Modern automobiles come equipped with a lot of high-tech gadgets. From Bluetooth functionality to heated seats and backup cameras, you can get your ride with all the frills if you so desire. The problem is the cost of these additional features can really add up, and even after getting every accessory the dealership has to offer, you may find your car is still missing the items you really need to make driving more convenient and comfortable.
Luckily, there are a number of products on the market that can fill these gaps, and for a reasonable fee. Everything on our list of must-have items costs less than $100, so you won’t break the bank when you upgrade your vehicle. We did our research to find practical accessories you won’t want to do without once you have them (hint: not things like headlight lashes and musical horns). So let’s get to it already!
Product shown: Total View 360 Adjustable Blind Spot Mirror
List price: $20
Everyone knows blind spots are very dangerous. Although it’s possible to adjust all your mirrors to eliminate your blind spots, the configuration can be difficult to get used to, and most drivers may prefer to see their own vehicle’s flank in their side mirrors. Fortunately, you can always buy a set of small mirrors that attach to your side mirrors with adhesive and cover that pesky blind spot. No more craning your neck before changing lanes.
Product shown: EasyLifeCare Anti-Slip Car Dash Grip Pad
List price: $25
Sometimes there just isn’t a convenient place in your car to keep things like your cell phone, MP3 player, sunglasses and spare change. Sticky gel pads like this one allow you to put your ample dashboard space to use without the fear of everything sliding off when you brake, accelerate or take a sharp turn. They’re cheap, stylish, and they get the job done while keeping your favorite items close-at-hand.
Product shown: iOttie Easy One Touch 3
List price: $30
This product is perfect for people who like to use their phone’s navigation app while driving (read: everyone). Instead of holding the phone in one hand and steering with the other, which is both annoying and dangerous, invest in a dashboard mount. The model shown is especially luxurious, but you can find simpler, less expensive products if you’re on a tight budget. Take a look at these steering wheel clip mounts if you’d prefer to have your phone held right in front of you.
Product shown: Drop Stop
List price: $20
It turns out that space between your seat and the center console has a name (the Carmuda Triangle), and it turns out there are accessories specially designed for plugging that gap. The Drop Stop is the nicest, most durable product of its kind, but there are also a number of bargain varieties made of cheaper material. The next time you almost drop your phone, wallet or car keys into the crack, you’ll be glad you saved yourself the headache.
Product shown: HoMedics Thera-P Memory Foam Lumbar Support Pillow
List price: $15
If your lower or middle back hurts after a long drive, then you probably aren’t sitting up straight in your seat, and this item could do you a world of good. By providing support to your lumbar vertebrae, the pillow helps you sit in a position that is more natural for your spine, which reduces chronic back pain. Most pillows also come with a built-in strap to keep it in place on your car seat.
Product shown: Anker PowerDrive+ 1 with Quick Charge 3.0
List price: $17
An essential accessory for people who are always on the go, a USB charger will plug into your car’s cigarette lighter and allow you to charge your devices while you drive. If you need to charge multiple devices at once (like your phone, tablet and MP3 player), invest in a model with multiple ports.
Product shown: iClever IC-F53 Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter
List price: $30
If you drive an older car, then your sound system may not have Bluetooth functionality or an audio-in port. Instead of being restricted to always listening to the radio or your old mix CDs, pick up one of these transmitters. Plug it into your power outlet, tune the transmitter and your car’s stereo to an unused FM frequency, and then pair your phone or MP3 player to the transmitter via Bluetooth. You’ll be cruising to your favorite tunes in no time.
Products shown: Esky Foldable Color LCD Monitor
Use with: Esky HD Color Vehicle Camera
List price (combined): $90
Upgrading your new vehicle to a package that contains a backup camera and display screen can cost you a few thousand dollars at the dealership. Why not save a ton of money and buy separate accessories you can install yourself? This approach is also great for older vehicles that were manufactured before this technology became common.
Product shown: High Road Auto Document Case and Organizer
List price: $13
You know how annoying it is to rummage around your glove compartment searching for your vehicle owner’s manual, registration, or whatever it is you need out of that mess? Eliminate that hassle forever with a sharp-looking document organizer. Now you’ll just need to remember to put everything back in the pocket where it belongs.
Product shown: Zone Tech Traveling Car Garbage Can
List price: $20
Stop leaving your garbage on the floor of your car and start putting it in a handy, compact trash bin. The model shown can be hung from the back of your seat or clipped onto your door for convenience. There are also plenty of larger trash bins available for bigger cars and bigger messes.
Product shown: Solvit Front Seat Net Pet Barrier
List price: $17
The last item on our list is great if you have a dog who loves to climb up to the front of the car on road trips. Pet barriers are easy to install and typically fit all vehicle types, and they prevent your pet from climbing over the center console and potentially causing you to have an accident while driving.
What do you think of our list of must-have car accessories? If we forgot your favorite item, be sure to tell us about it in the comments. If you’re looking for even more stuff to fill your car with, take a look at our list of emergency items you should keep in your car. Have a stocked vehicle but nowhere to go? We also have some suggestions for family day trips from Rochester.