Cars are remarkably customizable. This is mainly due to the high demand for affordable, functional products to fit different consumer needs. Better media availability, tools to reduce collisions or legal snafus, and more advanced GPS systems so you always know where you are remain popular items. They are even becoming standard with top-of-the-line luxury vehicles.
Not all tech toys are created equal, however. Here are five gadgets to buy and pimp your ride that you will be very glad you picked up.
1. SiriusXM ($99)
Still the leading name in satellite radio, the Sirius XM is an affordable way to bulk up your audio choices while on the road and the first choice to pimp your ride. Unlike the original model, this one comes with access to additional channels, including comedy, music, Latino, sports and general talk radio.
Live radio can be paused, rewound or replayed up to thirty minutes back. You can view all information on what is currently playing, such as the artist name and track title, or browse other channels while listening. You can even use the radio in multiple cars with attachments, or at home using their included Home Kit and remote control. (Requires installed car speakers to operate.)
2. Escort SmartRadar Detector Apple Pack ($399)
Conceal your Radar detector on your dashboard so it can not be spotted (Comes handy in countries banning Radar detectors), as it uses your iPhone as its display screen. Get speed limit notifications, avoid speed traps, always know when red lights are coming and enjoy live traffic information from Escort’s Social Driving Network, so you are never stuck in traffic again.
This is a handy tool for anybody who likes to be informed at all times while driving. It will even tell you when you are coming up on a fixed traffic camera, to help you avoid tickets. If there are known speed traps in the area, including those mapped by other Escort users, you will get a notification so you can watch out.
3. Magellan SmartGPS ($210) (US)
This self-updating GPS system always keeps maps current so you can get the best GPS service possible. It relies on a 5″ color touch screen, showing you where you are or where to go at all times. it also provides traffic camera alerts, a best parking option, Yelp and Foursquare integration, and AAA TourBook so you can use it to find the best businesses in any city. If you have AAA it will send out your location for roadside assistance in case of emergencies.
It doesn’t stop there, as it also packs Traffic Camera Alerts at no additional cost. Audible and visual warnings alerts warn you about fixed red light and speed cameras. This information is verified by crowd source data provided by the free Content Manager from Magellan. You can also submit your own discoveries on the streets and help forewarn other fellow drivers.
4. XD-066 Parking Sensor ($18)
It doesn’t matter how long you have been behind the wheel, parking lots are always hazards. Blind spots, pedestrians and inattentive drivers make just backing out of a spot a risky venture. Don’t let the cheap price of the XD-066 parking sensor fool you, as it is a reliable tool to eliminate a lot of that parking risk, and avoid more costly accidents later on. With four sensors and a LED display, you can know at all times about obstructions and moving vehicles or people around your car. You can even install tow sets of those sensors from more accuracy and coverage.
5. Belkin Bluetooth Hands Free Kit ($46)
Anyone using a smartphone should have Bluetooth support in his car. Take calls and switch back to music completely hands-free, and without taking your eyes off the road. Simple, and much safer.
Mount the microphone button, plug it to your cigarette lighter, and plug the audio cable into the AUX jack, and you’re good to go. You can also use the GPS system of your smartphone, so as with phone calls, the music fades out, the GPS lady tells you where to turn, then the music fades back in.
Every one of those gadgets can and will make your driving experience on the road more helpful, safer and enjoyable, and most of all, will allow you to customize your car to your needs.