Although for most people, there’s nothing more to taking care of a car than filling the petrol tank and knowing which pedal to push, there are car enthusiasts who are always looking to take the maximum out of their car. If the latest generation of your favourite make is still beyond your reach, or you simply can’t part with the faithful ride you’re polishing every Friday afternoon, there are still ways to bring your driving experience to the A-league. These five smart upgrades can be performed on almost any car, regardless of the age, make or model.
Smart driving assists
The development team of Automatic has come up with an app that lets drivers monitor car systems, while receiving useful info on how to improve road economy, monitor engine diagnostics and even sets goals for beginners to learn how to drive responsibly. It even has a scanner that translates engine codes into easily understandable data on your smartphone. It also lets you clear the codes once the problem is dealt with. Just plug the dongle into your car’s OBD-II port and the app you’ve installed will take care of the rest.
LED lighting kit
If you are one of those drivers who think the factory interior lights are too dim, bored of changing side-marker bulbs that die prematurely or fed up with being pulled over for a busted taillight, this is the upgrade for you. Modern LEDs are brighter, sturdier and last longer than anything else on the market. They also come with on-board resistors, so they don’t hyper-blink like the older LEDs used to do. The popularity of these lighting kits made manufacturers issue bulbs for every car model known today. They are loved by custom car tuners, but also the law enforcement officers, who have recognized their value for increasing safety.
Upgraded audio system
Just by installing a new receiver, you’ll make your car system sound better. More power means better sound from your speakers at any volume. Depending on the receiver you choose, you can listen to music from your iPod or CDs, Pandora Internet radio or HD Radio stations. Choose a system with Bluetooth connectivity such as the latest Pioneer car audio for the ultimate hands-free experience. However, if you’re happy with your car audio, consider aftermarket speakers only. Start up front and then move to the locations in the back, as your budget allows.
Modern radar detectors
As the traffic control radars are advancing, so are the detectors. Today, manufacturers offer a range of devices that help you evade being ‘locked-on’. Unlike the previous generation of these devices, which were nothing more than annoying false alarms and beepers, these products use real tech for real protection. For example, Passport Max2 from Escort uses its proprietary AutoLearn technology which is based on GPS, it allows the device to learn the frequent traffic patrol hotspots and fixed radar positions. Through Internet connectivity, these devices can now access local speed limit data and warn you of active red light and speed camera locations even before you come in their range.
Variety of apps
If you don’t like the idea of buying new hardware, there are plenty of useful apps that can make your car smart with no need to plug anything into your vehicle. GasBuddy, for example, can look up all the petrol stations in your area and give you a shortlist based on the price and distance. Basically, it directs you to the cheapest fuel nearby, allowing you to keep the costs down to the minimum. Don’t like the idea of a dash cam? Let your phone do the job. You only need a sturdy mount and a power cable. There are two great apps: Dash Cam 2 (iOS only) and CarO (Android only), which use your phone’s camera to record and store what’s happening on the road ahead.
Until self-driving cars take over, the driver is still the smartest unit in the car. However, you don’t have to buy the latest model with brand-patented automation to enjoy some of the 21st-century intelligence. Game-changing devices and apps like these won’t break that bank, while giving you the experience of driving a much expensive and smarter car.