Seven car gadgets under $20 to improve your driving experience

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Aftermarket gadgets can help keep your older-model vehicle up to date.

■ Richard Perry / Contributed

Greetings from the Hemet Car Guy,

As with many office parties, at VIP Autos we had a gift exchange thanks to Melinda. One of the gifts brought was a key finder. My wife Bambi was excited that I got it because I’m always misplacing my keys.
This got me thinking about the Car Guy subject regarding some cool gadgets that will help you for whatever is out there on the road this new year.
Below are seven car gadgets around $20 that will help improve your overall driving experience and help you be ready for the unexpected.

Key finder
Before you can drive anywhere, you’ll need to find your car keys.
If you attach a Tile Mate Bluetooth tracker onto your keychain you will always be sure of knowing where your car keys are located. You simply attach the Tile to your keychain, and whenever you can’t find your keys, you can use the Tile app to make your keys ring. A similar device is the TrackR bravo.
If you leave your keys somewhere outside your home, you’ll be able to see where you left them because the app tracks the last place it paired with your smartphone. (Thanks again Melinda)

Phone holder
A smartphone mount can make navigation a lot less stressful and save your getting a ticket, trust me (I got one.)
You can use a phone mount to keep your Google Maps or Apple Maps application within your line of vision Instead of constantly looking down at your phone for directions.
There are a lot of mounts out there; my wife bought one called “MagicMount.”

Bluetooth car kit
While new cars come with Bluetooth connectivity, you don’t have to buy a new car to be able to connect your smartphone to your vehicle via Bluetooth.
MPOW’s Bluetooth car kit attaches to your vehicle so that you can play music and make calls over the built in speakers hands-free.

USB car charger
The last thing you want while traveling is a dead cell phone. If you don’t have a USB port in your car, or if you need more than one port, consider a USB charger. You charge it up at home and use it to charge your phone anywhere. Works great for conferences where there is no ready outlet.
Blind Spot
One of the best safety features in new cars these days is the blind-spot alert. Basically, this is just a light built into the side view mirror that flashes when someone is in your blind spot.
If you have an older car, however, you can get the same type of function just by adding aftermarket blind-spot mirrors. There are a number of good ones on the market.

Drop Stop
A feature that I’ve seen in a number of trade-ins we’ve taken in is the Drop Stop. It is a simple car accessory, but one that proves very useful.
The Drop Stop fits in between your car seat and the center console. The idea is that it keeps you from ever losing anything in that annoying crevice between the seat and console (such as your phone or perhaps some French fries!). I’ve dropped my phone there many times only to have it ring when I can’t reach it.

Tire Gauge
The wrong tire pressure can cause your tires to wear out sooner and will also lead to poor fuel economy. In a worst-case scenario, it could even lead to a blowout. As we have written in a previous Car Guy article, my favorite tire gauge is the digital variety as they are more accurate and help you check to make sure your tires are always at the recommended PSI (pound per square inch). Be safe and check your tire pressure regularly.

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Richard Perry

Hope this helps, good Driving

The Hemet Car Guy

Richard Perry is the Hemet Car Guy and owner of VIP Autos in Hemet. For more information, visit www.hemetcarguy.info.

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