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    Best Car Audio Equalizers

    Fiddling with knobs and dials is a time-honored audiophile tradition. Being able to shape the ultimate sound profile is an essential part of customizing your music listening experience. Nothing brings hi-fi to mind more than the sliders and jumping lights of an equalizer, and there is no reason a good car sound system shouldn’t have the same amenities.
    In this article, we want to make it easy for you to add that high-level of control into your car’s audio. We’ll start by running through the terms and options and then show you a top 10 list of the best equalizers you can get. We’ll follow that up with some in-depth information.
    A Quick Guide to Car Equalizers
    As you upgrade your factory audio system in your car, you are going to reach a point where you will desire more control over the sound profiles. There are a handful of different devices that are all used to shape the sound, so let’s start by talking about why you would buy an equalizer over other components.
    The Benefits of an Equalizer
    The obvious benefit is that you can change how your stereo sounds in order to suit your taste. If you love bass, you can turn the bass all the way up and kill the highs. There are a few less obvious advantages, though.

    You can compensate for cabin noise. Car cabins present a lot of acoustic challenges. You can adjust the sound to better overcome the limitations of a car cabin.
    Equalizers often have amplifier outputs and can be used to convert the high-level signal from your head unit into low-level RCA.
    Many equalizers are also filters, crossovers, and/or preamps. In fact, some equalizers have an AUX input and can be used instead of a head unit altogether.
    They are often easier to use than settings on a head unit. Adjusting the fade on most stereos involves digging into the menu and finding the right buttons to press. Adjusting the fade on an equalizer requires moving the dial labeled “fade.”

    Choosing an Equalizer
    Choosing the right equalizer for your car is a fairly simple thing to do. That’s because they all do the same thing, so the biggest consideration often comes down to how they look and how easy they are to use.
    However, there are a handful of other considerations to help you narrow it down.
    Type
    We’ll go over them in-depth later, but there are a few different types of equalizers. The two most common are graphic and parametric.
    A graphic equalizer allows you to adjust everything by using a dial or slider. A parametric equalizer uses a preset shape, and adjusting the shape will adjust multiple frequencies at the same time. Graphic equalizers are simple to use but offer less customization, while parametric equalizers offer increased adjustability at the cost of a slightly more complex interface.
    Outputs
    Most cars have four channels. You have front left, front right, rear left, rear right, and sometimes a subwoofer. Make sure to get an equalizer that has enough outputs for your system.
    Bands
    A band is a range of frequencies that can be adjusted: the more bands, the finer the control. A 3-band equalizer will only give you bass, mids, and highs, whereas a 9-band equalizer will allow you to do things like adjust the low lows and the mid lows.
    Size
    Many equalizers are the same standard size. It’s called ½ DIN, and it’s half the size of a single DIN stereo spot. Many head unit install kits, as well as many factory dash kits, will have space for a ½ DIN component to be mounted. Other, non-standard-sized equalizers are meant to be mounted near the amps or under the seat.
    That’s about it for the basics. Most of the other features will vary greatly between devices, and we’ll explore them in the reviews. The final thing to keep in mind before we jump into it is that we choose ten equalizers that represent a variety of different styles and budgets. As you look through them, think about how they work and how they would look in your car. Let that guide you in order to speed up the process.

    Top 10 Best Car Audio Equalizers 2021

    1.

    Best Overall Equalizer: Clarion EQS755

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    Why we like it: It’s high-quality, does everything you could want, and can work with almost any existing system.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Type: Graphic
    Channels: Front, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 7
    Size: ½ Din (7”x1”x4”)

    The Best Part
    It’s a high-quality equalizer that does everything you expect it to do. That might not seem like high praise, but as you research, you will realize that it’s kind of rare that an audio component just functions exactly as you want it to.
    Almost all devices nowadays tend to pull towards a specific feature that makes them stand-out; they either emphasize looks or have some gimmick that forces them to make sacrifices in other areas.  The Clarion doesn’t do that, and it’s really refreshing.
    It has 6 channels of output, so you can run your entire system. It has 7 easily adjusted bands, so you can dial in the sound profile you are looking for. It’s a standard size and includes mounting brackets. It just works.
    Our Thoughts
    Clarion is a pretty well-known brand in the audio world. They aren’t as big as some of their competing Japanese brands like Sony or JVC, but they do continue the tradition of creating high-quality electronics. That means it’s really no surprise that the EQ they sell is such a sturdy and straightforward device.
    It is a little expensive compared to most off-the-shelf EQs, and it doesn’t offer unlimited control. However, if you are just looking for a good equalizer for your system, here it is. You don’t have to spend time adapting or researching, and that’s really valuable.
    Compared to Others
    We’ll keep this short. If you want to save money and don’t mind parts that rattle as you drive, get the Boss instead.
    If you want to have even more control, you will sacrifice ease of use but grab the Taramp’s Pro 2.6 instead.
    If you just want a good EQ that will work with whatever system you run, grab the Clarion.

    Pros

    Good fit and finish
    Great audio quality
    Very versatile

    Cons

    A little expensive for a 7-band EQ
    Is missing some filter settings you might want

    2.

    Best Budget Equalizer: Boss Audio AVA1210

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    Why we like it: This inexpensive equalizer gives you a lot of audio control without breaking the bank.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Graphic
    Channels: Front, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 7
    Size: Size: ½ Din (7”x1”x4.6”)

    The Best Part
    The price is the best part of the Boss AVA1210. It’s fairly standard as far as equalizers go. There are nine bands, six channels, and blue lights. What sets it apart is that you can buy two of them for the same price as their competitor.
    Our Thoughts
    Boss is one of the biggest players in the budget audio world. They don’t make high-quality, precision devices, and they don’t claim to. They do make products that are perfect for people who want decent audio and aren’t’ swimming in cash.
    That has some drawbacks. They work, but you will feel the lack of precision. The plastic knobs rattle a bit, and the pre-installed wiring harness doesn’t inspire much confidence.
    You’ll notice it most in the audio, though. Without extensive shielding and better finish practices, it’s easy for interference to make its way into your system.
    At the end of the day, though, the price makes up for the flaws. Installing Boss head, equalizer, monoblock, and sub will set you back less than an average car payment, and your sound system will sound hundreds of times better than it will fresh from the factory.
    Compared to Others
    If you can afford it, and you are a little more serious about audio, the Clarion will last longer and has less risk of unwanted noise. Otherwise, there is another budget EQ that you can compare the Boss to, the Massive Audio EQ4.
    They both have all the important outputs, and they both are mild preamps. The massive doesn’t give you as much control over the sound profile, but it is very solidly built and easy to install. The Boss gives you a lot more options and has a lot more community support. Unless you value the simplicity of the Massive Audio EQ, the Boss will suit you just fine.

    Pros

    Inexpensive
    Good quality for the price
    Offers more profile control than similar products

    Cons

    Feels cheap
    Can introduce noise if not installed perfectly

    3.

    Best Premium Equalizer: DS18 KEQ30

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    Why we like it: You can easily spend days dialing in the absolute perfect sound profile with this massive 30 band equalizer.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Graphic
    Channels: Mono
    Bands: 30
    Size: 10”x1”x7”

    The Best Part
    There exist people that will not be satisfied until the sound they are getting from their speakers is absolutely perfectly balanced to their taste. Those people need a device like the DS18 because nothing else will give them that level of control.
    To put it into perspective, a standard guitar amp has 3 EQ knobs. Your average radio has 5, and a majority of car audio equalizers have 7 bands. The DS18 has 30. Don’t like the high pitch finish from the high-hat in the live recording of Layla? Tune that specific range out and enjoy the rest.
    Our Thoughts
    This equalizer isn’t for everyone. It’s expensive, and chances are you’ll need two of them because there is only one left output and one right output. You’ll also want to pick up a noise filter to go with it because it doesn’t have one built-in. It’s a very unfriendly device that really is best suited for people who have a powerful need to mess with knobs.
    We really can’t stress the idea that this isn’t a straightforward device enough. It doesn’t have low-level inputs, and it’s too big to mount above a head unit. You have to think about all parts of the installation process.
    It is really high-quality, at least. Even the RCA inputs are better quality than most other equalizers; you will find a level of detail on the DC18 that you won’t find elsewhere.
    Compared to Others
    For 90% of people, the Clarion 7-band offers a perfectly adequate amount of control. It costs a lot less, and you only need one of them to tie in a complete audio system.
    Nothing offers the level of intuitive level of control that the DS18 offers, though. Some digital processors have more options, but they are much harder to use.

    Pros

    Has a gigantic number of tuning options
    High-quality
    Easy to use

    Cons

    Very expensive
    Difficult to install into a system

    4.

    Easiest Equalizer to Use: Massive Audio EQ4

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    Why we like it: This equalizer is small, simple, and couldn’t be easier to use.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Graphic
    Channels: Front, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 4
    Size: ½ Din (7”x1”x4.125”)

    The Best Part
    The Massive Audio EQ4, an ironic name, is a simplified, easy-to-use version of all the large equalizers on our list. That’s awesome because it keeps the price way down and makes it accessible to anyone.
    That accessibility is two-fold. It’s easy to use because it’s simple, but it doesn’t make sacrifices on the input/output side. That’s a good thing because it means you don’t need to work harder to solve problems. If you want to plug in an amp for a sub, you just plug it in; no clever stack of adapters necessary.
    Our Thoughts
    Sometimes simple is perfect. It’s only a 4-band EQ, but that’s enough to dial in a general sound profile. What sets this EQ apart from other simple equalizers is that it has a full complement of high and low inputs and six channels. Some of the other inexpensive equalizers on our list lack an output for subwoofers, for instance.
    That being said, there are downsides to simplicity. You either will have to put up with unwanted noise because you want extra bass, or you will lose out on some bass response.
    There’s another issue. It depends on what stereo you already have, but most head units have at least a very modest equalizer. One of the best reasons to buy an equalizer is that you can get a better level of control than a factory stereo could ever offer. The Massive Audio EQ is so simple, though, that you may actually get more control from your existing head.
    Compared to Others
    Most likely, you will be trying to decide between the Boss EQ and this one. The Boss has a lot more control, and it lights up blue. It’s really close to the same price, so if you are just looking for more knobs and buttons than the Massive Audio EQ offers, get the Boss.
    The Massive Audio EQ is easier to install, easier to use, and has its own AUX input. It really comes down to what level of fiddling you want to do.

    Pros

    Very easy to install
    Easy to use
    Inexpensive

    Cons

    Lacks fine-tuning capabilities
    May produce unwanted noise

    5.

    Best Digital Signal Processor: Taramp’s Pro 2.6 S

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    Why we like it: Digital processors are a little more expensive and a little more complicated. However, they offer an amazing amount of control for a single device.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Parametric w/ Presets
    Channels: Front, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 3
    Size: 8.2”x1.7”x4.8”

    The Best Part
    A digital audio processor is a lot more than just an equalizer. It’s sort of an all-in-one audio device that includes filters, phase switches, limiters, and tone generators in addition to being an equalizer. That makes them perfect if you want a lot of control over your audio signal without having to invest in and install a bunch of different devices.
    Our Thoughts
    Taramp’s is a newcomer in the car audio world. They build amps that compete with giants like JVC and Alpine, but the company is barely two decades old and was started in Brazil. They have been trying very hard to prove themselves as a company that provides great value, and it shows. This DSP, or digital sound processor, is one of the best bang-for-your-buck devices you can get for shaping in-car audio.
    What you don’t get from a DSP is simplicity. Everything is hidden behind menus, and there is a learning curve to using a parametric equalizer that other equalizers don’t have.
    It’s also expensive for an equalizer. It’s a good value, but it is on the pricey side. That means that if you just want a good equalizer, you will be spending more than you need to for something that’s harder to use.
    Compared to Others
    Like we said above, if you just want a simple equalizer, this isn’t for you. The Clarion EQS755 is a high-quality, easy-to-use equalizer that is much better suited for that purpose.
    Otherwise, there are a couple of their digital processors on our list: the Expert EQ, which has a pretentious name but is remarkable for being controlled from a smartphone app, and the Stetsom, which is super compact.
    Taramp’s DSP is the best all-around choice, though. That makes it perfect for people who don’t have any specific feature they need but want to buy something that will allow them to experiment with everything.

    Pros

    Has a ton of functionality
    It’s a great value
    Good quality

    Cons

    It can be hard to use
    Has a lot of features that most people won’t use

    6.

    Best High-Tech Equalizer: Expert Bluetooth

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    Why we like it: Not only does it offer an insane amount of control, but you can control it entirely with your smartphone.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Digital graphic
    Channels: Front, Mid, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 46
    Size: 10”x1.5”x5.5”

    The Best Part
    The nicest thing about the Expert Electronics processor is that you get an insane amount of control over the sound profile. Everything about the device is dedicated to customizing the sound. You have a ton of output options, so you can customize speaker and amp configurations. The equalizer portion of the processor has a whopping 46 customizable bands, and in addition to being an equalizer, you can also add filters, gain, and a variety of other effects.
    Our Thoughts
    This digital processor is an entire sound studio in a small black box, and that’s amazing. You just need to be aware that there’s nothing simple about any of it. There is a dial on the face of the device, but there are hundreds of settings to scroll through and adjust. That leads you into using the app instead, which is easier to use, but there’s still a ton of settings.
    The complicated usage is made worse by the fact that the documentation that comes with the device is bad. If you aren’t familiar with things like pass-filter and parametric curve, the instructions certainly aren’t going to help you understand.
    People who do understand what all those extra features do will be pleased with the amount of control, though. Instead of having to link in a bunch of different separate devices, you can just throw this in and call it good.
    Compared to Others
    There isn’t anything that offers as many different controls as this device does, but the Stetsom STX is also a Bluetooth capable audio processor. If Bluetooth connectivity is important to you, and you want something a bit easier to use, the STX is great.
    The real reason you’d avoid the Expert Electronics processor is that you don’t need all the extras. A Boss AVA1210 is a fine equalizer that doesn’t require you to spend hours learning to use it.

    Pros

    Offers a ton of features
    Gives you a lot of profile control
    Can be controlled with your phone

    Cons

    It’s very complicated
    The app and instructions could be more helpful

    7.

    Best Passive Equalizer: SoundXtreme 7 Band

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    Why we like it: There are two things we really like. The first is that it uses easy to visualize sliders instead of knobs. The second is that it operates at very low power, making it perfect for smaller sound systems.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Graphic
    Channels: Front, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 7
    Size: Size: ½ Din (7”x1”x4.6”)

    The Best Part
    Almost all modern equalizers use compact dials for setting the levels, which is fine, but it lacks the tactile satisfaction of classic slider-based equalizers. The SoundXtreme device bucks the new tradition and brings those classic sliders into the automotive world.
    It’s also passive. That means that you don’t have to tie it into a power source; you just install it between the head and the speakers.
    Our Thoughts
    Let’s start with the bad this time. It being passive means that you don’t get any extras. No power boosting, no extra preamp outs, no displays, just a handful of sliders. It’s great if you have a smaller or older audio system in your car, but you’ll probably miss some of those features if you have a modern system.
    The other issue is that the quality isn’t very high. One of the things we really love is how the equalizer feels old-school. Unfortunately, part of the reason it feels so classic is that the quality is pretty low. It’s very reminiscent of electronics from the 80s. The cheap plastic and thin wires would be right at home in a Fiero but are a little lacking for modern systems.
    That being said, we do love how easy it is to use and appreciate that they kept it simple and good looking. Looking at it, you know what it is and how to use it. That’s a nice change of pace in the digital world.
    Compared to Others
    The Boss Audio AVA1210 is about the same price, has the same level of control, and also has high-level outputs. The big difference is that the Boss is a modern, powered equalizer that fits right into current systems.
    It doesn’t look as good, and it needs power, though. You’ll have to decide if the intuitive and classic design of the SoundXtreme is worth it.

    Pros

    Passive EQ is good for older systems
    Sliders are easy and intuitive to use
    Has a very classic look

    Cons

    Low on features
    Not very good quality

    8.

    Best Looking Equalizer: Audiopipe 5 Band

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    Why we like it: The Audiopipe 5 Band has its own bezel and mounting system so that you can seamlessly integrate it into your dashboard.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Graphic
    Channels: Front, Rear
    Bands: 5
    Size: ½ Din (7”x1”x4”)

    The Best Part
    Call us vain, but we love devices that are more than just a purely functional piece of equipment. This Audiopipe looks like a piece of factory equipment. The flush mounting and trim bezel allows you to simply slide it into a DIN slot underneath a radio or dash pocket and have it look great. To top it off, the dials light up blue so you can scoop the mids in the dark.
    Our Thoughts
    Behind the fancy faceplate, the Audiopipe is just a standard equalizer. We wish it had a subwoofer output, and we wish it had a little bit more control options, but it works just fine. It’s also on the less expensive side, which is always a plus.
    Really the entire reason this device is on the list is because of how easy it is to install and look good. It doesn’t need to be more than that.
    Compared to Others
    The Audiopipe equalizer sits below the Boss AVA1210 and Massive Audio EQ4 in terms of functionality. They all cost about the same, so you just have to choose which feature is most important to you.
    People who want a lot of control over the sound will prefer the Boss, while people who still want something simple but want a sub output should go with the Massive Audio.
    If you don’t need the extra complexity and want something that looks great, though, the Audiopipe is perfect.

    Pros

    Looks great
    Easy to install
    Inexpensive

    Cons

    Lacks a subwoofer output
    Has few features

    9.

    Best Equalizer Alternative: Pioneer AVH-200EX

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    Why we like it: Instead of dealing with the complication and frustration of adding in another component, you can simply buy a decent head unit that has its own robust equalizer.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Digital with multiple modes
    Channels: Front, Rear, Sub
    Bands: 13
    Size: Double Din (7”x4”x6.5”)

    The Best Part
    Chances are that you are looking at getting an equalizer because you want better sound quality from your car stereo. Better sound quality starts with the head unit, though. If you are going to be upgrading your stereo, you spend a little bit more on the head unit and get one with an equalizer rather than spending extra money on a separate equalizer.
    Our Thoughts
    Pioneer is an industry leader in-car audio, and their AVH series head units are absolutely great. If you want, we have an entire write-up about touch screen head units, so you can have more options than just this Pioneer. It’s really hard to beat the Pioneer, though.
    There are a couple of reasons to avoid going this route. If you already have a good head unit, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money to get a new one when a relatively inexpensive equalizer would be fine.
    That leads to the second problem: it’s pretty expensive. It’s very convenient to have a head, equalizer, and preamp in one device, but it would be cheaper to source all the parts separately.
    Compared to Others
    The equalizer itself is very competent. You could easily compare it to Taramp’s Pro parametric equalizer in terms of ease of use. The Pioneer’s equalizer has even more fine-tuning potential, though, since you can adjust ranges individually in addition to adjusting the curves.
    Like we mentioned above, the cost is the biggest drawback. If you already have a decent head unit, the Clarion 7-band EQ is a great equalizer, and it’s far less expensive. However, anyone that’s also looking to upgrade their head unit will love this Pioneer.

    Pros

    High-quality
    The integrated equalizer is easy to use and fine-tune
    The integrated equalizer keeps things compact

    Cons

    It’s expensive
    Not very useful if you already have a good head unit

    10.

    Best Compact Equalizer: Stetsom STX 2436

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    Why we like it: It operates entirely by Bluetooth, which means there are no dials or knobs taking up space.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts

    Type: Parametric/Preset
    Channels: Front, Rear
    Bands: 15
    Size: 2.9”x1.3”x4.3”

    The Best Part
    Easily the best part about this little processor is that you get a ton of control from a tiny box that can be mounted almost anywhere. It’s less than half the size of most equalizers, but that’s actually not what makes it so easy to install into any system.
    Since you don’t have to physically access this device, you can install it anywhere. You can hide it under a seat, behind a dash panel, or under the glove box. If space is at a premium, it’s the perfect solution.
    Our Thoughts
    On paper, this thing is awesome. You get a lot of audio control from a tiny box, and since it’s driven by the Android operating system, it’s easy to use.
    There are just a handful of issues that prevent it from being great. It is easy to use, just as long as you are willing to decipher the language. The menus, documentation, and even the marketing content are all written in some kind of English hybrid.
    It’s also just not as high-quality as the price would suggest. Stetsom chose to include a ton of features over using more durable materials. That means you risk a little bit of line noise, and it probably won’t survive being drop kicked.
    Compared to Others
    There are two other high-tech gadgets on our list, and both are of better quality. That seems harsh to say, but we want to be honest. The Expert 6ch is also fully controllable using a cell phone, and the Taramp’s Pro offers a lot more functionality.
    However, everything else on our list needs to be installed in a spot you can easily access. This Stetsom device doesn’t. It doesn’t matter how good a different device’s quality is if you don’t have room to install it.

    Pros

    Can be installed in hard to reach spots
    Very compact
    Android app is easy to use

    Cons

    There are some language issues
    Quality could be better

    A Closer Look at Equalizers
    Welcome to the in-depth section. Here we’ll break down some of the bigger differences between devices as well as give you some tips and tricks to get the most out of your experience. First, though, there are a ton of audio terms used throughout this article.
    You may have heard most of them before, but just in case you haven’t, we’ll start by defining them.
    Glossary of EQ Terms

    Channel: Each separate audio signal is called a channel. The easiest way to understand is to look at a pair of headphones. Stereo headphones have a left and a right channel.
    Crossover: A crossover is a device that splits a single audio signal into multiple signals based on their frequency.
    DSP: Digital Sound Processors are devices that are active equalizers, crossovers, and often feature more advanced capabilities like the ability to add effects to the sound.
    Fade: The balance between the front and the rear channels is known as fade. The balance between the left and right channels is usually just called balance.
    Filter: Filters only allow certain frequencies through. A high-pass filter will cut out low frequencies sounds, a low-pass filter will cut out the high frequencies, and a variable filter can be adjusted to remove a range of frequencies.
    Head: The stereo receiver, or head, is the face of your audio system. It’s usually responsible for generating the audio signal, and they are often the first thing you upgrade when you upgrade your audio.
    High-Level: High-level inputs and outputs are your standard speaker, or line, level signals. Your factory audio system uses high-level outputs to connect the speakers to the head unit.
    Low-Level: Low-level outputs are found on preamps and other similar devices. They are almost always RCA connections, and you need them in order to connect to larger amplifiers and other high-end audio components.
    Profile: The sound profile, sometimes called the shape or signature, is the way certain frequencies come through when you hear the sound. You adjust the profile by changing the emphasis on certain frequencies.

    Equalizer Types
    We mentioned two different types of EQs in the intro, but there are actually a lot more. You can read about all of them in this great article, but generally, for car audio, you are only going to be dealing with a few different styles. You can break them down into four main categories.
    Digital vs. Analog

    When you think of an equalizer, you probably imagine moving dials or sliders that correspond to frequency ranges. Those are analog devices. Often when you rotate a dial on an analog EQ, you are physically moving a potentiometer that is directly tied into the signal.
    A digital EQ uses a processor to change the signal for you. You will have to rely on a display that represents the audio profile rather than direct interaction. Digital EQs do have a handful of advantages. They often have presets, so you can select “rock” if you are listening to rock music. They can also function as multiple different types of EQ; many have both a graphic mode and a parametric mode.
    Ultimately it’s about the feel. Some people prefer the tactile feedback that something like the Boss Audio AVA1210 physical knob gives them, while some people would prefer to see the readouts on a screen with an EQ like the Taramp’s Pro 2.6 S.
    Parametric vs. Graphic
    Most of the time, when you think of an equalizer, you are picturing a graphic equalizer like our top overall pick. Those are the ones with a bunch of dials, and each dial corresponds to a specific frequency. If you want to turn the bass up, you find the dial with lower numbers and turn it up.
    A parametric equalizer like the Stetsom STX 2436 is a lot more complicated. To simplify it, think of a graphic equalizer that can control one thing: the volume of a single frequency range. A parametric equalizer can shape not just that single frequency range but also the frequencies affected by that frequency, and it can change the tone entirely by bringing out specific frequencies inside the range.
    The parametric EQs we have on our list are all semi-parametric; you don’t have infinite control. It is still a ton more than a traditional graphic EQ, so you have to decide if you want that extra complication or not.
    DSP
    When you look for equalizers, you will also run into digital signal processors like Taramp’s Pro 2.6 S. A DSP is an equalizer; it’s also a lot of other things. Think of them as tiny computers that you plug your stereo into. Using a digital processor to do the bulk of the work that an analogy circuit would have to do, you can save a lot of space and control more.
    Getting the Most Out of Your Car Audio Equalizer
    The following are some simple tips on getting the most out of your new EQ. If you want to take a really deep dive into the settings, check out this article by Digital Trends.

    There’s no such thing as the perfect EQ, only what you like the best. Don’t feel like you have to turn up the bass.
    Beware of clipping. Clipping is what happens when a frequency cuts out because the volume is higher than the speaker can handle, and it adds distortion to your music. It’s often better to turn other frequencies down rather than turn one frequency up.
    Don’t be afraid of presets. It’s not as much fun as messing with the dials, but they can offer a great starting point.
    Use a high-quality source to set your EQ. Things like AM/FM radio do not have the frequency range to adequately reflect the EQ settings. If you can, play a high-bitrate MP3 or FLAC file directly from a USB, DVD, or your phone over AUX.

    Wrapping Up

    If you are like us, you probably spend tons and tons of time building the perfect music playlists to listen to while you drive. It only makes sense to be able to tweak your car’s audio system to better fit that playlist and get the most out of your listening experience. Plus, who doesn’t like to mess with a bunch of dials and pretend you are mixing a new single? More

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    The 10 Best Chrome Spray Paints 2021

    If your car or your rims need a paint job, a chrome spray paint may be one of the best options that you can choose from, as these paints tend to be anti-corrosion. They also restore your car back to its original color and shine. These spray paints typically have a mirror-like finish that resembles metal, they’re easy to use, and can usually be used on surfaces other than metal, too.
    How to Choose the Best Chrome Spray Paints
    With so many products on the market, finding the best chrome spray paint can be quite difficult. Many products will be advertised as being capable of producing a chrome-like finish; however, there are many different types of chrome finish. Some are shinier than others. You’ll also need to take many other factors into consideration when choosing a spray paint. The finish is not the only factor that you should consider.
    Ease of Application
    First and foremost, you need to consider how easy it is to use chrome spray paint. Most of us aren’t experts and are going to want something that doesn’t require a lot of expertise or specialized equipment. When considering the ease of application, consider whether the paint is quick-drying and whether you need to do any special prep before applying the paint.
    Most of these products come in spray cans that allow you to directly spray the product onto your car or car part; however, most of these products also have alternative forms that can be used with spray guns.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    Another thing to consider is the consistency of the spray. Look for paint that goes on smoothly without any hiccups. You also need to consider the finish and whether the paint looks smooth or whether it chips off after several uses.
    Color
    Last but not least, consider the type of finish that you’ll get. Is the color a beautiful mirror-like finish or is it a reflective, shiny finish? Although those two may sound similar, they look very different. You might want more than just a standard silver chrome look.
    Some companies produce chrome spray paints in a wide range of colors, from standard metallic options like brass and gold to more vivid color options like green and red.
    To get the best color match, a little experimentation may sometimes be needed. You can also look at reviews online to see whether you can match the colors by eye.
    With these factors in mind, let’s get into our picks for the best chrome spray paints for any application.

    Top 10 Best Chrome Spray Paints 2021

    1.

    Best Overall Chrome Spray Paint: Krylon COLORMaxx Spray Paint

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    Why we like it: It’s affordable, easy to apply and offers great coverage. It can be used on many different types of materials.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome
    Coverage: 20 square feet
    Dry Time: 10 minutes
    Cure Time: 48 hours

    Overview
    Regardless of whether you plan on using the chrome spray paint for automotive needs or for arts and crafts projects, this Krylon COLORMaxx Spray Paint will do the job. It can be used on a wide range of surfaces, like plastic, plaster, metal, paper and wood. Best of all, it offers excellent coverage. You can cover 20 square feet with just one can.
    Ease of Application
    The paint formula contains a primer, so you don’t need to do a lot of prep work in order to get the results that you want. This makes this paint an excellent choice for beginners. It’s super easy to use and work with. Another advantage is that it is super quick-drying. In fact, it’ll dry in just 10 minutes, so you can just spray it on and come back to it after grabbing a coffee or a snack.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    It’s a bit difficult to get a consistent spray because the nozzle doesn’t produce a wide spray like with other paints, like the Krylon Fusion All-in-One Paint. You’ll need to be a bit patient in order to ensure that each layer is applied evenly and smoothly.
    The finished texture, however, is great. It’s smooth and offers rust protection, which makes it a great choice for metal surfaces that will be exposed to bad weather.
    Overall Finish and Color
    This chrome spray paint gives you a nice silver, metallic shine. It even incorporates real metal sprinkles inside the paint to give you that boost of color. However, it only comes in silver, so if you’re looking for other chrome colors, you won’t find it here.

    Pros

    Can be used on many materials
    Great coverage
    Paint and primer all-in-one
    Rust-protection
    Quick-drying

    Cons

    Comes in only one color
    Difficult to get a consistent spray

    2.

    Best Budget Chrome Spray Paint: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Multi-Purpose Spray Paint

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    Why we like it: This chrome spray paint is an excellent choice for those who are on a budget. It can be used on many different surfaces as well!
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome aluminum
    Coverage: 12 square feet
    Dry Time: 20 minutes
    Cure Time: 48 hours

    Overview
    If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Multi-Purpose Spray Paint. You can use this paint on both interior and exterior surfaces, like wood, unglazed ceramic, metal and more. It’s also low odor!
    One of our main gripes with this product is that you don’t get a lot of coverage. In general, you’ll average about 12 square feet a can. Although this isn’t a lot compared to some other products, like the Krylon COLORMaxx Spray Paint, this is also a fraction of the cost. It’s great for small projects, although some people have been able to use two cans to cover their entire car.
    Ease of Application
    In terms of application, this is an incredibly easy product to use. The formula contains both the paint and the primer, so you don’t really need to prep the surface. It’s also quick-drying, and will be completely dry within 20 minutes. It’s a great choice for beginners.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    Here’s where we’re running into some problems. This spray paint has a comfortable spray tip and can be sprayed from any angle, so you’ll get a consistent spray every time; however, the consistency of the results can be off depending on the type of material that you’re working with. The finish may not be smooth or even if you’re applying this product on plastic. The paint may bleed a little bit on other materials as well.
    Color
    As for the color, you’re looking at getting a dull, metallic chrome. It’s not too reflective, unlike the Krylon COLORMaxx Spray Paint, which has real metal flakes inside. This can be off-putting to some people.

    Pros

    Affordable
    Paint and primer all-in-one
    Quick-drying
    Comfort spray tip and any angle spray
    Low odor

    Cons

    Not a lot of coverage
    Consistency of results can be off
    Not too shiny or reflective

    3.

    Best Premium Chrome Spray Paint: Dupli-Color Universal Chrome Perfect Match Automotive Paint

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    Why we like it: If you’re looking for something that’s going to match OEM automotive parts, you’ll find a perfect color match with this spray paint.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Universal chrome
    Coverage: 20 square feet
    Dry Time: 30 minutes
    Cure Time: 24 hours

    Overview
    To match OEM parts, try the Dupli-Color Universal Chrome Perfect Match Automotive Paint. This option provides a lot of coverage, and the color is almost a perfect match—although it’s a bit pricey in comparison to some other alternatives on the market.
    Ease of Application
    This product is easy to use. You’ll need to prep the surface ahead of time, but the spray paint comes with a 360-degree nozzle and can be sprayed from just about any angle. It’s also quick-drying and quick-curing, so you can apply another layer quickly.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    One of the main issues that you’ll run into with this spray paint is that the spray consistency may be off for larger products because the tip will clog if you allow the paint to dry. In order to prevent the tip from clogging, wipe the tip after every use.
    This product is also prone to overspraying, so you’ll want to go a bit overboard with your protective taping in order to protect other areas of your car. If you have the time and want to be able to control the flow of the paint, try something like the Spaz Stix Ultimate Mirror Chrome Airbrush Paint, which can be used with an airbrush.
    The last potential problem is that there isn’t enough pressure in the cans, so you won’t be able to get the last bit out.
    Color
    If you’re looking to match an OEM automotive part, you’ll find just the thing with the color options offered by the Dupli-Color Universal Chrome Perfect Match Automotive Paint. If you’ve got a small scratch on your car, you can easily cover it up with this paint. It’s quite a seamless match.

    Pros

    360-degree nozzle
    Quick-drying
    Matches the color of OEM parts
    Lots of coverage

    Cons

    Clogs and oversprays
    Not enough pressure
    Pricey

    4.

    Best Chrome Spray Paint for Interiors: Krylon Premium Metallic Spray

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    Why we like it: It’s easy to use, works on many different surfaces, and its many color options are all incredibly glossy.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome, gold, rose gold, copper, silver
    Coverage: 20 square feet
    Dry Time: 10 minutes
    Cure Time: 24 hours

    Overview
    The Krylon Premium Metallic Spray can be used on a wide range of surfaces, like wood, metal, plastic, paper mache, glass and other materials. It’s the perfect choice for someone who’s looking for a product that can offer high gloss results.
    Since this product isn’t heat-resistant, you’ll want to reserve it for parts that are on the interior of the car. For example, you can use it to repaint parts of the steering wheel or the gear shift to give it that nice, metallic shine again. If you want to paint the exterior of your car, you’ll want to go with a product like Dupli-Color Universal Chrome Perfect Match Automotive Paint.
    One can go a long way due to the limited use of this product. One can covers anywhere from 15 to 20 square feet, which will be enough to restore any interior parts.
    Ease of Application
    This product is quick-drying and fairly easy to apply. Unlike the Krylon COLORMaxx Spray Paint, it doesn’t contain a primer, so you’ll want to prime and prep the surface first. With that said, it’s super quick-drying and will dry within 15 minutes.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    The consistency of the spray is quite smooth. You don’t have to worry about clogging, dripping or bleeding. The surface will look even.
    Color
    The results are quite glossy; however, you’ll need to apply quite a few coats in order to get those results. If you don’t apply enough coats, the paint will look a bit dull. Another good thing about this product is that it comes in many different colors: gold foil, original chrome, copper brilliance, rose gold, pewter gray, copper foil and silver foil.

    Pros

    Works on wood, metal, plastic, paper mache, glass and other materials
    Quick-drying
    High gloss
    Comes in many different colors

    Cons

    Requires many coats
    Not ideal to be used outdoors

    5.

    Best All-in-One Chrome Spray Paint: Krylon Fusion All-in-One Paint

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    Why we like it: You can use this chrome spray paint on all surfaces, so it’s perfect for just about any project.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Metallic chrome
    Coverage: 25 square feet
    Dry Time: 20 minutes
    Cure Time: 48 hours

    Overview
    If you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone and get a chrome spray paint that works for cars and arts and crafts projects, you can’t go wrong with the Krylon Fusion All-in-One Paint. This paint can be used on metal, wood, PVC, tile, plastic and basically any other surface. It’s a great choice for metal because it’ll protect the surface from rust. It’s also fade-resistant!
    Ease of Application
    With this type of spray, you don’t necessarily need to prime the surface or even sand it at all. You can apply the paint directly onto the surface. It’s super easy to use. This paint is also super quick-drying, and will dry to the touch in about 20 minutes, so you don’t have to wait to use the final product.
    You can spray this product at any angle thanks to its 360-degree spray nozzle. It’s easy to get an even application with ease.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    In order to get a good layer of color, apply two to three coats and let each coat dry thoroughly between applying the next layer. Thanks to its quick-drying properties, you can still get an entire project done within an hour!
    Color
    If you’re looking for a real chrome finish, this Krylon Fusion All-in-One Paint may not be the best choice. It has more of a metallic sheen to it than a chrome finish. The best paint that offers a reflective, mirror-like finish is the Spaz Stix Mirror Chrome Spray; however, this paint is not reserved for beginners, like this one is.

    Pros

    Quick-drying
    Contains a lot of product
    Rust protection
    Bonds to many surfaces
    Fade-resistant

    Cons

    Not a real chrome finish

    6.

    Best Quick-Drying Chrome Spray Paint: Rust-Oleum 1915830 Spray Paint

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    Why we like it: You can have a chrome finish in just 1 hour using this paint.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome, brass, copper, gold
    Coverage: 12 square feet
    Dry Time: 15 minutes
    Cure Time: 1 hour

    Overview
    If all you’re looking for is a quick touch up that will recolor a dulled area, you can’t go wrong with the Rust-Oleum 1915830 Spray Paint. This paint can be used on almost all surfaces, from metal to wood to plaster and more. You can use it for more than just automotive purposes. Best of all, it’s super quick-drying, so there really isn’t much prep work that you have to do.
    Ease of Application
    In comparison to many other products on the market, this is perhaps one of the easiest products to work with. All you have to do is spray it out from the can. You don’t even have to necessarily prep the area—as long as it’s smooth, and the paint will dry within 15 minutes and cure within an hour. That’s all you have to do!
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    The consistency is smooth, but this product will flake off in the presence of heat, which is why it’s not recommended for inner engine parts. You’d want a flameproof spray for those areas, as flameproof sprays can tolerate high heat.
    Another thing to note is that although the finish is smooth, it is prone to chipping if you handle the area too frequently or if you don’t apply a topcoat over it.
    Color
    This chrome spray is beautiful. It contains real metal flakes that give it a rich shine. This paint also comes in 5 different colors: brass, copper, silver and two types of gold, so you can add a chrome, metallic shine to just about anything.

    Pros

    Quick-drying
    Can be used on wood, metal, plaster and more
    Contains real metal flakes for a rich shine
    Comes in many colors

    Cons

    Flakes off in the presence of heat
    Can chip

    7.

    Best Fireproof Chrome Spray Paint: VHT Flameproof Spray

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    Why we like it: Because it’s flameproof and capable of withstanding temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, this paint can be used in exhaust systems, headers, piston domes and more.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Dull chrome
    Coverage: 20 square feet
    Dry Time: 10 minutes
    Cure Time: Does not cure automatically

    Overview
    The issue with a lot of chrome spray paints is that they are not flameproof, so they can’t be applied in exhaust systems, headers or piston domes; however, if the inner mechanisms and parts are looking a bit dull, you can easily shine it up again using the VHT flameproof spray.
    Ease of Application
    Although this product is fairly easy to apply, it does need to be cured, so you’ll need to set time aside for this product to work its magic. The paint can be cured on or off the vehicle, so you can paint the parts separately and let them sit.
    To cure the paint while it’s in the car, run the engine at idle for about 10 minutes when the paint is dry. Allow the paint to cool for another 20 minutes before running the engine again. If the part is not in the car, you can heat it up in an oven to 250 degrees for 30 minutes before allowing it to cool for another 30 minutes. You’ll then want to gradually increase the heat to 400 and 650 degrees for 30 minutes each with a rest time of 30 minutes in between.
    If you don’t need a flameproof product and just want something that’s quick-drying, take a look at the Rust-Oleum 1915830 Spray Paint, as it dries in just 15 minutes.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    This product goes on smoothly and dries smoothly as well. It’s consistent, so you’ll get an even finish and results. The product basically looks like a topcoat, so you won’t get any chipping or flaking.
    Although the paint doesn’t cure automatically, you’ll get a nice enamel-like finish that protects whatever is underneath. You will, however, need to carefully cure it to prevent blisters from forming in the future. This paint, in comparison to other alternatives, is incredibly durable and will last years.
    Color
    This paint gives you a dullish, chrome finish that perfectly blends with most automotive parts.

    Pros

    Withstands temperatures up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit
    Applicable in exhaust systems
    Durable
    Smooth and even application

    Cons

    Complicated curing process

    8.

    Best Chrome Spray Paint for Airbrushing: Spaz Stix Ultimate Mirror Chrome Airbrush Paint

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    Why we like it: With this airbrush paint, you’ll waste less product, and still get a beautiful mirror-like chrome finish that’s hard to replicate elsewhere.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome
    Coverage: 20 square feet
    Dry Time: 10 minutes
    Cure Time: 48 hours

    Overview
    If you have airbrushes handy, you can use this Spaz Stix Ultimate Mirror Chrome Airbrush Paint with a spray gun to get a chrome-like finish. You’ll need specialized tools, and also a well-ventilated area in order to even consider using this product. You’ll also need some experience in working with airbrushes. Although this product comes in a very small can, a little goes a very long way.
    Ease of Application
    First and foremost, this is not an easy product to work with. It’s mostly recommended for experts who want to get as close to a mirror-like shine as possible. Although the product doesn’t take too long to try, you’ll have to do a lot of prep work.
    The key to getting the mirror-like chrome finish with this paint is to use a gloss black primer underneath before painting the chrome paint on top. Also, let the chrome paint cure for at least 1 to 2 days. After 1 to 2 days, the chrome paint looks a lot glossier. Rub the surface with a soft cloth to enhance the mirror-like finish.
    This product is not easy to apply in the slightest. If you’re looking for a fun and easy project to tackle over the weekends, you’ll have much better luck with something like the Krylon COLORMaxx Spray Paint, which doesn’t require any guesswork.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    Because of the airbrush, you’ll get a very consistent and even spray with no clogging or dripping at all. The finished result is smooth and even, and essentially looks like the work of a professional.
    Color
    If you prep the surface right and use the right ratio, you’ll get a finish that is very close to a mirror-like finish. However, this does take some experimenting and trial and error, so this type of paint is mostly reserved for more experienced users. It’s a lot to tackle if you’re just a beginner.

    Pros

    Less waste, lots of coverage
    Can achieve mirror-like shine
    Smooth, even finish

    Cons

    Not easy to apply
    Requires special equipment

    9.

    Most Durable Chrome Spray Paint: Seymour Hi-Tech Engine Spray Paint

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    Why we like it: This is a super durable, heat-resistant, chemical-resistant and gas-resistant chrome spray paint.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome, gold
    Coverage: 15 square feet
    Dry Time: 10 minutes
    Cure Time: 48 hours

    Overview
    This formula is super durable under a variety of conditions, and can be used to restore the original factory color to engines, transmissions and other OEM parts. It’s chemical-resistant, gas-resistant and heat-resistant up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s not scratch-resistant. It’s also VOC compliant.
    The chrome aluminum is going to give you the most chrome-like finish; however, the colored options also have that nice reflective shine. To enhance the shine, however, you’ll need to apply a topcoat over the spray paint.
    Ease of Application
    After prepping the surface, the paint is rather easy to apply. You don’t have to do any extra work; however, you’ll notice that it does take some time to dry, so you’ll need to take your time before applying another layer.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    One can of this spray paint goes a long way, and the paint comes out very evenly. You don’t need steady hands to apply this product. The finish is quite smooth, so you’ll get that metal finish that you want regardless of what color you choose.
    Color
    Although you’ll get a chrome-like finish regardless of the type of color that you choose, you won’t get a high-gloss, mirror-like finish unless you apply a clear gloss on top. The colors, however, are vibrant, bold and beautiful. If you’re not going for vibrant, and just want a mirror-like aluminum finish, you’ll be better off with the Spaz Stix.

    Pros

    Super durable
    Heat resistant up to 300 degrees
    Chemical and gas-resistant
    VOC compliant

    Cons

    Not scratch-resistant
    Not quick-drying

    10.

    Best Mirror-Finish Chrome Spray Paint: Spaz Stix Mirror Chrome Spray

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    Why we like it: The overall results look just like a mirror if you apply it properly.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts:

    Color: Chrome
    Coverage: 15 square feet
    Dry Time: 15 minutes
    Cure Time: 72 hours

    Overview
    This acrylic-based formula offers a beautiful mirror-like finish and is quite durable. The application, however, is kind of difficult, so this spray paint should be reserved for more experienced users.
    Ease of Application
    This is probably one of the most difficult products to apply on our list. It’s quick-drying, but the issue is that you need to apply the Spaz Stix Black Backer underneath to achieve the desired look. Without it, you won’t get that mirror-like finish you’re looking for.
    On top of that, you’ll also need to seal the spray paint with a clear coat. It’s important that you work out a good ratio because applying too much product will cause it to dull or bleed. We highly recommend practicing on a scrap part first until you get the hang of it.
    To increase your chances of success, apply several layers of this paint and then buff it out with a cotton cloth. This is definitely not for beginners. Those who don’t have a lot of patience should go with a product that’s easier to work with like Dupli-Color Universal Chrome Perfect Match Automotive Paint.
    Consistency of Spray and Overall Finish
    This product sprays rather consistently although it can bleed, and can be difficult to apply if you don’t know how to do it. The spray goes on evenly though, and the finish is smooth thanks to the acrylic-enamel based formula. It’s really durable, and you can easily apply several layers at a time.
    Color
    If applied properly, this chrome spray paint has an absolutely beautiful mirror-like finish that surpasses all other products on the market. However, it only comes in one color — a beautiful silver mirror-like finish. With that said, this is one of those paints that you can easily incorporate into other projects.

    Pros

    Beautiful mirror-like finish
    Acrylic-enamel based formula
    Long-lasting
    Quick-drying

    Cons

    Difficult to apply
    Comes in only one color
    Expensive

    A Complete Guide to Chrome Spray Paints

    Touching up the chrome on your car, motorcycle or truck by yourself becomes really easy and affordable with chrome spray paint. All you really have to do is make sure that you prepare the surface properly, and with the right paint, you’ll get the seamless finish and results that you’re looking for without breaking the bank.
    In some cases, you can even use the leftover paint for other DIY projects around the home, like touching up the faucets or repainting some fixtures.
    Choosing the Right Chrome
    Other than the factors mentioned above, you should also take other factors into consideration when buying chrome spray paint.
    Colors
    Although marketed as being chrome, different chrome spray paints have different types of finishes. Some will have a more enhanced mirror-like finish than others. Others will have a duller color and some others will be shinier. It’s important to consider the finished color with what you’re trying to spray. Try to match the colors as close as possible.
    Coverable Area
    To get the best bang for your buck, you need to see how much area one can of paint can cover. This will depend on the spray nozzle, the consistency of the paint, as well as the color of the paint. You’ll need several layers to get a bold color with more translucent paints.
    Brand
    Another thing to consider is the reputation of the brand. Some brands, like Krylon have been around for decades and have gained the trust of many consumers. VHT, on the other hand, is actually a division under Dupli-Color and has been around for over a century!
    How to Properly Apply Chrome Spray Paints
    Many people choose chrome spray paint because of how easy it is to use. The results also look amazing, and you can get a professional paint job done without having to spend the big bucks.
    To get an even application and professional results, you first need to make sure that you are painting in an ideal environment. The temperature should be between 70 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity should be less than 50%. If the conditions aren’t ideal, the paint will be more likely to bleed or blister.
    Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prep the Surface
    [embedded content]
    Before you spray any paint onto your car or any car parts, make sure you prep and prime the surface. You want to get rid of any dirt, dust or contaminants that may cling onto the surface of the metal, as these particles will prevent the paint from adhering properly.
    Start by removing as much dirt and dust as possible with a towel soaked in denatured alcohol. The reason that you want to use denatured alcohol is because it evaporates quickly and won’t affect the metal. It will, however, clean and sanitize it with ease. You should see the dirt melt off the metal parts. Next, wash the area with a solution made of detergent and hot water.
    You can also wet sand the surface if you notice that there are any unsightly bumps before polishing it. You want to get as smooth of a surface as possible, so that the paint adheres easily and properly to the bare metal.
    Prime, Spray and Protect
    Once you have properly prepped the area, apply a primer. This is a critical step that shouldn’t be skipped.
    A primer will seal the surface of the metal to prevent the paint from soaking through. It’ll also create a smooth surface, so you’ll need fewer coats of paint. The smooth surface also helps hide joints and seams. If you’re using chrome paint, use a black primer to get a bright, reflective finish.
    Once you’ve primed the area, you can spray on the chrome paint by following the instructions on the can. Hold the can about 10 inches away from the surface of the metal and spray downwards to prevent droplets of paint from forming. Wipe down the surface with a clean and dry microfiber towel before applying another layer of paint. You may need to apply several layers to get the results you’re looking for.
    Finally, seal everything in with a clear coat overtop. Make sure that the surface is clean and dry before applying the topcoat or else you might get water spots that are infused into the paint.
    Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    In general, chrome spray paint is so popular because it’s something that most DIYers can use without any special equipment or tools. It protects the metal surfaces and brings them back to life while containing fewer toxins than getting the parts electroplated. Most spray paints are water-based and not as toxic.
    Even so, you’ll want to protect yourself and avoid inhaling any of the fumes, as they can irritate your lungs and trigger asthma attacks or allergic reactions. When you spray the paint, the airborne particles go everywhere! It’s simply unavoidable. When using chrome spray paint, make sure that you have the following personal protective equipment (PPE):

    Rubber gloves to protect your hands
    A full protective suit with long sleeves to prevent any contact with your skin
    A respirator mask that filters out the gases and chemicals
    Goggles to protect your eyes
    A first aid kit handy nearby

    You also want to apply the chrome spray in a well-ventilated area. You should also avoid drinking, smoking or eating where you are spray painting. Do not store food and other items in the same area where you plan on painting. And, last but not least, keep children and pets away.
    Final Thoughts
    No matter what product you choose from our list, you’re getting great value. Chrome spray paints are fairly inexpensive and are really easy to use. They’re a great option for DIYers. You can try to repaint your own car to give it a beautiful shine, and you can even use leftover paint for fun arts and crafts projects! More

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    Finding the Best Truck Wheels 2021

    If there’s one universal point of pride among truck owners, it’s owning a beautiful set of wheels. Whether you’re buying for looks, practicality, or performance, a fresh set of rims can be a huge upgrade. But since they’re made of a wide variety of materials and designs, and have different dimensions and sizes, the crowded marketplace requires some research if you’re looking to find the perfect wheels.

    Factors to Consider when Choosing Truck Wheels
    There are thousands and thousands of models of truck wheels on the market, which can occasionally make it difficult to narrow things down. Thankfully for buyers, however, most truck wheels can be accurately evaluated against each other using a standard set of specs that are universal across all manufacturers.
    Wheel Size
    While every truck has a recommended wheel size, truck drivers often change the wheel size to maximize certain characteristics of their vehicles. While the most common rim size in the past was 15 inches, that size has been more or less passed up by 17-inch options. You can also purchase 16- and 18-inch models, but they’re a bit less common.
    Wheel size affects wheel weight, a potential load rating, and brake clearance, so check out your owners manual. If you’re thinking about changing your wheel size, do your research and potentially even talk with your mechanic before making a purchase.
    Wheel Material
    Material has a lot to do with the structural properties of your truck wheels and also affects the weight of your wheels (and thus, the overall weight of your truck overall). Many wheel companies primarily use aluminum alloys, which are lightweight and attractive, while steel wheels offer increased durability for a lower price, at the cost of added weight and a more plain appearance.
    Bolt Pattern
    Bolts and the lug nuts that anchor them are how wheels attach to the truck itself. Almost all wheels are either attached with either five or six bolts. They’re set up in a circular pattern to even out the force against the wheel.
    You can determine this bolt pattern by two numbers: diameter and amount of bolts. All five-bolt wheels with the same bolt diameter will fit every car with those specs. Keep in mind, though, that if your wheels don’t come with their own lugs, so make sure that you’re purchasing the proper set of lugs for the wheels.
    If you don’t already have one, be sure to pick up a lug wrench and set of wheel chocks to make installation a breeze if you plan on doing it yourself.
    Rim Width
    Rim width is the rim-to-rim thickness of the outside of the wheel. It affects the size of the tire you can place on your wheel as well as, in some cases, the offset of the wheel. If you’re sticking with the same tire and change wheels, different rim widths can significantly affect your tire’s shape, stretching or even deforming the wheels. Do your best to keep the width of your new wheels identical.
    Offset
    Offset is how far the exterior of the wheel is to the true center of the wheel. A wheel with negative offset will stick out further from the wheel well, and a wheel with positive offset will be closer to the sidewall of the car. You don’t want to change up offset by more than 5 millimeters, or you can run the risk of your wheel rubbing against some part of the trim of the car.
    Wheel Weight
    Wheel weight is simply but vitally important: advanced alloys, machined options, and aluminum wheels have the lightest weights. Slightly more durable options (steel alloy wheels) are the heaviest, while light wheels improve the acceleration and overall weight of your truck.
    No matter what you’re looking for or how much you’re looking to spend, there’s a set of truck wheels out there that can upgrade your truck’s looks, performance, and ride quality. Check out our favorites below.

    Top 10 Best Truck Wheels 2021
    1. Best Overall Truck Wheels: HELO HE835 Gloss Black Machined Wheel

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These good-looking wheels have a large variety of bolt patterns and a machined construction that makes them both versatile and good-looking.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 17 inch, 18 inch, 20 inch, and 22 inch
    Wheel Material: Aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 5, 6, or 8 holes with 5.5 inch, 165.1 mm, or 170 mm pattern
    Offset: 0 or 18 Millimeters Offset
    Rim Width: 8 Inches
    Wheel Weight: 30 Pounds
    With steep competition and hundreds of options on the market, it’s impossible to pick out a single option that’s better than all others, but with this set of wheels, wheel manufacturer HELO gets close.
    While they don’t dominate all of the competition in all categories, the characteristic that these wheels have more than any other is versatility: they’re available in four sizes, each with different offsets and widths, multiple bolt patterns, all including a machined face and center cap (although they don’t include lug nuts—for a similar option that has everything you’ll need, check out the premium Mayhem Warrior).
    Great looks come via the machined metal and unique spoke pattern. But these wheels aren’t just impressive looking; they perform phenomenally as well. And while we’ll take a great-driving wheel over a great-looking one, we’re still not going to complain about the striking machined black and anodized geometric construction.
    That paint requires some care, and HELO shows their attention to detail with a one-year warranty against the paint on the wheels. That’s not part of the wheels’ structural warranty, which lasts a whole lifetime: an impressive stamp of authority on a product that’s bound to take some abuse.

    Pros
    Versatile sizing options with many offsets, widths, and sizes
    Includes machined face and center cap
    Unique, attractive spoke pattern
    One year paint warranty with lifetime structural warranty

    Cons
    Wheels don’t include lug nuts

    2. Best Looking Truck Wheels: RockTrix RT105 17-Inch Wheels

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These 17-inch wheels are made with looks in mind, using a minimal aluminum-cast design to maximize functionality and minimize weight.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 17 inch
    Wheel Material: Cast Aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 5 x 5 / 127 MM
    Offset: -12 MM Offset
    Rim Width: 9 Inches
    Wheel Weight: 27.5 Lbs
    These attractive, modern-looking wheels are aesthetically designed to go with a Jeep Wrangler, although they’ll fit most Jeep models as well as other pickups with similar wheel requirements. With a common 17-inch size and 5 x 5 bolt pattern, they fit many recent-model-year trucks. Watch out for the offset, though, which might affect the brake calipers on some vehicles.
    Otherwise, the cast aluminum produces an about-average performance while probably focusing a little bit more on economy and looks than rigidity and other benchmark engineering statistics.
    While the price tag at first glance looks incredibly expensive compared with other wheels, keep in mind that you’re not getting just one wheel, you’re getting a full set. This brings the ‘per wheel’ cost to just a hair above $100, a pretty good deal for a set of aluminum cast wheels. Along with the matte finish that goes so well with aluminum wheels, they’re lightweight, coming in at 27.5 pounds per wheel, almost exactly the same as Jeep’s stock

    Pros
    Per wheel cost is just above $100, an incredibly good deal
    Same weight as Jeep’s stock wheels
    Cast aluminum construction is lightweight and inexpensive

    Cons
    Aluminum cast instruction is more for aesthetics and price than performance
    The wheels include an offset that makes them incompatible with some manufacturers

    3. Best Lightweight Truck Wheels: American Racing Custom Wheels Black Satin

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: With a black satin top coat, these ultra-light wheels are nearly as good looking as they are highly-performing.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 15 inch, 16 inch, and 17 inch
    Wheel Material: Aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 5 x 139.7 mm, 6 x 139.7 mm, 5 x 140 mm
    Offset: 0 mm
    Rim Width: 8 inches
    Wheel Weight: 25 lbs
    While this lush black satin coat is really, really good looking, these aren’t wheels just meant for showing off. While their construction isn’t backed up by high-tech engineering like the Mayhem Warriors, their stats are actually quite impressive for a relatively inexpensive wheel option: they’re lightweight, weighing in at just over 25 pounds per wheel, they’ve got a 17 inch diameter that should help with conquering off road obstacles, and their aluminum construction maintains rigidity without sacrificing a large weight penalty.
    The company has a 60-year history, even participating in racing events like NASCAR to help develop their technological savvy. And the company produces products that will stand up to the test of time: a lifetime structural warranty means that you shouldn’t have issues with durability, and the wheels have a one-year warranty against that beautiful black paint, as the company promises to replace or repair should anything go wrong. All in all, it’s a good looking wheel set with great performance at a reasonable price.

    Pros
    Lightweight wheelset at just around 25 pounds per wheel
    Manufacturer has participated in events like NASCAR
    Lifetime structural warranty protects you in case of damage
    Beautiful black satin coat has a one-year warranty

    Cons
    Don’t have much technical backing

    4. Best Premium Truck Wheels: Mayhem Warrior Black Wheel with Milled Spokes

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    Why we like it: These relatively expensive aluminum wheels back up their price with use of impressive machining tech and back the product up with a lifetime warranty.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 18 inches
    Wheel Material: Aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 8 x 139.7 mm
    Offset: 18 mm
    Rim Width: 9 Width
    Wheel Weight: 28 Lbs
    These aluminum 18-inch wheels come in at a slightly premium price point, but compared with some other premium truck wheels that can run up to $1000, they’re actually relatively economical. They’re rated to hold up to 3640 pounds and can run tires up to 40 inches, so they’re large enough for big trucks while still working on more compact pickups.
    Keep in mind that unlike many inexpensive aftermarket options, these wheels are TPMS compatible, so you won’t have to deal with a persistent check engine light that won’t ever go away.
    Aluminum milled spokes reduce the weight fantastically, but structural rigidity is compromised slightly: when you make something thinner, you reduce its ability to hold up to impacts. That doesn’t mean you should be worried about a catastrophic product failure by any means, but a wheel that flexes (even slightly) is a wheel that will perform worse than a product that’s more rigid, like the steel Pro Comp 97. A lifetime structural warranty will replace wheels with any fundamental issue, no questions asked.

    Pros
    Economical 18 inch wheelset
    Aluminum milled spokes help reuce weight
    Compatible with conventional Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems
    Lifetime warranty for any structural issues

    Cons
    Aluminum spokes yield compromised structural integrity
    Wheels aren’t rigid and can flex

    5. Best Budget Truck Wheels: Pro Comp Steel Wheels Series 97

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    Why we like it: These inexpensive yet durable wheels actually perform fantastically for their low price, although they’re quite heavy.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 15, 16, and 17 Inches
    Wheel Material: Steel
    Bolt Pattern: 8 holes x 6.5 inches
    Offset: 0 mm
    Rim Width: 8 and 9 Inches
    Wheel Weight: 32 lbs
    At the intersection of budget and performance sit these wheels from company Pro Comp. They perform well for their low price, with great rigidity and strong structural integrity once they’re mounted and balanced (we’ll get into issues with balancing later).
    The zero-offset model is available in two widths, 8 and 9 inches, as well as the most common diameters of 15, 16, and 17 inches.
    The simple wheels have a gloss finish that in theory should look good, and out of the box, they’re very attractive. In reality, though, the paint job wears out after a couple months of use, the gloss chipping off and losing its luster quickly over time.
    There are another issue as well: balancing: the heavy wheels require an extensive (some would say unacceptable) amount of balancing by an auto shop before installation, which requires time and money.
    In our opinion, this effort might cancel out the low price of the wheels, but if you’re interested in taking on the project yourself, it could be a tempting option. Otherwise, you should spring for something a bit more expensive like these wheels from HELO, which just work out of the box.

    Pros
    Zero-offset model is available in a wide variety of widths and sizes
    Gloss finish looks good out of the box
    Strong structural integrity and good rigidity
    Good for an experienced home mechanic

    Cons
    The wheels come out of balance and require significant effort to get into good shape
    Gloss paint wears out quickly

    6. Best 15-Inch Wheels: Pro Comp Rock Crawler Steel Wheels

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These 15-inch wheels are lightweight and inexpensive, although they require the separate purchase of center caps and lug nuts.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 15 inches
    Wheel Material: Steel
    Bolt Pattern: 5 x 4.75
    Offset: Zero-Offset
    Rim Width: 9 Inches
    Wheel Weight: 26 Lbs
    These wheels are quite light for being made of steel, weighing in at only about 26 pounds. That’s thanks to their 15-inch diameter, yielding much less material used. As 15-inch wheels, though, they’re meant for older trucks, as well as compact and subcompact pickups, and potentially other types of cars. Many truck owners actually prefer this wheel size, as they’re slightly more fuel-efficient and can yield a more comfortable ride.
    Keep in mind, however, that the center caps and lug nuts are sold separately, driving the effective price of these wheels up. While an initial look will lead you to think these wheels come in well below average, four center caps and a set of lug nuts cost around $100, definitely something to mull over if you’re price sensitive. The Pro Comp 97 also comes in a 17-inch size and is more affordable, though they’re heavier and take quite a bit more work to install.
    And while the design is simple at first glance, once mounted, they actually look really good on a truck, not too simple nor too gaudy. They’re a workhorse wheel for workhorse drivers.

    Pros
    Look great without being over the top
    15-inch diameter helps maintain a light weight
    Good for older trucks and sub-compact pickups
    Simple design looks surprisingly good once mounted
    Workhouse wheel for workhorse drivers

    Cons
    Lug nuts and center caps are sold separately

    7. Lightest Truck Wheels: Pro Comp Alloys 1069 Polished Wheels

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    Why we like it: These incrediblly light 16-inch wheels are simple, economical, and contain a brilliantly polished chrome coating.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 16 inches
    Wheel Material: Polished aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 8 x 6.5 inches
    Offset: 2 mm
    Rim Width: 8 inches
    Wheel Weight: 20 lbs
    If you’re thinking about a middle ground option between small, commuter-friendly 15-inch wheels and a larger-format 17 inch model, the ticket could be these inexpensive polished aluminum rims from manufacturer Pro Comp. While they’re pretty basic, they’ll get the job done, and they’re one of the limited 16 inch diameter wheels on the market. They include a center cap, but you’ll have to pick up a new set of lug nuts, as OEM lug nuts can’t be used with these wheels.
    They’re the lightest wheels in our lineup at just a touch over 20 pounds, and although that may mean slightly reduced durability, a lifetime structural warranty covers you if anything should happen.
    Our biggest issue with these wheels, frankly, is the design. While the polished chrome finish might prove a clever disguise to the basic construction, we wish Pro Comp put a little more effort in. Looking for a pair of really good looking wheels? Consider checking out the HELO Triple Plated Chrome Wheels.

    Pros
    Lightest wheels in our lineup thanks to aluminum construction
    A simple compromise between 15 inch and 17 inch wheels
    Lifetime structural warranty
    Included center cap

    Cons
    Polished finish doesn’t cover up for the fact that they’re not great looking
    Structural integrity is compromised by light weight

    8. Best Wheels for Toyota Trucks: Toyota TD PRO Matte Black Wheels

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These Toyota wheels are built by the company’s in-house racing tech shop, yielding a product that’s meant to perform on the track, off-road, and on your commute.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 17 Inches
    Wheel Material: Aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 6 holes x 139.7 mm
    Offset: 4 mm
    Rim Width: 7 inches
    Wheel Weight: 28 lbs
    These 17-inch wheels work fantastically with all of Toyota’s most common trucks, from 4Runners to Tacomas. The TRD label they’re branded with stands for Toyota Racing Development, Toyota’s advanced performance lab. Just because it’s got ‘racing’ in the title doesn’t mean you’ve got to hit the track to make these wheels worth it: they’re fine for daily drivers, but optimized for off road performance.
    Looks are pretty unimpressive in our opinion, but you’re probably not buying a Toyota for looks: you’re buying it for reliability and longevity. These wheels surely stand up to the test of time there. They count on Toyota warranty and customer support, which by itself is well worth a slight price premium.
    The four millimeter offset isn’t very common for trucks, nor is the seven inch rim width, but they’re both standard for Toyota trucks, so they’ll work with pretty much any Toyota model that’s come out within the last 10 years. The 28 pound weight is about typical for the type of wheel and material.
    Watch out, however, if you’ve got a non-Toyota truck or you’ve already modified or lifted your Toyota: the tolerances are quite tight, and you might have a tricky time if you haven’t triple-checked measurements.

    Pros
    Fit all of Toyota’s most popular trucks
    Optimized for off road performance by Toyota’s performance lab
    Rely on Toyota’s warranty and customer support
    Reliable and long-lasting

    Cons
    May not fit modified, non-Toyota, or lifted trucks
    Slight price premium over similar shoes
    Looks aren’t too impressive

    9. Best 20 Inch Wheels: OE Wheels Hollander

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These GM-specific 20-inch wheels, although expensive, are loaded up with warranties and maintain a light weight even with their large format.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 20 inches
    Wheel Material: Aluminum
    Bolt Pattern: 6 lugs
    Offset: 31 mm
    Rim Width: 8.5 inches
    Wheel Weight: 31 lbs
    These wheels were created as a replacement for large GMC and Chevrolet vehicles like the Silverado, Tahoe, Sierra, Yukon, and Escalade, but will fit other vehicles that have wheels with similar or identical specifications. Keep in mind that since these are specifically made for specific GM models, if you’ve got a modified truck (specifically suspension or braking), you might have trouble fitting these wheels. Double check before buying these 20-inch monsters.
    With wheels this big, you’re practically required to build them out of cast aluminum if you don’t want to end up with something that weighs a ridiculous amount, although even still they’re heavy-ish at 31 pounds.
    While the wallet hit is pretty extreme, keep in mind that you’re also paying for a one-year aesthetic warranty and a lifetime structural guarantee. That’s worth quite a bit against models like Pro Comp Rock Crawler Steel Wheels with lesser or nonexistent warranties.

    Pros
    Created specifically to fit GMC models
    Cast aluminum construction
    Great warranty for aesthetics
    Structural lifetime guarantee

    Cons
    Relatively heavy for aluminum at 31 pounds
    Might not fit cars with lifts or brake modifications

    10. Best Chrome Truck Wheels: Helo Triple Plated Chrome Wheel

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These chrome-plated wheels look great on a dropped or lifted truck with a shiny, warrantied top coat.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance:
    Wheel Size: 17 inches
    Wheel Material: Alloy
    Bolt Pattern: 8 x 180 mm
    Offset: 0 mm
    Rim Width: 9 inches
    Wheel Weight: 36 lbs
    Look, we’ll be straight with you: these aren’t off-roading wheels, nor are they even really meant to be great performing wheels. If you’re throwing them on your pickup truck, they’re really only meant for one thing: looking really, really cool. Chromed-out rims are particularly popular with the low riding (or lifted, for that matter) crowds, with shine taking priority over form factor. And shine these wheels do, with a triple chrome-plated finish topped off by a triple chrome-plated center cap.
    Those aesthetics are even covered by the warranty, as the chrome coating has a one-year finish warranty against any aesthetic damage that happens; it comes with an impressive lifetime structural guarantee as well.
    At 36 pounds a pop, we’re not surprised that these alloy rims can take a beating. For costing over $200, we wouldn’t mind if these wheels came with some lug nuts, but who are we to complain—you’re paying for aesthetics, here. If you don’t care about looks, choose something simpler and more affordable like the HELO HE835.

    Pros
    Chromed out rims look great on most trucks
    Triple chrome-plated finish and center cap
    One year finish warranty for aesthetics
    Lifetime structural guarantee

    Cons
    Relatively expensive wheels
    High weight of 36 pounds per wheel
    No lug nuts included with purchase

    Guide to Buying the Best Truck Wheels for 2021
    Truck owners are quite selective about what they’re looking for in a set of wheels: between looks, performance, weight, tire compatibility, and warranty considerations, there’s a lot that goes into the selection process.
    Below we’ll outline some of the details related to your purchase and also outline some points that you might not have considered in your preliminary product research. A little reading and investigation will help you loads in the long term.
    How Wheels Affect Your Truck’s Mechanics
    You can’t slap a pair of wheels on and not expect the change to affect your truck’s mechanics and performance, especially if you’re changing the size of the wheel. Make sure you are paying attention to your manufacturer’s guidelines and be aware of the potential downsides of a wheel change.
    Suspension Considerations
    Suspension systems are designed around a specific wheel size, sometimes even a specific wheel model, and placing a different wheel can change how your suspension behaves and performs. If your truck is lifted or you’re planning to lift your truck as you change your wheels, that can affect your suspension system as well.
    Large wheels typically mean a stretched out tire, which can affect the comfort and noise level inside your truck. It can also make wheels and tires more susceptible to damage. If you replace your tires, this solves some of the problems, but it can change the readings from your speedometer and tire-pressure sensor. While it’s done frequently enough so that it usually doesn’t cause issues, be aware that it could require some troubleshooting to tune up.
    Drivetrain Considerations
    There’s no two ways about it: increasing wheel size changes your effective gear ratio. When you purchase a larger rim, the effective diameter of your wheel grows (it’s the same way if you simply purchase a larger tire), and this means acceleration takes more power.
    Depending on how your transmission is set up and how low your lowest gear is, this can considerably affect your drivetrain system. This change also can affect fuel economy. The secret is to make changes incrementally, and not to rock the boat too much. Our top overall pick is available in a range of large sizes, making it a great option to find the perfect size.
    If you’re dead set on moving to a bigger wheel, use this tire size calculator alongside your owner’s manual to make sure your change won’t drastically alter your truck’s performance.
    The Most Common Wheel Sizes
    Different trucks have different recommended wheel sizes, but there’s a bit of room within a couple of inches on both sides. While 15 inch wheels have been incredibly popular in the past, now, more than ever, 17 inch wheels and less common 16 inch and 18 inch models have come more to the forefront, although they’re still relatively uncommon.
    15 inches
    15 inch wheels used to be the standard truck wheel size, although now they’re gradually being phased out of use with trucks as 17 inch models gain market share and popularity. Many drivers still prefer 15 inches for performance, although 17 inch wheels have their use case as well.
    A 15 inch wheel is proven to deliver a more comfortable ride, and some data shows that gas mileage can be better on smaller wheels when other variables are controlled. Be aware, though, that most of the latest research and development technology goes towards 17 inch tires, so you might not get the latest and greatest truck tech when shopping for new rubber.
    Not all wheels come in 15-inch sizes, but those who need these small wheels should check out the American Racing Custom Wheels Black Satin.
    17 inches
    There’s one case where we’ll always recommend 17-inch wheels: offroading. There are some undeniable truths when offroading, disregarding personal opinion. A bigger wheel can roll over bigger objects as well as add some marginal benefits on low-friction surfaces like sand and mud.
    Other Sizes
    While 15 inch wheels and 17 inch wheels are easily the most popular wheels on the market, there are plenty of other wheels produced in size of anywhere from 14 to 22 inches for trucks.
    You can check this guide on rim size from auto magazine Car and Driver to learn a bit more about the subject, but our recommendation is to stick with the same size rims that came on your car in the first place.
    Selecting a Tire for Your Truck Wheels
    Selecting a tire for your truck wheels is one of the most contentious subjects for anyone who’s serious about their truck. You’d think picking out a truck wheel would have more to do with purpose, function, and price than personal opinion, but that’s not necessarily the case.
    Off Road Tires
    Among the ‘serious trucking’ crowd, there’s only one type of tires: off road tires. Not only are they good for the dirt, grass, mud, gravel, and grass of off road trails and rock gardens, they also perform better than fuel-efficient road tires in the snow and the rain. Plus, they look the best of all other tires, with aggressive widths and tread patterns. They’re also good for towing and help with weight capacity. Unfortunately, they decrease fuel efficiency horribly, they’re expensive, and their soft rubber compounds wear out quickly.
    Road Tires
    Road tires and all season tires are designed for use on asphalt in both dry and wet conditions. While they’re probably the best option for most truck drivers, pickup owners generally prefer something a bit more aggressive looking. We’ve got no such prejudices and therefore recommend road tires unless you’re driving more off road than on.
    Winter Tires
    Winter tires are great for their designed use case (snow) and better than alternatives in adverse cold-weather conditions (ice), but they’re nowhere near to performing as well as a road tire in optimal conditions. Most trucks are already four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, so a pickup will already be your first choice in wintery conditions. And the price of winter tires has gone down in recent years, so picking up a set can definitely be worth a look.
    Wheel Balancing
    All new aftermarket wheels will have something in common: when purchased, they come out of balance. The construction process simply isn’t perfect, and when you mount up a tire, the wheel will be significantly out of alignment. At higher speeds, this can be dangerous as wheels wobble back and forth, affecting not only comfort, but stability.
    We strongly recommend that you head to your local auto shop to get your wheels balanced, but if you’ve got experience, you can take a crack at it yourself. The most important thing is that at least someone takes a look at your wheels before installation: if you just throw your wheels on without a second thought, you could end up in a wobbly or even dangerous situation.
    Truck Wheel FAQ
    What is the Best Truck Wheel Size?
    There’s no best wheel size, only a manufacturer-suggested size and optimal sizes for different tasks. Larger wheels are typically better for larger trucks and can improve offroad performance as well, but reduce fuel efficiency and cause stress on tires.
    Most people don’t ‘downsize’ to smaller truck wheels, but if you choose to stick with the same size, enjoy better highway performance but decreased offroad traction and towing capacity.
    Can I Put Wider Tires on Truck Rims?
    This is really two questions in one, the first one addressing the differences between truck and car rims, and the second one addressing the efficacy of putting a wider-than-standard tire on a truck rim.
    We’ll answer the first question first: are truck rims better at holding a non-standard tire than a car rim? Generally, yes. A larger lip means that the tolerances are a bit higher, and you’re less likely to encounter problems when mounting a different tire/rim combo.
    Efficacy is a different story: a stretched tire goes on a bigger wheel, which typically means the driver is targeting better offroad or towing performance. In this case, more stress can mean a higher probability of a flat.
    If you’re going to be sizing up for better high-stress performance, grab a new pair of tires to make sure you won’t flat in a dangerous situation.
    Should I Use a Truck Tire or a Car Tire?
    When you drive a consumer pickup truck, you’re faced with a decision: do you use a burly car tire, that’ll typically be quicker, more economical, and more fuel-efficient? Or should you use a burlier light truck tire (labeled LT) for more impressive durability, better off road traction, and a tougher-looking stance?
    It’s up to you, and plenty has to do with personal preferences and aesthetics, but we’ll give you a rough idea: if your truck has a ¾ to ½-ton bed capacity, do yourself a favor and pick up a light-truck tire.
    If you’re planning on doing some towing, a light truck tire is a good idea as well. Just heading around town and using your bed only for lightweight hauls? A standard car tire should be more than sufficient.
    Take the Open Road
    Maybe you’ve damaged a wheel and you’re using it as an opportunity to upgrade your whole set, or perhaps you’re thinking about buying a differently-sized wheel set to pump up performance off-road or improve towing ability.
    No matter the reason for your purchase, the advent of online wheel sales has created tremendous benefits for consumers, with options for all types and classes of pickup drivers. Do your research, make sure you’ve got your specs right, and you’ll be good to go to drive off into the sunset. More

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    Best Folding Tonneau Covers 2021 – Protect Your Cargo

    Pickup trucks have remarkable cargo capacity but, unlike cars, they don’t have any protection for your load, leaving them exposed to the elements. While the fact that a pickup bed is open means you can have a lot of cargo, putting some type of cover over the bed can protect and secure whatever you’re hauling.
    While this protection can be accomplished with a soft cover, a rolling tonneau cover, a truck topper, or even a tarp, one of the most effective, simple, and affordable options is a hard tonneau cover. Unlike toppers, they don’t require tools and they’re easy to remove, although they can be placed permanently if you like. All in all, they’re one of our favorite upgrades for pickup trucks.

    Choosing a Hard Folding Tonneau Cover
    While tonneau covers, especially hard-top tonneau covers can be expensive, they’re worth it for many for the security and the weather protection they provide. What a tonneau cover really does is protect the bed of your pickup truck, converting it into a hybrid between a traditional automobile trunk and a standard pickup bed. But they’re not all built equally, so there are some factors you’ll need to keep in mind.
    Vehicle Compatibility
    Unfortunately, most tonneau covers are only compatible with a specific truck model or series of models from a specific manufacturer. While it is inconvenient that you can’t swap a tonneau cover from one truck to another, it does mean that most covers fit nearly perfectly, creating a weatherproof seal around the bed and adding an additional layer of security to your truck.
    Ease of Use
    Many tonneau covers don’t require any tools for installation, making them convenient for owners. They accomplish this by being designed for only a single, specific model.
    Be aware of bed length as well, as manufacturers make different covers that are designed to work with short beds or standard beds, never both.
    Security
    One of the main purposes of a tonneau cover is to keep your cargo secure. While pickups can hold a mountain of whatever you’re hauling, they’re not closed by design, so you can’t keep them under lock and key as you could with a car or SUV. A tonneau cover can be closed and locked down, covering the cargo area and adding a layer of security to whatever’s in your truck bed.
    We also consider weather resistance a part of security: if you’re hauling timber, or groceries for that matter, and they arrive wet even when you’re using a tonneau cover, is it even worth it to have one on your truck? In our opinion, probably not.
    Especially with hard tonneau covers (as opposed to soft ones), security and weather-resistance is a huge part of a purchase. A cover that doesn’t protect your cargo isn’t even worth it.
    With all of that in mind, let’s get to our picks for the best hard folding tonneau covers on the market today.

    Top 10 Best Folding Tonneau Covers 2021
    1. Best Overall Cover: Tonno Pro Hard Fold Bed Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This hard bed cover is a bit heavier-duty than average thanks to its marine vinyl, aircraft-grade aluminum frame, and an impressive tailgate locking system.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado
    This hard tonneau cover is meant for GM trucks from model years 2014 to 2018, with this particular version fitting standard and extended cab trucks with a standard bed. From the top, it looks like a single sheet of nylon, creating a sleek look over the back of your truck. On the other side, though, it’s a completely different story, hiding three framed panels that contribute to the product’s high weight of about 70 pounds.
    That weight comes with a benefit, thankfully: the cover can hold an evenly distributed load of about 350 pounds, no small feat. But, if you’re looking for a lighter cover, the Xcover Low Profile Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover fits the same vehicles and is much easier to maneuver, but it’s also a bit flimsier.
    It also comes with an easy to use hybrid security-clamping system. Thanks to a clever design, if the tailgate is locked, the tonneau cover is locked as well. It’s also easy to set up, as it comes pre-assembled and doesn’t require tools.
    The cover has got three length options, one for crew cab models, one for standard beds, and one for extended bed versions. The company also produces some soft covers and a roll-up version, but their most critically acclaimed version is by far this one.
    It’s a bit pricey compared to soft tonneau covers at around $500, but compared with other high quality, secure products, it’s competitively priced.

    Pros
    Comes with a hybrid security-clamping system
    Fits both standard and extended cab trucks
    Three framed panels can hold up to 350 pounds
    Fits GM trucks from 2014 to 2018
    If the tailgate is locked, the tonneau cover automatically locks as well

    Cons
    High price compared to soft tonneau covers
    The comparatively high weight of about 70 pounds

    2. Best Budget Cover: DNA Monitoring TTC Hard Truck Bed Top Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: At a low price and with a considerable weight capacity, this cover isn’t just impressive in terms of structure, but has a series of great features as well.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: Ram 1500 – 3500 / 6.5 foot bed.
    While folding tonneau covers are incredibly effective for protection, fuel efficiency, and more, there are also some drawbacks. Along with limiting cargo space, a tonneau cover also restricts your freedom with your cargo space, especially for rigid cover that can’t really be stored or set aside easily.
    Although it is incredibly structurally sound and rigid, this cover doesn’t break down at all, making it hard to store. If you’re carrying it, it’ll have to go on or in the bed of your truck, unlike the Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover.
    This specific model fits Ram trucks, specifically Ram 1500s, 2500s, and 3500s. Thankfully, they also make models that can cover Chevrolet Sierras and Silverados, along with models that are compatible with the hyper-popular Ford F150 series. (There are a couple more niche models available as well.) We love the look across the product range, with matte paneling and black powder-coated aluminum structure. Tension is adjustable across the cover so that a perfect fit is always easy to achieve.

    Pros
    Good for protection and fuel efficiency
    Structurally sound and rigid
    Black powder-coated frame and matte black structure
    Has models in the series compatible with Ford F150s, Chevrolets, and more

    Cons
    Restricts your cargo space
    Doesn’t break down, making it hard to store
    Will have to be transported in the bed of your truck

    3. Best Waterproof Cover: Xcover Hard Folding Truck Bed Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This low-profile tonneau cover seals flush against the bed rails, locks automatically, and is completely waterproof.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: Ford F150 / 5.6 foot bed
    While this Xcover bed cover isn’t as expensive as the highest-end, thousand-dollar models like the Bak BakFlip MX4, at over $500, it still comes in at a slightly premium price point. And it backs up that price with a host of features that less expensive covers don’t offer. It’s weatherproof and durable, designed to be UV-resistant and protect cargo from all precipitation. A high-quality seal even prevents dust and dirt from entering.
    While an automatically locking latch makes sure your cargo always stays locked up, it’s frankly a bit inconvenient when you close your tailgate without realizing it as there’s no way to unlock it via the tonneau cover itself. That does improve security, though, and might be a plus if you’re a bit forgetful. And that ‘low-profile’ designation isn’t just for show: this tonneau cover lies completely flat against the rails of the bed, making it sleek and improving the seal.

    Pros
    Not as expensive as the highest-end models
    Weatherproof and durable with UV-resistant coating
    Protects cargo from all types of precipitation
    Tonneau cover lies completely flat, yielding a good seal

    Cons
    Tonneau cover inconveniently automatically locks up

    4. Best Premium Cover: Bak BakFlip MX4 Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This folding cover is incredibly pricey, but it’s impermeable by weather and thieves alike thanks to aircraft-grade paneling.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: 2015 – 2020 Ford F150 Short Bed
    Let’s get one thing out of the way first: this pickup bed cover costs about twice as much as versions from other competitors. So how does this F150 short bed cover justify its high price?
    First of all, it’s both durable and weight resistant: while some other tonneau covers can barely hold a two-by-four without caving in, this cover, equipped with aircraft-grade aluminum panels can hold a good couple hundred pounds without so much as a squeak.
    It’s still not as structurally rigid as a body panel, especially considering that it attaches to the bed with no drilling, creating a durable seal that’s both impermeable and impermanent. That means it keeps out rain, sun, snow, extreme weather, and thieves.
    At a total weight of 71 pounds, it won’t affect the handling or performance of your vehicle. It can be closed with the tailgate up or down, meaning you can carry oversized lumber and still keep it covered. If you’re hauling something a bit taller, the cover can be folded against the back of the cab, obstructing your rear view a bit but giving you full access to your bed (rolling tonneau covers can’t do this).
    It’s held upright with durable prop rods that don’t give out over rough terrain. All of these great features, however, reflect back on the insane price point, which is worth it for some, but completely out of reach for others. If you’re not concerned with getting the best of the best, the DNA Monitoring TTC Hard Truck Bed Top Tonneau Cover functions nearly as well for a much lower price.

    Pros
    Can hold several hundred pounds on top without complaint
    Total weight of 71 pounds is light for a tri-fold cover
    Keeps out rain, sun, snow, extreme weather, and thieves
    Can be folded up against the cab to give access to your bed
    Held in place by durable prop rods

    Cons
    Price is about five times as much as competitors
    Cover can marginally obstruct your view

    5. Best American-Made Cover: Rough Country Low Profile Hard Tri-Fold Folding Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This American-made tonneau cover sits at a mid-range price point; it’s also easy to use, secure, and has a lifetime guarantee.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: Ford F150 2015-2020 / 5.5 foot bed
    Not the most expensive tonneau cover and certainly not the cheapest, this model from truck outfitter Rough Country is durable, strong, and easy to use and install. Each of the three panels on this tri-fold cover is constructed with aircraft-grade aluminum, although the textured black design on the panels makes them appear more like carbon fiber than anything else.
    It’s really easy to use compared to other covers that require some serious elbow grease to get moving. With a series of sturdy latches, an articulated design, and even a system for partial opening, it’s a piece of cake to use.
    Security is great as well, as the aluminum panels are hard to bust through and the cover secures with a We’re partial to American-made products, and this cover is certified made-in-the-USA. But that’s not the only guarantee Rough Country provides, as they also include a lifetime warranty with their product: not too shabby!
    That provides some significant value over other covers that aren’t guaranteed and will last around two to three years. Just watch out for installation, as it can be a bit tricky to line up properly. If you don’t want to fuss with tricky setup, you might want to consider the Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover instead.

    Pros
    Durable cover is made with aircraft aluminum
    Textured black design looks great with a carbon fiber-like coating
    Has a system for partial opening
    Lifetime warranty

    Cons
    Installation can be a little tricky

    6. Easiest Cover to Use: Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This cover from Gator is a bit less sturdy than a hard tonneau cover, but less pricey and easier to install as well.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: Ford F150 2015 – 2020 / 5’7 bed
    At 24 pounds, it’s much lighter than other hard-shell products like the Bak BakFlip MX4, but it’s not as structurally rigid either.
    While the advanced alloy materials in heavier folding tonneau covers have no problem holding weights of around 150 pounds, you probably shouldn’t set anything on this tonneau cover over 50 pounds. It’s still more rigid than soft covers, but doesn’t have their same flexibility regarding storage.
    Installation is simple as well: manufacturer Gator claims that it can be installed in about 10 minutes, quick enough that you can take it off and put it back on at your convenience, similar to a soft-top tonneau cover. It accomplishes this by clamping onto the existing rails without the use of any tools.
    While it’s convenient that you can do everything by hand, the hardware is a bit cheap feeling, and you should be careful about stripping the aluminum fittings or breaking plastic pieces. If you want durability and protection over ease of use, you’d probably be better served by the Tonno Pro Hard Fold Bed Tonneau Cover.

    Pros
    Light weight of 24 pounds
    Installation is impermanent and simple
    Can be stowed easily in your truck cab or pickup bed
    Installation timeline of just about 10 minutes

    Cons
    Aluminum and plastic fittings are cheap feeling and are easy to break
    Won’t support weights of over 150 pounds

    7. Best Long Bed Cover: Lund Hard Tri-Fold Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This rigid truck cover solves the problem of creating a structurally strong bed cover for a long truck bed
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: Ford F150 2004-2008 / 8-foot bed
    Creating a tonneau cover for a long-bed pickup is an interesting manufacturing challenge, as the structural rigidity decreases with the weight of added material and the lack of support. This tri-fold cover solves the issue with aluminum panels coated with marine grade vinyl, all supported by a rigid but folding internal structure.
    That all yields a product that can withstand 350 pounds of weight across the cover, no small feat: on top of that, it is incredibly convenient compared to soft tonneau covers that won’t support more than 15-20 pounds without caving in.
    The manufacturers promise a five minute install time; back up their weather seal with a quality promise, and have a simple locking system that gets you on the road quickly. These same features also extend to their model for a 6’7 bed as well as their short-bed 5-foot version. That’s a great thing in our book, as we’ll always take some additional security and rigidity for our covers.
    Our only complaint is that the manufacturer doesn’t cut MSRP on their standard-length models, which feels a little unfair—if you don’t have a long-bed pickup, there’s really no reason not to select a more affordable and equally good option.

    Pros
    Rigid tonneau cover for a longer bed pickup truck
    Five minute install time
    Weather sealing tech comes with a quality assurance from the manufacturer
    Cover can support up to 350 pounds of evenly distributed weight
    Simple locking system for sealing up your cargo

    Cons
    Five-foot version isn’t any cheaper than long-bed varieties

    8. Most Durable Cover: Proven Ground EZ Hard Fold Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This tri-fold cover with an aircraft-grade aluminum frame will be good to go for whatever you throw at it.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2000, 2019-2020
    With a tri-fold panel design, an aircraft-grade aluminum frame, and a marine-grade vinyl to cover everything up, this cover from Proven Ground holds up fantastically well to years of hard use and hard weather. It’s a tri-fold design, proven to be effective when designing tonneau covers, constructed with hard panels coated with black epoxy for rigidity and UV protection.
    It does fall prey to a flaw of many modern trucks, a lack of compatibility. It’s only compatible with two specific models of Chevrolet trucks, and those two only in two specific model years. It’s not the end of the world, as most people aren’t frequently buying and selling trucks, but if you’re buying covers for fleet vehicles, or you’re planning on an upgrade, consider the fact that it won’t be compatible with anything made after 2021.
    Thankfully, though, with a hard-panel tri-fold design and that aircraft-grade aluminum we touched on, it should be good to take many years of whatever you can throw at it.

    Pros
    Aircraft-grade aluminum frame for structure
    Uses a black epoxy coating for rigidity and UV protection
    Marine-grade nylon vinyl for cover
    Holds up well to hard use and weather

    Cons
    Not compatible with truck models after 2021

    9. Xcover Low Profile Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This mid-range tri-fold cover has silicon seals to keep out the weather, although it’s still easy to remove and reinstall.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: 2007 – 2013 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado
    This user-friendly, mid-range tri-fold cover has a slick look and a weatherproof seal. Once clamped on, the silicon seals align perfectly with the rails of the bed to keep weather out. Unlike with some tonneau covers that can be pretty tricky to uninstall thanks to tight and nearly-permanent attachment systems, this cover is designed to be secure but simultaneously easy to use.
    While it’s semi-permanently attached with the tool-less installation method, it’s got a one-finger guarantee: once you’ve unlocked it, the whole thing can be opened up with a single digit. But that semi-permanent installation feels a bit more flimsy than with other models, as the hardware isn’t as impressive as other models and doesn’t have the rubber covers to protect your truck bed rails from scratches and minor aesthetic damage.
    But more than anything, we value the phenomenal warranty that this hard tri-fold cover includes. It’s got five years of coverage against all of the materials and workmanship. While that’s not the no-questions-asked, lifetime warranty that the Rough Country Tonneau Cover has, it will cover you in pretty much all cases of damage or wear.

    Pros
    Slick look with a weatherproof seal
    Secure but easy to attach with a tool-less installation method
    Five years of warranty coverage against materials and workmanship
    One-finger guarantee promises easy operation

    Cons
    Hardware is cheap feeling and may not last long
    Clamps and bolts don’t have rubber covers to protect from wear and tear

    10. Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold Truck Tonneau Cover

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: While it’s technically a soft tonneau cover, the inclusion of a dual-coated marine-grade vinyl makes this phenomenal for those looking for a bit more flexibility.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Vehicle Compatibility: 1988-2007 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra
    With no metal paneling placed throughout the cover itself, this is technically a soft tonneau cover, although a metal aircraft-aluminum frame paired with dual-coated marine-grade vinyl is good enough for us to give it a chance on our list.
    While that makes it slightly less secure (and less heavy) than options with metal paneling, it’s still equally structurally rigid when weight is placed on top, although it is more susceptible to punctures. If you plan on doing that regularly, try a harder cover like the DNA Monitoring TTC Hard Truck Bed Top Tonneau Cover.
    It attaches to the bed with stainless steel clamps that are corrosion resistant: this means a long lifetime and no drilling (or tools at all) required for installation. There’s one exception for that tool-less install, however: if you’ve got a bed liner that extends over the rail of your pickup bed, you’ll have to cut some holes to properly fit the tonneau cover. Any other bedliner, though, and you’ll be good to go.
    Like most tonneau covers, it comes in one color: black, which is a plus in our book. While the company that produces this cover has a limited lifetime warranty to back up their product, make sure you’re properly measuring your product before a purchase: you’ll have to pay for oversized shipping if you end up purchasing the wrong product for your truck.

    Pros
    Equally structurally rigid as metal truck covers
    Uses lightweight dual-coated marine-grade vinyl
    Stainless steel clamps don’t require drilling and are corrosion resistant
    No tools needed for installation

    Cons
    No returns if you pick the wrong size
    No metal paneling for security and protection
    Vinyl cover is more susceptible to punctures

    Buying the Best Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
    Protecting your pickup bed has tremendous benefits, and not just for your cargo. A tonneau cover doesn’t just protect your load, but also protects the pickup bed itself and increases fuel efficiency. Finally, it increases the value of your truck and presents a positive signal to potential buyers that it’s a vehicle that has been taken care of.
    Tonneau Cover, Truck Topper, or Something Else Entirely?
    As there are tons of many types of truck owners, all with different needs, there are also many tools used to cover up a truck bed: are you just looking for weather protection, do you need security, or are you primarily thinking about aerodynamics and aesthetics: keep in mind that there’s no wrong answer, just a solution for your specific needs.
    We’ll help you out by describing four drivers, each with a different need and ideal solution.
    Driver 1: Hard Tonneau Cover: A truck owner with a hard tonneau cover is an urban or suburban driver that sometimes uses his pickup for big hauls, but mostly uses it for commuting and occasional smaller trips.
    A hard tonneau cover is one of the most popular truck cover options, probably thanks to the fact that it’s a middle ground option. It’s impermanent; you can remove it in just a few minutes, but it’s secure and can be securely locked.
    Driver 2: Soft Tonneau Cover: A truck with a soft tonneau cover has broad use cases. Some drivers use them permanently, others tuck them away in the cab and pull one out whenever necessary. They’re waterproof and some can even lock up, but they can be cut open without too much trouble.
    Driver 3: Truck Topper: Truck toppers are rigid, semi-permanent, and secure with a lock. You’ll have a tough time purchasing one online, though, as they’re big and don’t fold down. While they can store more cargo than a pickup bed with a tonneau cover, for example, you’ll still have a tough time fitting the biggest cargo in. Truck toppers are a bit heavy but great for fuel-efficiency. Like tonneau covers, they can range in price broadly.
    Driver 4: Tarp: Our fourth driver stores a tarp in his truck with some tie-downs or bungee cord, only bringing it out when hauling cargo in inclement weather. A tarp won’t produce a tight seal, nor does it protect your cargo, but it should be fine to keep most of the water of your lumber or construction materials. It won’t help with fuel efficiency.
    If none of these options sounds appealing to you, well, you should probably think about an SUV!
    A Primer on Tonneau Cover Materials
    Tonneau covers, as with many car-related products, love to use technical materials to distinguish themselves from other manufacturers. Below, we give you a breakdown of the most popular materials used in tonneau covers and break down the facts from the marketing hype.
    Aircraft-Grade Aluminum: Tonneau covers like the Bak BakFlip MX4 Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover love to advertise that they have frames made of aircraft-grade aluminum. It sounds impressive because it is: it’s both stronger, lighter, and more impact resistant than standard aluminum.
    Standard Vinyl: Standard vinyl is a type of plastic that can be made into leather-like plastic sheets. The world’s third most popular plastic, it’s impermeable by water, durable, and inexpensive, which makes it popular for inexpensive tonneau covers.
    Marine-Grade Vinyl: Marine-grade vinyl is a step up from standard vinyl, coated with a compound that protects it from sunlight, moisture, and abrasion. It’s UV ray, bacteria, and mildew resistant. It’s preferable for tonneau covers, but a bit more expensive, although Lund Hard Tri-Fold Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover covers made of marine-grade vinyl are not any more puncture resistant or structurally sound than typical vinyl.
    Tips for Using a Tonneau Cover
    As with any truck or car aftermarket part, proper use and installation affect utility in a big way. A poorly installed or constructed cover won’t protect your cover from much. Proper product selection, use, and installation help make sure you maximize the value of whatever product you purchase.
    Installing a Tonneau Cover
    Installing a tonneau cover is really typically quite easy compared to other car modifications and repairs: some covers don’t even require tools for installation. Follow the steps below to install your cover with minimal trouble and for a good fit, although the process can vary a little bit depending on what type of tonneau cover you purchase.
    Fit Your Cover
    Tonneau covers require precision, which means you’re out of luck in the unfortunate case you’ve purchased the wrong product. This doesn’t just mean to buy a tonneau cover based on your truck model: take into account the dimensions of the bed (short bed, long bed, or standard bed) and even the model year of your car. Most covers are simply not compatible.
    Install Rails
    Tonneau cover rails are the metal components that the cover actually slides into. They’re clamped onto the edges of the bed and stay installed even when you take off the cover itself to haul bigger cargo.
    Install Rubber Seals
    The rubber seals attach to the rail and create a waterproof layer between the metal rails and the cover itself. Make sure these seals are installed flush and properly positioned if you don’t want to end up with wet cargo.
    Install Cover
    It’s finally time to install the cover itself. Depending on if you have a folding or rolling cover, slide the product into the rails so that it is flush with both the attachment mechanism and the rubber seals.
    Install Finishes and Fittings
    Your work isn’t over yet: you’ve got to make sure your cover stays in place. Screw in the anchor screws (preferably with a torque wrench) to lock things down, then attach trim pieces and seals. After that, you’re good to go!
    Using a Tonneau Cover to Maximize Aerodynamics
    A tonneau cover doesn’t just cover up the cargo in your pickup bed—it encloses the bed itself, helping to eliminate the aerodynamic effect that happens as turbulent air gets stuck in the bed. A cover accomplishes this by smoothing the airflow that rolls over the back of the truck, pushing off the back.
    All in all, a tonneau cover improves aerodynamics by approximately 10% to 15%, which over time can save you thousands of dollars: less expensive tonneau covers can probably pay for themselves with gas savings alone in under a year.
    Locking Up Your Tonneau Cover
    While many soft tonneau covers don’t have the option to be locked, many hardtop versions lock with an internal lock or have a keyed/combination U-lock. This lock is typically placed close to the liftgate of the truck, and although it’s more secure than a soft cover or an option without a lock, it’s definitely not as secure as your truck cabin. Still, out of sight means out of mind, and that goes a long way with opportunistic thieves.
    Tonneau Cover Maintenance
    First of all, hard tonneau covers last longer than soft ones, so you should get somewhere between three and five years of use out of your cover, depending on how hard you are on your cover.
    The cover itself typically isn’t what fails first, unless you get in the bad habit of placing heavy objects on top of it. It’s the plastic trim that decays first, and you can’t do much about that aside from using a plastic/rubber conditioner like this one every couple of months.
    Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make your tonneau cover last even longer. It’s not water and snow that wear out the cover, but dirt, dust, and road salt that slowly wear out your cover. Sun can be problematic as well, so if you can park your truck in the shade, you can extend your tonneau cover’s lifespan significantly.
    Routine Maintenance
    We recommend performing routine maintenance once every several months if you don’t drive much or once every oil change if you do a lot of highway driving. It doesn’t have to be too involved, but takes a little bit of time and effort. Make sure you’re not treating your tonneau cover with the same materials as the rest of your vehicle paneling and trim.
    Start by rinsing down the surface, then pat the surface down. Use a spray nylon cleaner like the Tyger Tonneau Cover Cleaner, then agitate the solution with a brush, cloth, or sponge. If there’s a stain, you can let the product sit for a few minutes. Afterward, rinse clean and let it air dry. Once every other cleaning you can apply a rubber conditioner. This 30-minute process can lengthen the life of your cover by upwards of a year if done frequently and correctly.
    Tonneau Cover FAQ
    How Much Does a Hard Tonneau Cover Cost?
    Tonneau covers range wildly in price. While you can typically pick up a soft tonneau cover for around $100, hard tonneau covers start out at around $200 at the low end and can cost well over $1000 for versions made with exotic, lightweight, and thus expensive materials. These more expensive covers are typically longer-lasting, produce a stronger seal, and have a higher resistance to weight.
    What’s Better, a Hard or Soft Folding Tonneau Cover?
    Looking at price, a hard folding tonneau cover is definitely more expensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for all users. While hard tonneau covers are certainly more durable and longer-lasting, soft-folding tonneau covers are easier to put on and remove, which has its advantages.
    As they take up less space, you can store a soft folding cover for occasional use when the weather turns somewhere in your cabin. If you want a permanent solution, however, and you’ve got a larger budget, a hard cover will typically serve you better and protect your cargo.
    What’s Better, a Roll-up Cover or a Folding Cover?
    As far as folding hard covers go, there are different types for different users. If you’re looking to minimize price and weight, think about a roll-up cover that uses synthetic compounds as opposed to metals to maintain rigidity. Tri-fold and bi-fold covers are better at maintaining rigidity and can hold more weight but they’re generally a bit more expensive, they’re harder to maneuver, and they are almost always heavier.
    Where Does the Word “Tonneau” Come From?
    Tonneau is a technical term for any open cargo compartment of a truck or car. It comes from the French word that means ‘cask’ or ‘barrel.’ Any pickup bed or open truck bed can be referred to as a tonneau, thus, any covering for that cargo compartment can be called a tonneau cover.
    Keep Your Cargo Safe
    As a truck driver, there are few things more important than the cargo you haul in your pickup bed. So it’s important to keep that cargo protected, and while there are many ways to do that, one of the most effective protection methods is a hard tonneau cover.
    Hard tonneau covers attach semi-permanently to the rails of your pickup bed, providing a lockable yet removable method to secure and protect the contents of your bed. While they’re a little bit pricey, they can pay for themselves over time by protecting your valuables and even making your truck more aerodynamic. More

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    The 10 Car Battery Disconnect Switches 2021

    We’ve all been there. You stuck your weekend car in the garage, then life happened, and now it’s been 4 months. The battery is drained because there’s some gremlin that’s draining your battery, and you didn’t know about it. Now what would have been a pleasant drive up the coast is a day spent looking for the charger you swear you had in the shed. Next time, throw a disconnect switch on your battery before you store it.
    If you are looking for a disconnect switch, we put together this guide for you. We’ll talk about the basics, give you a top ten list with reviews, and follow up with some in-depth stuff. In the end, we’ll try and answer any question you’ll have and get you informed as fast as possible.

    Battery Disconnect Basics
    There is nothing complicated about a disconnect switch; their entire function is summed up in the name. There are some key things to keep in mind when looking for one, though. First, let’s look at some of the reasons you might install a disconnect. Knowing the application will help you determine which features you want.
    Reasons to Install a Disconnect
    The following are the common reasons to install an on/off switch for your battery. We’ll go more in depth in the big guide on these.
    Security: If the battery does not provide power to the starter, a would-be thief can not start the car unless they connect it.
    Battery Longevity: Disconnecting the battery before putting a car in storage will prevent the battery from discharging while in storage.
    Convenience: When you work on a car, the first step is often “disconnect the battery.” If you work on your car a lot, it can save a ton of time if all you have to do is flip a switch.
    The Types of Disconnect Switch
    Two main categories separate different switches from one another: where they can be installed and how they operate.
    Install Location
    There are two primary places you can install a disconnect switch.
    On the Terminal: Many switches attach directly to a battery terminal.
    Remote: Remote switches can be installed anywhere that you can reach. You simply run the battery cable to the switch and then to the car.
    Operation Type
    There are basically four different ways that a switch will work.
    Rotary: A rotary switch is very simple and is the most common type. You just turn the dial on or off.
    Screw: A screw style switch uses a knob that you unscrew to turn off. They are very simple and hard to damage.
    Key: A keyed switch needs a special key to turn the switch on or off.
    Knife: A knife, or blade, style switch is a lever that makes a connection between two contact points.
    Other Considerations
    There are a handful of other considerations beyond the type of switch.
    Amperage Rating: We’ll talk more about amperage below. Generally speaking, it’s not something you have to worry about unless you have extra lights, an aftermarket sound system, or a larger vehicle. 100-200 amps is sufficient for most vehicles.
    Weatherproofing: Boats, off-road vehicles, and heavy equipment should use switches that are waterproof and protected from mud.
    Price: Disconnect switches are relatively inexpensive, but some do cost quite a bit more than others. You’ll have to pay more for high amp ratings, all-metal construction for durability, and specialized designs.
    Access: Most switches will be installed near the battery, so you need to be able to get to the cables and reach the switch. If you can’t, or don’t want to have an easily accessed switch for safety reasons, there are relay-based switches that can be installed anywhere.
    Looks: It’s probably not a priority for most people, but it’s nice to have a switch that fits into the theme of your build or is high-contrast and easy to find.
    That’s about it for features and qualities. When you look through our list, just note that primarily we wanted to make sure we have a good variety for you to choose from. That way, you can find the one that fits your needs the best, even if it’s not the one we think is the best.

    Top 10 Car Battery Disconnect Switches 2021
    1. Best Overall Switch: Kohree Battery Disconnect

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: The Kohree Battery Disconnect is just a basic, easy to mount disconnect switch. It’s inexpensive and does its job; it’s hard to beat that combo.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Rotary Switch
    Amp Rating: 275
    The Best Feature
    The Kohree switch is just a simple on/off dial. Nothing really stands out about it, but it works just fine, and it’s inexpensive. It’s easy enough to mount, simple to use, and is instantly identifiable as a battery disconnect. Usually, that’s all you want.
    What Could be Better
    It’s all plastic, which means it won’t last as long as a metal switch. Most people don’t disconnect their batteries often, so this switch will probably last as long as your battery with no issue.
    The bigger issue is that it can’t be installed flush. In fact, it’s a little awkward to install altogether. It has plastic covers that keep debris out, which is nice but adds frustration to the process.
    How Does it Compare
    Everything else on our list has some specialty. That means if you need something specific, there’s probably a better option. For instance, if you have a high amperage application, there’s this switch that can handle a lot more current. If you need better security, this inexpensive switch is operated by a separate key. If flush mounting is important to you, this QuickCar switch is perfect.
    For most people, though, the Kohree Battery Disconnect is fine, and that’s why we recommend it.

    Pros
    Inexpensive
    Easy to use
    Easy to find

    Cons
    Not as durable as other switches
    Can be frustrating to mount

    2. Best Budget Switch: Top Post Master Disconnect

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These simple screw-style switches are inexpensive and couldn’t be easier to install.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: On the terminal
    Type: Screw
    Amp Rating: 300
    The Best Feature
    The best thing about a screw style post mount switch like this is that they could not be easier to install. You pop the battery cable off and slip the switch onto the terminal. That makes installing these switches a very approachable project for anyone. They are also cheap, but unlike a lot of inexpensive things, they are still fairly strong.
    What Could be Better
    You have to mount it to the battery, which means you have to have access to the battery to use it. You also need space, although not as much as other styles of terminal mounted switches.
    The only issue that you might run into is that since they are so cheap, there are inconsistencies from part to part that affect the size and shape. You may find that it’s not quite big enough to just slip onto a terminal or that the post is too big for a standard cable end. It’s nothing a tap with a rubber hammer won’t fix, but it can be annoying.
    How Does it Compare
    We have a right angle switch here that installs and functions identically but can help if your cable routing doesn’t allow for the extra length this switch offers. Also, if you don’t have a standard post style battery, you’ll need a remote switch or a side post switch.
    You will have to spend more for just about everything else, though, even if it’s not much more. When a car part can be cheap and straightforward, it’s hard to justify spending more for a piece that performs the same.

    Pros
    Inexpensive
    Simple to install
    Durable

    Cons
    Won’t fit on some batteries
    Might need to be reshaped to fit your car

    3. Best Premium Switch: Flaming River FR1044

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: If you are racing or just want something that is hardcore, you need a switch like this. It’s waterproof, impact-proof, and has its own sturdy mounting bracket.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Rotary Dial
    Amp Rating: 250
    The Best Feature
    The Flaming River switch can handle 2,500 amps for short bursts. That gives it the highest amp rating on our list and makes it one of the very few switches suitable for being installed on a large battery. People with bigger trucks or huge sound systems who need a shutoff will love that.
    What Could be Better
    It’s the most robust switch on this list, but it’s also the most expensive. Most of the time, that won’t be an issue. If you need a switch like this, especially if you’re building some kind of competition vehicle, chances are you’ve already spent a lot more on other components.
    The other issue, and it’s a really minor issue, is that it can disappear in an engine bay. The black mounting bracket and dull metal finish make it blend in with grease and bolts. It’s nothing some red paint can’t fix, but most other switches on this list are already high-contrast and easy to find.
    How Does it Compare
    The Blue Sea Systems switch is also an all-metal, waterproof, and high-current switch. Unless you really need the extra amp rating that this switch offers, the Blue Sea Systems switch will work just fine and save you a lot of cash.

    Pros
    Waterproof
    Heavy-duty
    High amp rating

    Cons
    Very expensive
    It’s probably more than you need

    4. Waterproof High-Current Switch: Blue Sea Systems

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This bright red switch is easily identifiable and easy to use, but the best part is that it can be installed in a variety of ways. That keeps everything clean and tidy under the hood.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Rotary Switch
    Amp Rating: 350
    The Best Feature
    It’s indestructible, has a high amp rating, and can be installed anywhere. If you have an RV or boat that has batteries in need of isolation, this is perfect. It’s especially good for RVs since it’s rated to 48v. A battery bank with 4 batteries can all be hooked to this single switch.
    What Could be Better
    It is a bit expensive. That’s because it’s made of metal and has beefy internal parts, which means that the quality is worth the price. It just is rather expensive for what amounts to a fancy light switch.
    It’s also not the most intuitive thing to mount. It has four holes through the case that you can run a bolt through, but if you are going to install it on a dash, it’ll protrude awkwardly, or you’ll have to source out a faceplate for it.
    How Does it Compare
    This switch sits comfortably between the Flaming River switch and the Kohree switch. It has a much higher amp rating than the Kohree but has a higher price to match. If you just need a simple switch for your car or RV and don’t need the extra durability or heft, the Kohree might suit you better.
    On the other hand, if you have a race car and need something even more robust, the Flaming River switch is what you need.
    If you have a boat, though, we consider this your best option. Even though the Kohree is technically rated for marine applications, you are going to want the extra quality that this switch offers. It’s one thing to be stuck on the highway waiting for a tow truck. It’s a whole new level of frustration rowing a large boat back to a dock.

    Pros
    Well-made
    High amp rating
    Waterproof

    Cons
    A little expensive for a switch
    Can be hard to mount

    5. Best Relay Switch: Stinger SGP38

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: A disconnect switch attached to a relay can be installed near the battery but operated from anywhere. That makes them perfect for anti-theft applications.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Relay
    Amp Rating: 80
    The Best Feature
    Most switches have to be installed near the battery because it’s difficult to run the heavy cables needed. A relay controlled switch solves that issue because you can install the body close to the battery but operate it using a switch mounted anywhere.
    The biggest reason to use something like this is that it makes for excellent theft protection. You hide the on/off switch somewhere in your cabin, like under a cup holder or behind a false panel. When you park in a bad area, you flip the switch. That way, even if some loser manages to get into your car, they can’t hotwire it since the battery is disconnected.
    What Could be Better
    The amp rating is fairly low, which is unfortunate. If you are isolating a secondary battery or just interrupting a solenoid signal for anti-theft, it’s fine. It’s going to break if you try to use it as a main cut-off for your entire system.
    How Does it Compare
    If you compare this switch to a dedicated disconnect like the Blue Sea switch, you’ll find a lot to complain about. The Blue Sea switch is waterproof, can handle a large amount of current, and is incredibly durable. This Stinger switch is none of those things.
    All that really means is that you have to do a lot more thinking and prep to best utilize this relay switch. If you want something similar but a bit easier to use, check out the wireless relay switch. It’s more complicated, but you can operate it from anywhere.

    Pros
    The switch doesn’t need to be near the battery
    Good for theft protection
    Easy to operate

    Cons
    Has a low amp rating
    Is more complicated to install

    6. Easy Access Switch: Zoostliss Battery Disconnect

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This is a very inexpensive switch that can be mounted remotely for easy access.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Rotary Switch
    Amp Rating: 500
    The Best Feature
    There are two neat things about this switch, and both lend themselves well for using this switch on smaller, non-car things. The first thing is that it’s easy to mount anywhere since it’s really compact and designed to be externally mounted. The second thing is that it’s operated using a removable key, so if you don’t want someone to use your lawnmower when you aren’t home, you can just leave with the key.
    What Could be Better
    The quality could be better. That’s something that’s expected from a cheaper product, but it’s worth saying.
    The other issue is that you can lose the key. The key is on the big side and awkwardly shaped, so it is not something you can just thread onto your keychain and forget about. Chances are you’ll throw it into a toolbox where it will get lost in a sea of sockets, and then you’ll go to try and dump your trailer of dirt and won’t be able to find it.
    How Does it Compare
    The Zootliss switch here is low in cost, which lets it compete against the screw style switches. That means if you don’t want a terminal mounted disconnect and are on a budget, this is the best option we list.
    However, the Top Post Master switch, or a more expensive switch like the one by QuickCar, will serve you better if you want a disconnect for your primary vehicle. Neither will leave you stranded if you lose the key, and both are of higher quality.

    Pros
    Inexpensive
    Secure
    Easy to install

    Cons
    Quality could be better
    If you lose the keys, you’re out of luck

    7. Great Looking: QuickCar Racing Products 55-010

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: The QuickCar switch looks great with its black mounting plate and a bright red dial.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Rotary Dial
    Amp Rating: 125
    The Best Feature
    This switch isn’t unique in operation or function, but it is unique in the fact that it looks like it fits in a high-performance dash. It has a mounting plate that is more familiar than the standoffs that many switches use, and the high contrast red on black color scheme fits right into the racecar motif.
    What Could be Better
    There’s nothing really wrong with it, but there’s a lot of little areas that could be improved. It’s not as protected as other switches, so a little bit of shielding and waterproofing would go a long way to improve the design.
    It would also really benefit from a higher amp rating. It’s fine for your dirt oval car that has a total of 3 wires, but the minute you add radios, lights, and beefy ignition systems you’ll reach the limit of what this switch can handle.
    How Does it Compare
    If you are considering this disconnect, you are looking for something that fits your high-performance car. There are two other switches on our list that are meant to be used as safety disconnects on race cars or similar: the Flaming River switch and the Blue Sea Systems switch.
    Both are more expensive than this QuickCar switch, but both can handle a lot more amperage. If you have a truck or something that will get covered in mud, the Blue Sea switch is waterproof. If you have a car that has a really serious electrical system and can pull over 1,000 CCA, get the Flaming River switch. If you have a race car on a budget or a restomod that has to look good, the QuickCar is perfect.

    Pros
    Looks good
    Has a standard mounting plate
    Is inexpensive for its category

    Cons
    The amp rating isn’t very high
    It isn’t waterproof

    8. Wireless Remote Switch: WATERWICH 12V

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: The ability to disconnect the battery wirelessly makes operation effortless. Plus, it’s a great way to prank your friends.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: Remote
    Type: Wireless Relay
    Amp Rating: 180
    The Best Feature
    The best and defining feature of this shutoff switch is that it’s controlled by a key fob. That means you get out of your car, hit the keychain, and the battery is disconnected. If anti-theft is what you want most out of a disconnect switch, this is your best option.
    What Could be Better
    We wish it was easier to install. That’s what’s going to turn most people off when it comes to this device. Unlike a traditional switch that just needs one input and one output, a wireless remote switch needs constant power. That adds a layer of complexity and another failure point to the electrical system.
    How Does it Compare
    If you don’t value the ability to disconnect the battery from outside the car using the wireless transmitter, then there’s really no reason to get this switch. A standard relay switch like the Stinger is still great for anti-theft, and almost any rotary switch will be more reliable over time.
    One of the smaller things to consider is that it’s actually easier to fit into an engine bay despite being more complicated to install. Most remote switches still have to be accessed; you need to be able to reach in and flip the switch. With a relay switch, you don’t have to be able to reach it. You can hide it underneath the battery without any issue, meaning that even if thieves can jimmy your hood open, they’ll need time and tools to take your ride.

    Pros
    Can be operated outside the car
    Great for theft protection
    Can be installed in places with low access

    Cons
    Is more complicated than other switches
    Not as reliable as other switches

    9. Decent Side Post Switch: Abigail Disconnect

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: If you have a battery that uses side posts, common in GM vehicles, a side post switch like this one is perfect. It’s compact, easy to install, and inexpensive.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: On the terminal
    Type: Knife
    Amp Rating: 250
    The Best Feature
    The greatest thing about a knife-style disconnect is that they are incredibly simple and easy to understand. It’s just a bar of metal that is either making a connection or not.
    What that’s best for is for people who do a lot of work on their vehicle and will be connecting or disconnecting the battery often. You can flip it off, make a change, then flip it on without needing to spend a ton on a high amperage rotary switch.
    What Could be Better
    There are a few big disadvantages to the knife-style design. The most significant problem is that it has a ton of exposed copper, so you absolutely should not use it on the positive terminal.
    That leads to the second issue, which is that it has to be installed on the side of the battery. It takes up a lot of room, so if you are cramped for space in the engine bay, it’s a terrible option.
    How Does it Compare
    For most people, something like the Top Post Master switch is a better option because that style of terminal is more common, and that style of switch is more secure. However, if you have screw style terminals, which are really common in GM vehicles, then you can’t use the Top Post Master switch. That leaves a remote switch or something that can mount to the side of the battery like this knife switch.

    Pros
    Mounts to bolt in style battery terminals
    Very easy to operate
    Easy to install

    Cons
    Only fits a certain battery type
    Takes up a bit of space compared to others

    10. Alternative Budget Switch: GraceMe Right Angle

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: When a standard top post disconnect won’t fit, a 90-degree switch like this may be what you need.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Facts
    Install Location: On the terminal
    Type: Screw
    Amp Rating: 150
    The Best Feature
    This switch sits at an angle so that you have extra options when connecting the cable to the terminal. That’s especially useful if you have short cable or are worried about clearances.
    What Could be Better
    Screw style switches that mount to a terminal sufferer from the same handful of issues. The screw is a bit more prone to failure than a rotary dial is, and if you are unlucky, it’s easy to lose the screw if you take it all the way off.
    The bigger problem, and it’s one that affects every post style terminal connection, is that it only works with a specific size of terminal post. If you have screw in terminals or want to install the disconnect on something that isn’t a car, you are out of luck.
    How Does it Compare
    It installs and functions identically to the Top Post Master switch; it just has a different configuration. It’s still cheap, it’s easy to install and easy to use. If you don’t want something hanging off a terminal, get the inexpensive Zoostliss switch instead. For 90% of applications, this switch or the Top Post Master switch will be just fine.

    Pros
    Easy to install
    Easy to use
    Inexpensive

    Cons
    Only fits one type of battery
    Has to be mounted on the battery

    A Closer Look at Disconnects
    We said above that we’d get into some of the specifics. We would hate to be liars, so here we go. We will start with expanding on the different uses for a disconnect switch.
    Uses for a Disconnect Switch
    We mentioned it before, but the most significant factor when choosing a switch for yourself is what you are going to do with it.
    Race Car Safety
    Many sanctioned race bodies require a battery shutoff. You’ll have to check with the rules for whatever event you are participating in. Be aware that sometimes safety tech wants the switch on the positive side.
    Anti-Theft
    The general idea behind using a battery disconnect for anti-theft is that a thief can’t start the car and drive away if they have no power. The downside is that most disconnect switches are designed to be easy to get to, which means that the thief will be able to simply turn them back on.
    If you are looking for anti-theft from a switch, get one that either has a hidden switch that activates a relay or that uses a key. That way, even if a thief can get your hood open, they can’t simply hook the power back up.
    Storage
    You should generally disconnect your car’s, boat’s, or lawnmower’s battery before putting it into long-term storage. Most vehicles will have some parasitic loss. That loss comes from small devices or wiring issues that draw a tiny amount of energy from the battery. It may take those small leaks months to lower the voltage significantly, but they can kill a battery if left too long.
    If you are storing something with a battery long-term, consider picking up a battery maintainer as well. We have an entire article about them over here.
    Battery Isolation
    RVs, some trucks, and cars with aftermarket sound systems will often run multiple batteries. Some people will even install extra batteries to help run inverters and similar things. By isolating the batteries, you can control how they charge and what they are used for.
    While this is a common reason, you should consider using a battery isolator instead of or in addition to a disconnect. You can brush up on what those do here.
    Convenience
    Whenever you work on a car, you should remove the negative battery cable. Popular Mechanics has a good breakdown of why, including a mildly terrifying anecdote. If you do a lot of work on your car, or need to diagnose electrical problems, having a simple disconnect switch will save you a ton of time and frustration.
    About Amperage
    Amperage ratings can cause a little bit of confusion. Your battery is measured by the Cold Cranking Amps it can produce. That’s the amount of current the battery can produce for a very brief period of time to start the car.
    A switch will have a similar rating in terms of the maximum amperage. However, that information can be hard to find or inaccurate. The general amp rating is more accurate and easier to find on the switch. It’s a much more difficult number to derive from your car, though, which makes matching a switch to your electrical system frustrating.
    Adding Up the Accessories
    A very basic electrical system only has an amp draw of 50-100 amps, which means that every switch on our list is sufficient. In order to find out whether or not you need a high-current switch, you need to look at all the things attached to your battery. Start with 80, then add:
    +5 amps per extra light
    +100 for a high-performance or larger engine (5 liter+ or diesel truck)
    +20 for small subwoofer and amp
    +50 for a larger aftermarket sound system
    +20 for a small inverter
    +100 for a large inverter
    If you want to be more precise, you need to calculate the total wattage of all your accessories and divide that number by 12. Then add that number to the output of your alternator, and then give yourself a 5% margin of error. The truth is, though, the worst-case scenario is that you break your switch and are out a few dollars.
    Installation Tips

    Once you get your new disconnect switch, you have to install it. Keep the following tips in mind.
    Use the right cable size. If you are installing the switch far away from the battery, you may need a larger diameter cable. Use this simple calculator to find out the wire size.
    Beware of objects that can short out the switch. Especially if the switch is a blade or screw that is exposed, and extra especially if you are installing the switch on the positive or hot side of the battery.
    Be aware that many batteries have multiple wires for each terminal. The disconnect will not work unless you sever the connection entirely.
    If a battery disconnect is getting very hot, there is an issue. Disconnect the battery asap and look for shorts/double-check your amperages.
    A battery disconnect switch is not an engine kill switch. It cannot be used in place of one.
    FAQ

    What Does A Battery Disconnect Switch Do?
    As the name suggests, a battery disconnect switch is a device that breaks the connection between the car battery and the rest of the car. They are used for a variety of reasons, including anti-theft, safety, diagnosis, and to avoid loss of charge over time.
    Should The Disconnect Be On The Positive Or Negative Side?
    Most of the time, you should install a disconnect switch on the negative terminal. However, there are some situations that it’s better to install on the positive side. Multiple battery setups often have multiple grounds, so you have to use the single positive wire as the disconnect spot. Also, if you are drag racing, they often require the disconnect to be on the positive side.
    Can A Battery Disconnect Switch Go Bad?
    Yes, although it’s rare. Anything that has moving parts will wear out eventually. The good news is that if a disconnect switch fails, there is very little risk to your engine.
    Where Are Battery Disconnect Switches Installed?
    Most inexpensive disconnect switches are installed directly onto the battery terminal. Fancier switches can be remote and installed anywhere. They will often need to remain close to the battery due to factors like wire size and space, but there’s no rule that says you must do that.
    Why Is It Better To Disconnect The Negative Cable?
    The reason you put the disconnect on the negative side, as well as the reason you disconnect the negative side when working on the car, is that it lowers the risk of shorting out the system. The entire car is connected to the negative side through the ground, so if you accidentally touch the negative terminal to a part of the car nothing will happen. If you accidentally touch the positive side to the car, though, you will get sparks and risk damaging components.
    Wrapping Up
    Whether you are looking for convenience or peace of mind, a battery switch is a simple solution to many battery-related issues. If you have three minutes, a crescent wrench, and enough money to buy lunch, then you have everything you need to install a disconnect. Grab one and avoid the frustration of a dead battery. More

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    The 8 Best Winter Wiper Blades 2021

    When winter comes along, there are many things you’ll need in your home to cope with frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall. It is equally important for you to consider the tools you’ll need to drive safely in the winter months. Standard windshield wipers will often stop working once they’re covered in too much ice and snow. That’s why you need to buy a good pair of winter wiper blades.

    Important Factors to Consider When Buying Winter Wiper Blades
    There are many things to consider before purchasing the best winter wiper blades for you. In this section, we’ll talk about the benefits of using winter wiper blades and detail the most important factors to consider.
    Types of Wiper Blades
    There is a range of windshield wiper designs. The two biggest differences between the two factors. How they will be used, and how they will be mounted on your car.
    Let’s Talk about Hooks
    There are several types of hook designs on wiper blades. The most common are the J-Hook, Bayonet, and Pin Arm. The J-Hook is a more recent design and can be found on many of the newer brands of wiper blades. Check your manufacturer’s manual before purchasing new wiper blades to be absolutely sure which hook will work for your windshield wipers.
    Single vs. Dual Mount
    A single mount wiper blade will be extra-long in length. These types of wiper blades are used on larger vehicles like trucks and buses. This is because they have stronger motor mounts that can generate the appropriate amount of power to move the large blades back and forth across the windshield. Dual mounted wiper blades are the most common type you’ll find on vehicles. These come standard on cars and can clear away light layers of dust and rainfall.
    What to Look for in Winter Wiper Blades
    There are many factors to consider before purchasing winter wiper blades for your vehicle. Below we’ll share the most important things to consider before you buy.
    Length of Blades
    Windshield wiper blades will come in various sizes and are usually measured in inches. Remember that the wiper blade on the driver’s side will be longer in length than the passenger’s. Though many brands have a feature on their product page that allows you to check if their product is compatible with the make and model of your car, you should first check your manufacturer’s manual to find out the exact size of your wiper blades.
    Effective Water Repelling
    Melting ice will begin to accumulate on your windshield and can separate the attachment between the blade and rubber on your wipers. This will affect how well they wipe away precipitation on your windshield. You should get wiper blades that will automatically drain away melted ice to avoid this issue.
    Some wiper blades may be designed with an added chemical like silicone to help coat the windshield when it is in use. The layer it creates on the glass will encourage water to bead, which helps the blades wipe the water away more easily. If you live in a really rainy area, you should buy wiper blades with this water-repelling feature.
    Blade Grip and Covering
    The hinge joints on wiper blades directly affect how strong its grip is. Hinge joints will loosen over time, especially during the winter months when your blades have to work harder to remove ice and snow from your windshield.
    A covering (or sheath) over the blade joints will strengthen your blade’s grip and will help prevent the joints from loosening too much. Usually, blade sheaths are made of rubber because they have better durability. Check to see if the rubber is heat and corrosion-resistant, as this will encourage a more streak-free wipe.
    Curves on Wipers
    The curve of your windshield will determine the type of curve you should look for in wiper blades. This is especially important to consider if you have a very pronounced curve on your windshield.

    Top 8 Best Winter Wiper Blades 2021
    1. Best Overall Pick: Rain-X 2-IN-1 Wiper Blades

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: Rain-X 2-IN-1 Wiper Blades not only clear away ice and snow easily, but they also leave a protective coating behind on your windshield while they work, so that precipitation beads up and wipes away even more quickly!
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 18”
    Type: All-Season
    Buy in a 1- or 2-pack
    Key Features
    Rain-X 2-IN-1 is designed with built-in water-repellent technology, which protects your windshield and makes it easier to clear away rain, snow, and sleet while you drive. Additionally, the advanced beam blade technology ensures that your wiper blades will adhere more seamlessly to the contours of your windshield. Rain-X wiper blades are superbly aerodynamic in design, which makes them less noisy and less likely to lift in heavy winds.
    These winter wiper blades are easy to install. They come with a pre-installed universal adaptor that fits 96% of all vehicles! Some users have had issues with the rubber blade sliding out from the wiper when it is in use. To avoid this issue, be sure that the small plastic adaptor is properly locked into the wiper blades.

    Pros
    Water-repellent technology coats your windshield in a protective layer
    Beam blade design contours seamlessly to the curve of your windshield
    Aerodynamic feature reduces noise and wind lift

    Cons
    Rubber blade may slip if not installed correctly

    2. Best Premium Pick: Bosch Icon Wiper Blades

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: Bosch Icon wiper blades are superbly designed to clear away heavy snow with ease, to work quietly and to hold your wiper blades firmly in place, no matter how hard they’re working.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 26”
    Type: All-Season
    Mounting Type: Hook
    Buy in a 1- or 2-pack
    Key Features
    Bosch Icon wiper blades will fit almost any vehicle, and its beam-style bracket-less wipers will clear away heavy snow from your windshield in smooth, even strokes. Their hook adaptors make them easy to install.
    The wiper blades have dual-rubber technology with an outer silicone covering and an inner soft rubber core that moves with ease across your windshield. There are also pressure points along the length of the blade, so they will work quietly. The flexible asymmetric spoiler feature will help distribute an even downward force along the length of the blade to hold it firmly in place when it is moving at faster speeds.
    Bosch Icon blades are also heat- and corrosion-resistant, which keeps your windshield safe from damage and ensures the blades last a long time. They have a heavily curved design, which means they will not perform well on flat windshields. Some users have found that the blades streak badly when in use. Give your wipers a thorough clean if you run into this issue.

    Pros
    Compatible with most vehicles
    Hook adaptors make them easy to install
    Dual-rubber technology ensures blades move easily
    Asymmetric spoiler feature holds blade firmly in place

    Cons
    Won’t work well on flat windshields
    May streak heavily when in use

    3. Most Versatile: AERO Wiper Blades

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: AERO wiper blades come with options! You can purchase both front and rear blades in a variety of sizes.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 13-28” (front); 10-16” (rear)
    Type: All-Season
    Mounting Type: J-Hook
    Can purchase rear and/or front wipers
    Key Features
    AERO wiper blades are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) quality, which means they are used by a wide range of automotive companies on a variety of car models. This ensures that their blades will work with almost any type of vehicle. Just be sure to remove the plastic covering from the rubber blades when you install them.
    The blades are made with a Teflon coating, making them durable and ensuring a clean motion across your windshield when in use. AERO blades have an asymmetrical rubber spoiler design that helps them to stay flat, even when moving at high speeds. The blades are also bracket-less, which prevents snow from building up too much.
    Though the AERO blades are meant to work quietly and wipe your windshield clean, some users have found that the Teflon coating leaves behind a light residue, while other users have complained that the blades will skip and make a loud noise.

    Pros
    OEM quality that fits most car makes and models
    Teflon coating ensures blade durability
    Asymmetrical spoiler design holds blade firmly to the windshield

    Cons
    Teflon coating may streak
    Blades may skip on windshield

    4. Best Budget Pick: TRICO Ice Extreme Weather Wiper Blades

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: TRICO wiper blades make installation extremely simple. All you need to do is click them in place! If that’s not enough, these wiper blades also come with five different adaptors to ensure that they connect with almost all car makes/models.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 13-28”
    Type: Winter
    Mounting Type: Bayonet, Side Lock
    Key Features
    TRICO Ice Extreme Weather wiper blades are infused with Teflon, ensuring that they glide across your windshield in smooth, even motions. Adding to this, the flexible design keeps the inner parts of the blades from freezing, which also means that the blades will contour to the curves of your windshield more seamlessly.
    The heavy-gauge wiper resists tearing in extremely cold temperatures, ensuring that these blades will last a long time. They are also easy to install on your car with one click. They come with five different adaptors, so you won’t have to worry too much about the type of mechanism that holds the wipers on the specific make/model of your car.
    These blades are made specifically for winter use. Users who have used them during the summer and/or winter months found that the blades skip across the windshield frequently.

    Pros
    Teflon coating ensures a smooth blade motion
    Flexible design keeps inner parts of blade from freezing
    Blades contour easily to curve of windshield
    Heavy-gauge wiper is resistant to tearing in freezing temperatures
    Comes with five different adaptor options

    Cons
    Only for winter use

    5. Easiest to Install: ANCO 30-11 Wiper Blades

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    Why we like it: Thanks to the patented KuikConnect system, these winter wipers from ANCO are extremely easy to install.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 11-24”
    Type: Winter
    Mounting Type: J-Hook
    Can buy in 1- or 5-packs
    Key Features
    ANCO wipers are made specifically for use during winter. You will need to change them out after the winter season is over.
    The DuraKlear rubber compound makes the blades more flexible and helps prevent streaking on the windshield as it wipes. The rubber covering also prevents ice from building up on the hinges. The heavy-duty frame stands up well to the general wear and tear of constant use. Because the blades aren’t as curved as other products, they may not fit as well on newer vehicles.
    Its KwikConnect system means you can install these wipers in minutes. Be sure to keep a few spares. However, these blades are not as durable as other products. They’ll need replacing after about six months of hard use.

    Pros
    DuraKlear rubber compound ensures blade flexibility and prevents streaking
    Heavy-duty frame handles general wear and tear
    KwikConnect system makes them easy to install

    Cons
    Only for winter use
    Blades need replacing after approximately six months

    6. Michelin Stealth Ultra Wiper Blades

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    Why we like it: These basic rubber wiper blades are a good all-season choice that are good in mild or moderate winter conditions.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 16-28”
    Type: All-Season
    Mounting Type: Top Lock, Side Pin, Side Lock, Hook
    Key Features
    Michelin wiper blades keep your windshield free of rain and can stand up to mild winter weather. Its framework is encased to protect the blades against ice and/or snow buildup. The blades are designed with a basic rubber style, and they are extremely durable. When there is thick ice build-up, you will need to use a chipper to remove the ice for the blades to work properly.
    Its strongest feature is the independent suspension rail that connects the wiper tips. It ensures that the blades fit seamlessly against your windshield for an effective wipe. The Smart Hinge joints also help the wipers to grip firmly to your car across the length of the blade.
    The EZ-Lok connector system makes these wiper blades super easy to install and/or replace. Users warn that the instructions for installation are not very helpful, so it might be a long process for you if it’s your first time putting new blades onto your car. Once you figure out which adaptor to use, it should be fairly easy.

    Pros
    Stands up well in rain and mild winter conditions
    Basic rubber style is extremely durable
    Independent suspension and Smart Hinge joints
    EZ-Lok connector makes them easy to install

    Cons
    May not work well with thick ice buildup
    Installation may be tricky for first-timers

    7. Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blades

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    Why we like it: Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blades come with a variety of adaptor options to make installation quick and easy for most types of vehicles.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 16-28”
    Type: All-Season
    Mounting Type: J-Hook, Side Pin, Large J-Hook, Bayonet, I & L, PTB
    Can buy in 1- or 5-packs
    Key Features
    Rain-X Latitude wiper blades have a solid body design that is free of all those little holes that are on standard windshield wipers. This ensures that the wiper blades do not collect frost, ice, or snow. The blades have a blended graphite coating and a rubber encased substructure that ensures blade flexibility and grip when in use. The coating also reduces the noise it makes while it works!
    You’ll find the Rain-X wiper blades super easy to install with its pre-installed small J-Hook adaptor. It also comes with a variety of other adapter options: Side Pin, large J-Hook, Bayonet, I & L, and PTB. Just be sure to remove the plastic protector after installation for the wiper blades to work properly. Some users have found that the rubber slides off of the blade when in use.

    Pros
    Frame designed to prevent frost, ice and snow build-up
    Blending graphite coating ensures flexibility and grip
    Easy to install with a variety of adapter options

    Cons
    Rubber may slide off of blade when in use

    8. Michelin Cyclone Premium Hybrid Wiper Blades

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    Why we like it: If you’re looking for wiper blades with a strong grip and good flexibility, look no further. The soft rubber material and Smart-Flex design ensures that these wipers can handle harsh weather like snow, sleet, and hail.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Quick Facts
    Length: 16-28”
    Type: All-Season
    Mounting Type: Top Lock
    Key Features
    Michelin Cyclone wiper blades are made of soft rubber material for excellent flexibility. The blade will grip your windshield tightly for a cleaner, smoother wipe, and its Smart-Flex design creates multiple pressure points along the length of the blade to better deal with harsh weather conditions like sleet, snow, and hail.
    Installing these wiper blades is super easy with its EZ Lok connector system. Some users have stated that, though the wipers do an excellent job of keeping your windshield clear, they create a loud clunking sound as it wipes across the glass.

    Pros
    Easy to install
    Soft rubber blades are flexible and easily grip windshield
    Multiple pressure points on the blade make it easy to deal with sleet, snow, and hail

    Cons
    Can be noisy when in use

    Buying the Best Winter Wiper Blades

    If it’s your first time buying winter wiper blades, it can be difficult to know which ones are the best for you. In this section, we’ll review why you need winter wiper blades and the most important factors to consider before purchasing them. We’ll also discuss additional features to consider, talk about the differences between all-weather blades and winter blades, and share some tips on how to care for your wiper blades.
    Why Use Winter Wiper Blades
    Winter wiper blades will run across your windshield with a greater force, which is important when handling heavy precipitation like ice and snow. Unlike standard windshield wipers, winter wiper blades are specifically designed to handle cold weather with the high-grade rubber wrapped around the hinges to prevent ice buildup on your windshield.
    Key Benefits of Using Winter Wiper Blades
    Winter wiper blades push with a greater force than standard wiper blades. You’ll need this strength to handle heavy precipitation like ice and snow, as standard wiper blades are only equipped to handle rain and light dust.
    Winter wiper blades are specifically designed to handle cold climates. They have high-grade rubber wrapped around their hinges that prevent ice buildup.
    Standard windshield wipers will bend over time when heavy ice collects on them and destroys their levers.
    Winter Wiper Blades Options
    The most common hook designs for wiper blades are J-Hooks, Bayonets and Pin Arms. Be sure to check your car’s owner manual before buying winter wiper blades.
    You should also be aware of the differences between single and dual mount wiper blades. Single mounts are extra-long in length and more appropriate for larger vehicles like trucks or buses. The motor mounts on these vehicles are stronger and generate more power to move the larger blades across the windshield.
    Dual mounted wipers, on the other hand, are the more common types of blades found on most standard-sized vehicles. They can handle clearing light dust and rainfall from your car’s windshield.
    Key Features to Look for in Winter Wiper Blades
    Below are the most important features to consider before you buy a pair of winter wiper blades.
    Wiper Blade Length
    Wiper blades will come in various sizes and are usually measured in inches. Keep in mind that the driver’s side wiper blade will be longer in length than the passenger’s. Though many products will allow you to check if they are compatible with the make and model of your vehicle, you need to first check your manufacturer’s manual to find out the exact size of your wiper blades.
    Water-Repelling Abilities
    Melting ice will accumulate on your windshield over time. This can separate the attachment between the blade and rubber on your wipers, which will then affect how well they are able to wipe away precipitation. You should get wiper blades that will automatically drain away melted ice to avoid this issue.
    Some wiper blades have an added chemical like silicone on them, which coats the windshield when they are in motion. The thin layer it creates on the glass will encourage water to bead, making it easier to wipe away. If you live somewhere that rains a lot, you should buy this type of wiper blade.
    Grips and Coverings
    How strong the grip is on your wiper blades will depend on the hinge joints. They will eventually loosen over time, especially when in use during winter months, as they have to work harder to wipe away ice and snow. Consider purchasing the Rain-X Latitude wipers, if you need a pair with good grip.
    The covering (or sheath) over the blade joints will help strengthen the blade grip and will keep the joints from loosening too much. Blade sheaths are usually made of rubber, as they are more durable. Look for rubber that is heat and corrosion-resistant. This will ensure a more streak-free wipe when they are in use.
    Wiper Curves
    If you have a windshield with a more pronounced curve, you will need to spend more time looking for wiper blades that will accommodate this. The TRICO Ice Extreme Weather Wiper Blades are a great option if you have a particularly curved windshield.
    Other Features to Look for in Winter Wiper Blades
    Though these factors aren’t deal breakers, you may want to consider them before purchasing your winter wiper blades.
    Aerodynamics
    The shape of your wiper blades is an important feature to consider when it comes to air resistance. A wiper with a more aerodynamic design like the Rain-X 2-in-1 will drag less and move more smoothly across your windshield, even during heavy winds.
    Noise Level
    Winter wiper blades are specifically designed to remove snow and ice from your car. However, when there is too much snow buildup on your windshield, some wipers can get pretty noisy! The quality of the rubber on your wiper blades will determine how loud they get. Additionally, wiper blades made of silicone are generally quieter. If you’re looking for wiper blades that are on the quieter side, consider purchasing the Bosch Icon Wiper Blades.
    Beam Blades
    These types of blades are bracket-less and have a steel spring built into the rubber. This design helps to better distribute pressure across the blade, ensuring that pressure isn’t solely focused on the joints. It also makes your blades more compatible with the curve of your windshield.
    Differences between All-Season Blades and Winter Blades
    All-season wiper blades are usually summer-specific and will have open frameworks. This is because they are not made to deal with snow or ice. This makes them lighter in weight than winter wiper blades that are made with sturdier and heavier frames.
    Though the all-season wiper blades will cause less stress to the wiper motor, they will not stand up well in heavy rain or snow as well as winter blades. All-season blades are also thinner and made of natural rubber. Winter blades, on the other hand, will be thicker and most likely made with a rubber compound. They will damage more quickly if exposed to heat and UV rays for too long, but they will be more effective at cleaning your windshield in the winter months.
    How to Install Winter Wiper Blades
    If this is your first time installing winter wiper blades, don’t fret! Watch the following video to learn how to set them up properly on your vehicle.
    [embedded content]
    How to Clean Wiper Blades
    From time to time, you may need to clean your wiper blades for them to function effectively. Watch the following video for tips on how to clean them properly.
    [embedded content]
    Replace Your Wiper Blades If…
    Your wiper blades are skipping across your windshield and not moving in a smooth sweeping motion
    Your wiper blades leave behind any streaks on your windshield.
    Your wiper blades only wipe away sections of dust or precipitation from your windshield.
    Your wiper blades make a squeaking sound even when they are wet.
    Final Thoughts
    Now that you know what to look for in winter wiper blades and the best product choices to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the right one for you! More

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    The 10 Best Car Fog Lights 2021

    While car owners sometimes refer to their brights as ‘fog lights,’ true fog lights are really a completely different category of headlights, installed separately from primary lights, daytime running lights, and brights. Unlike these conventional lights, which are all used during the daytime, fog lights are used to help other drivers see you in foggy and snowy conditions, while illuminating the road instead of reflecting off of the fog.

    What’s the Difference Between Fog Lights and High Beams?
    When shopping for auxiliary lights, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. While many use the terms ‘fog lights’ and ‘brights’ interchangeably, they’re quite different. As opposed to defining every type of auxiliary light, we’ll define fog lights below:
    Fog lights are a specific type of headlight mounted on the car specifically to cut through fog and illuminate the road ahead. Instead of lighting up the whole field of vision ahead, as with a standard headlight, the lights have a cutoff meant to keep the road illuminated without illuminating the fog itself. Most commonly, they plug into an existing slot (typically a factory option) on your vehicle below your headlights on the bumper.
    Features to Consider in a Car Fog Light
    Since car fog lights vary from small accessories to huge light bar setups, features can widely vary between models. Considering the following features below can help you get to the perfect car fog light setup for your vehicle.
    Type of Bulb
    Although most fog lights in the past used to be powered by halogen bulbs, since LEDs and HIDs have become more widespread and affordable, popular car fog lights are now sold with all types of bulbs.
    LED Lights
    LEDs, short for light-emitting diodes, are an ultra-energy-efficient and inexpensive way to provide high levels of illumination. Although there are plenty of expensive LED setups, the least expensive fog lights also tend to be LED-based. Since they’re so efficient, they don’t tax car batteries as much as other types of lights.
    Halogen Lights
    Incredibly powerful, halogen bulbs light up the road or trail with astonishing brightnesses of up to 12,000 lumens. These bulbs are not built for energy efficiency by any means, and although they’ve been largely phased out for residential use, halogen bulbs still remain on the market for cars due to their incredible illumination abilities.
    HID Lights
    Hid lights, short for high-intensity discharge lamps, are bulbs that look like a thin version of the incandescent bulbs you’re familiar with in your home. They’re less common, but relatively efficient, and above average in brightness. They work fantastically when paired with a type of headlight glass called a projector lens.
    Brightness
    Each fog light on the market has a different brightness level. Fog lights will start out at about 500 lumens and can get up to well over 5,000 lumens, although brightness and lumenage doesn’t tell the whole story. Bright bulbs that don’t have a well-defined light pattern can spill over, lighting up the fog in front of you more than the road ahead.
    Light Format
    Car fog lights can be set up in different ways depending on the intended purpose. Some small-format lights are simply for temporary emergency use while large light bars are used for heavy-duty illumination.
    Bulb
    Headlight standards like H8, H9, and H11 are typically relatively compatible with one another and use only a single bulb to screw into an already-existing housing. These bulbs aren’t the brightest or most advanced fog lights, but they do represent a major advantage over the stock bulbs that come with your car.
    Light Matrix
    While these aren’t officially car fog lights, we’ll include them in our article as they are an incredibly useful type of auxiliary light that many consider when looking to add to their existing headlights. A light matrix is what it sounds like: a large grid of small, bright bulbs (typically LEDs) that illuminate the road. While these aren’t fog lights in the traditional sense (technically, fog lights are only the lights that screw into specific slots below the bumper), they can function as fog lights when mounted downwards illuminate the road.

    Top 10 Best Car Fog Lights 2021
    1. Best Overall Car Fog Light: Marsauto 9006 LED Headlight Bulbs

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    Why we like it: These 4,000 lumen bulbs from Marsauto are easy to install and great compared to halogen bulbs.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 4,000
    Mounting Standard: 9006, HB4, HB4U, 9006XS
    Fog light bulbs are notorious for being difficult to install: fingers don’t fit into the holes where they’re supposed to, the metal slots are fragile and easy to strip, and the threads are razor-sharp, making it easy to cut your hands open. This bulb is one of the easiest to install, with the heat sinks in a good spot to grip onto. They’re also ‘no polarity’ bulbs that will be ready to go after 5-10 minutes, as opposed to competitor bulbs that can require housing and cover modification or even wiring changes to get them to work properly.
    These bulbs represent an improvement over a traditional halogen bulb of over 200%, but the brightness difference isn’t necessarily what helps with driver visibility: what most users consider to be more important is the tight spread of the bulb, which is really a beam of light more than an illuminating lamp. This is thanks not only to the pattern of the LEDs, but to the heat sink which helps direct the light and prevents the edges from diffusing outwards. Our only issue is lumenage, as you might prefer a slightly brighter bulb.

    Pros
    No-polarity bulbs are easy to install
    Represent a 200% improvement over halogen bulbs
    Heat sink prevents bulb from diffusing light

    Cons
    Slightly dimmer than other similar competitors

    2. Best Budget Fog Lights: Sealight LED Fog Lights

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    Why we like it: These 6,000-degreeKelvin bulbs blast crisp, white light for an incredibly economical price.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 4,800
    Mounting Standard: H8, H9, H11, H16
    We’re impressed with these fog lights, a set of budget bulbs that come in at only about $20 per set. While inexpensive, they’re still impressively featured in terms of stats. 4,800 lumens is double that of other economical bulbs, a 6,000°-kelvin tint produces a colorless, sharp, white light, and their LEDs are made with proprietary 6CPS technology, producing crisp light that doesn’t diffuse over longer distances.
    The particular bulb works in a wide variety of mounting standards, compatible with H8, H9, H11, and H16 fittings. This makes them quite a bit more versatile than other fittings. Be aware that the H16 fitting will produce a gentler, blue light, so if you’re looking for something ultra-bright and have an H16 fitting, consider a different bulb.

    Pros
    Works with H8, H9, H11, and H16 fittings
    4800-lumen brightness is double the brightness of other low-priced bulbs
    6CPS tech produces bright light that doesn’t diffuse
    6000 Kelvin tint is crisp and white

    Cons
    When used with H16 produces blue light
    4,800-lumen bulbs are less bright than expensive models

    3. Alla Lighting H11 LED Fog Light Bulbs

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    Why we like it: These H11 bulbs are incredibly long-lasting with an intelligent integrated circuit in the LED and a year-long warranty.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 2,800
    Mounting Standard: H11
    These bulbs aren’t the brightest on our list at 2,800 lumens, but they have a whole host of extra features that make them a standout product in our book. The first is a year-long warranty, almost unheard of in products at this price point. The second is an ‘intelligent’ LED-integrated circuit which improves cooling of the LED lights, increasing performance, lifespan, and even durability (when hot, LED bulbs become more fragile).
    Fitting into the H11 mounting standard and with a 6,000° Kelvin, ultra-bright white temperature, these are beyond the ‘pure white’ standard of 5,000° Kelvin into ‘blue light’ territory. While most drivers prefer yellow for extremely foggy conditions, plenty of drivers prefer the sharp, blue light these bulbs provide, especially in light fog or rain conditions.

    Pros
    Use a lighter bulb with an intelligent circuit for durability
    Sharp blue light works in light fog or rain conditions
    Year-long warranty covers any damage or product failures

    Cons
    2,800-lumen bulbs are some of the dimmest on our list
    These bulbs don’t produce clear white light

    4. Best HID Fog Lights: HID Warehouse Xenon Replacement Bulbs

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    Why we like it: These lights are our favorite HIDs on the market. Producing a soft yet bright blue light, they’re one of the few HID fog lights that can still be purchased.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: HID
    Lumens: 2700 lm
    Mounting Standard: H8, H9, H11
    HID lights make a comeback in this two-bulb set that’s compatible with H8, H9, and H11 sockets. While HID bulbs have shorter lifespans than LED bulbs, they have some distinct advantages over halogen lamps. From brightness to efficiency, HID lights have performance that’s orders of magnitude better than their halogen counterparts, for prices lower than LEDs.
    While HID bulbs aren’t as bright as LEDs, they’re both accessible and cheap. High-end competitors like Hikari produce bulbs with prices approaching $100, these can be purchased in the $20 price range.
    Product quality is backed up by a two-year warranty and a product guaranteed to stringent ISO 9001 standards for water and shock resistance. They’ve got many of the same quality assurances as LED bulbs for a fraction of the price. Due to their intricacies and low brightness, though, they’re best paired with a projector lens.

    Pros
    Inexpensive bulbs far outcompete halogen competitors
    Great product quality with a strong year-long warranty
    Some of the cheapest bulbs on the market
    Holds up to stringent ISO 9001 standards for water and shock resistance

    Cons
    Not as bright as LED bulbs

    5. Alla Lighting LED Fog Lights

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    Why we like it: These ultra-bright bulbs are efficient, easy to install, and come with a warranty.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 2,600
    Mounting Standard: H10
    The main feature to pay attention to with these bulbs? 2,600, the number of lumens packed into each of these 15-watt LEDs. That’s about 600% more than a stock bulb, yielding a noticeable improvement in both road surface illumination and visual range.
    With a 6,000° Kelvin light temperature that gives an ultra-clear white light temperature, range is good, although this ultra-white light combined with 5,200 combined lumens of brightness in some cases actually worsens fog performance. As a set of backroad brights meant to illuminate the road or trail, these work fantastically, but in particularly foggy conditions, they light up the fog itself, making visibility even worse.
    The bulbs use an H10 mounting standard, which is a little less universal than the H8/ H9/ H11 standard. Most trucks use this type of fitting, but check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if these bulbs will work for you. If they’re compatible, count on a full-year manufacturer’s warranty for any issues you have with the two-bulb set.

    Pros
    6,000° Kelvin bulbs produce clear white light
    600% more illumination than a stock bulb
    5,200 combined lumens of power (2,600 per bulb)
    Use a standard that works with most trucks

    Cons
    H10 mounting standard isn’t as versatile as the H8/ H9/ H11 standard
    In extreme conditions they make visibility even worse

    6. Torchbeam T2 LED 12,000 Lumen Bulb

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    Why we like it: These fog lights offer 12,000 lumens of light, which is impressive for the low price range. Furthermore, these lights last up to 50,000 hours!
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 12,000
    Mounting Standard: H8 / H9 / H11
    At a practically-daylight 12,000 lumens with 6,500° Kelvin of crystal clear white light, it’s impressive that bulb manufacturer Torchbeam has managed to produce this level of light for a remarkably low price. This bulb, more than any other on our list, is designed to have impressive statistics: alongside the incredibly luminous, white bulbs is a 50,000-hour quoted lifespan. Considering that the average car’s lifetime is just a fraction of that, these might be the only set of bulbs you’ll buy for your car for as long as you own it.
    Each of the two lights in this mid-range set utilizes just a single bulb, a relatively uncommon design for fog lights. While brightness is good in milder conditions, these bulbs have a tendency to diffuse in heavy fog, lighting up the mist just as much as the road ahead. This can be dangerous, although it’s probably not advisable to be driving in those conditions anyways. They’re almost too bright, although in low traffic conditions in milder weather, they’re perfect.

    Pros
    H8 / H9 / H11 mounting standard is versatile
    6,500° kelvins of light produce an incredibly clear, white light
    50,000-hour quoted lifespan can outlast your car
    Can be used in low traffic conditions in mild weather

    Cons
    Light diffuses in heavy fog, causing durability to suffer
    Can light up the mist instead of the road

    7. SNGL H16 Type 2 Super Bright CREE LED Fog Light Bulbs

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    Why we like it: Each of these fog lights has 12 LEDs, meaning the user can lose a single LED bulb and still be relatively unaffected.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 10,000
    Mounting Standard: H16
    These 6,000° Kelvin bulbs produce a clean white light via multiple light-emitting diodes on each stem, which doesn’t just improve light diffusion, but also means that you can lose a single LED without losing the entire light. While the manufacturer, SNGL, claims a powerful 10,000 lumens for these fog lights, that’s inaccurate on some level: the calculation is based on a sum total of each of the 12 LED bulbs in the product. Compare it to a single bulb design, and you end up with a brightness that’s realistically more in the range of 2,500 to 5,000 lumens.
    They do have a unique feature that other fog lights in this price range don’t have: adjustability. Each bulb has a starting setting that can be doubled or tripled in brightness, maximizing utility on backroads or allowing you to tone down the light in case you want to use these lights on roads with heavier traffic.

    Pros
    12 bright LEDs pump out a sum total of 10,000 lumens
    Three adjustable levels of brightness
    Useful for drivers transitioning from high traffic to low traffic areas
    Improved light diffusion

    Cons
    Brightness is overexaggerated due to measurement procedure

    8. Best for Ultra-Foggy Conditions: Alla Lighting H10 Fog Light Bulbs

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These LED bulbs are slightly less bright than competitors, which is actually better in some severe-weather applications.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 2800
    Mounting Standard: H10
    While these bulbs are impressively capable for being some of the cheapest H10 bulbs on the market, there are a few sacrifices that manufacturer Alla Lighting has made to cut down on the price. Firstly: lumens. 2,800 lumens (1,400 on each bulb) are better than a daytime running light, for sure, but actually less bright than most LED headlights on the market today.
    That’s not the end of the world, however, as some diehards in ultra-foggy and ultra-snowy climates swear by lower lumen lights in the worst conditions. Still, though, if you’re expecting something ultra-bright, look for something with more lumens such as the SNGL H16 Type 2 Super Bright CREE LED Fog Light Bulbs.
    They’re high-quality with a longer lifespan than most competitors, but don’t reach the 50,000-hour rating of expensive bulbs. They still back up their products, though. Alla Lighting is so confident in their bulbs that they’ll cover any material issues or product failures with their one-year warranty. It’s touches like that which make this already affordable product even more attractive, especially for shoppers on a budget.

    Pros
    Economical bulbs are less bright but may be superior in poor-weather performance
    Cover product failures or material issues with a one-year warranty
    Lower lumen bulbs sometimes work better in lower conditions

    Cons
    Those seeking brighter bulbs should look elsewhere

    9. Best Premium Fog Lights: Hikari Ultra H11/ H8/ H9 LED Bulb Fog Light Conversion Kit

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: These bulbs from aftermarket outfitter Hikari are pricey, but one of the best options if you’re looking to splurge on your fog lights.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: LED
    Lumens: 12,000
    Mounting Standard: H8 / H9 / H11
    If you’re looking for some ultra-high-end lights for your tuner car or JDM vehicle, this set from manufacturer Hikari could be what you’re looking for. They’re more heavily engineered than competitor products, with plenty of thought put into all aspects. From heat retention to light pattern and even the graphics on the lights themselves, there’s a reason these are the most expensive on our list by a factor of about two. The heat sink, counterintuitively, isn’t necessarily for overheating; LEDs run pretty cold anyways. Instead, it improves the focus, yielding to a more concentrated beam that projects light in a tight spread, great for fog, rain, and snow.
    12,000 lumens at 6,000° Kelvin mean these are both brighter and have a cleaner white light pattern than comparable halogens. Independent testing shows that these bulbs put out light that’s 270% more bright than competitors. Part of that is thanks to the concentrated light pattern that makes these safer than competitor products to use in traffic. The attractive styling and beam-like spread makes these great for your car’s looks as well, although it comes at a high price.

    Pros
    Compact lights are 270% brighter than stock competitors
    Heat sink keeps the pattern and spread cohesive
    Can be used in traffic safely
    Good for fog, rain, and snow

    Cons
    Double the price of similar competitors

    10. Sylvania H11 SilverStar zXe Gold High Performance Headlight

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    Why we like it: These bulbs are made with a technology many consider to be outdated, but there are still plenty of people that swear by the tech.
    Editor’s Rating:

    At a Glance
    Type of Bulb: Halogen
    Lumens: 5,600
    Mounting Standard: H11
    While halogen bulbs have been largely replaced by LED fog lights, there are some drivers that are still fans enough to pay the product’s premium price. The soft, gently diffusing light is what many mountain residents prefer, especially when driving in the winter in heavy snowfall.
    Unfortunately, there are reasons these lights have been phased out by automakers. Halogen bulbs begin to slowly dim after installation, with a working life of only 600-800 hours. This is just a fraction of many LEDs 50,000-hour quoted life expectancy (take the ultra-bright Torchbeam T2 LED 12,000 Lumen Bulbs) for example.
    There’s another reason to buy the bulbs aside from nostalgia or personal preference, though: compatibility. Since halogen bulbs run at different wattages than LEDs, cars manufactured before the LED revolution will require a pair of halogen bulbs. This forces drivers to buy halogen bulbs, and represents a significant part of the halogen bulb market. Other fans of halogens quote personality, quality of light, and the fashion of having a retro-looking bulb.

    Pros
    Halogen bulbs have stayed popular with many consumers
    Soft light is good for winter driving
    Some vehicles require halogen bulbs
    Some car fanatics prefer halogen bulbs for style purposes

    Cons
    Halogen bulbs have been largely phased out in recent years
    600 to 800-hour quoted life expectancy
    Begin dimming immediately after installation

    Guide to Buying the Best Car Fog Lights for 2021
    Fog lights are a product that you either need or don’t—and if you frequently drive in an area with inclement weather, well, you’ll need a pair. They’re not particularly expensive, either, as you can get a solid set of bulbs for around $20.
    But not all cars take fog lights, and not all drivers need them. First of all, you need to have a port for fog bulbs: only cars with the proper fittings can accept fog lights. Secondly, you need inclement weather. If you’re not driving in fog, snowy, or rainy conditions, it’s not worth it to buy an expensive car fog bulb. If you’ve got the required features and you need to navigate difficult driving conditions, then it’s worth it to spend some money on an upgraded pair.
    Should I Purchase Fog Lights as a Factory Option?
    It’s next to impossible to purchase replacement, aftermarket fog lights unless you already have an existing spot to place them. This typically comes as a factory option, although some dedicated vehicle owners set up their own fog lights using a combination of aftermarket parts and some MacGyver-like ingenuity.
    The decision to purchase factory fog lights is similar to the decision to purchase aftermarket ones. Examine your driving habits, the potential benefits, and the potential costs (these will be higher when selecting a factory option than with an aftermarket one). All things equal, they’re worth it, but when fog lights on high-end luxury vehicles can be a $1,000-plus option, the question gets a bit more complicated.
    Mounting Standard
    Different fog lights use different attachment methods to mount bulbs, meaning most cars will have different threads, different sized fittings, and different formats of bulbs. Those that are cross-compatible (H8, H9, and H11) all have different voltages, meaning they’ll all fit the same threading, but might have brightness variations based on the level of current.
    H8 / H9 / H11
    These bulb standards are generally compatible with each other save some exceptions. Check your owner’s manual to see exactly which standards your fog light slots are compatible with. Many manufacturers make lights that are universally compatible with these three standards, although you’ll want to double-check the wattage in most cases. If the wattage isn’t compatible with that of your car, you run the risk of burning out a bulb.
    H10
    H10 bulbs run at similar voltages to H8, H9, and H10 bulbs, although the threading is not cross-compatible. They’re often found in slightly older cars, although some manufacturers continue to use them today. They can sometimes be difficult to find in auto parts stores, meaning they’re a great candidate to be purchased online.
    H16
    H16 has the same standard fittings and threads as H11, although it operates at a different wattage. H16 bulbs produce a lighter blue hue due to the wattage they run at, which is considerably lower than that of traditional halogen bulbs.
    HB
    HB standards, sometimes labeled 9006 and 9006XS bulbs are less bright than competitors and produce a more diffused, softer light. They’re often preferred by those who frequently travel in inclement weather, especially in foggy conditions. While high-clarity, bright-white 6000° kelvin bulbs are great for snow and rain, they illuminate fog and sometimes make visibility even worse.
    Other Standards
    H8, H9, H10, H11, and H16 are easily the most common bulbs in American consumer cars, but occasionally rare, antique, or foreign cars might use another bulb standard. You’ll probably have to purchase these online as they’re not usually kept in stock at auto parts stores.
    Cornering Fog Lights
    The latest advancement in fog light technology is cornering fog lights, lights that rotate in their sockets in advance of cornering to illuminate the road ahead even before you begin turning. It’s really slick to see in action, and while in a perfect world, it marginally improves safety, manufacturers have had trouble with motor actuation and it often ends up being not only costly to install, but costly to fix as well.
    Our advice? Stay far away if you can, and if you happen to have cornering fog lights on your car, make sure they get serviced at the dealer: often warranties can be voided or nullified when car owners decide to take repairs into their own hands.
    Do I Need Car Fog Lights?
    While the average urban driver might not need auxiliary lights, there are plenty of great reasons for a typical driver to buy some fog lights. Drivers who drive in the following conditions should think about a set of fog light bulbs.
    Rural Driving
    The countryside is sometimes downright pitch black and there’s a good reason a lot of rural dwellers need to replace their brights more than city slickers. Fog lights light up the road itself at distances of up to 200 meters, and they’re often positioned in a spot on the car that doesn’t harm the field of view of other drivers.
    Off-Road Driving
    Not only do off-road trails not have the great lighting so many urban drivers are accustomed to having well-lit roads, but their trajectories are typically narrow and curving as well. Off-road trails are obviously dark, less wide and driveable, and can have overhanging debris, rocks, and branches. A nice set of lights can keep off-roaders fully aware of the scenery both on and slightly off the trail.
    Adverse-Weather Driving
    In poor weather, an extra few feet of visibility can be the difference between getting in an accident and getting home safe. Even when not in life-or-death weather, having the best lights available to you can be worth it just for the peace of mind. Get home safe.
    Tuners and Enthusiasts
    Some nice lights go a long way with the automotive enthusiast community. Along with adding an additional spot to include some anodized metal, fog lights can provide some cool photo opportunities. A pro tip? Check out super high temperature (white and blue hues) bulbs for the coolest night time pics.
    Car Fog Light Usage
    As many cars, especially less expensive models, don’t have fog lights, it’s not always well known when and how fog lights should be used. After all, most drivers get away with just having standard lights, daytime running lights, and brights. So when should fog lights be used to maximize utility?
    Fog lights have a different purpose than standard headlights (light up shared roads) and high beams (illuminate low-traffic roads when it’s very dark). With fog lights, there’s a simple rule: when your visibility is reduced to 100 meters due to weather conditions like snow, rain, or fog, or heavy darkness, use your fog lights.
    Watch out for other drivers as fog lights can negatively affect other road users. You can be more liberal with fog light usage in low traffic areas: mountains, backcountry, and rural areas, for example. At the end of the day, though, use your own best judgement. You know what’s safest for you, so use your gut.
    Are HID Lights Still Worth It?
    Inexpensive and bright LEDs have saturated the market in recent years, now available in all bulb standards and representing most of the lights available. They continue to drop in price as manufacturing gets cheaper and distribution becomes ever more common, all that as they continue to get brighter and longer-lasting.
    So if they’re bright, inexpensive, and long-lasting, how can ‘prehistoric’ lights stay competitive? Old bulb standards? Authenticity? Or is it preference that’s playing a role here? The answer: HID bulbs are really only competitive now against LEDs when paired with a specific type of headlight lens called a projector lens to help brighten and intensify the beam. Otherwise, no, they’re not usually worth it.
    Colored Fog Lights
    Different models of car fog lights sometimes use different color bulbs or tints to create colored light, performing better than white light under foggy conditions. The variation in this color is called light temperature and it’s measured in a unit called Kelvin. While standard fluorescent household bulbs are about 2,500 Kelvin, most car fog lights sit in the range between 3,000 and 6,000 Kelvin. This ‘warmer’ light is claimed by some to help pierce further in foggy conditions.
    Frequently Asked Questions on Car Fog Lights
    The important features of car fog lights, as with any aftermarket car part for enthusiasts, are sometimes obscured by marketing jargon and famous brand names. We clear up some of the most common questions below:
    Will Fog Lights fit on My Car?
    Fog lights come in different form factors, from bulbs that fit into your existing headlight sockets to separately attached brackets that require some serious vehicle modification. So how do you tell if a specific fog light will fit on your car? You’ll have to check for yourself. In our descriptions, we’ve described attachment methods, most product descriptions will tell you which standards, housings, or brackets a specific light will use.
    Are Car Fog Lights Legal?
    While completely lighting up the road ahead of you makes for incredible safety advantages, bright lights shining in the path of oncoming traffic can have dangerous safety repercussions in the form of reducing visibility. So while off-road and rural drivers in adverse, wintry conditions can improve safety when driving, there are laws in place to prevent people from using fog lights when they could potentially harm other drivers.
    While laws vary on a state-by-state basis, most states require fog lights to not be above a certain height, lighting up the road and not the fog itself. They also must be turned off in urban areas and when not necessary. For the most part, as long as you use fog lights with common sense and are aware of other road users, fog light use is totally legal.
    How do You Turn Fog Lights On?
    Vehicles with slots or threading for fog lights will have a switch somewhere on the dashboard (it could be an independent switch, it could be on the same stalk as your brights and standard headlights). If you have wired your own fog lights, or if you plan to wire your own fog lights, you’ll probably have to come up with your own solution as auxiliary switches are difficult to adapt for aftermarket purposes.
    What’s the Difference Between Fog Lights and Brights?
    Fog lights and brights are often mistaken for each other when used in popular vocabulary, but they’re actually very different pieces of equipment. Brights come standard on every modern car, an additional setting for vehicles to use in low light conditions. But while they’re effective and increase the range and visibility of your vehicle, they’re a completely different animal than fog lights.
    Fog lights are mounted below both headlights and brights, typically offered as an upgrade option when purchasing a car. They’re not available on all cars, and if they’re not installed as a factory option, it’s typically quite difficult to install them in the first place.
    Wrapping Up
    Fog lights, once you have a pair installed, are very easy to take for granted. But those who go from using their own auxiliary fog light system to a car without one can quickly realize how much they relied on the system in the first place! Fog lights will help you stay safe in dark, snowy, foggy, or rainy conditions, making sure you get home safe and sound every time. More

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    The 10 Single DIN Head Units 2021

    Music can be the difference between an infuriating commute to work and a pleasant experience. The problem is that most older factory car stereos lack the modern amenities that we are all used to. Those older car head units are also built to be cheap, so they leave a lot to be desired in the audio quality department.
    Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to upgrade your factory stereo, and people have been building custom sound systems since the first radio was installed in a vehicle. In this guide, we are going to look at single DIN head units. We’ll cover the basics and then look at 10 of the best head units on the market. After, we’ll take a closer look at head units in general and dispel some myths in an FAQ.

    A Quick Guide to Single DIN Head Units
    A head unit is the “face” of your sound system; it’s the part you interact with and the part that sends the signal to the speakers. A DIN is a specific unit of measurement invented by the Germans to standardize radio equipment in the early 1900s. Many cars, especially those manufactured before the 2000s, only have space for a single DIN head unit.
    If you own an older vehicle and want to upgrade your sound system, a new single DIN head is the perfect first step. The following is a quick guide to get you set up with a new one fast.
    Features
    The biggest way head units differ is the type and number of features they offer. You will generally want to know what features are important to you and choose a head based on that alone. It doesn’t do much good to know that a stereo has a good bass response if it won’t play your cherished collection of Abba CDs.
    Major Features to Look For
    The following features are the ones that most people look for in a stereo. Very few head units will have all of them unless you want to pay a great deal of money, so it’s best to just keep in mind the ones that are most important to you.
    CD/DVD Player: Many people don’t keep music on physical media anymore, which has led to many companies removing the CD drive from their head units. If you have a collection and still want that capability, it will limit your options.
    Touchscreen: Touchscreens are somewhat rare on single DIN head units. Usually, they are limited to either the “floating” style or the “flip-out” style. We’ll talk more about screens below.
    Apple Carplay and Android Auto: These apps, like touchscreens, are rare in the single DIN space. You can expect to pay a premium for them.
    Preamp Outputs: Most amplifiers require low-level, or RCA, outputs for easy connection. Most head units will have at least a subwoofer output for a monoblock, but higher-end head units usually have more.
    Other Inputs: HD/Satellite radio, AUX, USB, Video, and SD card inputs are other common inputs that people may want.
    Features Found on All Modern Head Units
    If you haven’t bought a stereo in a while or are used to older head units, you may not be familiar with some of the new standard features you’ll find on all head units. The following features are ones you will find on almost all head units on the market.
    Bluetooth: It was once a luxury upgrade for a car stereo, but now Bluetooth connectivity is standard.
    In-Car Calling: Like Bluetooth, this once hard to find feature is now standard. We’ll talk more about audio quality and call quality below here, but basically, every modern head will provide adequate call quality when properly installed.
    AM/FM Radio: Even the cheapest heads still have an antenna hookup. Only some have digital receivers, though, so if HD radio is important to you, make sure to look for it.
    USB Chargers: Most head units will have a USB port on the front for charging devices. Some will have the charger on the back with a cable you have to install.
    Make Sure It Fits
    When you install a new head unit, you will probably need an adapter kit for your specific make and model of car. The adapters can be found at any auto parts store or online store. The easiest way is to jump on Amazon and use the garage tool to quickly find a stereo install kit like this one for a 99 Firebird. Most cars, except much older ones, can be adapted for a single DIN stereo.
    Just be aware that some head units extend above or below the installation space. Some cars have very cramped interiors, and a big touchscreen might interfere with things like AC controls or vents.
    As we get into the reviews, keep in mind that these are the best single DIN units. If you have space for a double DIN unit, you should consider looking for double units instead. While you can adapt a double slot into a single, double DIN stereos are often a better value and offer a great variety of features. You can see our recommendations for touchscreen heads here that are mostly double DIN.
    Single DIN Head Units Reviewed
    Everything at a glance:
    You want a high-quality play-anything head unit from a trusted brand: Alpine CDE-172BT
    You want an inexpensive head unit that’s easy to use: Jensen MPR210
    You want a flip-out screen with Android Auto/Apple Car Play: Pioneer AVH-3400NEX
    You just want a cheap and simple head unit: Sound Storm ML41B
    You want something that will look right in your classic car: FyPlay Vintage Classic
    You want a huge screen and great audio: Sony XAV-AX800
    You want an inexpensive flip-out screen: Regetek 7”
    You just want to stream high bitrate music from your phone: Pioneer MVH-S522BS
    You want a screen but are pressed for space: Power Acoustik PD-710B
    You want a fun, inexpensive, do-everything knock-off gadget: Camecho 4.1” TFT

    Top 10 Single DIN Head Units 2021
    1. Best Overall: Alpine CDE-172BT

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: Alpine is an industry leader in car audio, and this head unit is a great example of why. It does everything you could want, sounds amazing, and will fit in nearly any vehicle on earth.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    6ch Low-Level Out
    CD Player
    Bluetooth
    HD Radio
    USB
    AUX
    What Sets It Apart?
    There are a few things that make the Alpine a great choice. It’s one of the few modern head units that are both high-quality and come equipped with a CD drive, for starters. It also has six channels of RCA output, so you can use it as the face of a much larger audio system. The most important feature, though, may simply be the word “Alpine” on the case.
    The Japanese audio companies tend to be the largest players in the car audio world. Alpine, Pioneer, and JVC are well known around the world for making high-quality components. Their head units are the best at replicating the true audio recording, they have the best bass response, and they will probably outlast your car.
    This Alpine tops the list simply because it’s one of the most versatile single DIN head units you can get, in addition to being of excellent quality.
    Our Take
    The only reason to look elsewhere for a head unit is because you want something very specific. If you are on a budget, consider this Jensen instead. If you don’t need a CD player but still want excellent sound quality, this Pioneer will suit you just fine, or get this Pioneer if you really want a touchscreen as well.
    For most people, though, this Alpine is the perfect upgrade. It can play music from almost any source, the quality is amazing, and people will nod with understanding and congratulate you if you say you installed an Alpine head.

    Pros
    Alpine is a trusted industry leader
    Very good audio quality
    6 RCA outputs

    Cons
    CD players aren’t used much anymore
    No touchscreen

    2. Best Value: Jensen MPR210

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: It’s easy to use, inexpensive, and works great. Enough said.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    USB
    AUX
    Subwoofer Out
    What Sets It Apart?
    The value you get from the Jensen MPR210 is unparalleled. It’s very inexpensive, but it has a better build quality and usability than something truly cheap like the Sound Storm Labs head unit.
    That makes the Jensen the perfect first step for someone that is just starting their car audio journey. It has an RCA output for a subwoofer, meaning you can start the upgrade process by buying a monoblock. It also has Bluetooth, so you can stream audio from your phone. It’s a basic, inexpensive upgrade for most older factory sound systems. Often, that’s all anyone really needs.
    Our Take
    One of the great things about our modern era is that electronics are cheap, varied, and compact. You can pretty much get a gadget to do any task on any budget and know that, with a few exceptions, it’ll work fine.
    That does sometimes lead to a problem for reviewers like us since there are many very similar units that are all around the same price and the same functionality. We mention two: the Sound Storm Labs and the FyPlay units. There’s also the wildly popular Boss head unit here. We don’t review it, but Boss is very similar to Jensen as a company. They both are industry leaders in the budget audio world.
    The Jensen MPR210 is just a bit better than its competitors in the single DIN space. It doesn’t have the audio quality that a Pioneer or Alpine head will have, but it will accurately play music streamed from your phone. It only has basic inputs and outputs, but it isn’t missing anything unlike some of the others at this price. The build quality isn’t amazing, but it doesn’t feel as cheap and ill-fitting as the Sound Storm. In short, it does what it advertises, and sometimes that’s more than you can ask for.

    Pros
    Inexpensive
    Decent build quality for the price
    Easy to use

    Cons
    Sound quality could be better
    Doesn’t have any advanced features

    3. Best Premium: Pioneer AVH-3400NEX

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: Pioneer makes great quality audio equipment, and this flip-out is no exception. If you want it all, but only have space for a single din receiver, the AV-3400NEX is what you buy.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    6ch Low-Level Out
    CD/DVD Player
    Bluetooth
    HD Radio
    USB
    AUX
    7” Touchscreen
    Video In and Out
    Apple Carplay
    Android Auto
    What Sets It Apart?
    This Pioneer, along with the Sony we recommend here, is on a different level than the rest of the head units on our list. They both have features like Apple Carplay and Android Auto. They also both have great touchscreens, although the Sony screen is a bit larger.
    What pushes the Pioneer into the premium slot is that the screen hides away when it’s not in use. We actually write at length about flip out heads here. The gist of it is that having a retractable screen offers a lot of the benefits that a larger head unit can offer and a lot of the benefits that a smaller single DIN head unit offers.
    Our Take
    The Pioneer AVH-3400NEX does everything you could want. It plays DVDs, it can send signals to an entire bank of amplifiers, and it has Pioneer’s legendary audio controls. The screen isn’t as large as the Sony we recommend, but it has a higher pixel count per inch and is easier to see in bright light. In short, if you don’t have room for a modern double DIN head unit but want one, you can get it all with this Pioneer.
    You will need to pay for it, though. It’s an expensive unit, and it has a lot of features that you may not use. It has a CD/DVD player, for instance. It also has video outputs, just in case you want to wire in extra screens. There is just a lot of complication that the average person won’t use, and it can make the Regetek flip out a more appealing option.
    This is one of the only units where you can use Apple Carplay and Android Auto, though, so if that’s really important to you, this is a great deal.

    Pros
    Apple Carplay and Android Auto
    Very high-quality
    Has a lot of inputs and outputs

    Cons
    Expensive
    Somewhat complicated to utilize

    4. Best Budget: Sound Storm ML41B

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: You don’t want to spend a lot on a commuter or old beater car. You do want to be able to listen to Spotify from your phone. This Sound Storm head unit is the solution.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    USB
    AUX
    Subwoofer Out
    Remote Control
    What Sets It Apart?
    There is no sense in trying to point out anything other than the fact that this thing is very inexpensive. It plays music over Bluetooth and can play your favorite radio stations. It really doesn’t do anything else that’s worth noting; it is simply the most affordable way to get those features.
    That makes it the perfect choice for anyone that just wants to add a way to play music from their phone to their beater or older daily driver.
    Our Take
    The Sound Storm Labs ML41B is very easy to criticize. It’s not high-quality. The sound quality is ok at best, and chances are good that you will get frustrated with the controls. That being said, it’s so cheap that it seems almost unfair to hold it to the same standards that we would hold an Alpine head unit to. If you want something that’s high-quality and will improve your music listening experience, then get the Alpine.
    There are a lot of reasons to buy a cheap head unit, though. First of all, it is an upgrade if you don’t have an AUX port or Bluetooth, or a subwoofer output. Modern music collections are online or stored in media players, not on physical media. In order to listen to modern music collections, you need something like Bluetooth connectivity.
    Second, sometimes things break. If you have an old car and the factory head breaks, you probably don’t want to spend a ton of money on a new factory head. Something like this SSL head is absolutely fine.

    Pros
    Very inexpensive
    Has Bluetooth and AUX inputs
    Has a subwoofer output

    Cons
    Audio quality isn’t great
    Build quality isn’t great either

    5. Best Looking: FyPlay Vintage Classic

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: If you crave old school style as much as we do, it’s hard not to love this simple head unit.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    USB
    AUX
    SD Card
    Remote Control
    Subwoofer Out
    What Sets It Apart?
    You are free to call us vain, but what really sets this head unit apart is that it’s a modern Bluetooth receiver that looks like it belongs in a car straight from the 70s. It has this chrome grill faceplate and two knobs, and it’s very reminiscent of the early AM/FM units that had the tune and volume dials separated.
    The only thing that gives it away is the LEDs that light up the buttons and screen. If you are building a restomod on a budget and want to stream music from your phone as you drive, it’s a really great addition to your interior.
    Our Take
    If you take away the style, you are left with a simple head unit that’s on par with the Jensen or the Sound Storm units we recommend. It isn’t feature packed, and if you get up close to it, you can tell that there were corners cut to save on manufacturing cost. It does have some features that similarly inexpensive units don’t have, though, like a relatively high RMS rating.
    That does mean it occupies a bit of an unusual space, though. Most restomods are very high-dollar builds simply because it costs a lot just to buy and own a classic car. So people who already have a lot of money into a custom interior will probably want something that is higher quality than this FyPlay unit, and the average budget-minded consumer probably doesn’t care much about the looks.
    Still, there are people who build or upkeep older cars and like to keep things inexpensive and simple. People with old VWs come to mind instantly; this unit is perfect for dropping into a ‘68 Beetle.

    Pros
    Inexpensive
    Looks very classic
    Relatively high wattage rating

    Cons
    Made of cheap materials
    May look out of place on most modern vehicles

    6. Best Touchscreen: Sony XAV-AX800

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: There’s a lot to love about this head, including Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and the largest screen on our list.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    6ch Low-Level Out
    Bluetooth
    HD Radio
    USB
    AUX
    9” Touchscreen
    Video In and Out
    Apple Carplay
    Android Auto
    What Sets It Apart?
    Big screens are usually limited to the land of the double DIN stereos. Sony, though, decided to bring the giant floating screen to the single DIN community. At 9 inches, the screen on this Sony is the largest on our list. In fact, it’s bigger than a lot of modern infotainment systems, so you can comfortably watch in-flight movies streamed from your phone. Please do so when safe and not while driving down the highway, though.
    The other features you aren’t likely to find with single DIN stereos are Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Sony brings those to single DIN cars as well. All of that combined makes this the perfect way to modernize an older vehicle, as long as it has enough room. That big screen does take up a lot of space.
    Our Take
    Sony is one of the most well-known electronics companies on earth, so it’s really no surprise that they’d also be dabbling in the car audio world. The XAV-AX800 demonstrates what a tech giant like Sony can do, similar to how the Pioneer AVH-3400NEX demonstrates what a giant like Pioneer can do. Both offer a lot of features that are nearly unheard of in the single DIN scene.
    The big difference is that the Pioneer has to unfold itself before you can use it. In contrast, the Sony is just there waiting to be used even before you turn the car on. They both have amazing audio quality and can both power any combination of amps or speakers you could want. You just have to decide if you like the fold-out screen more or if you would rather have more surface area displaying your GPS route.
    Unfortunately, the Pioneer and the Sony share something else: their high price. That’s the biggest disadvantage of needing single DIN-sized equipment. You can find units, like this Sony, that can do everything. They just cost a lot more than their double DIN counterparts.

    Pros
    Large touchscreen
    Apple Carplay and Android Auto
    Excellent quality

    Cons
    Expensive
    Takes up a lot of space

    7. Best Inexpensive Flip-Out: Regetek 7 Inch

    View on Amazon
    Why we like it: This is simply the best flip-out you can get for the price. If you really want a big screen and are on a tight budget, it’s perfect.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    USB
    AUX
    SD Card
    7” Touchscreen
    Subwoofer Out
    Remote Control
    Video In and Out
    What Sets It Apart?
    It has a touchscreen, and the touchscreen retracts so that it keeps your dash clutter-free. That’s not really what sets it apart, though; after all, the Pioneer here also has a flip-out screen. This Regetek unit, though, is a really incredible value. It’s very inexpensive when compared to other single DINs that have a screen.
    Regetek also has avoided the biggest issue that plagues cheap head units. Most cheap gadgets are more difficult to use than their name-brand competitors. They have quicks like hard to read menus or difficult to decipher manuals; take a look at the Camecho on our list if you want to see what that’s like. The Regetek head unit here manages to be easy to use, and even though it’s not perfect, it’s a lot better quality than many of the brandless knock-offs that are available.
    Our Take
    We said above that it avoids one of the most significant issues with cheap gadgets because it’s easy to use and understand. Unfortunately, you will definitely know it’s cheap when you use it. The plastic is a little flimsy, the screen resolution is low, and there is a learning curve to making calls. Pressing the button to start a call is easy enough, but finding out what volume you need to speak at and where to set the audio levels to hear the other end can be a bit of a challenge.
    The rest of the stereo is on par with other inexpensive heads like the Jenson MPR210. Don’t expect it to blow the doors off or play the highest quality audio files, but if you are just streaming music over Bluetooth, you will be happy with it.
    You can get better audio quality for about the same price, but that’s not why you would spend the money on the Regetek. You would buy this because it’s impossible to get a better deal if you want a functional touchscreen in your car that’s bigger than your cell phone.

    Pros
    Flip-out screen
    Easy to use
    Inexpensive

    Cons
    Screen resolution isn’t great
    Feels cheap to the touch

    8. Best Audio-Quality: Pioneer MVH-S522BS

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    Why we like it: Pioneer’s simple and elegant single din receiver here is the perfect head unit for people who just want to stream high-quality music and don’t need a bunch of flashy features.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    USB
    AUX
    HD Radio
    6CH Low-Level Out
    What Sets It Apart?
    Pioneer is well known for being able to produce clear and accurate sound. If that’s all you want, then this thing is perfect because it doesn’t really do anything else. There’s no screen, there’s no CD player, there is no special remote control to let it light up like a rave. It plays music from Bluetooth, USB, and AUX, the end.
    We are by no means saying that’s a bad thing. Simple can be really desirable, especially if you are trading complexity for quality and reliability. Most people won’t watch movies in their car on a tiny screen when they have their cellphones with them, and most people nowadays don’t use CDs for music. People who love audio, though, probably do have an extensive collection of high-quality sound files they want to listen to, and this Pioneer is perfect for that.
    Our Take
    Everything about this Pioneer is built for sound quality. It has a full complement of preamp outputs, making it easy to wire up a series of amps. It’s equipped with satellite radio and FLAC, and it has its own equalizer. If you are the type of person that has a collection of 320k MP3s because you can’t stand low-quality audio streaming, then this is for you.
    The screen and controls honestly aren’t that great. We wish it had a few more dedicated buttons so that the menus were easier to navigate. As it is, you will do a lot of turning the volume dial to scroll through the settings. It’s not a huge issue; it’s just hard to find other things to criticize.
    Chances are you are trying to decide between this Pioneer and the Alpine we recommend. They both are amp-ready, about the same price, and are made from high-quality components. We think the Pioneer looks better, but it doesn’t have as many features. You can’t go wrong with either.

    Pros
    Elegant design
    High-quality
    Has 6CH RCA

    Cons
    Interface is a little hard to navigate
    Limited input options

    9. Best Flip-Out Alternative: Power Acoustik PD-710B

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    Why we like it: Unlike a lot of flip-out screens or stand-off screens that extend up, the Power Acoustic here has a screen that extends down. For some cars, it’s the perfect solution to fitment issues.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    CD/DVD Player
    USB
    AUX
    SD Card
    7” Touchscreen
    Subwoofer Out
    Video In and Out
    What Sets It Apart?
    No two manufacturers seem to want to put the radio in the same spot, and that can lead to a lot of fitment issues. Most flip-out screens, like the Regetek we recommend, extend up from the head. If your car has controls above the stereo slot or has a recessed stereo, then that flip-up screen won’t work for you.
    That’s where this Power Acoustik unit comes in to save the day. The screen extends down instead. It’s not the best screen out there. In fact, other than the very cheap Camecho, all the screens on our list overshadow it. But if you really want a larger touchscreen, but don’t have room for a flip-out or floating screen, it’s a really great option.
    Our Take
    The Power Acoustik PD-710B is a really niche device, and it costs more as a result. A flip-out screen is the space-saving choice for most people. Anyone that doesn’t need to save space will probably gravitate towards a larger floating screen or will likely have room for a double DIN unit. Since the quality of the Power Acoustik isn’t particularly high, that means the unusual format is the only big selling point.
    There are other advantages to the format beyond just fitment, though, and they are worth considering. Unlike a flip-out screen, there are no mechanisms that can break and leave you without an interface. It’s also faster than a flip-out; when you start the car, the system is instantly up and running without having to wait for the screen to extend.
    In short, it’s a great option if you want a screen but don’t want a flip-out. Just don’t expect anything to be particularly amazing.

    Pros
    Screen extends down instead of flipping up
    More durable than a flip-out
    Interface loads quickly

    Cons
    Not as high-quality as similarly priced units
    Screen isn’t particularly good

    10. Cheap and Compact Touchscreen: Camecho 4.1” TFT

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    Why we like it: You’ll need a good helping of patience to get it to do what you want, but the amount of stuff that this cheap gadget can do is incredible.
    Editor’s Rating:

    Features
    Bluetooth
    USB
    AUX
    SD Card
    1” Touchscreen
    Video In and Out
    Subwoofer Out
    Remote Control
    Included Backup Camera
    What Sets It Apart?
    It’s a tiny screen that can display a backup camera and fits completely within a single DIN space. That’s really unique; almost all single DIN units with a screen either have a big screen tacked onto the face or a screen that flips out of the device. It means that even the incredibly crowded dashboard of an older JDM car can have a modern touchscreen.
    It also does a lot of neat things, especially for the price. It doesn’t cost much more than something like the Jensen MPR, but it supports FLAC and comes with a backup camera. It’s not an amazing backup camera or anything, but it does include one in the box.
    Our Take
    Unfortunately, as cool as it is, there are some serious issues with the Comecho here. It starts with their documentation. You will need to read the included documentation because the interface is confusing and difficult to navigate. All we can say is, “good luck.” With gems like “U dick Plug and see smooth and clear” you may be better off just mashing the buttons until you get the desired result.
    At the end of the day, this head unit is just a tech toy. It’s something for people who like taking risks and can’t pass up knowing whether or not that knock-off watch is as good as the real thing. There’s always a chance that you get a bricked unit from the factory with these kinds of products or that you won’t be able to decipher the menus. It’s never going to be as high-quality as a cheap unit from a more reputable brand.
    However, if you are willing to take the risk or love these kinds of cheap, too good to be true gadgets, you’ll have a lot of fun with the Camecho.

    Pros
    Has a tiny touchscreen
    Comes with a backup camera
    Very inexpensive for what it does

    Cons
    The documentation will drive you mad
    The quality is suspect at best
    It’s not easy to use

    A Closer Look at Head Units
    In this section, we will take a better look at some of the more complicated parts of car head units. To start, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding audio quality that we want to clear up.
    The Truth About Audio Quality
    When people talk about audio quality, they are usually referring to the device’s ability to accurately play the recording. If you hear a lot of distortion or are missing bass depth, then the quality is considered poor. The problem is that there are a lot of variables, and the head unit is actually a fairly small part of the equation. There are a few main things to keep in mind if you are looking for the best audio quality possible.
    The Head Unit is Only Part of the System
    Even if the head is capable of producing a perfect audio signal, you won’t get a perfect sound. That’s because everything from the speaker size and type to the wire size directly influences audio quality.
    One of the absolute best ways to improve your listening experience is to add a subwoofer. Most of the time, bass is what a factory system lacks, and it’s the reason almost all aftermarket head units have at least a single low-level output. You can check our list of inexpensive subwoofer options here.
    The Source is Important
    If you just stream music from the internet over Spotify, chances are good that you won’t notice an improvement in quality between different aftermarket heads. That’s because the quality is actually coded into the digital files. To make music streamable, the quality is cut down to save on file size. That’s one area where CDs offer an advantage; the .wav format is uncompressed and therefore higher quality than an mp3.
    You can stream at a higher bitrate if your internet connection is good, but if you really need the best audio quality available, it’s better to have a library of FLAC or 320k MP3s saved to your device. You can read more about source files here; it’s a very deep rabbit hole of information.
    Power
    In the audio world, there are two main power ratings. Maximum wattage, which is the maximum amount of power a system can produce, and RMS wattage. RMS wattage is a much more useful rating because it represents how much power you can reasonably expect day to day. There are no components that can run at max power for more than a few moments, so even though manufacturers will print it on the box because it’s a big number, it’s actually not a good metric.
    Most factory head units are around 20w RMS, while most aftermarket head units are 40-60w RMS. That increase alone will give you a huge boost in tone. Basically, you will get distortion in the form of clipping when you approach the upper volume range. At 20w, that upper range is closer to normal listening volume than it would be on a more powerful system.
    Build Quality Directly Translates to Audio Quality
    The final thing to really understand when talking about audio quality is that, to an extent, you do get what you pay for. Cheaper components have room to move around or may overheat, and that leads to distortion. It’s why we recommend sticking to trusted brands like Alpine or Pioneer. They cost more, but the build quality is higher. Therefore the audio quality is also higher.
    The thing you have to keep in mind, though, is that if you don’t have good wiring, power, or sources, then the audio quality of the head really doesn’t matter. That’s what makes inexpensive head units like the Jensen such a good value. The average person will not notice the difference between a cheap head and an expensive head if the only thing they replace is the head.
    A Primer on Touchscreens
    Touchscreens are just a part of modern life. They can be found on everything from cellphones to refrigerators, so naturally, they are very commonly found in cars. Modern cars often have them pre-installed in the form of an infotainment center, and they make a great upgrade to an older dashboard. There are just a few things to keep in mind if you are looking to make that upgrade.
    Resolution
    We are spoiled by modern cell phones that have absurdly high-definition screens, so it seems shocking that a high definition stereo screen might only have a resolution of 800×480. That’s all you really need for a crisp, accurate image, though, because of the pixel density. In fact, the pixel density on something like the Pioneer flip-out here is actually higher than a 31” 1080p TV.
    Type
    There are two main types of touchscreens on the market. Capacitive touchscreens work by sensing your finger. They are found on more expensive gadgets because they cost more to produce, but they are faster and cleaner than resistive touchscreens. Resistive touchscreens use pressure to register touch, and they are much slower and less accurate than capacitive.
    Android Auto and Apple Carplay
    These two apps are both very common in modern cars and require a touchscreen for use. Unfortunately, if you value the convenience of these apps, you will be paying more. This is especially true in the single DIN world.
    FAQ

    What’s the Best Single DIN Head Unit?
    That depends on what you want from your head unit. We think the best general-purpose single DIN head unit is the Alpine CDE-172BT, but if you want a touchscreen, the Pioneer AVH-3400NEX is a better fit. If you love retro style and don’t need a CD player, check out the FyPlay Vintage Classic. The truth is you can’t really go wrong with anything we review.
    Which Is Better, Single DIN or Double DIN?
    It depends on how you define better. There are a lot more options, especially if you want a touchscreen, that are double DIN sized. However, many cars do not have space for a double DIN unit. It doesn’t matter if a double DIN is “better” if it won’t fit in your car.
    Does a Head Unit Affect Sound Quality?
    Yes, but they are not the most important thing that shapes the quality of sound. Your input source, amplification power, and speakers are just as or more important. In fact, installing a subwoofer like one of these we recommend would do far more to improve your audio quality than buying a new head unit.
    Can I Put a Single DIN in a Double DIN Slot?
    Some stereo install kits can convert a double DIN space into a single DIN space. There are also pockets like this one that take up a single DIN space and can be used to convert a double space into a single. However, there are a lot more options for double DIN sized head units, so the benefit of converting a double to a single is marginal.
    Wrapping it Up
    Whether you choose to embrace the retro style or go all-in on a beautiful screen, you will be happy ditching your factory sound system and installing a modern head unit. They have gotten so cheap and have tons of features compared to the head units even ten years ago. Just grab one from our guide that meets your feature wishlist and rock out. More