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The approach of 2024 may mean having a personal New Year’s resolution or two in mind. But do these thoughts include your car? This is a great time of year to be thinking about upgrading your ride. But we’re not talking about a trade-in. Rather, we’re exploring the newest interior accessories and gadgets designed to maximize comfort, convenience, and safety.
Keep reading as we explore the latest ways to customize a car to match its owner’s preferences and tastes.
Today’s vehicles are high-tech machines with safety features hard to imagine not too long ago. Even though you may not be driving the newest ride, some add-ons can bring your car up-to-date.
More and more automakers (Tesla, Toyota, and BMW, to name a few) are integrating dashcams into the equipment list for their cars. Dashcams can perform several functions, including capturing surrounding traffic action and recording suspicious activities near your car. Some systems can even video what’s going on inside the vehicle. Yet, you don’t need to rush to the dealership to buy a new car. There are ample advanced dashcams on the market that can be easily added to any car. There are basic units that look out the front of the vehicle, while more elaborate devices can record from the front and rear.
Features have a direct relation to price. High-resolution imaging can make details like license plate numbers and faces easier to see. Meanwhile, night vision can capture the action no matter the time of day. At the same time, impact sensors can trigger video recordings during minor parking lot scrapes or major accidents. Also, consider whether you want the videos to be retained locally (on a memory card in the device) or via cloud storage (which may have extra fees).
If you’ve ever had a close call (or worse) because of a blind spot with your car, you’ll appreciate the value of a blind-spot monitoring system. Although these are standard or optional equipment on just about every new car, the availability of this technology is hit or miss with older vehicles. But don’t worry; there are numerous aftermarket systems available.
The simplest blind-spot detection setup involves a rear license plate frame with integrated monitors, while more extensive systems require the professional installation of sensors in the rear bumper. Both arrangements use warning lights or audio signals (installed in the cabin near the front pillars and side-view mirrors) to alert the driver about an unseen danger.
Like blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning is included or available with most new vehicles. Fortunately, there are aftermarket solutions that can alert a driver about an impending front-end collision. There are dashcams that include forward collision warning technology (although results can be spotty, depending on price and how the unit is installed) and separate dedicated devices that require professional installation.
Many of these aftermarket systems also include lane departure warnings that alert the driver if the vehicle isn’t staying within lane markings. Again, effectiveness is often determined by the quality of the equipment. Crucially, aftermarket forward collision warning technology does not include automatic emergency braking, which is part of factory-installed advanced driver aid systems.
IMPORTANT: Remember that no technology (factory-installed or aftermarket) is a substitute for safe and observant driving. These systems are meant to support correct behind-the-wheel behavior, not replace it.
Comfortable driving starts with a hassle-free cabin. Here are upgrades to consider for making your time behind the wheel easier.
If you’re like most people in the 21st century, life revolves around a battery-dependent cell phone. While even base-model cars are starting to come with wireless charging pads, older vehicles don’t usually come with such luxuries. Don’t fear; aftermarket wireless charging is here.
These devices still depend on wires, but that’s to connect the charger to a power source (like a USB port or cigarette lighter). Otherwise, you’ll rest the phone in the charger to get more juice. Of course, the charger will only work if the phone has wireless charging capabilities (MagSafe for iPhone and Qi for most Androids).
The phone cradles in the charging mount so that you can use it for hands-free operation. There are two options for securing these phone holders: a friction system or clamp that connects to an HVAC vent or adhesive that attaches the mount to the dashboard.
Depending on the age of your vehicle, the only power point might be a cigarette lighter. If so, there’s an easy fix for this. USB converters plug into the cigarette lighter receptacle with zero hassle. These devices are inexpensive and come in single- or dual-port versions. There are also options for the type of USB port, including Type A (the rectangular opening common to phone charger blocks) and Type C (the oval slot that’s becoming the standard on most devices).
Even if you already have USB ports in your car, sometimes more can be helpful. There are readily available kits that can be installed to expand USB port access throughout the vehicle. However, these are best installed by an experienced mechanic or automotive electrician.
At best, harsh cabin lighting can be annoying. However, this unsubtle illumination can be a driving distraction if you’re trying to keep your eyes on the road while others in a nighttime cabin are trying to read. LED lighting kits can set a relaxed mood or offer a customized lighting solution to meet the needs of everyone on board.
Discrete lighting strips can be placed along the door handles, in the footwells, or along the dashboard to provide a gentle background glow. Even adding light to cupholders can create a unique look while offering helpful guidance on where to place a bottle or cup at night. Colors and intensity can be controlled through a smartphone app or touchscreen.
There’s not much fun hopping into a scorching cabin in July or a freezing interior in January. A remote vehicle start system solves the problem by letting you start the car from the comfort of your home or work. Fire it up a few minutes before you leave, and the interior will be comfortable by the time you open the car door.
There are other benefits to remote starting. On cold days, a toasty cabin can help defrost the windows and make ice and snow removal easier. In addition, remotely starting a car can add an extra security measure in a dark or isolated spot.
Entertainment upgrades are a great way to make long drives, road trips, and daily commutes pass more quickly.
Unless you’re driving a high-end vehicle, chances are the sound system in your car is a plain-Jane factory-installed system. These OEM units are adequate at best and often leave even low-level audiophiles wanting more.
The easiest way to turn the listening experience up a notch or two is by swapping out the stock speakers. There are numerous aftermarket units designed to work within the existing spaces. These tweeters, woofers, and subwoofers will transform how you hear things. Meanwhile, amplifiers can change the meaning of “turn it up.”
There’s more to onboard entertainment than new speakers. Advances in aftermarket technology mean installing a touchscreen interface is easy and affordable. These setups are usually based on an Android operating system, so anyone with a smartphone won’t require a learning curve. Plus, adding audio apps like Spotify and Pandora is a breeze.
Between phones and tablets, just about everyone has a personal entertainment screen. But these devices aren’t always the best for in-car use, especially with spotty cellular or Wi-Fi signals. A backseat entertainment system can keep those in the back engaged without worrying about internet connections. Parents can have a greater say about what the little ones are watching.
There are two ways to go: ceiling-mounted monitors that fold down when needed (these are best for SUVs and minivans) or headrest-mounted screens in the first row that are accessible for second-row passengers (headrests in the second row can show the screens for the third row). Passengers can watch movies or play games, and some internet-connected systems offer streaming. Best of all, wireless headlines ensure minimal distractions or interruptions.
Some families choose to use tablets instead, which is fine. Just be sure to use headrest mounts to secure them — loose objects can become dangerous projectiles in an accident or during evasive driving.
If you’re a TV channel flipper or prefer music without commercials, satellite radio is the ideal driver companion. If your car is a decade old or newer, chances are good that the stereo system already comes with a built-in satellite radio receiver (look for a “SiriusXM” or “satellite” button or tab). But don’t fret if not; SiriusXM, the sole provider of satellite radio in the U.S., sells aftermarket units that are easy to install and inexpensive to buy. There’s also a smartphone app that you can use for streaming.
A monthly or annual subscription is required to listen to the over 150 channels. However, the company offers frequent free listening periods for those wanting to test the waters. Most music programming is offered commercial-free. However, promotional messages are part of the listening experience for sports, comedy, news, and talk shows.
There’s more to accessorizing your vehicle than comfort, convenience, or looks. There are practical add-ons that just make car ownership a bit easier.
All-weather floor mats protect your vehicle’s carpeting against snow, mud, sand, and spills. While there are generic offerings for sale, custom-fit mats will ensure precise compatibility with your make and model.
There are numerous material choices, like rubber, polyurethane, or carpet (usually polyester or polyethylene). You can also find options with raised edges that contain melted snow, spilled coffee, or upside-down juice boxes.
Smart car organizers neatly arrange your travel and everyday gear. Look for compartment systems to store phones, tablets, laptops, water bottles, tissue boxes, and more. Other designs include overhead storage, sliding drawers, hanging shelves, trash bins, and backseat organizers.
Things like rubber floor mats and seat back protectors can preserve your vehicle’s value. At the same time, a center console organizer or a cargo net can help keep your “stuff” in one place. The choices can be overwhelming. So, if you’re uncertain about what’s needed, start simple. You can always expand your organizational efforts later.
Increase your vehicle’s cargo capacity with a roof rack. A sturdy topside system lets you transport oversized gear like bikes, boxes, kayaks, and surfboards. Meanwhile, a cargo carrier offers more secure storage with a lockable box-like shell. These are ideal for multiple loose items (small suitcases, for example) that won’t fit in the trunk or rear cargo area.
Depending on your vehicle, you can buy a system that works with the integrated rails common to most SUVs and minivans. However, some options will work with many passenger cars. Importantly, always review the vehicle’s owner’s manual to confirm the rooftop weight capacity of your car or if there are any restrictions for using a roof rack or cargo carrier.
With automobiles constantly changing, it’s unsurprising that car accessories will offer something new. Here’s what might be coming to your vehicle in the future.
While there are already some rudimentary aftermarket head-up displays (HUDs), expect next-level technology that overlays key information to support navigation details and speed information. For example, an augmented reality-enhanced HUD display might show the operating hours of a nearby business or advise caution while traveling through a treacherous stretch of road.
Car owners are becoming more aware of how a healthy cabin environment can protect overall well-being and minimize driver fatigue. Look for accessory air purification systems that extract cabin impurities and add gentle scents to stimulate driver alertness.
Automakers are already working on next-generation infotainment systems that can offer virtual assistant services to motorists. So, seeing artificial intelligence used in aftermarket devices is only a matter of time.
Future car accessories will integrate more smart home tech, allowing you to control temperatures (in-car and in-home), home and car lighting, and other features.
With so many accessory options, the sky’s the limit when it comes to customizing your car for the new year. But one thing these upgrades can’t do is protect your car from breakdowns and surprise repair bills. Endurance offers extended warranties (sometimes called auto protection plans or vehicle service contracts) that provide peace of mind after factory coverage expires.
Endurance options range from primary coverage for the drivetrain (engine, transmission, and drive axle) to bumper-to-bumper safeguards like a new car warranty. You’ll even find programs for high-mileage automobiles, commercial-use vehicles, and select luxury models.
Every Endurance plan includes 24/7 roadside assistance (with towing coverage and lockout assistance), rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption protection. Plan holders also enjoy flexible payment terms and the ability to choose any certified mechanic or repair center for covered repairs. There’s a 30-day free look period during the first month of coverage, so you can see if our plan works for you or get your money back.
Uncover all that Endurance has to offer. Request a FREE quote, or visit our online store for instant cost and plan details. You can also speak with an Endurance plan advisor by calling (800) 253-8203 for one-on-one assistance.
Explore the Endurance blog for insightful articles about vehicle maintenance, car reviews, ownership advice, and more.
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