How To Make Your Car Bulletproof
Bulletproofing your car doesn’t just mean covering it with armor; it can also include making it the very best inside and out with a lot of aftermarket upgrades. There are so many different ways in which you can do this, from literal bulletproofing of windows, tires, and doors to equally stylish and practical features such as floor mats, seat covers, and light blockers.
Armoring passenger cars has become big business around the world from the Philippines to Pakistan to South Africa. With the increase in car jackings and kidnapping attempts, it is now as good of a time as ever to own an armored vehicle for safely traveling to and from your destination.
Although automakers have tiptoed into the bulletproofing game—BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and for a time, Ford, have offered bulletproof versions of their products—the vast majority of cars are modified by aftermarket companies like International Armoring Corporation (IAC) and Armormax of Ogden, Utah with facilities around the world from Dubai to Nigeria to Ukraine, which has armored more than 10,000 vehicles since 1993. The company will make bulletproof cars with shocking door handles or have spikes that drop out of the car.
There are many reasons why you might want to bulletproof your car. You could live in a bad neighborhood, or you may be preparing to take a trip through a dangerous region. You might just sleep better at night knowing that your car is protected out on the streets. Car theft did spike across the United States between January and May of 2020, as more cars were lining the streets unused. Apparently, vehicle larcenies increased by 63% in New York alone during this time. This is just cause for thinking more seriously about the general security of your car. Not only are more people investing in security systems, but another way to protect your car is to armor it. You can literally bulletproof your car by focusing on the following key features.
Here’s How it is Done:
Doors, Body, Floor, Roof, and Interior
The first step is to remove all of the components from the car’s body (interior trim, wiring, carpet, seats, etc.). Then the doors and all other cavities (such as the pillars) are cut open so various materials can be stuffed or welded into those voids. Depending on the level of protection desired, the doors and pillars might be bolstered with steel plates, a combination of ballistic nylon and Kevlar (similar to the material in bulletproof vests), or both. If the doors get too heavy, a third hinge is added.
The firewall and rear bulkhead can be steel-plated, too, but the floor and ceiling are generally lined with ballistic fabrics. The stock bumpers, designed to crumple and absorb energy during major impacts, can be reinforced to allow the armored car to, for example, bash through an improvised roadblock without damaging the radiator. The goal of armoring is also to make the car appear to be unmodified, inside and out.
In the bulletproofing biz, glass is referred to as “transparent armor.” It is not a thicker version of the safety glass found in the side windows of standard cars but rather a sandwich of polycarbonate (a type of plastic) and leaded glass.
The thinnest option—0.8 inch (21 mm) —will stop subsonic rounds such as those from the popular 9mm handgun, while the thickest glass—3 inches (74mm) —should emasculate rounds from a high-powered .30-06 rifle or AR-15 to even a .50 caliber round. If necessary, the electric window motors can be replaced by beefier ones to still allow the windows to be operable depending on how thick the glass is.
Conventional run-flat tires can’t stand up to gunfire because bullets could shred the stiff sidewalls these tires rely on for support. Armormax uses a -military-grade composite rubberized RunFlat tire, which is a polymer donut custom-built for each application. It is clamped around the centerline of a wheel, inside the tubeless tire. If the pneumatic tire loses pressure, the polymer ring provides support that allows 60-mph speeds and between 30 to 60 miles (100 km) depending on the road terrain.
Suspension and Enginge
Even the lightest armoring adds at least 500 pounds to a large sedan. With the greatest level of protection for a large sedan adding 1400 pounds, it is necessary to modify the chassis and occasionally the drivetrain. To maintain drivability, damping and spring rates rise, and air springs slot in if needed. Most modern engines in large sedans have enough power to sufficiently cope with the extra weight, so engine modifications happen only if specifically requested by the customer. Three-quarter-ton trucks and SUVs are the only vehicles with underpinnings capable of bearing roughly 400 to 1,200 pounds of additional weight added with the highest level of protection without any modifications.
Bulletproofing Your Car to Protect the Aesthetic
Many people like to supe up their car to look as slick and cool as possible. They will add features such as spoilers, and change those like tire rims. Literally bulletproofing your car can cost several thousand dollars, but turning it into a top-tier vehicle is typically a much less expensive ordeal.
- Buy floor mats
Floor mats can keep the inside of your car looking as fresh and new as the day you bought it. Anything you track in won’t ever touch the carpet and can be easily cleaned off. You can find specifically made mats for your car’s make and model.
Depending on what you’re after, you may opt for carpet mats instead of rubber; these are harder to clean but definitely look better, so if the style is at the top of your list then you should look at some of these options.
Floor mats can protect the interior of your car from dirt, debris from the street, spills, and stains. Anything that leaves a mark or even a bad odor can easily be removed and cleaned.
- Seat covers
Another simple way in which you can protect the interior of your car is to use seat covers. You’ll find ones that not only cover the driver’s and passenger’s seats, but the back seats as well; they’re a great idea if you have children playing or eating in the back, as they’ll keep your upholstery nice and clean. You can also find supportive seat covers, which look great and make your driving experience won’t.
- Extra protection
Some people like to waterproof their car seats with different kinds of fabric protection sprays or processes. This can help to keep the upholstery clean, but it takes a fair amount of effort to spray or cover the whole interior of your car. It can take a while to dry, and even longer for the smell to disappear.
You can have this professionally done or do it yourself; either way, keep in mind that you might be smelling some pretty bad fumes for a while after. You may prefer to stick to seat coverings and floor mats, which will likely be cheaper than having it professionally waterproofed. Floor mats are also relatively inexpensive, and usually won’t cost you much more than around USD$70 for a set; for an example of prices and sizes, you can check out these floor mats for the ford fiesta.
- Blocking sunlight
This is a great tip—especially if you have leather seats. Protecting them from the sun also means protecting them from the heat. Having tinted windows or window coverings are great ways to keep both your cloth and leather in good nick; the sun can dry leather out, causing it to crack or tear, and excess sunlight may discolor your seats. You can find sun blockers at most auto stores, or even your local Walmart.
Keeping it Clean
Even if you do opt to use seat covers and floor mats, you’re still going to want to clean and check your car regularly for it to look and feel its best. Taking it to be washed every month or so will help to keep it clean, and keep the paint from chipping. In terms of the inside, cleaning out trash and vacuuming it regularly should be sufficient as long as you can avoid spills.
Vacuuming not only cleans the floors or seats of your car, but also keeps the fabric and the carpet fresh, and helps to avoid that crusty, dry feeling of built-up dirt. It’s especially important to clean and vacuum your car during the summer, as crumbs can bake into your carpet and fabric in extreme heat. This often leaves behind a bad smell, and hard-to-clean areas.
Bulletproofing your car doesn’t have to mean literally armoring your vehicle, though you can; there are many things to protect your car from—some that are very serious, and others that aren’t. Regardless, you can bulletproof your car from the inside out, and protect against whatever you track in on your shoes, messy children, or food stains. Your car deserves to be taken care of, and you can make sure that it stays in pristine condition by following the simple steps listed above.
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