There are so many wonderful gadgets for cars these days, it’s easy (and a lot less expensive) to “tech-out” your older car. Here are a few we like:
Electronic Car Charger
Here’s a power charger disguised as a coffee cup. Featuring 2 AC adaptors and one USB adaptor you can charge a laptop, DVD player, iPods, cameras and more.
Smart Phone Adaptors
The GoGroove FlexSMART X2 ADVANCED Wireless In-Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter with Charging, Music Control and Hands-Free Calling for ANDROID, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Smartphones is a product with a very long name! The bottom line: it’s a well-rated Bluetooth transmitting device that let’s you do everything it’’s name says and works on a variety of smartphones. The price is nice, too at $44.99.
Car Speaker Phone
The Jabra-DRIVE is an affordable car speaker phone for those who want to improve safety while driving with a hands-free system without a lot of bells and whistles.
Lost & Found
Do you know someone who is continually losing their car keys or cell phone? If they have an Android or BlackBerry consider the Cobra Tag Bluetooth Finder. This fun gadget works with a keychain-like device. If your phone and keys get out of Bluetooth range the finder alerts you. There’s also a GPS feature that sends you an email or tweet that tells you where your device was last found.
Unless you are an avid car lover you may overlook the fact that there are several gifts to be used in your car that make useful, much appreciated presents. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
Unless you are an avid car lover
GPS Navigation Systems
Portable GPS navigation systems are extremely popular and come with a wide variety of features and price points. If you have access to Consumer Reports you can find informative articles and ratings recommendations. Also helpful is the recent CNET article Top Five GPS.
Car Stereo Systems
For older cars, a new stereo system offers loads of options. You can get HD radio (which has significantly better sound,) iPod connectivity, CD changers and even GPS in a new system. Crutchfield is one of many useful online shopping sites. Visit their learn page for detailed information on selecting and installing their products. You can also purchase a system and have it installed professionally. Sometimes local car stereo stores run promotions that include free or discounted installation with purchase. In the Boulder area we recommend Ultimate Electronics and Absolute Installation.
- Folding Trunk Organizer There are a variety of trunk organizers available. This one, from The Container Store is well regarded because it folds compactly when not in use.
- Travel Valet Car Hanger For the car traveler that wants to keep a jacket, pants or skirt hanging without blocking the windows, this hanger is designed to hang from the back of the front seats.
Keep Your Car Looking Good
- Car Wash and Detailing Gift Certificates
to a car wash or detail shop are excellent car gifts. We recommend The Puddle (in Boulder) or Black Diamond (in Louisville.) Be sure and check their websites, they often have coupon specials. For more thorough detailing we recommend
Details Plus Auto Salon.
- Weather Guard Floor Mats These are special floor mats with a lip along the edges and sloping ridges in the mat that keep dirt, melted snow and ice from soaking into your carpeting and away from your feet. Two places to find them: WeatherTech andWeatherGuard.
- Misting Misting is a service that cleans and sanitizes the ventilation systems of your car. Lisa recently had it done and can definitely tell a difference in her car. You can find out more about car misting here.
- Window Tinting Tinting protects the interior of your car and helps it look new longer. We recommend Details Plus Auto Salon.
Safety and Security
- Emergency Unstuck Kit It is no fun getting stuck in the snow. This kit includes a folding shovel, blanket, gloves and a forever flashlight (no batteries needed) and it stows away neatly when not in use.
- Roadside Assistance Gift Certificate AAA offers 24-hour roadside assistance. Here is a link to purchase a gift membership.
Time Saving Tip: No one likes to have their car tied up for more than a day. Did you know we can arrange for stereo installation, window tinting and many other services while your car is at our shop for maintenance or repairs?
Kids Back Seat Organizers
Things to watch for:
- Attaches to seat belt or is in some way secured to the car
- Easy to clean
- Rigid bottom with flexible dividers
- Accessible outside pockets for drinks, snacks, markers and the like.
- Strong enough to withstand kids use
- To have a lid or not? Some models have lids that also serve as trays and writing surfaces. Others find the lids a pain and never use them.
- Do you want it to sit on the seat, hang from the front seat headrest or sit on the floor?
A few to consider:
- Cosy Greens® Back Seat Car Organizer is a highly reviewed, affordable organizer. (Would also make a nice gift for new parents.)
- High Road Kids Organizer A nice floor or seat option with thermal storage for holding drinks, snacks. It also has several pockets on the outside to hold books, crayons, water bottles, etc.
- Tuffo Family Organizer is a basic option that holds books, toys, stuffed animals and more with pockets on the outside for holding juice and water bottles.
See our guidelines for back seat organizers here.
An alternative to carrying a cooler in your car is a cooler and warmer container that operates by plugging into the 12volt outlet of your car. This is important if you have medications, liquids or other food items that need to be kept at a consistent temperature. Also handy to keep something cold from the grocery store or hot from the take out restaurant. Here are a few designed to fit in a car:
We searched the web to find you the best selling front and back seat organizers.
Things to think about:
- What do you need it for?
- Where do you want to put it? Console? Front seat? Front seat floor? Between seats? Hang from passenger seat headrest?
- If someone rides with you how often will you have to move it?
Here are some options when you need a place for your phone, sunglasses and a pen or two.
We suggest you avoid organizers that hang from vent openings, like this one. Along with blocking air movement through the vent these organizers have been known to break the vent slits, a costly fix.
Other Front Seat Organizers
There are a wide variety of larger front seat organizers for those who need to keep more at hand. Remember these will be safer if buckles or straps attach to your car seat or headrest. One to consider:
HighRoad Driver Organizer This model is designed to hang from the headrest. It features several compartments and includes a cup holder. You can hang it from the front of the head rest or flip it to the back if you have a passenger.
For larger sized front and back seat organizers see Organize Your Car for Kids.
Hang from the Headrest (Backseat) Organizers
Things to Think About:
- How many back seat passengers do you have?
- Is there sufficient room between the front seat and back seat for a hanging organizer?
- Does it come with straps that hold the bottom of the container close to the seat? A frequent complaint about these types of products is they do not stay firmly in place.
A couple to look at: