Most modern vehicles these days leave the assembly line with stylish designs, but there’s always room for improvement. If you’re looking for ways to make your car look a bit different than the one parked next to you at the supermarket, you’ve come to the right place. Our editors have researched dozens of exterior parts upgrades, ranging from new headlight and tail light bulbs to bumper guards and blind spot mirrors. Some of these products will make your driving experience safer, while others are designed to protect the car itself.
For each of the product categories we’ve researched this year, our editors chose one that stood out as the best. We’ve compiled a list of all the editor’s picks for the best exterior parts upgrades of 2019.
Table of contents
- Editor's Pick for Best HID Headlight Bulbs: Philips Xenon Standard
- Editor's Pick for Best Halogen Headlight Bulbs: Philips X-tremeVision
- Editor's Pick for Best LED Headlight Bulbs: CougarMotor LED Headlight Bulbs
- Editor's Pick for Best Fog Lights: Philips X-tremeVision LED Fog Light
- Editor's Pick for Best LED Tail Light Bulbs: JDM ASTAR PX Chipsets LED Tail Light Bulbs
- Editor's Pick for Best Windshield Wipers: Bosch ICON
- Editor's Pick for Best Tailgate Light Bar: OPT7 Redline LED Tailgate Light Bar
- Editor's Pick for Best Bumper Guard: Bumper Bully
- Editor's Pick for Best Tonneau Cover: Tyger Auto Tri-Fold Tonneau Truck Bed Cover
- Editor's Pick for Best Blind Spot Mirrors: Ampper 2-inch Round/Square Blind Spot Mirrors
- Editor's Pick for Best Wheel Locks: Gorilla Automotive
- Editor's Pick for Best Grille Guard/Bull Bar: Aries
- Editor's Pick for Best Truck Bed Liner: U-POL Truck Bed Liner Kit with Spray Gun
- Editor's Pick for Best Running Boards and Side Steps: APS iBoard Running Boards
- Editor's Pick for Best Parking Sensors: EKYLIN Reverse Backup Radar System
- Editor's Pick for Best Paint Protection Film: 3M Scotchgard
- Editor's Pick for Best Car Cover: Budge Duro Car Cover
Editor's Pick for Best HID Headlight Bulbs: Philips Xenon Standard
Philips is arguably the most well-known brand when it comes to HID headlights. In fact, Philips is the inventory of Xenon HID technology and various automakers use the company’s HIDs as standard equipment on their vehicle. That’s also a reason why Philips Xenon Standard bulbs are one of the most popular available on the market. Each Philips Xenon Standard HID headlight bulb comes with an original equipment quality seal for the most reliable performance and is DOT compliant.
Each Philips Xenon Standard bulb is rated differently depending on the application. For example, the D1S and D2R bulbs are rated at 85 volts and 35 watts, with the D1S offering 3350 (± 300) lumens at a 4200K color temperature. The D2R meanwhile is rated at 3000 (± 250) lumens with the same color temperature. Make sure when you’re comparing different products that you refer to the manufacturer’s websites for specifications, rather than relying on the retailer’s website for accurate information.
The company offers its replacement bulb in a variety of fitments, so it’s almost guaranteed there’s a product that fits your car. When purchasing a Philips Xenon Standard replacement bulb, make sure there is a Philips Certificate of Authenticity (COA) on the box. You can verify the authenticity of the product by scanning the QR code or going to a website.
Editor's Pick for Best Halogen Headlight Bulbs: Philips X-tremeVision
Shopping for replacement halogen headlight bulbs can be confusing, with a plethora of options available not just online, but at your local auto parts store. Before you decide which brand and model bulb you want to purchase, you’ll need to know what type of bulb your car needs. From there, you can narrow down the options available for your vehicle.
Most replacement halogen bulbs are available in either a twin pack or a single pack, but some manufacturers only offer certain bulb fitments in a single pack. Keep that in mind when you’re purchasing new headlight bulbs, to make sure you’re getting the quantity you need. If you’re planning to upgrade to a whiter, brighter halogen bulb, it is highly recommended to replace both bulbs at the same time. Otherwise, one headlight will be brighter than the other, which could affect road visibility.
If you’re trying to narrow down your options for the best halogen headlight bulb for your car, you’ve come to the right place. Most manufacturers offer several tiers of replacement bulbs, some of which are original equipment specs, while others are brighter for increased visibility. The one you should purchase depends on your needs – if you often drive at night or in rural or dimly lit streets, you may want to get a brighter bulb to increase your visibility.
Editor's Pick for Best LED Headlight Bulbs: CougarMotor LED Headlight Bulbs
The ideal balance of price, performance, and longevity, CougarMotor’s LED headlight bulbs offer 7200 lumens per pair, which is 200 percent brighter than stock halogen headlights. They run at a cool white 6000K temperature and offer a great beam pattern without any dark spots or foggy light.
CougarMotor opts to use an aluminum housing with a 10,000 RPM TurboCool fan to ensure the LED headlight bulbs can operate for over 50,000 hours. The company says its bulbs are plug-and-play and are CanBUS-Ready with most vehicles. They are also IP67 waterproof and each bulb comes with a three-year warranty and lifetime support. Each bulb is rated at 30 watts and uses Cree LED chips. Installation is easy thanks to the bulbs being CanBUS-Ready, working with most vehicles without issues. It is recommended to contact the manufacturer to verify they will be compatible with your vehicle.
There are brighter options available than CougarMotor’s LED bulbs, so if you often drive at night or on dimly lit roads, you may want something brighter. But if you’re looking for an all-around performer that is competitively priced, these bulbs should be at the top of your list. CougarMotor is also the only company on this list that offers a three-year warranty on its products.
Editor's Pick for Best Fog Lights: Philips X-tremeVision LED Fog Light
Philips is a trusted name for lighting in both household and automotive applications, and its fog lights got great reviews on Amazon and is also a bestseller. These lights feature a 12-year expected lifetime and are covered under a three-year warranty, meaning they’re sure to last. An LED bulb with 9.3 watts of output and 840 lumens, these feature a bright white illumination that the company says won’t glare or blind other drivers. If you want to replace your halogen fog lights, these are a great pick for a plug-and-play solution. LEDs use less energy and stay cooler than halogen lights and also have a longer lifespan.
They’re a bit pricey, but many buyers swear by them. A few users reported that the lights stopped working in 2.5 years, but the company made good on the warranty and replaced the product.
Editor's Pick for Best LED Tail Light Bulbs: JDM ASTAR PX Chipsets LED Tail Light Bulbs
Available in a variety of fitments, these LED bulbs come in white, red, or amber yellow, so you can use them for your reverse lights, brake lights, and turn signals. The red bulbs features 21 pieces of high power PX chipsets per bulb, lasting up to 20,000 hours. These bulbs use plug-and-play technology and offer extremely bright output, while being waterproof and housed in an enclosure manufactured from aircraft grade aluminum featuring a glass lens.
If you’re looking for backup reverse lights, JDM ASTAR offers 1260 lumens per bulb for that particular application. JDM ASTAR offers a one-year warranty on its bulbs.
This particular bulb has an overwhelming number of positive reviews, making it our pick. There are a small number of complaints of premature failure, while other vehicles experienced error codes when using these bulbs.
Editor's Pick for Best Windshield Wipers: Bosch ICON
The Bosch ICON is a beam-style wiper blade and features a bracketless design with tension springs, helping keep the blade flexible while providing superior performance in all weather conditions. The company claims the ICON offers up to 40-percent longer life than other premium blades and its blade rubber was proved to be the most resistant to cracking from exposure to ozone compared to other major competitors’ brands. It also features an exclusive asymmetrical flexible spoiler design for effortless and quiet wiping. Bosch also promises the ICON is easy to install, thanks to a weather-shield double-locking connector.
While generally more expensive than other wipers available on the market, the Bosch ICON is considered the best by many of its users, although they may not necessarily be the best for you. If you live in an area that doesn’t experience a lot of rain or snow, you may not need a premium blade like the Bosch ICON. But if you like knowing you have one of the best performing wipers when it does rain or snow, then the Bosch ICON should be towards the top of your list.
Bosch wipers are also used as OEM equipment on various luxury German vehicles, such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, so you know it’s a quality product.
Editor's Pick for Best Tailgate Light Bar: OPT7 Redline LED Tailgate Light Bar
The OPT7 Redline LED Tailgate Light Bar is available in 48- and 60-inch lengths, featuring bigger LED lights, a durable weatherproof design, and 3M automotive adhesive tape rated at 45 pounds. According to OPT7, this light bar is equipped with 72 (48-inch model) or 90 (60-inch model) “Alpha” LEDs, which are large triple-core LED lights that shine 35 percent brighter than a standard LED. These light bars are manufactured with a rust-resistant aluminum body that uses IP67 waterproof silicone, so it’s designed to protect against sand, dirt, dust, snow, and water.
Like other tailgate light bars, this one plugs directly into your trailer adapter for quick install, although some vehicles will require wiring for the reverse light. This light is also cold-weather capable, able to take on temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
OPT7 gives its Redline LED Tailgate Bar a two-year warranty and 30,000-hour lifespan.
With an overwhelming number of positive reviews on Amazon, the OPT7 Redline LED Tailgate Light Bar is a favorite among owners. Users find the light bar to be nice and bright, nicely packaged, and easy to install. Some owners did complain that the wiring with the four-pin plug is a bit thin. In fact, most of the complaints about this project involve its wiring. A small number of owners did complain about failure after just a few months of use.
Editor's Pick for Best Bumper Guard: Bumper Bully
Bumper Bully is one of the most popular brands in the market and it offers three different models depending on the coverage you need. The Black Edition is the cheapest of the three, while the Gold Edition slots in the middle. At the top of the range is the Platinum Edition. All three products measure 46 inches by 12 inches, making them identical in size to the BumperBadger HD Edition. They’re also all manufactured from premium grade rubber material that is PVC free.
The Black Edition is the entry-level model and comes standard with patented black stabilizer bars. Unlike the other products, however, the Black Edition does not feature steel reinforced straps or safety reflectors.
The mid-level Gold Edition is the company’s most popular product and comes standard with steel reinforced trunk straps and integrated red safety reflectors for safer nighttime parking. Its patented stabilizer bars are finished in gold.
To justify the additional cost of the Platinum Edition, Bumper Bully adds impact pads on the backside of the guard, resulting in an additional 10mm of impact absorbing protection. It also comes standard with steel reinforced trunk straps and red safety reflectors, but its patented stabilizer bars are in a platinum color.
To use this bumper guard, you simply open your trunk and flip the Bumper Bully out to protect your rear bumper when parked. The bumper guard is not designed to be used while driving.
Editor's Pick for Best Tonneau Cover: Tyger Auto Tri-Fold Tonneau Truck Bed Cover
Tyger Auto’s Tri-Fold Tonneau Bed Cover is a sleek-looking soft tonneau cover that is available for most mainstream modern-day pickup trucks.
This tonneau cover is made of very sturdy dual-coated marine-grade vinyl. The low-profile design will keep your truck looking factory and the cover also has a weather-tight seal that will protect your bed’s contents from the elements outside. Each package will come with the pre-assembled tonneau cover, an LED bed light, weather seals and the hardware needed for mounting the cover to your truck.
Tyger’s vinyl tonneau cover is extremely easy to install and fits different truck beds very well with minimal overhang. The installation process also requires no drilling into your vehicle.
In addition to protecting your truck bed and its contents, this tonneau cover can also make your car more aerodynamic and thus more fuel efficient. While it’s hard to guarantee you’ll experience a noticeable increase in fuel economy, Tyger claims it can reduce fuel consumption by 10-13%.
Tyger also offers a limited lifetime warranty on its tonneau covers and will return the product if you ordered it for the wrong truck by accident.
A con to this cover is some users report it fitting loosely after having been affixed to the truck for some time.
Editor's Pick for Best Blind Spot Mirrors: Ampper 2-inch Round/Square Blind Spot Mirrors
One of the top sellers on Amazon, Ampper offers both round and square blind spot mirrors in packs of two or four. The round mirrors are two inch in diameter and features a curved, frameless, and ultra thin design. They can rotate 360 degrees and are sway adjustable, coming with a tiny adjustable swivel mounting bracket and 3M adhesive for easy installation.
The square mirrors measure 3.7 inches by 1.37 inches.
These mirrors are IP65 waterproof, rust resistant, and Amperr says the glass will not haze.
Editor's Pick for Best Wheel Locks: Gorilla Automotive
One of the most well-respected and trusted brands when it comes to wheel locks, Gorilla Automotive has a wide assortment of products to help keep your wheels and tires on your car. The company’s lineup of wheel locks comes in various finishes, seat types, and thread patterns, so it’s very likely Gorilla offers something that fits your car. Every offering comes highly recommended, but we’ll take a look at some of Gorilla’s more popular products.
The Original System is a complete set of 20 wheel locks so that every lug nut on your wheels is a lock. Those locks use a single key and are made from case-hardened steel and chrome plated for a durable finish.
If you don’t need a full set of wheel locks, Gorilla’s X2 is another great option, featuring a patented dual-stage technology. The upper lock on these wheel locks is free spinning, making it even more difficult for thieves to try to force them off the wheel by protecting the lower portion from removal tools. The X2 locks are a bit more expensive than the standard units Gorilla has to offer, so if you don’t feel like you need the free-spinning upper portion, save a bit of cash by purchasing the regular wheel locks.
Editor's Pick for Best Grille Guard/Bull Bar: Aries
Similar to Westin, Aries offers a wide variety of applications for grille guards and bull bars. The company’s standard grille guard offering requires no drilling for installation and is available in two finish options: polished stainless and semi-gloss black powdercoat. They are constructed from either stainless steel or carbon steel and have pre-drilled holes in the crossbar for mounting LED lights. The grille guard uses 1.5-inch heavy-wall tubing and comes with a lifetime limited warranty, but a one-year warranty on parts.
If you’re looking for something more serious, the company’s Pro Series Grille Guard is equipped with a patented LED light bar housing and interchangeable plate options. The Pro Series lineup features one-piece construction and is available in four finishes: brushed stainless, polished stainless, semi-gloss black powdercoat, and textured black powdercoat. Some models feature a patented crossbar that houses a single-row LED bar and the interchangeable cover plate serves as protection for the light bar while offering easy customization.
The Pro Series Grille Guard is a one-piece design with 1.5-inch diameter, high-strength steel heavy-wall tubing and comes with a limited lifetime warranty, three-year warranty on the finish, and one-year warranty on the parts.
The company also offers three different bull bars: AdvantEDGE, Big Horn, and 3-inch Bull Bars. The AdvantEDGE Bull Bar is a 5.5-inch unit constructed from rust-free aluminum and is available with integrated LED lights. The Big Horn is a 4-inch bull bar with a more traditional tube design, while the 3-inch model offers a no-drill fit for a wide variety of applications.
Editor's Pick for Best Truck Bed Liner: U-POL Truck Bed Liner Kit with Spray Gun
Here’s a high-quality U-POL bed liner product — it’s a full kit complete with a spray gun and a hardener.
If you like U-POL’s quality urethane formula bed liner but don’t own your own spray gun attachment for an air compressor, this is the kit for you. With four 1-liter bottles of bed liner, all you need to bring to the equation here is some painter’s tape to tape off your truck bed and sandpaper for the prep process.
Consumers say U-POL’s instructions are clear and easy-to-read, making the application process of the bed liner simple and straightforward. It also dries in just one hour — much quicker than some other spray on urethane formulas.
One con to this bed liner is that it may chip if applied heavily.
Like all liners, you’ll want to properly prep your surface before applying this product. A respirator is also always recommended.
Editor's Pick for Best Running Boards and Side Steps: APS iBoard Running Boards
The APS iBoard Running Boards are available in chrome or a powder-coated matte black finish and in a number of lengths and diameters, giving you plenty of choices when shopping.
This product comes in at under $200 for a 5-inch set of running boards for extended cab pickups, making them more affordable than many running boards on sale today but more expensive than some budget options on sale.
The iBoard running boards also have a full metal construction, making them durable, and feature a low-profile design so they don’t get in the way when they are not in use.
Buyers of these running boards appreciate the modern-day design, slim construction and simple installation. Common complaints are that the boards can scratch easily and that the brackets and screws are visible once the boards are installed.
Editor's Pick for Best Parking Sensors: EKYLIN Reverse Backup Radar System
Simple, affordable and easy to install, the EKYLIN reverse backup radar system is ideal for shoppers after added parking protection without the fuss of more complex or pricier systems. Four radar sensors are included, as is a system computer module and visual display unit. The external bumper-mounted parking sensors are available in a variety of popular colors for discreet installation via an included hole-saw.
Sensors connect to the system computer module, which can be hidden beneath the dashboard or under a seat. The visual display is connected to the same module before being mounted in a location where the driver can easily monitor their proximity to nearby objects as they park.
Owner reviews are generally positive, and many note that the installation instructions are easy to understand and comprehensive. Some owners have reported receiving the incorrect color for their sensors though, so check the packaging when your system arrives. You’ll also want to determine if the EKYLIN Reverse Backup Radar System includes long enough sensor wiring for your specific application before attempting an install.
Editor's Pick for Best Paint Protection Film: 3M Scotchgard
We like 3M’s Scotchgard as it is a very long-lasting clear paint protection film. The 3M company is also a global leader in films, adhesive products, and laminates.
This very thin, transparent film can be applied to the front of your vehicle, acting as a clear “bra” to shield your car from debris. Users say it’s long lasting, extremely sticky and relatively easy to apply – although working with vinyl film can be tricky if you’ve never done it before.
We’d suggest buying more of this film than you think you’ll need. That way you will have some leftover if you make a mistake and you will also have addition film if you ever want to reapply it to your vehicle.
While this product is very thin and thus hard to see once applied, some users say it is too thin. We’d suggest it to those who wish to protect their vehicle’s paint but want the protective film to go unnoticed.
Editor's Pick for Best Car Cover: Budge Duro Car Cover
If you’re looking for a more heavy-duty car cover, Budge also offers the Duro model. Comprised of three layers of polypropylene material, the Budge Duro cover breathes and has ultra-sonically welded seams. It’s ideal for use in a garage carport or for short-term outdoor use. It’s manufactured from a soft, non-abrasive material designed not to harm the surface of your vehicle.
Available for cars up to 264-inches long, the Budge Duro car cover guarantees a great fit with a full elastic hem and built-in grommets. Like the Budge Lite, it comes in a gray color and includes a storage bag, antenna patch, and a five-year warranty.
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