Ridiculous Car Products
Alibaba

29 Ridiculous Car Products You See Only in America

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Ridiculous Car Products
Alibaba

Goofy Gear

America is a big country, and by far the easiest — not to mention most romanticized — way to get around it is by automobile. Perhaps more than any other developed nation, America depends on car travel, which may be why so many commuters or motorhead hobbyists personalize and upgrade their cars into a veritable home on wheels. Manufacturers' and retailers' eagerness to fulfill their demands has spawned some of the most questionable consumer products out there. Have a look at some of the strangest or stupidest car accessories that could only truly catch on in the good ol' USA. (Looking for some options that are actually worth the money? Check out these 12 Popular Gifts for People Who Love Cars.)

Wheelmate Steering Attachable Worktray
Amazon

Wheelmate Steering Attachable Worktray

Price: $12 from Amazon
Buy It
Distracted driving may be deadly, but what are a few lives lost when you really need to finish up some work on the morning commute? The good news is that this steering wheel-attachable work surface can't be used while the car is actually being steered, but the popularity of these kinds of car desks and other "mobile office solutions" still speaks to how often Americans have to work or eat on the go.

Swiveling Car Tray
Amazon

Swiveling Car Tray

Price: $15 from Amazon
Buy It
Swiveling for equal access between driver and passenger, this tray attaches to a car's cup holder, which means there's nothing to stop you from using it while the vehicle is in motion. But even if you're not checking your smartphone, working, or dining on fast food behind the wheel, it still doesn't bode well to crowd the cabin with potential distractions, or even surfaces to hold them.

Load, Aim & Fire Decal
Amazon

Load, Aim & Fire Decal

Price: $4 from Amazon
Buy It
At their best, bumper stickers and back window decals are still mostly for the entertainment or personal expression of the car owner who put them there. At their worst, they're downright disturbing and vaguely threatening to other motorists on the road. This gem, for example, juxtaposes the maxim of "Live, laugh, love," with the suggestion that whenever that doesn't "work," the driver is prepared to "load, aim & fire." Maybe it's intended as a joke, referring to visiting the shooting range for emotional release, but either way, it's a weird joke to make to every stranger who happens to pull up behind you on the road, and does no favors for America's gun violence epidemic or public fears thereof.

Related: How to Stay Safe From Road Rage, Including Your Own

Bullet Hole Stickers
Amazon

Bullet Hole Stickers

Price: $5 from Amazon
Buy It
According to the Amazon reviews, these fake bullet hole stickers are apparently pretty effective for covering up small dents on a motorcycle or car, as well as attracting compliments at the shooting range. Whatever their usefulness, though, there's no denying the quintessential American-ness of paying to make your ride look like that of a gunned-down outlaw.

Calvin Peeing Decal
Amazon

Calvin Peeing Decal

Price: $8 from Amazon
Buy It
After cartoonist Bill Watterson made the noble decision not to license any merchandising of his beloved comic strip creation "Calvin & Hobbes," bootleg retailers responded by turning a titular character into one of the most tasteless yet ubiquitous sticker designs: Calvin peeing. Plastered across pickup windows across the country, the unlicensed decals first appeared around the mid-'90s and have since been altered to show the 6-year-old comic character urinating on just about anything imaginable, from Chevy cars or "my ex" to Fox News and liberals.

Car Lashes
CarLashes

Car Lashes

Price: $30 from CarLashes
Buy It
Pixar isn't the only company in the business of anthropomorphizing cars. CarLashes is one American retailer whose products let drivers add human features like long eyelashes to their cars' headlights to "shatter the myth that car accessories are just for men." Though harmless, making your car look effeminate and pretty with products like these must rank as one of the most ineffectual ways out there to fight for gender equality.

Truck Nuts
Bulls Balls

Truck Nuts

Price: $27 from Bulls Balls
Buy It
You know that stereotype that men who drive fast, large, or powerful cars are compensating for something? For anyone who doubted its truth, there's truck nuts, a synthetic scrotum that drivers can purchase to hang off their pickup, SUV, or even wheelchair's hitch to, who knows, teach other motorists about anatomy? Perhaps the only thing more ridiculous than the product itself is the competition around who invented it, with David Ham of YourNutz.com and John D. Sallers of BullsBalls.com exchanging angry phone calls and PR slights throughout the late '90s and early 2000s in what became known as "the Great Truck Nuts War."

Spinner Rims
eBay

Spinner Rims

Price: $295 from eBay
Buy It
Especially popular in the '90s and early 2000s America, independently rotating spinners became the height of cool because they made your wheels look like they were moving even when they weren't. It didn't take long for state governments to consider legislative bans, citing safety worries that a car with spinning hubcaps would distract or fool nearby drivers into thinking it was in motion.

'Coffee Can' Muffler Tips
Amazon

'Coffee Can' Muffler Tips

Price: $95 from Amazon
Buy It
To be clear, there are some muffler tips that can actually improve the performance and sound of a car's engine, and then there are the large diameter "coffee can" tips that came into vogue in the early 2000s. While falsely claiming to improve performance just by widening airflow, the only real purpose they serve is to make a vehicle's exhaust sound louder and deeper, deteriorating audio environments while making the driver look like something of a wannabe to real gearheads.

Vent Stickers
Amazon

Vent Stickers

Price: $15 from Amazon
Buy It
In the same category of car products that serve no function other than making one's ride look "cool" — and even that's debatable — these weather-proof decals are designed to resemble the ventilation ports high-performance engines actually need to provide an escape for hot or pressurized air. This trend actually started with automakers themselves putting nonfunctional vents on select new models and proliferated with other retailers offering the same purely aesthetic upgrade in sticker form.

Body Kits
CARiD

Body Kits

Price: Starting around $430 from CARiD
Buy It
Custom body kits including hood scoops and low-riding bumpers go one step further (and pricier) in making one's car look street-race ready — without actually offering any performance benefits for the standard passenger vehicle. Instead, they're usually just there for the sake of vanity and make it more difficult to drive up even a slight curb without dinging the fiberglass.

Rear Wings on Front-Wheel-Drive Cars
Amazon

Rear Wings on Front-Wheel-Drive Cars

Price: $49 from Amazon
Buy It
Do you want the token appearance of a muscle car without any of the functionality? Then you might consider buying a rear wing for your standard front-wheel drive sedan, if the automaker hasn't already built it in themselves. Instead of reducing drag or increasing traction as designed, the performance benefits they add are negligible to completely unnoticeable for average drivers, meaning this is another accessorizing trend purely about looks. (If you're really looking for performance, check out these 23 Places to Get Behind the Wheel of a Sports Car You Can't Afford.)

Fake Hood Pins
Amazon

Fake Hood Pins

Price: $38 from Amazon
Buy It
In yet another inexplicable attempt to pose average commuter vehicles as souped-up race cars, some motorists are suckered into buying fake hood pins. While real hood pins can be important in serious motorsports and other situations, fake ones are basically nothing but a style choice for the average motorist.

Chrome Skid Plate
Amazon

Chrome Skid Plate

Price: $99 from Amazon
Buy It
Brush guards and skid plates can provide needed undercarriage protection for trucks and SUVs that routinely go off-roading, but what's ridiculous, again, is when they're attached purely for looks. The easiest way to spot a vanity skid plate is by the chrome. While usually for practical protection from rocks and other obstacles, there's little point to this kind of grill-covering skid bar, aside from making the car look tough and shiny.

Fake European License Plates
Europlates

Fake European License Plates

Price: $30 from Europlates
Buy It
For any American driver desperate to display how worldly they are, retailers like Florida-based Europlates import raw license plate blanks from Germany or Japan and fill them in with customized lettering in a matter of days, presumably so other drivers are fooled into thinking the car was actually self-imported. Like other items on this list, there's nothing that offensive about this trend; it just seems like both a waste of money and a misguided attempt at impressing other people who usually couldn't care less whether your BMW was purchased here or across the Atlantic.

Related: 20 Classic Italian Sports Cars We Wish Were in Our Driveway

Fake Performance Chips
Ivanko_Brnjakovic/istockphoto

Fake Performance Chips

Price: ~$50
Aftermarket performance chips are designed to increase torque and engine power on top of a vehicle's existing tuner, which use computer technology to adjust a car's fuel-to-air ratio, turbo boost, and other factors. The problem is that many retailers on eBay and elsewhere sell scam versions, distinguishable by their low costs and "one size fits all" claims, which do nothing but void warranties and give drivers the placebo effect of thinking their car is somehow better off.

Fuel-Line Magnets
eBay

Fuel-Line Magnets

Price: $14 on eBay
Buy It
Another bogus aftermarket enhancement to steer clear of, fuel-line magnets claim to improve horsepower and mileage by using magnetic fields to separate fuel components. The only issue is that petroleum molecules aren't magnetic, and Popular Mechanics notes that these magnets have no noticeable impact on vehicle performance, though they might occasionally mess with the car's electronic components.

Whistle Tips / Exhaust Tips
Walmart

Whistle Tips / Exhaust Tips

Price: $7 from Walmart
Buy It
Whistle tips are small metal accessories that attach to a car's exhaust pipe and make their engine noise louder and shriller. And that's it — there's no performance enhancing features, no aesthetic advantages, no reason for it to exist except to make your car's sound more irritating. Well, okay, maybe one reason — as a prank.

Engine Sound Simulators
Amazon

Engine Sound Simulators

Price: $23 from Amazon
Buy It
As more vehicles have gone electric, automakers and aftermarket retailers have begun offering devices that amplify or downright fabricate their engine noises. While worth it as a safety feature for alerting pedestrians to the presence of an otherwise whisper-quiet Tesla, these V8 sound simulators, like whistle tips, are just obnoxious when applied to average petroleum vehicles.

Related: 20 Electric Cars Cheaper Than a Tesla

Car Bras
Auto Anything

Car Bras

Price: $100 from Auto Anything
Buy It
Car bras are leather or vinyl coverings that attach to the vehicle's front bumper in order to protect it from damage by bugs, loose gravel, or weather. Invented in the '60s, their popularity surged for a couple of decades before waning in the '90s, as more people realized the bra was just a fashion accessory, if not completely counterproductive. It turns out they can trap moisture and dirt that rapidly corrodes the paint or loosen to the point of flapping against the car, inflicting the exact sort of damage they're supposed to prevent.

Fake Car Badges
Amazon

Fake Car Badges

Price: $18 from Amazon
Buy It
Another one for the showoffs, fake car badges are stick-on icons that label your car as something it's not. Usually, they're meant to make the car appear cooler or more powerful than it actually is, with a multi-striped "M" indicating a high-performance motor and suspension that isn't actually under the hood. The only people likely to be fooled by them are those who don't know enough about cars and engines to care.

Red Light Camera-Blocking Spray
photoblockerspray/facebook

Red Light Camera-Blocking Spray

Price: $60 from Phantom Plate
Buy It
Red light cameras have been used throughout the U.S. since the early '90s, but not everyone is a fan. While some states have banned their use, retailers have concocted consumer products to help thwart the technology and avoid costly tickets, such as this license plate-obscuring PhotoBlocker spray from Phantom Plate. While this handy way to get out of paying for public safety violations may have originated in the U.S., it ships all over the Western world, though its legality may vary by jurisdiction.

Related: 25 States With the Worst Drivers

Spray Tinted Tail Lights
Amazon

Spray Tinted Tail Lights

Price: $16 from Amazon
Buy It
On top of tinted windows, some drivers want to go all the way in blacking out their vehicle for stylistic reasons, including the tail lights. The cheapest way to do so is the DIY route with a spray-on tint like VHT Night-Shades, but be wary, at least if you plan to still operate your darkened vehicle on public streets. As the fine print "for off-road use only" will warn you, this translucent spray will make your brake lights all but useless, putting yourself and other drivers at risk, not to mention potentially corroding the light fixtures.

Touchscreen Navigators/Stereos/Backup Cameras
Amazon

Touchscreen Navigators/Stereos/Backup Cameras

Price: $164 from Amazon
Buy It
Aftermarket retailers, automakers themselves, and even legislators have helped to make touchscreen radio consoles, or In-Vehicle Information Systems (IVIS) in industry lingo, increasingly common in new vehicles since 1988. Though they may mimic and stand in for a driver's smartphone, the touchscreen approach is less reliable and intuitive to use while driving than hard buttons. At the same time, these large screens have become a manufacturer default since the feds required new cars to come equipped with backup cameras starting in May 2018.

A 2017 study by the University of Utah showed that all of 30 different infotainment systems produced some level of distraction in drivers, with the most disruptive activity being navigation, which took their attention off the road for an average of more than 40 seconds. Even more attention-demanding than using hard or touchscreen buttons, however, was giving voice commands to a vehicle system or smartphone.

Related: 16 Ways Driving Has Changed in the Past 50 Years

Tablet Holder
Amazon

Tablet Holder

Price: $11 from Amazon
Buy It
If your car doesn't already have an enormous touchscreen console to distract you, fear not; you can always just prop up your iPad instead. This dash-mounted tablet holder functions just the same as others do for your smartphone, but accommodates a larger screen with more potential for distraction and drawing your gaze off the road.

Starter-Enabling Seatbelts
VanderWolf-Images/istockphoto

Starter-Enabling Seatbelts

Though you'll have a hard time finding them on the market these days, starter-enabling seatbelts were briefly mandatory in the early '70s as a measure to promote buckling up. Interlocked starters meant drivers would be prevented from starting the car before the seatbelt was detected. The main problem arose in cold temperature locales like Minnesota, where it made little sense to buckle up in winter when you weren't even sure the carburetor would fire up in minus below freezing conditions, and Congress soon rescinded the law.

Moisture Sensing Windshield Wipers
Amazon

Moisture Sensing Windshield Wipers

Price: $155 from Amazon
Buy It
Since the advent of computer technology, with every new model, some automakers have rushed to add on any automated feature they could, rarely stopping to ask if they should. In the case of motion-sensing windshield wipers, there's just no need to make a computer do what the driver could just as easily with a flick of the finger. Rarely are we so slow to notice precipitation and switch on the wipers that this space age modification would make any real difference in visibility and safety.

Time Out Dolls
Etsy

Time Out Dolls

Price: $40 from Etsy
Buy It
Time Out Dolls are another one of those inexplicable trends that just make you wonder, "Why?" only to discover there's no good answer. A longtime, if waning, fixture at flea markets and classic car shows, these are stuffed dolls resembling faceless toddlers that are attached to a car's bumper or backseat, as though on time out. The homemade dolls became popular with home crafters and quilters before catching on with auto enthusiasts, perhaps for the nostalgia of their period-appropriate outfits or for covering up dents in the bumper.

Rolling Coal
Auto Car Video/youtube

Rolling Coal

Rolling coal is the practice of modifying a diesel engine to consume more fuel and pump out more smoke. Started at organized events and truck-hauling contests, now rolling coal has become primarily a way for the politically incorrect crowd to flaunt climate change concerns and "trigger the libs," with modified trucks specifically targeting eco-friendly cars like Priuses with their plumes of black smoke. It's illegal not only for spewing more toxic contaminants than allowed under the Clean Air Act, but for encouraging aggressive driving and impairing other motorists' vision.

To see the products mentioned in this gift guide and more, visit our gift idea lists on Amazon.