9 Aftermarket Tech Gadgets That Make an Old Car Feel New
Modern cars sure are tech-savvy these days. Many cars on the market offer driving assist, lane departure warnings, blindspot coverage, infotainment centers, and more. The back-up camera, which was once a luxury, can be bought online and even comes standard on every new Honda. So to say that auto manufacturers are investing heavily in all things tech-related would be a bit of an understatement, as vehicles like the Delphi Audi drive themselves across the American landscape.
But not everyone has the means to buy a new car that has been outfitted with every kind of tech gadget known to modern man. Some of us are still saving up and are not interested in car payments just yet, while others (like myself) have a strong affinity for an older model of vehicle and we just can’t let it go for some reason.
Fortunately for us, there’s good new, as tech companies have been busy designing products for people who refuse to “get with the times” and insist on driving their cars until they give up the ghost. Yes, any of us can now have a fully-equipped, space-age transit vehicle without having to deal with a pesky car salesman. And believe it or not some of the tech mods that are now available on the market actually put some dealer installed tech goods to shame.
So, in order to get everyone and their car up to speed, we have constructed a list of killer tech options everyone should consider for their car. And while developments in the tech field continue to set new standards, the prices continue to drop on gadgets deemed “unattainable” five years ago. Here are a few of our faves that range anywhere from mild to wild, and are all guaranteed to make a driver smile.
1. Smartphone Remote Start Systems
Many older cars do not come equipped with a remote start button, so cold winter mornings usually involve climbing into the car, starting it up so that it may warm/defrost, then locking the car with a spare set of keys before heading back indoors. Remote starters are an inexpensive way to eliminate this issue, but the systems require the need for an additional key fob on a keychain, and there is nothing worse than coming outside and realizing your car has been burning gas in a closed garage because the “start” button was accidentally pushed.
Fortunately for us there’s now an app for that, and companies like Viper have remote start systems for almost any car on the road today. The system’s features are pretty all-encompassing and go way beyond just a remote starter, as it has a parking meter reminder, a vehicle locator, and even a programmed schedule minder that starts the car based on commuting habits. This tech mod is also great for anyone needing to keep tabs on their teen, as it allows a parent to track the car’s location and speed via GPS tracking. It will also alert parents if the car leaves a certain “safe zone,” and even puts a “lockdown” on the car when someone needs to stay “grounded” at the house. Plans run on either a one or three year cycle, and after the Viper SmartStart System is installed, monthly rates appear to be reasonable, running anywhere from $3.89 to $8.33 per vehicle.
2.Automatic’s “Smart Driving Assist”
This next little mod comes from the team over at Automatic, which has come up with an app that allows a driver to monitor the car while it provides advice on how to improve fuel efficiency, monitors engine diagnostics, and sets goals in place for teaching a teen how to drive responsibly. It even has a scanner for translating engine codes into something that is understandable on someone’s smartphone, and clearing codes once the problem is resolved is completely doable too. Installation takes just a moment as the plug/dongle only needs to be inserted into a car’s OBD-II port, and from there the app will pretty much take care of the rest. The device only runs about $100, and CNBC said it best when they claimed Automatic “could do for driving what the iPod did for music.” You can pick one up here.
3. Modern Radar Detectors
For those of us with a heavy foot, there is a whole new generation of devices designed to help us “fly under the radar.” Long gone are the days of annoying false alarms and incessant beeping, as the latest generation of protection is available today. Take Escort’s Passport Max2 for instance. Escort says its patented AutoLearn technology “uses the power of GPS and the exact frequency to learn and automatically reject unwanted door openers and other fixed position false alarms” making it “the most accurate long-range protection in the industry and a permanent solution to false alarms.”
Now Bluetooth equipped, these modern detectors have their own apps, real-time ticket-protection networks, and give access to local speed limit data for over-speed alerts. The increase in safety cameras across America can also now be negated as databases track active red light and speed camera locations and send this info to drivers via their smartphones, with weekly updates online keeping the cops off our backs and our accelerators where they belong, buried in the floorboard. Get yours now.
4. LED Lighting Kits
This next mod is a must in my opinion, as I absolutely despise dim interior lights, having to change side-marker bulbs because they died prematurely, or being pulled over due to a busted taillight. Modern LED bulbs can solve all of these issues as they are brighter, sturdier, and longer lasting than anything else on the market. They even now have built in resistors, so they don’t “hyper-blink” like older LEDs once did. And due to a spike in popularity there are now bulbs for almost every model of vehicle on the road today, as everyone from custom car crafters to law enforcement officials are using this latest incarnation of lighting to make safety priority number one. We highly recommend checking out Super Bright LEDs, as they have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and appear to have an LED solution for almost any vehicle on the road today.
5. The GoPro
At this point, almost everyone knows what a GoPro is and the amazing footage that these cameras are able to capture. But for some reason the average American tends to write the GoPro off as gadget designed exclusively for surfers, snowboarders, scuba divers, and rally car racers. But little do they know that this clever little camera can be a great fit for “mild” drivers too, as it has the ability to document a scenic drive in panorama, take photos of luscious landscapes, and capture priceless moments in the car with the kids via “4K Ultra HD video and liquid-smooth slow motion at up to 240 frames per second.” A GoPro also offers time lapse capabilities, and newer model have built-in WiFi and Bluetooth tethering for instant sharing and editing. Prices start at $129, and accessories abound as more and more people discover new ways to use this compact camera in their cars. Order one, and see the possibilities for yourself.
6. OBD Port Tuning
Now here is a mod for all the petrolheads out there who feel that their new sports car could use a little more spring in its step. Much like the aforementioned Automatic dongle plug-in, this tech mod plugs into a car’s OBD-II diagnostic port to allow a tuner the ability to fine-tune a car’s engine until it purrs with power. But fair warning, this isn’t just some fancy toy, and many an engine has been blown to smithereens because of one of these tools. So be sure to put it in the hands of a licensed individual like our friend Dom over at Turn in Concepts, and suddenly that old bucket of bolts will be filled with new-found power. Companies like Cobb Tuning and Hondata offer some of the best hand-helds and they have the ability to check and clear codes, fine-tune an engine, load/store power maps, track performance, and even tell us when to shift.
7. Aftermarket HUD
What was once considered “space-age” and only reserved for the likes of fighter jets can now be equipped on anyone’s car. Companies like Navdy have come up with a way to plug a smart phone into a high-tech projector that sends a Head-Up Display (HUD) onto the windshield, so that drivers can keep their eyes where they need to be: on the road. Clever features include GPS navigation, hand gesture control recognition, Bluetooth communication, voice recognition, and app notification, all while skipping the need for a contract or service plan. These systems are currently on pre-order, and run a cool $319 with shipping. We wanted one after watching the company’s demo video, and when Top Gun came on TV late last night we were convinced this mod was meant to be. Or, you can check out other options here.
8. Aftermarket Infotainment Systems
Here is a cool idea: let’s take everything we love in a smartphone, and let’s find a way to make it work on a modern navigation display. That is pretty much what Apple did when they designed Carplay, which plugs into an iPhone and converts most display screens into a bonafide iPhone screen, complete with texting, calling, maps, music, voice control and recognition, and allows drivers to access Podcasts, videos, and more while the connected phone charges. This neat gadget is also now compatible with Alpine and Pioneer infotainment systems, and there surely will be more updates in the near future as this form of new technology begins to catch on with car owners.
9.The Relaxor Massager
We end our list of tech-savvy aftermarket upgrades on a relaxing note courtesy of the Relaxor Massager. This amazing creation by InSeat Solutions LLC offers drivers the ability to have a full massage while driving home from a stressful day at the office, and even has a “hot stone” feature for cold winter days. With its 8 individual massage motors, lumbar heating pad, programmable vibration for both intensity and speed, and ergonomic design, this tech-mod is a great way to turn even a car that is low-class into a Mercedes S-Class. Functions offered also include 3 or 4 massage zones, and can be programmed to give “SELECT, WAVE, PULSE, ZIPZAG” style massages. Relaxor’s licensed distributors offer a range of products from the company, and these seats even come with a hand control and LED light indicator.
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