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Auto-Tech: Essential In-Car Gadgets

September 18, 2014

Once you’ve bought your car, you may wish to purchase additional gadgets and gizmos to enhance your driving experience. This is especially true if you’re buying an older car which lacks modern day technology or perhaps you’re saving on expensive options by kitting out the car yourself. Either way, there’s plenty of gadgets which can transform even the most basic of interiors into modern day technological marvels.

Featured Expert: Alex Kersten, editor of shares some gadget favourites when it comes to getting your car kitted out.

  • If you’ve got an older car (pre USB integration) I’d strongly recommend spending a few pounds on a 12V USB converter, which means you can plug your phone in to keep it charged – this simple device not only keeps your mobile charged, it also eliminates the need for a bulky and expensive sat-nav system (Google Maps is a free app, after all).

  • Again, one for older cars, would be a cassette player adapter, which allows you to play music (Phil Collins for true petrolheads) via your iPod/iPhone through the car’s speakers.

  • Apps – for all types of owner, there is an app to suit his or her needs. If you want to fix your own car, for example, there is ‘Car Mechanic’ (Android), which gives you step-by-step instructions plus a list of required tools.

  • Dashcam – whether you’re using it to track your progress on a race circuit or simply as a safety net when you’re out and about (especially on the weekends when drivers lose the ability to function), a dash cam is a must.

In-car audio

If you can’t live without your driving music, then in-car audio is a big selling point. Most new cars on the market today come with multiple connectivity options, allowing you to play music from your mp3 player, stream it wirelessly from your phone or even play it from a USB memory stick. Check the specification level of new cars by asking the dealer or by looking in the brochure – features like auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth connectivity and USB sockets will either come as standard or as an additional add-on at extra cost.

If you play music from your smartphone, Bluetooth connectivity offers the ultimate in-car audio solution. It allows you to wirelessly connect your phone to play your music through the cars speaker system, with most models automatically syncing up, allowing you to make hands-free calls and even receive text messages straight to your dashboard display.

However, if your budget doesn’t stretch far enough to accommodate such features, fear not – there are plenty of aftermarket gadgets which can be the answer to your audio needs. FM transmitters are a cheap workaround to play music through your car’s radio. Simply plug the transmitter into your mp3 player or phone’s headphone jack and you can broadcast your own mini-radio station. Find the transmitter by tuning the frequency on your radio and voila – you’ll have access to all of your music on-the-go.

Top tip: If your car has a USB socket, don’t waste your money on buying a separate 12v car charger for your phone, use the USB lead which came with your phone to plug it into your dashboard – charging it as you drive.



Sat-Nav systems remain one of the most popular aftermarket gadgets for drivers. They’re especially useful if you regularly travel to new destinations or you’re just beginning to drive and are unfamiliar with local roads.

Although Sat-Nav has been around for a long time, integrated systems are still somewhat rare, unless you are purchasing a luxury or top of the range vehicle. Fortunately, aftermarket external Sat-Navs are relatively cheap, work seamlessly and have their own advantages. Sat-Navs which are built into cars may outdate within their lifetime and render themselves obsolete, whereas their external counterparts can be replaced and upgraded. Many of the latest Sat-Nav systems include useful features such as lane information, speed camera warnings and local services listings.

If you don’t want to fork out the cash for a standalone Sat-Nav system, many of today’s smartphones are capable of performing the same tasks. For simple navigation on-the-go, try using a free mapping service such as Google Maps or if you want the full experience with spoken directions – download a Sat-Nav application such as the TomTom mobile app for iOS. Simply select your destination and then secure your phone in place using a dashboard or windscreen mounted phone cradle.


Looking for a new set of wheels? The Car Loan Warehouse can help – we offer competitive car financing for both new and used cars. Try our instant car loan calculator for a speedy quote.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.