007

Seconding a garmin (Garmin StreetPilot c330), as suggestion above... I just got one from Amazon; for $220 you get a real nice addition to the driving experience.
posted by acro at 7:32 PM on November 4, 2007

I'm more interested in convenience or gadget items that would make the vehicle more comfortable inside or run better.

Since you're not going to squeeze more juice out of that 3-banger engine, look at tires, wheels and suspension options to make the ride more comfortable and/or more fuel efficient. Taller tires might make for a smoother ride, while wider, softer tires will make it handle better.

Also, consider weight as an issue. Every pound of weight you can get out of the car will improve performance (albeit slightly) in every area. If you have AAA, do you really need the 50 pounds of spare tire and jack in the trunk? Do you really need a back seat? Every little bit counts...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:58 PM on November 4, 2007

I wouldn't be without a blind-spot mirror, about 3" long and 1.5" high, that sticks on my driver's outside mirror. It's saved me more crashes than I can remember into cars sitting on my left hip when I want to change lanes. About $2.

A 4" wide elastic band that fits around the driver's side visor is the place to put a map of the current place you're driving, a few dollar bills for tolls, a toll road ticket, a shopping list, and lots of other things. About $2.

A tire inflator that plugs into the cigarette lighter. It's let me pump up several slow-leaking tires and get them patched rather than buying a new one. About $25.

A battery starter booster. It goes in the trunk and attaches to the battery terminals with short cables. It starts me a couple of times a winter without jumper cables or the need to flag down anyone. About $35.

A decent radio/CD player (Alpine, if you can afford it) and speakers (Boston Acoustics, among others). You may also need an amplifier. The speakers, especially the rear ones, need careful choosing. If you're getting an entire system, with amplifier, a good seller will drop in several for you to listen to. Get a professional installation. The cheap places use hot glue rather than mounting kits, and the glue lasts only a few months.
posted by KRS at 1:39 PM on November 5, 2007

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