Monthly Archives: February 2018

Yes, These Car Gadgets Really Do Exist

If the thought of adding a cool gadget to your car leaves you breathless, you’re not alone. Millions of vehicle gadgets and add-ons are sold in the U.S. every day. And look at the choices you have.


“You can find gadgets that make your car run better, make your commute easier and give your car a boost in the looks department.” — Alex Perdikis

And then there are gadgets that are just plain silly. Here are some of the car gadgets available in categories from the sublime to the “What were they thinking?”

Coffee, Please

OK, you’re running late. You forgot to set the coffee maker timer. No time to stop at the coffee shop. What can you do?

If you planned ahead, you have a coffee maker right in your car. Plug the unit into your cigarette lighter or 12-volt port and in no time you have that much needed caffeine boost. The more expensive brands let you use your own grounds. Most require their own branded coffee pods.

Eat, Drink, Spill

Accidents happen. People spend a lot of time in their cars. Eating and drinking lead to the inevitable spill from time-to-time. Add children to the equation and spills become even more common.

Sure, you can grab napkins, tissues or whatever else happens to be lying around. Or, you can use the handy-dandy instant cloth. The compact package is full of tiny tablets that, when splashed with a few drops of water, turn into a full-sized cleaning towel.

Pretty Me Up

It’s human nature to want to put your own stamp on your car. Maybe you have vanity plates. Of course, there are add-ons to purchase that make your car distinct and display your personality.

Many of these add-ons involve items designed to pretty a car up. Take for example the headlight eyelash add-on. With a little adhesive, your headlights can grow the longest set of eyelashes imaginable. You can also add crystal eyeliner for an added dash of flash.

Then there’s the Hello Kitty exhaust tailpipe. The faceless Hello Kitty shaped add-on has the icon’s famous bow and set of whiskers. No one would ever mistake who it is you love.

Boost Performance, Or Not

Many of the add-ons sold in the U.S. purport to boost a vehicle’s performance. Unfortunately, many do just the opposite. Others are simply useless.

Take the coffee can muffler. Many car enthusiasts love the sound of a high revving engine. It means power. But adding a coffee can muffler to a four-cylinder car is not only questionable but,  when narrow exhaust pipe meets a large diameter opening, it also saps performance.

And about those big wheels — the big wheel look appeals to some but the handling trade-offs are enormous. Larger wheels increase vehicle weight and have a negative effect on the way a car handles and rides. Parking becomes a test of wills. And hit a curb or pothole — it’s goodbye tire.

Smarter and Wiser

Up to now, you’re probably thinking most car gadgets and add-ons are either silly or, at the very least, unnecessary. But, there are some gadgets that are worth it.

Every car should have jumper cables in the trunk. But, jumper cables only work if another car is available to help. That’s where a self-powered jump starter comes in. If you frequently drive in secluded areas or want the added security of not having to rely on other vehicles for a jump, this is one gadget worth buying.

A  dashcam is another worthwhile gadget. On the lighter side, you can make panoramic videos of scenic drives you’ve taken. On the serious side, dashcam footage can capture events leading up to and during an accident.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Little-Known Car Facts That Will Leave You Shaking Your Head

The world of cars is full of surprising twists and facts. But there are some little-known car facts you’ll have trouble believing. In fact, many of them prove the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Here are some of the strangest in the chronicles of vehicle history.

The Parrot in Paradise

New Zealand is the home of a magnificent alpine parrot call the kea. The 19-inch long olive-green bird with brilliantly colored orange underwings is the only alpine parrot in the world. People come from all over the globe to catch a glimpse of the unusual creature.


“Not satisfied with its highly unique status, the kea has at least one other claim to fame. It likes to eat cars.” — Alex Perdikis

Well, maybe not entire cars, but it’s infamous for landing on vehicles and pulling off antennas or anything else it can get its beak around and devouring the apparently tasty morsel.

A Gamers’ Delight

Anyone who plays video games knows the term “Easter egg.” An Easter egg in a game refers to hidden surprises that pop out if you happen to steer, click or otherwise act in a specific manner. Easter eggs have no purpose in a game other than to amuse the gamer. They’re fun to find but have no impact on the game whatsoever.

But, did you know that the Vauxhall/Opel has some Easter egg fun as well? For years the auto manufacturer has hidden small shark depictions in its models in various locations. A car might have as many as three sharks hidden within all waiting to be found.

Whatever Happened To…

The way people listen to music has changed radically. Music play went from LPs to 8-tracks to cassettes and on to CDs and MP3s. Who knows what the future holds? And, of course, music systems in new cars had to keep up.

Tape decks in cars were slow to retire. In fact the Ford Crown Vic still had an optional cassette tape player in 2011. And the Lexus SC430 included a tape deck as standard in 2010. Both models were designed with older drivers in mind who probably had huge collections of mixed tapes. Sadly for them, cassette players are no longer available as an option in any vehicle.

Welcome to the Table

Leave it to Honda to come up with ways to combine fun and economy. Honda’s compact SUV, the CRV, is a case in point. The first generation model not only included a picnic table that folded up neatly in the rear, but offered a shower kit option as well. Second generation models ditched the shower but kept the picnic table.

Porsche or Studebaker?

Silly question or what? Who would’ve guessed that Porsche and Studebaker had a clandestine meeting in the past? Porsche’s first sedan wasn’t the Panamera or its 1990s four-door sedan prototype. It was a Studebaker. Called Type 542, the 1952 design never went into production. No surprise there.

What’s That Smell?

The idea of using horse-drawn carriages seems like a charming bit of nostalgia now. But think about it. Horses leave a mess behind. And when the only way to get around has four-legs, eats and does what all living creatures do, you can imagine how smelly and dirty the roads were.

Early 20th-century car manufacturers had their work cut out for them if they wanted people to stop using horses to get around and buy cars instead. So they came up with a great selling point. They began advertising cars as a “green” alternative to horses. And, the rest is history.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Shop Smart: Tips for Buying Your First Car

If you’re getting ready to buy your first car, you’re probably feeling a lot of emotions. It’s an exciting time in your life but is also fraught with uncertainty. You’ve never done this before! What do you do? What do you need? How can you make sure you’ll find the best car for your budget?

Even if it’s not your first car, you may feel some of the same trepidation if it’s been a while. Either way, follow these tips for buying the best car for you and your budget.

1. Your Money — How Much Do You Have?

In a dream world, you find a fantastic car, plunk down the cash and drive into the sunset. Unfortunately, for most, it’s just not possible. Most people have to finance their car purchases and make monthly payments. Before you look at anything, figure out how much you have and how much you can afford to spend.

If you’ve done your homework up to now, you’ve managed to save money for a down payment and maintained a good credit rating. The larger your down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be. And, the better your credit rating, the lower your loan interest charge will be. Both save tremendous amounts of money in the long run.

Figure out how much you can spend on monthly payments. Typically, the highest amount you can spend on a car payment each month is 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you have other loans, a large mortgage payment or other monthly expenses, you’ll want to pay far less than 20 percent of your pay. Run the numbers. Once you have an amount, stick with it.

Check with your credit union or bank about finance options available as well. Many financial institutions offer car loan preapproval and, in most cases, interest rates will be better or at least comparable with those offered at the dealer.

2. But I’ve Always Wanted a Sports Car…

Now that your money situation is clear, determine what type of vehicle you need to get where you have to go. Will the car be your transportation on a long daily commute? Will you drive to school every day? Do your pets travel with you? Are you starting a family?

Sure, you’ve always wanted a sports car. Or maybe a pickup truck. But if your dream car doesn’t fit your current lifestyle save it for later.

3. Research and Compare

Car buying research has gotten much easier. Kelly Blue Book is now online where you can compare brands, models, reviews and prices. Price comparison tools give you an idea of how much a particular model should cost.

“Research the safety ratings and recall information for models you’re interested in as well. You’ll also want to research fuel efficiency.” — Alex Perdikis

Some cars cost more to maintain than others. Use one of the many online search and compare sites to compare specific models and get a clear picture.

Narrow your acceptable list down to three or four models.

4. Go Local

It’s your first car and with that comes a little hand-holding from the dealer. Local dealers who’ve been in business for a while stake their reputations on happy customers. Buying from a local dealer also makes it easier to deal with problems if they occur. Visit several dealerships if possible.

5. Don’t Forget to Drive

All the research in the world won’t help give you one thing you need to know before buying and that’s how a car drives. How does the car steer? Is it comfortable? Can you adjust it to fit your body size? Take a test drive and try out all the features. A car may look good on paper but if it doesn’t feel good when you’re in it, it’s not the car for you.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.