Aftermarket car accessory shops: Have they upped their game over time

What has completely surprised me is the level of fit and finish some of these car accessory dealers are showcasing on YouTube.

BHPian A777R recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Well I am in the market for the new Fronx and due to the atrocious pricing on the top end version, doing extensive research on after market additions - some of them cosmetic and some of them functional.

What has completely surprised me is the level of fit and finish some of these car accessory dealers are showcasing on YouTube. They offer discounts on Maruti genuine accessories and the fit and finish looks on par or in some cases even better than the OEM fittings.

For example they are offering piano black finish on the centre console with a smaller touch screen that even Maruti does not offer. Maybe this has become the norm in the last few years but I was still surprised by the kind of options being offered for relatively reasonable prices.

Now obviously the electronics such as ICE and LED lightings could be of suspect quality but everything else that these dealers are fitting looks really good (at least in the videos).

If this trend continues, I genuinely think it would not be such a big risk to buy the lower variants and get them upgraded.

I suspect a couple of big reasons for this trend are:

  • A vast and updated catalogue of genuine Maruti spare parts and accessories.
  • The modern car is much more modular and easier to modify than the older ones.

This is just a random video from a dealer in Delhi who claims to accessorize 6 Fronx(s) every day amongst many other cars. (I am in no way associated with this dealer but he has been putting a lot of Fronx videos lately).

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

Years back, I had thought of the car accessory shop as a declining business. And to some extent, I stick by a lot of those opinions. Today's top variants (and many mid-variants) are very well-equipped & come with practically everything! Even the OEM sound systems have improved (it was a must-have aftermarket accessory at one time), sunfilm has been banned and dealers throw in freebies for mandatory stuff (e.g. floormats).

But there are a lot of buyers of sparsely equipped lower variant cars keeping the business alive. Plus, the sheer size of the market! Today, more 15 - 25 lakh cars are being sold than at any point in the history of the Indian car scene. These customers have a bigger wallet for accessories than an Alto customer.

And I must compliment the after-market for responding with truly high-quality, tempting upgrades. If you are willing to spend, you can get top-quality body wraps, PPF, LED headlamps, leather interiors, 18 - 22" rims, ICE etc. in the market. These have replaced sunfilm, Autocop security systems, horn upgrades, blinking Pioneer stereos etc which were mandatory accessories from 1990 - 2010.

For my 530d, Superb & Sunny, I never visited the auto accessory shop. But for my Thar, I practically raided the after-market with an F16.

Due to manufacturers also overpricing the higher variants, there are splendid options in the aftermarket to convert your base variant into a top one.

Here's what BHPian Mr.Boss had to say on the matter:

Adding a bit:

Growing technology & tools for reverse engineering. We spent hours or even days to measure and develop a 3D CAD models a decade ago, not that's done in seconds with 3D scanners.

Base & mid variants are loaded with basic features and provision for additional features these days (earlier that was not the case, pre-wiring, mounting provisions will be missed).

Market (people) is encouraging or moving towards these accessories.

Change in business model. Earlier accessories means sun film, audio, park assist, seat cover, wheel cap, alloy wheels, aux lamps. Now majority of these are either OE fitment or illegal to use. So we move towards something else.

Here's what BHPian Samba had to say on the matter:

In the earlier years, we used to visit the car accessory shops for fitting accessories like stereo, seat covers, floor mats, sun films, upgraded headlight bulbs and horn with a relay.

The experience was mixed. I never liked the way the mechanics handled the car. There was always a chance, you end up with a shoddy low quality wiring job, or they do not pay attention on the fuse ratings, or cutting/tapping the original wiring. Few inexperienced mechanics used to end-up breaking the plastic clips while opening the door pads, or any plastic panels. I also hated when they cut or remove the oem seat covers while installing the aftermarket ones.

So, I always had to be present and monitor their work thoroughly. Right from inspecting the fuse ratings to the quality of the wires they used, the way they were installing the seat covers, etc etc. My presence and intervention used to irk the mechanics as I used to resist them whenever I found their work to be shoddy. I absolutely hated it.

Am happy I do not have to visit the accessory shops anymore!

Now most of the cars come with 6 air bags- So installing an after market seat cover is not even an option for me. If I want to install one, will get one from the dealer, as an OEM accessory.

The accessory shops do offer seat covers which are compatible with the airbags, but I won't trust them where safety is involved.

Most cars come with projectors and leds, so upgrading the headlights are not anymore required.

Now I use the horn as less as possible, so upgrading the horn is not required either.

Sun-films got banned in many states of India. So it's no more an option for me too. Few cars come with factory fitted tinted glasses, and they are actually nice.

Regarding the ICE, now almost every cars come with a decent factory fitted music system.

In today's date most of the base model cars also come equipped with a decent level of features.

Lastly apart from installing few basic accessories, if the original wiring is touched/tampered by the accessory shops,the factory warranty gets void. And now with the extended warranty schemes, most cars are covered for 5-7 years.

Now the car owners are much more well versed, and safety conscious than they were a decade back.

These are the main reasons I feel for the down-growth of car accessory shops.

Here's what BHPian ashis89 had to say on the matter:

On a related note, a decade ago the dealers and service centres used to offer a small range of accessories - a couple of seat cover options, rubber mats, perfumes and a bunch of chrome kits. Today they are trying to catch up with the accessory shops with OE branded tyre inflators, dashcams, LED bulbs, HID kits, touchscreen units, a variety of mats and even in house ceramic coating. They even entice us with knowledge that their accessories will not hamper warranty. IMO, the accessory market and the options available for each model, has grown leaps and bounds and that gives each of these players the room to grow further.

Here's what BHPian PrideRed had to say on the matter:

Other than standard cosmetics and electronics, the car accessory dealers have diverted their attention to more profitable options like tuning, performance upgrade and mechanical modifications. Overlanding, offroading culture has taken interest in country and OEM's are providing hardly any options. Take example of Thar, while cosmetic/electronics may get accessory dealer a sum of 50K per car, aftermarket suspensions, tires, winch, offroad protective gear and we are talking a bill upwards of 2 Lakh.

While the sub 10-15L rupee cars go to accessory shop for HU, trims, chrome, LEDs etc. the offroad oriented cars, SUVs, performance cars are going for mechanical upgrades which I believe most accessory shops have started focusing on.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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