New Products from the 2005 SEMA Show in Las Vegas
Once a year I go to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Everything you can imagine (and then some) for the automotive aftermarket can be seen at SEMA, often from several competing vendors.
As I roam the aisles of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s buildings, I am constantly on the lookout for new and innovative products designed to tackle consumers’ needs. Here are a few problems solved by three items that caught my attention at this year’s big show.
When stopped with the motor running, have you ever heard a really annoying rattle or buzz coming from your car’s license plate vibrating against the sheet metal of the car? Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that can drive a person absolutely crazy. In the past I’ve tried to bend the offending license plate so that it is pressed firmly against the sheet metal behind it. Of course, a bent license plate is the price paid for such a fix.
A much better solution is a product called the “HushMat.” Made in Kansas City, this consists of a foam-backed license plate frame and a 4” x 12” sheet of adhesive-backed, high frequency sound-absorbing “Silencer Megabond™ Foam.” The sheet of foil-covered foam looks very similar to the damping material that was installed inside my previous Miata’s car doors to eliminate buzzing from my aftermarket door speakers when playing through the powerful sound system. The company has been in the automotive industry supplying the OEM car companies for over 16 years and has experience in automotive acoustics.
Installation is a breeze. Simply unscrew the license plate, peel the backing off of the sheet of adhesive-backed foam, place it behind where the license plate goes, slip the license plate frame (optional) over the license plate and reattach the license plate with the screws that you removed. A variety of kits are sold, including a bulk pack and a speaker kit, to address various vibration and sound issues throughout your vehicle. For product information and to locate a dealer near you, go to www.HushMat.com. I think they sell it at Fry’s.
Another situation that has annoyed me ever since I first detailed one of my cars concerns the application of that handy liquid tire protectant that makes tires look ultra-black and new. The problem has been the application of these products. Invariably when I finished there was probably about as much chemicals soaked into my finger tips as on the tires. Foam applicators are cheap and they work, but there is no barrier to prevent the chemicals from quickly soaking through to the fingers holding the pads.
The solution is the “Tire Shine Applicator” from Brush King. This consists of a replaceable, snap-off pad attached to a solid backing plate, complete with an easy-to-hold handle. The durable, closed cell foam pad has raised soft bristles that get into the grooves and between the raised lettering. The shape of the pad is curved, to follow the contours of tires. Just apply your favorite tire cleaning liquid to the pad (they sell a line of cleaners and protectants, too) and quickly brush it on. When the pad gets worn out or really dirty, just replace it with a new one. Use the same handle and put on another pad to clean dashboards and other surfaces. For more information and to order, go to www.detailreflections.com.
The last issue that I will address today concerns the age-old problem of consistently parking in just the right place in a garage. With the amount of stuff placed against the walls in a typical, cramped home garage, consistently parking in the same place is critical to avoiding damage to the car, the stuff in the garage and even to the garage itself. In the past I’ve resorted to hanging tennis balls from the ceiling. Then, when my windshield hit the tennis ball, I knew I was in position. Problems with that solution are that the tennis balls are always hanging in the garage, even when the cars are gone, and they also look weird. Typically, mats placed on the floor are often not substantial enough, making it hard to tell when a heavy vehicle is in position.
The solution is really clever, for at least two reasons. First, “The Car Stop” is substantial. You place each one (they are sold in pairs) on the floor, after determining exactly where you need to park. “The Car-Stop” does the rest. You just pull into the garage and slowly keep moving until you stop. It is easy to tell when you are far enough forward because the raised stop is tall enough and quite strong. It is also heavy, to prevent slippage. Furthermore each mat is wide, so you should not miss them when you pull in to the garage. Another plus is that they are made out of environmentally-friendly recycled material.
I was particularly struck by this family business’ reason for being. It was created to help pay the way for putting the family’s six boys through college, with the added benefit of teaching the eldest four sons about how to run a successful business. I like to support businesses like these. You can order “The Car Stop” at www.TheCar-Stop.com. Be sure to include the hyphen between Car and Stop.
Drive safely and do join me again next time.