Let’s be honest. We all love finding new flashy gizmos to put in our cars. Whether they make our lives easier, or just look awesome, car accessories add a little fun to 21st century locomotion. So to keep you up to date, we’ve compiled a list of the coolest, techiest, and/or the most useful in-car and out-car gizmos out there! This list was made to inform you on both the coolest and the handiest accessories for your car and includes an average pricing for each item. All images in this post are from Amazon.com. Click on any one to be directed to the product.
USB adapter – $3
Some newer cars have direct USB inputs, but the majority of cars have only the standard cigarette lighter charging output. This adapter will keep your phone fully charged on the go, which is handy especially if you use for phone for battery-chewing functions like GPS navigation.
Stereo 3.5mm audio cable – $5
Most cars have an auxiliary input (aux-in) for a 3.5mm cord. You can use this for playing music/podcasts off your phone. Make sure you buy a stereo cord (indicated by two small bands around the tip of the cable head) as opposed to a mono cord (one band around cable head) for optimum listening experience.
FM radio transmitter – $10
If your car lacks an auxiliary input (as many do), here’s the next best thing for affordable music enjoyment. Plug your mp3 player or phone into this device and tune your car’s radio to specific station to listen to your music over a radio transmission. This may not promise you the best possible sound quality, but it’s an easy makeshift fix if your car doesn’t have an aux-in.
Phone mount – $10-$30
If you use your phone in the car for things like navigation or playing music, this is an extremely handy accessory. It keeps your phone readily accessible and allows you to glance at it while keep your hands free to drive. It’s commonly made to attach to the inside of your windshield or one of the adjustable air vents. Look for one with a universal build to hold any phone you might have.
Windshield shade/reflector – $12
On hot summer days, getting back inside a car that’s been sitting in a parking lot can feel like getting into an oven. A classic windshield reflector will redirect the sun’s rays away from your car, keeping it nice and cool inside. You can also get shades for other vehicle windows.
Floor mats – $35
It’s easy to underestimate just how spiffy a few new floor mats can make your car look. They can give your car that clean, new look or switch up the interior color scheme. You’ll have to search for mats that fit your specific car, but most tend be reasonably priced. Spending a little on some nice mats could go a long way for your car’s aesthetic appeal.
OTHER HANDY THINGS
Backseat organizers and storage bags – $15
Especially if you have passengers who tend to make messes (kids), a few storage baskets could make your life a lot easier and your car a lot cleaner. Look for some that you can hang from the back of a seat or attach to one of the sun visors. They’ll be handy for either filling with snacks and toys or having somewhere to temporarily stick that empty Happy Meal box.
Portable vacuum – $40
If you like to keep your car clean and don’t have one of these, you probably know what a hassle it can be to clean out the nooks and crannies of your vehicle. Whether you always keep it in the trunk or just bring it out every once and a while to clean your car out, a lightweight, portable vacuum will make your life a lot easier. Some of these are battery powered, while other plug into your cigarette lighter output. The battery powered ones are recommendable because you won’t be restricted by a cord.
Car fridge – $35-$200
You might be thinking this sounds a little too crazy, but we know there’s also the part of you think, “how cool would that be?!” There’s a wide range of car fridges out there. You can go fancy, but you don’t have to. You can even score one for $35! And nothing will improve the quality of your road trips like being able to store a few of your favorite perishable snacks and a couple ice-cold sodas.
Heated travel mug – $15
Whether you’re on a long car trip or a daily commute, it’s always helpful to keep yourself running on hot coffee or tea. We’ve all been through the traumatizing experience of buying a large coffee only to find that we couldn’t drink it all before it went lukewarm. Don’t settle for a lukewarm beverage! Get a car mug that heats itself off of your dashboard cigarette lighter and keep yourself running just like your car’s engine running!
Steering wheel desk – $17
While we encourage you to focus on the road while driving (and not emailing or Facebook), this accessory is great for eating on the go. The tray hooks onto your steering wheel and comes complete with a cup-holding inlay. Even if this is too cumbersome to use on the road, it’s ideal for eating a quick meal or sending a few emails while parked. This little tray is perfect for anyone who’s travels by car a lot.
DashGrip – $6
If you’ve got a lot of things clustering your passenger side seat or rolling around on top of your dashboard, this might neaten things up a bit. It clings to surfaces and keeps your stuff from flying when you make a sharp turn. It doesn’t use an adhesive, so it won’t leave a sticky residue on your dashboard.
ON-THE-GO AUTO CARE
Fix-a-Flat tire inflator/sealant– $8
Here’s an easy, cheap, and safe way to handle a flat tire while you’re out and about. This pressurized (and nonflammable!) can of sealant not only rapidly inflates your flat tire; it also seals small rips or punctures from the inside. This could be a real life-saver for anyone out on the road. It makes a perfect and affordable temporary fix for tires you don’t have the time to get replaced at the moment and at some point may save you from being stranded on the side of the road.
Jump-starter – $50-$100
We all hate having to trouble other people to help us jumpstart a dead car battery. Or you may be out in a remote area where there isn’t help readily available. This accessory will get you up and running without hassle. Some come with a built in air compressor and function as a portable power source for charging anything via USB, 12v, or standard power outputs. This is a useful backup to have (and it looks pretty cool too).
Auto-emergency kit – $20-$80
There’s a range of auto first aid kits out there, from a bag with a poncho and a pack of jumper cable to full artilleries including 12 volt compressors, tires repair systems, emergency warning triangles, digital tire pressure gauges, and a myriad of other tools. An emergency kit will keep you and your loved ones insured against the disaster when out on the road.
It’s good to have a little fun once in a while. These accessories are more or less completely unnecessary, but they sure look cool!
In-car floor lights – $10
You’re cruising downtown at night while the shopping strip is all lit up like a carnival. What could make you feel cooler? How about a little interior atmosphere! Some inexpensive LED lights powered by your car’s power output will put a nice little glow underneath your feet, which is relatively pointless, but hey! How can you go wrong with LEDs!
In-car rhythm lamp – $15
This sheet of LEDs sticks to one of your windows. It has a built in graphic equalizer which reacts to music dynamically. You can use it to make your tunes look a lot cooler.
Car camera – $15-$220
Some cars these days come with a camera preinstalled in the back that displays on a screen in the dashboard. There are also several cameras available that you can install yourself. There are some very nice ones available, like this, but if you don’t want to fork out the cash for something like that, there are some extremely inexpensive ones available (try fifteen bucks!) which, though less dependable and quite liable to break, are fun to play around with. You can even buy special rearview mirrors that have a miniature camera screen built into them.
These cameras may be installed in the back, which can be handy for tough parking situations. They may also be mounted in the front of your vehicle for recording accidents. This could save you a lot if you happen to get into an accident of which the details are debated by both parties. Having a dash-cam will provide you with some incontestable evidence.
Laser parking assist – $20
No, this is not a weapon of any fashion. Sorry. But if you like to keep your garage clean and in neat order, this is for you. Once you install this on your garage ceiling, it directs a small, constant beam onto the ground so that you can drive into it and park in the exact same spot every time. This also makes a great present for neat-freak garage-dwellers.
New stereo unit/interface – +$100
There’s a wide range of stereo units and dashboard interfaces out there. While this won’t typically be inexpensive, it’s a surefire way to make your car’s sound system better and cooler. Many are now made with Bluetooth capabilities, so you can play music off your phone wirelessly. Some have built-in navigational services to make driving with directions easier. There’s about a billion different features out there, so check around!
Smartphone activated garage door opener/closer – $125
Have you ever found yourself five minutes down the road with a sickening feeling that you may left your garage door open? A smart garage door controller will allow you to open or close your garage door from anywhere right off your phone. You can even receive alerts when your door is opened or closed. This may not be an essential car accessory, but it sure is handy!
Anti-theft tracker device – $45
Live in an area where lots of auto-theft goes on? This’ll give car thefts a run for their money! It uses GPS and SMS technology to enable you to know where your vehicle is remotely 24/7. It will automatically notify you when your car has left any limits you’ve set for it. This is the ultimate anti-theft device and comes with many handy features.
An alternative anti-theft device: steering wheel lock – $20
If you’re worried about car theft but don’t want to pay all the expenses that come with a tracking system, here’s a non-techy alternative.
This device clamps onto your steering wheel to make steering impossible and the vehicle inoperable (don’t lose the key, or the jokes on you!). It’s large, bright, and noticeable, so thieves will immediately pass your vehicle by. With devices like this, it’s more about the look than the actual functionality. If a thief sees a massive lock on your steering wheel, he’s not going to pick your car. Following this logic, you could always get a fake security system for six bucks…
This has been our list of the coolest, techiest, and handiest automobile accessories we could find. With a little time and research, you can greatly improve your own driving experience and save yourself a lot of hassle. Accessories are nice, but if you’re ever in need of an essential car part like and engine, we encourage you to check out www.swengines.com and get a super-easy, super-fast quote on the engine you need. We have a vast inventory so in all likelihood your engine is available at a low price. As always, drive on!