Tires are one thing I never cheap out on. Even during times when money was tight, I’d try to get the best tire I possibly could. Not only is it a matter of safety but ride quality, road noise, and especially gas mileage can all be negatively impacted by cheap tires.
We asked readers what were the things they thought were always worth spending extra for. These were their answers.
If You Can Find It At Harbor Freight, Don’t Get It
Anything that doesn’t come from Harbor Freight.
That includes a battery charger, a 4-in-1 charger, and an electric chainsaw that actually fell apart while using it.
Suggested by: IDM3
AAA Roadside Assistance
AAA. the base plan is a waste. Get the gold. It’ll cover most trips a person makes on a daily basis.
Suggested by: Paul Potvin (Facebook)
Shocks And Struts
Shocks and struts. Nothing transforms a car quicker than a good shock/strut.
I find a quality strut will last 100k+ miles and make a car ride and handle 10x better than a cheap one that lasts 30k miles. Given that struts are a pain to change out, spring for the good ones.
Oh, order the damn things. If you go to your local store, you will see cheap struts for $100/each and top of the line being $400 each. Go to online and the cheap ones will be $75/each and top of the line will be $150/each. The local box store won’t have the high end ones in stock anyway, so you won’t save any time versus ordering them yourself.
Anything related to safety, the most relevant item in my case for example being my motorcycle gear. I spared no expense in getting gear, because it’s the only thing between my skin and the grinding wheel that is pavement. I sure appreciated having it on the first time I hit gravel in a corner. Despite two big hits, one on my knee and one on my hand, my glove and riding pants turned what would’ve been really bad road rash or worse, into not a scratch anywhere. I’d rather put up with being a bit too hot or uncomfortable if it may potentially save me from having to regrow skin!
Suggested by: Erik Bourque (Facebook)
Brakes. For the love of all that is holy do NOT cheap out on brakes. Sure, the cheap brakes will work, for a while, but the cheap pads will coat your wheels in crap, those rotors will warp the first time you drive in the rain, and you’ll just be doing the job all over again. Not really saving any money in the long run. Pay the extra few bucks and install good brakes.
Suggested by: You Wish (And a few others)
Portable Air Pumps
Get a portable tire pump. They are so darned useful and can be everywhere your car is.
Suggested by: James D Jarvis (Facebook)
A Good Mechanic
A good mechanic.
Like, not getting robbed by one, but finding a trustworthy mechanic that will do the job right while not fleecing you.
Suggested by: COMTNDRVR
Quality tools, but be smart about it.
Obviously you don’t want to cheap out on stuff that matters like jacks and jack stands, but some wrenches, ratchets, and sockets from Harbor Freight are just as good as what you’d pay several times the price for from Snap-on. They’re both lifetime warranty, so you can skimp there.
Power tools, you want to last and not fail you when you need them, so spending the money once as opposed to spending less repeatedly for cheap stuff is not only smart, but cost effective in the long run.
Suggested by: John Noberini (Facebook)
I get accident insurance through work for something like $7/paycheck. And it pays for itself every year.
For example, 2 years ago. Stupid dog won’t come in. I go downstairs to get her and she tosses a ball towards me to pick up. Just as I put my left foot on a step. Ankle surgery, 3 months on a damn scooter resulted. Insurance paid out something like $1500 to help pay the bills.
Of course be safe. Use jack stands, watch youtube videos of how to do what you have to do. Wear PPE like gloves, safety goggles, and eye protection. But accidents happen and having something to help pay for stuff is very useful.
Suggested by: hoser68
Valves, Lifters, Etc...
Anything valvetrain related.
I can guarantee those $100 LS7 lifters aren’t actually LS7 lifters, or those supercheap valve springs with inconsistent production quality and not matched so your spring pressure is all over the place (making it harder to a handle on your valvetrain stability). People will spend $4k on wheels and tires, but then skimp on something that really matters. Buy once, cry once.
Suggested by: WarShrike