For as long as there have been cars to drive, there have been gadgets with which to accessorize them. Fifty years ago it was all about fitting the best stereo system, additional driving and fog lamps and two-tone horns. These days, of course, modern automobiles feature surround sound entertainment systems, climate control and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.
Yet like everything else in the 21st century world, car technology has got smarter and more complex as the years have gone by, and the business of in-car gadgets is as buoyant an industry as ever. Here we look at some of the accessories you might want to consider to make your life on the road comfortable, enjoyable and safe.
Gadgets for gadgets
This is the age of the gadget. We all have smartphones, many of us have tablets and they all need charging; this is an area where car manufacturers have been slow to catch up. After all, while the average family car is designed to seat five people, most still have one single charging socket available through that most 20th century of devices, the cigarette lighter.
On a long journey, you are likely to be using this socket for your GPS device anyway. True, some modern cars have a second charging outlet in the back, and a few even have a USB socket, but these are still in the minority. And even then, with a family of five, the battle will be on to get there first and plug in.
This is where a multi port USB charger can come in very handy. These plug directly into your cigarette lighter and can simultaneously charge up to four devices. Perfect to prevent those family disputes in the back on a long journey.
Look after your tires
If we take another look back 50 years in the rear view mirror, we can see that cars were nowhere near as reliable as they are today. Back then, it was important to carry a tool kit, some spares and a bit of mechanical knowledge. Today, in the rare event of a breakdown, you just need to place a call on your cellphone, so that a mechanic can plug your car in to his laptop and diagnose the problem.
That’s all fine, with one exception – the part of the car that forms the link between you and the earth beneath you. Sure, there have been some technological developments in tire technology over the years, but in essence they are the same rubber, inflated components they have always been, and are just as vulnerable to punctures.
There are a couple of gadgets on the market to help you look after your tires. Monitoring systems are now available that keep track of your tire pressures and temperatures in real time and send an alert to your phone if anything untoward is detected.
Of course, knowing there is a problem is one thing, but you also need to be able to do something about it. That is where a portable automatic tire inflator can come in very handy to minimize the time spent parked on at the side of the highway and get you moving again quickly and safely.
Keeping the car tidy
Whether you are a lone commuter or a family chauffeur, there is something about cars that gives them the propensity to turn into garbage cans on wheels. From drinks cans on the go to spilled shopping bags in the trunk, there is always something rolling around and creating mess and distraction.
There are all sorts of gadgets available to help here that are as relevant today as they have always been. An in-car garbage can helps keep all the waste in one place, and means no more juice cartons squashed and leaking under the seats for weeks. And how about a handy net for the trunk? These are wonderful for keeping shopping bags upright and preventing that heart-sinking sound of tins and vegetables rolling around the car as you pull out of the parking lot.
Enjoy your ride
Whether we are commuting to work, driving the kids around or taking long road trips, the truth is we all spend more time in our cars than ever. These gadgets can make every trip more enjoyable, less stressful and, most important of all, safer for you and your family. So why not treat yourself, and make your car a better place to be?