Front end mask can protect car from debris

Steering You Right With Sharon Peters

Q: I want to get one of those things that stretches across the front of my car to protect it from road debris that flies up (or off of trucks) and gouges or chips the paint, and also protects it from bugs. My son calls the thing a “car bra” but I’m pretty sure that’s not the official name, and there’s no way I’m going to go to the dealership or car parts place and ask for a car bra. What do I call the thing?

A: They’re often called a “car nose mask” or a “front end mask.” Everyone would know what you were talking about if you were to call it a car bra, too.

They come in a variety of different styles that extend over a greater or lesser amount of the vehicle’s front end. Do an Internet search on “front end mask” and you’ll come up with lots of distributors, most of which provide photos that show you just how much this garment will cover.

Q: I run a custom gift company and a spend hours every day delivering gift bags to recipients — most often these are bags that are just a little smaller than shopping-bag size with ribbons streaming from the handles. I’ve tried every thing I can think of to keep the last of the bags from tipping over in my trunk when I’m down to the final couple of deliveries. I’ve spent a small fortune on plastic containers to stand them up in, nets that I extend across the trunk and I’ve even tried using bungee cords. Nothing works – got any ideas?

A: Yes. A couple.

You can try buying some trunk cargo hooks. You install them at the edge/lip of the back of the trunk. Then you can hang the bags from them (depending on the bag size and the depth of trunk, the bags will be suspended just above the trunk bottom or they’ll just slightly brush it) and you’ll probably have no more tip-overs. Some automakers, like Honda and Volvo include them in their models’ trunks, and at least a couple of people I know have installed them in other vehicles as well.

They cannot, however, be mounted within every single trunk, so make sure you get one in your hands and open your trunk to see if they’ll work in yours before you lay out the cash to buy one. Other carmakers may offer such systems as well, although I’ve not seen them. It’s worth calling the parts department of your local car dealer to see what they have in the official books and offer in aftermarket parts.

Also, there are things called “trunk organizers” that tend to be a little more solid than those plastics vats you’ve tried. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations, so the best way to check what’s out there is to search the Internet for “trunk organizer” and see what comes up.

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