Most new cars are decked out in high tech gadgets, some for driving pleasure and others for safety. If you drive an older model, you don’t have to feel technology has left you in the dust. There are many aftermarket products you can install in your old car. Here are six must-have tech upgrades to bring your old car into the 21st century.
6 Tech Upgrades to Make to Your Old Car
1. Bluetooth Receiver
Using a cell phone while driving is a leading cause of distracted driving accidents. A Bluetooth wireless device connects your phone to your car’s stereo system so that you can take calls and play music over the car speakers without handling your phone.
A product like the Aukey Bluetooth Audio Transmitter and Receiver plugs into your car stereo’s auxiliary port. Alternatively, install a Bluetooth-enabled stereo like the Kenwood KMM-BT322U. If your car still has a cassette player, use a Bluetooth cassette adaptor.
2. Head-up Display
A head-up display (HUD) is a unit that is placed on top of your dash that projects information onto a clear built-in display screen or onto the windshield. A HUD displays driver information such as car speed, navigation, and mileage. By projecting onto the screen or windshield, it puts the information directly in the driver’s line of sight. The Garmin HUD and HUDWAY Glass are good choices. Both require you to download the relevant navigation apps on your smartphone.
Installing a dashcam means you can record videos of your road trips, add an extra level of security against car thieves, or keep an eye on your teen’s driving behavior. But the number one reason people install dash cam is to provide evidence to insurance companies on how an accident occurred.
The Nextbase 522GW is the first dash cam that comes with built-in Alexa for voice operation. The compact Garmin Dash Cam Mini, the size of a car key, fits discreetly behind the rearview mirror, and automatically records when a collision happens.
4. Rear Backup Camera
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation made it mandatory that all new cars sold in America have rear backup cameras. While older cars are exempt from this rule, if you want this safety feature, there are aftermarket rear backup cameras available.
One of the easiest to install is the Yada Wireless Backup Camera that features night vision. If you don’t want a bulky display screen cluttering your dashboard, opt for the Master Tailgaters Rearview Mirror that displays images on your rearview mirror and doubles up as a dashcam.
5. Radar Blind-Spot Sensor Kit
Blind-spot monitoring alerts you when a vehicle is in your blind spot when changing lanes. These use sensors attached to the inside of the rear bumper to relay a warning sound and a flashing LED light.
The Brandmotion RDBS-1500 is as close to a factory-installed blind-spot monitoring system as you can get and is highly accurate. If the Brandmotion is too pricey, opt for the Goshers Radar Blind Spot Detection System. Both feature cross-traffic detection when backing up.
6. OBD Adapter
Since 1996, all cars sold in America have an onboard diagnostic system called OBD-II, a diagnostic tool that issues alerts such as “engine light” and “change oil” warnings and helps technicians quickly identify certain problems. You can install your own OBD adaptor that will send diagnostic information to an app on your smartphone. Try the OBDLink LX Bluetooth Scan Tool or Bluedriver Pro Scan Tool; both are affordable and user-friendly.
What if My Car Is Too Old for the Latest Tech?
Suzanne Kantra, editor of Techlicious.com says older cars often experience more issues as parts wear out, and they may not have all the latest bells and whistles to let you know when a part is failing. If your car is too old for tech upgrades, like tire pressure management sensors, there are emergency items you can keep in your car.
"To prevent getting stranded in a desolate or dangerous area, there are a couple of products I recommend all owners, especially those of older vehicles, keep in their cars," said Kantra. "The first is a portable battery jump starter, like the JumPackXL from Cobra. It’s small enough to fit in your glovebox, powerful enough to jump most vehicles and easy to use, even if you’re a complete automotive novice."
"I also suggest an emergency flat repair kit. Slime sells one that includes both tire sealant, to fill small punctures, and an electric pump, which comes in handy for both inflating your tire after a flat and for regular top-offs.”
While driver assistance tools help improve safety, you should still practice safe driving, stick to speed limits, and maintain safe following distances. Driving sensibly can prevent accidents and unwelcome traffic violations.