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    6 tips for getting your vehicle tailgate ready

    If “road trip” are the two best words for summer, then “tailgating” is the call for fall. As American as frozen TV dinners, tailgating is essentially a reason for over exuberant college and pro football fans to use their vehicles to party-hearty in the great outdoors, i.e., a giant stadium parking lot.

    Not surprisingly, tailgating has evolved over the years. Whether it’s a baseball game, NASCAR race or even a non-sporting event, someone is next to their car, truck or SUV, performing the essential tailgate rituals: grillin’, chillin’ and watchin’ TV.

    With the immense popularity of tailgating today, those hosting the social-gathering are aiming to have the coolest and most innovative party-friendly products and accessories for their car, truck or SUV.

    “Tailgating is a creative way to launch a party from a vehicle,” says Chris Kersting, president and CEO for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the automotive trade organization for the aftermarket. “Tailgating really highlights what specialty aftermarket manufacturers are all about: innovative products to personalize and enhance vehicles to fit one’s interests.”

    Here are some tailgating product ideas:

    *Make your bed. If you’re using a truck, the bed area is going to be essential. There are several products to keep the bed protected and stylish, such as colorful spray-on bed liners or complete bolt-on bed liners. Rubber bed floors and tailgate mats are also available to keep your bed nice and tidy.

    *Tailgate tales. There are plenty of items available to protect and enhance your tailgate. Ladders, ramps and stairs can provide easy accessibility while tailgate caps can offer additional protection. Different sizes and styles of cargo boxes are available to carry around gear, and even act as a cooler. Top it off by converting your full-sized truck tailgate into a comfy couch with a thick-foamed cushion that’s made for the exact specifications of your tailgate.

    *Team player. Sports fans like to show their allegiances and many tailgating products are offered with team logos and colors. Several companies offer vinyl team graphics that adhere to the sides of your vehicle, while others offer tailgate nets with the American flag so you can honor the red, white and blue. Wheel covers, floor mats, and dash covers are all available with team logos as well. Personalized car flags are a must so fellow tailgaters can find your party easier.

    *There’s a hitch. Lots of products are available to attach to your tow hitch, including one that features two fold-out tailgating tables. Dual-hitch receivers double your towing capacity so you can bring more tailgating accessories and keep them safe with a hitch pin and lock.

    *Game on. Many tailgaters watch games from their vehicles and can easily do so with a portable TV mount. Keep your screen tightly secured by attaching it to your trailer hitch, enabling you to safely set up your flat screen TV with your truck tailgate open. Consider updating your car audio system to help deliver the best sound possible.

    *The great outdoors. Sometimes the outdoors aren’t too great, so there are pop-up auto umbrellas, shelters and awnings that will fend off rain or too much sunshine.

    There are a number of affordable tailgating products available for your vehicle. Most of these products can be found at camping and sporting goods stores, as well as auto parts stores, national mass retailers and online.


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