Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Carbon Fiber Hoods

In addition to body kits, carbon fiber hoods are another awesome exterior modification. Once you have purchased the carbon fiber hood you want, it's time to get it installed. You may need a hand removing the factory hood due to its weight, but once it is removed, you should be able to handle the much lighter carbon fiber hood. The installation is fairly easy, so here is a quick guide to help you get it installed.
Start your installation by removing the windshield washer jets for the factory hood. Disconnect the tubing that runs to them by unclipping or unscrewing them. If there is a light attached to the hood, go ahead and remove it, as you may want to reuse it on the new hood.
With these removed, and with some help on the other side, prop the hood up with the hood prop if applicable. Remove the 4 bolts holding the hood to the hinges. If your hood has gas shocks, remove them before removing the hinge bolts. Be careful to support the weight of the hood when removing the hinge bolts to reduce the risk of damaging the fenders or the windshield. With the hinges and gas shocks unbolted, this will free up the heavy factory hood. Carefully remove it from the hinges by pulling it away from the windshield and set it aside.
Set the new carbon fiber hood in place. It will be significantly lighter than the factory steel hood. Line up the bolts on the hinges and tighten them down. Reattach the gas shocks if applicable, or set the hood prop in place. Reattach your windshield washer jets if your hood permits, and run the lines on the underside. If you saved your light and want to reattach it, you can do so at this point. it can be attached using some 3M adhesive double sided tape, or you can carefully screw it in place, making sure to use screws small enough to not penetrate the top of the hood.
Close the hood and check for alignment. If you need to adjust the alignment, lift the hood and loosen the hinge bolts slightly, just to where you can make small adjustments. Lower the hood and make any adjustments and re-tighten the bolts. This should complete your carbon fiber hood installation. Now you can enjoy the sleek new design and take it out for a test drive!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Body Kits - For Everyone?

Are Body Kits made just for those who consider themselves "Tuners"? By definition (if there is one), a tuner is someone who is an auto enthusiast, who drives some sort of compact import, and who enjoys modifying and customizing their vehicles. Can the average Joe get away with a body kit?
With so many styles of body kits out there, you can find one that suits your preferences. Many high end sports cars come with factory bumpers and side skirts to give them a low profile, sleek and fast look. Body kits are created to do the same for your sedan or coupe, depending on how extreme you want to go.

Body kits have received a little bit of a bad reputation over the past few years. They have been typically seen on cars with loud exhaust, loud stereos, and poor installation techniques or paint jobs. If that suits you, then more power to you, but a body kit is supposed to enhance the vehicles appearance. An inexperienced installer can make a body kit or a paint job look worse than the beginning product, so much care should be used when installing body kits, or have a body shop do it professionally.
The point of a body kit is to change the appearance and stance of a vehicle, and you can do this to varying degrees. An aggressive style body kit will have sharpened edges, very low clearance, and lots of curvature. Less aggressive kits look more factory with smoother lines, more ground clearance, and factory looking seams. Some kits replace the whole bumper covers while others attach to the existing bumper covers. There is a lot of variety for all kinds of taste, so adding a body kit that you like, installed correctly will really give your ride a new, sporty look. The end results are only as good as the time spent on the details.

Body kits are not just for compact cars anymore. You can find kits for sedans, trucks, and s.u.v.s. There are even aftermarket kits to create the resemblance of the factory "GT" or premium styling for some vehicles, so take a second look at body kits. There is more to be gained there than lost.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Show Quality Body Kits

There is a small difference in the outcome of a body kit installed for street use and a body kit installed for show use (less than 1/4 inch difference). In a previous article, "Body Kits - Installing Them Right Scores Major Style Points," we gave instructions on installing your body kit. Those instructions will give you a good, factory looking finished product. If you are interested in a show quality, perfect finish, these are the instructions for you!

We will assume that the body kit has already been sanded and prepped for paint. Now, we are going to custom fit our aftermarket body kit to the vehicle using a technique called "bedding." To do this, we will apply body filler to the pieces we are installing and use the body filler to fill in the seams. Start by placing some masking tape over the area where the body kit meets the car. Now sand or grind the edge of the body kit to get a rough surface. Apply a good layer of body filler to the body kit using a quick setting body filler mixture. This is simply a mixture of body filler with a higher catalyst to filler ratio, and depending on the color of catalyst (usually blue or red) it will be a dark red or dark blue color. You want it to set in a matter of a few minutes, so once the body filler is added to the body kit, get it in place quickly and accurately. Place the body kit in its final position and hold securely for a few minutes. It may be wise to have some help with this. Once the filler is set and hardened, remove it from the car. Now check to see if the gap is completely filled in. If not, repeat the process until you are satisfied with the outcome. Then sand the body kit smooth by blending the body filler into the body kit. Once sanded, test the fit again. You may find you want to touch up some area, and if so, add a small layer of body filler and repeat the process again. Resand and retest.

Now that it is prefect, remove the masking tape from the car. Drill your pilot holes for your rivets (they tend to not come loose and we recommend them over screws) and secure it in place with rivets. Once secured, the car is ready to be painted, and you will have a perfect fitting, show quality aftermarket body kit installation.

Be warned. This is a time consuming endeavor, and should only be done by a competent installer. We still highly reccomend a body shop install these body kits, but if you have the time and patience to do it right, go for it!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Installing Your Auto Body Kits

You have done the research and purchased the body kit you want for your car. So now what? Who will put it on?

This may be the most important question to answer. The techniques used to install body kits can be the difference in a real head turner or just another import with bumper kits.
I would personally suggest you find a reputable shop experienced in your type of body kit work. They should know how to work with the material you selected, and how to color match, prep and paint the kit. They should also know how to , if necessary, to make adjustments to ensure a proper fitting. Your finished product will be as good as the effort put into it.

Having said that, it is never a bad idea to learn something new. Before yoou begin, make sure you designate enough time to the project to install your body kit right the first time. This type of body work requires a lot of patience if you are inexperienced at it. Here are some instructions to help you get started on the project.

The first thing to do is to prep the body kit for painting. It will be much easier to work on before it is installed. If you do not intend to paint the whole vehicle, it may be wise to color match and paint the body kit prior to installation.

Start by removing the pieces that will be replaced. This may include the front and rear bumper covers. You can find the bolts for the front cover in the fender wells and underneath the cover near the frame. Remove these bolts and loosen the cover. Depending on the application, be sure to remove any of the lighting that is attached to it, such as the headlights, side markers, fog lights, etc. Now check to make sure that there isn't anything else holding it in place, such as a grille or license plate holder. Carefully remove the front bumper cover and set to the side. Keep the hardware handy, as you will need it later. Remove the rear bumper in the same manner, as well as the trim panel located just above the bumper (if applicable). Most cars won't have side skirts at this point, but if it does, remove them by removing the bolts that hold it to the vehicle. They are located on the back of the side skirts.

Take your replacement cover and carefully align it to the car and check the fitting. Some of the kits will have 3M adhesive to help hold the kit in place during this process. You may find that the foam inserts are an obstruction to the new body kit. You can either remove them or trim them to size, depending on the application. I have found that if possible, it is better to trim them to fit because they will help sturdy the body kit so it doesn't appear as flimsy. If you have done your research and purchased a good kit, then you should line up almost perfect. Make some markings as to where you will drill your holes. You can also use the old bumper cover to line up the holes but it may not be as accurate as the fitting approach.

If you find yourself in a situation where the kit doesn't line up exactly, there are some things you can do to correct the problem. First, locate the problem areas. They will be most noticable on the sides where it matches up to the fenders or in the very front where it matches up to the hood. If you notice one side has a bigger seam in these areas than the other side, try moving the cover to the larger seam side in very small increments until there is no longer a difference. The seam should be the same width as other seams on the car, most notably the same size as the seam from the fender to the door, or the fender to the closed hood. Using these same widths for the seams will create a "seamless" look for the finished product.

If your problem area is in the front, you will have to adjust the body kit insmall increments until it lines up. If you have too larges of a seam, try gently pulling the kit from the two sides to tighten up the front. it should have a little bit of play in it since it is not bolted down. If the seam is to small, try pushing the sides in towards the front of the vehicle to free up any space. Once the front is adjusted, look to see if the sides are aligned property. If you are happy with the fitment, place the bolts in the holes and tighten them down. Start in the middle, and work your way out to the sides making sure that your seams line up properly. If your kit comes with 3M adhesive on the back side, adhere the kit to the car once the proper alignment is made. This will help hold the kit in place and allow the seams to be smaller in width.

In some unfair and unfortunate circumstances, you may find your kits not lining up after all these adjustments. These kits will require some body work or fiberglass work to be done for proper fitting, such as trimming or sanding up the side edges and refinishing them, or repositioning the bolts. Hopefully you won't encounter any of these types of problems, because they tend to have to be solved on a case by case basis. If you find yourself in dire straights, contact and we can help guide you to the best solution.

With your front piece of the body kit installed, you can concentrate on the side skits and rear bumper cover. The side skirts should be fairly simple, and will require drilling pilot holes in the bottom of the car. To ensure proper alignment here, attach the side skirt to the vehicle using the 3M adhesive (if provided). It should line up exactly with a small seam in the front and rear next to the fenders. If the seam is larger on one side, split the difference and drill the pilot holes for the bolts and secure it in place.

Now move to the rear bumber cover. Follow the same procedures as above until you get a goof fitting. Again, you may need to remove or trim the rear bumper foam inserts, depending on the shape of the body kit.
Congratulations on successfully installing your body kit! If you didn't paint it before installation, you can 1) take it to a paint shop and have the whole car painted, or 2) read on in our exterior paints section (found in the right column under "Articles and Resources") to get more info on painting your own vehicle.

This post brought to you by Majestic Modifications Car Accessories!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Choosing a Body Kit

Choosing a Body Kit

Choosing a body kit is probably the most fun part of the entire process, short of seeing the actual finished product. There are so many kits to choose from, and you can mix and match to your heart's content. What's the secret to choosing the right body kit?

If you have no idea what type of kit you want, start off by looking at some major manufacturer's websites. The most important part is getting a picture of the kit already on a car. To do this, do searches at Google. For example, try searching for body kits on your car application. Almost every time you will find detailed pictures of someone's personal car on their web page. Now you will know how it will look.

Keep repeating the step above until you find exactly what you want. If you are trying to mix and match then this will be harder, you will probably have to use a little imagination by looking at each piece on different cars.

Once you have chosen a body kit, now it's time to decide who to buy from. There are a lot of companies out there offering kits, and the quality will vary as much as the price. There are also a lot of materials to choose from as well. Decide on what type of material you want your kit to be constructed of. There are generally two types of materials used in fabricating kits - fiberglass and urethane. Fiberglass generally fits better and can be repaired if you ever damage a piece, but it is more brittle than urethane. Fiberglass has a better finish than urethane; paint will usually look better on the fiberglass. Urethane is much more resistant to soft impacts due to it's flexibility, but it can't be repaired once it's damaged. Choose a material that best suits how you want it to look and perform.

I would suggest staying with a major name brand body kit and avoid the knockoffs and imitations for a couple reasons. Imitations will be cheaper than the big name companies. However, if the fit is less than perfect you are going to be paying much more in installation fees or in time if you are trying to do it yourself. There is going to be molding and a lot of hassle if the kit doesn't fit. For that reason I recommend spending a little bit more on the kit the first time and getting one that is going to work. When dealing with a big name company you know your order is going to get to you as soon as possible. If you go with a less well known company you may end up waiting weeks or even months for a kit to get to you.

Remember - you get what you pay for. There's the high quality U.S.-made fiberglass resin and there's the cheap, brittle fiberglass. Decide how much you're willing to invest, find the right style, the right material , and the right installer, and you will end up with a great looking car.
Visit Majestic Modifications full line of auto accessories to find your body kit today!