One thing about cars is that they are much like their owners. As similar as they could be, they differ from one another just as much as person to person. Although, there are many differences as to why we love our vehicles, there are many things that we, as owners, wished made things easier to uniquely customize or just plain keep up with maintenance to have them running on their daily duties. Conducting a survey, I asked several groups on many social media outlets on what they wish, manufacturers could run universal across the board on all cars or that would fix daily annoyances. It doesn't matter if you are a Formula 1 mechanic or someone that only can drive a car and put gas in it. Here are the top 10 most thought of parts, that the survey provided that would make life easier with cars. Regardless if it is your weekend warrior, or daily driver.
10. BACK UP CAMERA LOCATIONS
For the most part, all new vehicles are required to include some sort of reverse camera now integrated into the vehicle prior to sale. There are also many after-market cameras available for purchase to install into cars without the featured rear cameras. Not including the quality of video provided, the placement of OEM cameras can seem, off, sometimes. The cameras aren't always centered or at a convenient appropriate height. For example, take the 2023 Honda Civic Type R where the camera is offset more onto the driver's side which can make things "off" when actually using the camera. Whereas other vehicles have a centered position camera to assist the driver in placing the vehicle in view when reversing. Some manufacturers have moved their camera during updates or generational changes like the most recent Toyota Camry's. Me personally, I'm old school and still like to use my mirrors.
9. HUB/LUG PATTERNS.
Lug patterns can make things very difficult for owners. When it comes to upgrading or even replacing wheels, lug patterns can make things difficult in finding the correct pattern to match your vehicle. It was mentioned in the survey that the increase of lug should be made for appropriate horsepower and torque specs as well as the overall size of the wheel.
Although not the biggest mention for more modern cars; older cars, various pick-up trucks and SUV's have a difficult time in finding correct patterns to have mounted on their vehicles. These difficulties are which why many classics going through rest-mods are becoming more and more common with updated hubs for not just the wheels, but for other parts as in brakes and such as well.
8. BRAKE PADS
Interesting enough, brake pads made the list. Not in the sense for owners and just their customized rides, but for the daily driven cars that owners use to get from point A to point B. Still though, there's nothing like being at the track for an event, and not being able to find to correct pad shape, but in thickness as well. It isn't very high on the list because of the various systems that are available out there like 2-piston calipers to 8 piston calipers as well as the excessive types and materials used for the various brake systems on the market today. Still though, newer modern cars and trucks typically run with a standard 2-piston caliper brake system or even brake drums. If brake pads at least were the same in shape and design, they would be easier to find and purchase for whatever ride you would be working on. Only difference at this point would just be deciding on the material of what the pads you need would be.
7. AIR FILTERS
Air filters are one of the few things that everyone needs to look up to be sure to get the correct one fitted for your vehicle. You can't really remember exactly what OEM air filter you would need, and they don't just come in one size, or one price. And at times, can cost you more in fuel from having to drive from shop to shop to find the correct one.
Air filters are an interesting because OEM filters are designed based upon what the engine output is and what kind of space is in the engine compartment for the piping to run its course. The OEM system also usually offers an easier system to replace the filter within the engine bay. But once you go after market, the filter can be just slightly harder to uninstall for replacing or cleaning; yet offering a wider and more substantial amount of airflow which usually increases performance numbers. And usually looks nicer also.
Car batteries can be easy to find as they are almost available anywhere that has automotive parts. Sadly, finding or upgrading usually requires some sort of research or suggestion of word of mouth from fellow enthusiasts. There are currently 6 types of car batteries on the market which are: Flooded Lead Acid Battery (Wet Cell), Silver Calcium Battery, Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB), Gel Cell Battery (Dry Cell), Absorbent Glass Mat Battery (AGM), and Deep Cycle Batteries. This doesn't include the Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery and Nickel Metal Hydride Battery used in hybrid and EV technology. Once you've decided on the type of battery best suited for you needs, you still have to be able to find the correct size. Not to mention, you also have to be sure to acquire the battery with the right orientation of the negative and positive terminals to match your connectors.
5. WHEELS (Bolt patterns and offsets)
There's nothing more frustrating than finding the perfect wheels for your vehicle then finding out they won't fit because the pattern is off by a few millimeters in either the bolt/lug pattern, the offset, or even both (offset = the distance from the hub mounting surface to the center of the wheel). Most common bolt patterns are 4x100, 5x114.3, 6x130.7 and such. Yet there are other sizes like 4x98, 5x108, and 6x120 that exist out there. And with that, adapters and spacers are used which can be unsafe pending on what material(s) they are made of and their thickness. Also, with an incorrect offset, you take unsafe chances of your vehicle from simple annoying road noise to a more serious situation of rubbing which can ruin hubs, wheels, suspension, or body panels. Usually hub-centric rings can mend this. But it would be much easier in finding wheels if they were more universal in the design of their offsets and patterns.
4. OIL FILTERS
Nothing can be more frustrating when doing normal maintenance on your vehicle than changing out your oil and realizing that the filter you purchased doesn't fit. Whether it be the threading, size, or design of the filter, it's tough to run out and get a new one once you've emptied out the used fluids to exchange for the new one.
Different filters usually function for different types of reasons and vehicles, but if the external size were the same, it'd be easier to replace and find at any local automotive parts store. Not to mention, one tool to remove filters than various sized oil wrenches and such. Internally, the functionality and media could be adjusted to and applied to each specific vehicle and its performance needs.
3. CENTER GAUGE CLUSTERS
Not sure why, but automotive designers tend to still want to center everything and make things symmetrical in the cabin, even though the driver is on one side or the other (but yet put the reverse camera in non-symmetrical locations?). Center cluster locations for the speedometer and other standard gauges like fuel and RPM meters seem somewhat counter-productive for vehicle safety as it has the driver shift their vision from in front of them, to the center for a quick glance to read the cluster. But with newer and bigger infotainment systems coming in newer cars, it can be a tad bit difficult in making everything fit in the center dash. Not to mention that depending on the actual height of the driver, the height of the dash cover over the gauge cluster can also become a blind spot by obstructing their view. In the end, it is one of those things that if it isn't broke, then don't fix it.
2. HALOGEN BULBS
Halogen bulbs are slowly being replaced by LED lighting systems which are usually longer lasting and most cost effective in the long run. But for most cars, retro-fitting an LED system just isn't feasible or affordable. Halogen bulbs are still commonly used with many vehicles, old and new. It's already tough enough to keep the bulb clean from any greases and oils during installation, but remembering and tracking what bulb you used can be another thing in itself. Some cars can run up to three different bulbs in a single system with high beam, low beam, and fog/driving lights. Minimally, if the bulbs could be standardized for headlights and fog lights, it could make things much easier. Plus, the clips that hold the bulbs in place would be simpler also.
1. WIPER BLADE ATTACHMENTS
The number one most mentioned item were wiper blades and their attachments. Replacing wiper blades should be done with 1 or 2 simple steps. Yet, what we are given in each package, is the wiper blade, and a couple of various clips. Which still doesn't mean you purchased the package with the correct attachments either. From being able to pick out the style of wiper blade and appropriate lengths for your vehicle, it's tough to even figure out if you have to dismantle or add on the correct connectors to your wiper arms. The situation sounds even worse when you're attempting to replace your wiper blades in bad weather situations like in the middle of a rainstorm or such.
What doesn't help is the fact that the manufacturer's develop and install different style and designed attachments at the ends of the wiper arms. Even within the same manufacturer, the various models use different attachments also. It isn't as easy of thinking, "Oh, all of the Ford's run this specific type of arm attachment" to find the right blade and accessories. Instead, we have to run through a book that will tell us what blade from the various wiper companies will fit our specific vehicle. The replacement wiper blade system is a thing that no one really thinks about until it actually comes time to replace them.
Even between the many companies that make replacement wiper blades, one type will say to get this specific length whereas another company will tell you to purchase this length for a replacement blade. Don't forget that there is a size difference between the driver and passenger wiper blades also. Wiper blades can be the easiest part to replace and maintain on your vehicles with the correct length and attachments (recommended 6 months minimally or as needed for harsher weather areas) but can be a real headache if you don't have everything lined up to clear off your windshield. If the attachments and clips were the same across the board, it would make replacing extremely simple for everyone.
What do you feel would make things easier for cars if they were the same across the board? If every automotive manufacturer made it the same on each and every model? Parts that can be found very easily no matter where you are or go? Comment below about what you would think could and/or should be put onto this list.
Thank you to all of the individuals and groups that participated in the survey through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.