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Best Tech Gadgets for Your Car

Best Tech Gadgets for Your Car

With airline and rental car prices rising and still pricey and hard to come by, driving to your destination in your own car can be the most convenient (and affordable) way to travel for your next vacation.

With gas prices at a national average of just over $5 a gallon, you’re going to be paying more than you expect, either way. But if you stock your car with the latest tech to stay safe and comfortable, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride.

We scoured the internet and spoke to travel experts to find the best technology you want in your car for long trips, short commutes and everything in between.

Some of these gadgets can even help you modernize your older vehicle if you can’t afford to buy a new one now. Features like Qi wireless charging pads, a rear view camera or a dash cam are not standard on older cars, but can easily be added with some affordable electronics. Some of this technology could also replace features that some newer cars suddenly lack – thanks to the global silicon microchip – such as heated seats.

When looking for the best tech gadgets for your car, you may want to think about items that you will use over and over or items that will make special trips, such as family vacations, easier. If you’re short on space, you’ll want items that can be easily stowed in your trunk in a storage bag, or even in your glove compartment when you’re not using them, leaving plenty of room for passengers and luggage.

We’ve divided the items on this list into must-have safety gadgets, accessories for your mobile devices, and fun splurges for traveling in style.

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Safety technology

Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to stay safe on the road, from cameras that increase visibility to easy-to-use flashes of light in case you break down.

Dash Cam: Lanmado Vast Pro Dashcam ($369; lanmodo.com

If you have a more expensive car, like a Tesla? TSLAGet Tesla Inc. Report or BMW, it can come standard with a dash cam or dashcam for recording activities in your vehicle’s interior or, more often, the surrounding exterior. These can pick up instances of vandalism, show who is to blame in an accident and give you a panoramic view of the road ahead.

When choosing a dash cam, you should consider the field of view, resolution, screen size, and recording and storage capabilities. To drive safer at night, you’ll want a dashcam with color night vision. The Lanmado Vast Pro dashcam with 1080p resolution and a 45-degree field of view. It includes front and rear cameras and is easy to install.

Portable Tire Inflator: Fanttik X8 Apex Tire Inflator ($88.97, originally $129.97; amazon.com

If you travel long distances, especially through rural areas or on highways with long stretches without rest breaks, you will want a portable tire inflator. However, many of these devices are bulky and take up valuable luggage space in your trunk. The Fanttik X8 Apex Tire Inflatorhowever, is just under 8 inches long and 2.5 inches thick and can inflate a car tire in just six minutes.

The wireless device can run for 40 minutes on a single charge and has a host of features, such as a built-in LED flashlight and the ability to charge other devices.

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Roadside LED Flares: VIP Cycle Road Safety Kit ($24; walmart.com

If your vehicle breaks down, it’s helpful to have an easy-to-use set of roadside flares to let other drivers know to swerve and signal emergency services. Small and affordable, yet ultra-bright, this VIP Cycle road safety flare kit including 3 waterproof LED torches with batteries in their own portable storage bag. The torches last up to 33 hours on low and contain 12 small LEDs around the edges for maximum visibility plus a flashlight on the front for added convenience.

Jumper Cable Kit: Nexpow Q9B Battery Jump Starter ($60.99, originally $159.99; walmart.com

Decades ago, you needed a second vehicle to start your car when your battery ran out. But today’s portable starter batteries can save the day in an instant, even when no one is around. The five-star rated Nexpow Q9B Battery Jump Starter will power most 12-volt gas and diesel vehicles anywhere. It needs a charge of at least 40% to start your vehicle’s battery. Once fully charged, it will hold its charge for up to three months. Better yet, the built-in dual USB ports can charge mobile devices, and 4-way LED lights that flash blue and red are useful in the event of an accident or breakdown.

FIXD Diagnostic Scan Tool ($55; amazon.com

FIXD is a handheld device that can scan your car’s computer to diagnose over 7,000 engine trouble codes, displaying the problem in plain language on your mobile device via a companion app. You can walk into a knowledgeable mechanic or use the guides in the OBD2 app to fix simple issues yourself. FIXD also keeps track of necessary maintenance, such as oil changes, and if you purchase a FIXD Premium subscription, you also get access to live, certified technicians who can answer questions.

Smartphone accessories

Stay securely connected with these handy smartphone accessories for your vehicle.

CHGeek Wireless Car Charger ($32.89, originally $35; amazon.com

If your smartphone has Qi-compatible wireless charging, a charger on the dashboard or in the cradle is a necessity for short or long car journeys. It brings your navigation app to the forefront without obscuring your view.

With an overall rating of 4.5 stars and 7,611 reviews on Amazon, the CHGeek 15W Qi Wireless Car Charger is one of the best at $33. You can snap the mount into your car’s air vent for easy charging. The charger comes with a USB-C cable for easy installation, although you may need to purchase an adapter to use it in your vehicle.

Nice-to-have technology for your next trip

Of course, not every piece of automotive technology is a “must-have”. Some just make it easier to travel in style.

Inverter: Flatware 300 wr ($47.99; amazon.com

If you plan on using your laptop while your travel companion is driving, a powerful inventor like the CUTLERY 300Wr keeps your battery fully powered for the duration. You can also use it to power a portable gaming system, such as the Nintendo Switch, to keep the kids entertained on long journeys. Lightweight, compact and powerful, BESTEK 300W Pure Sign Inverter has two power outlets and two USB charging ports.

Heated Seat Cushion ($34.95; amazon.com

Many luxury cars or more expensive equipment packages on midline cars come with heated seats for a touch of luxury during your drive. But lately, automakers have waived this facility due to the shortage of silicon chips. But you don’t have to go without – just grab a set of affordable heated seat cushions like the HealthMate IN 9438 Velor Seat Cushion with lumbar support and place it in your vehicle. The pillow provides heat up to 114 degrees, with high/low temperature control, and plugs directly into your car’s DC power adapter.

Car Vacuum Cleaner ($36.99, originally $39.99; amazon.com

There’s nothing like starting a road trip with a clean vehicle and a full tank of gas. Fortunately, one of these perks costs less than $40! (Spoiler alert: it’s probably not the fuel…). This one THISWORX portable powerful mini handheld vacuum cleaner for cars picks up crumbs, dust, dirt, sand and even pet hair in minutes. It even has a HEPA filter to trap allergens and plugs into your car’s 12V outlet for continuous power. The 16-foot cord makes it easy to reach the back seat or trunk with no effort. The vacuum cleaner comes with three attachments to reach every corner of your vehicle as well.

Pricing is accurate and items in stock at time of publication.

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