Gadgets to make your ride more sporty, safe or convenient



I’m a car guy. I love everything about cars, but I especially love gadgets for my car.

My wife just replaced her car and I’m in heaven looking all over the internet for things to buy for it.

There are items to make your car more sporty, or more safe or more convenient.

— Verizon Hum

What is it: An “OnStar-like” kit for your car that has a few functions. There is a dongle to attach under your dash that speaks to your car’s engine and the Hum smartphone app. The dongle can tell you how your engine is performing and even tell you what is happening if your Check Engine light is on.

There’s also a box you clip to your visor that can connect via Bluetooth to your phone for hands-free calls. It can also connect you to Verizon operators in case of an emergency or even if you just want to speak to a mechanic.

Who is it for: Anyone who doesn’t have a connected car. You don’t need to be a Verizon customer to get the Hum system.

What does it cost: $49, plus a $10/month subscription (two-year commitment required)

Where can I get it: www.hum.com

— WeatherTech Floor Mats

What is it: OK, so these aren’t exactly a gadget, but the company uses technology to make them. WeatherTech Floor Mats are custom fit for your vehicle and they’ll keep your carpets looking like brand new.

Who is it for: Anyone who loves their car and wants to keep their carpets pristine.

What does it cost: $99 for my Honda Fit. Prices will vary depending on your car.

Where can I get it: www.weathertech.com

— TechMate MagGrip CD Slot Magnetic Mount

What is it: This cell phone mount is designed to fit in your car’s CD player slot. With in-car navigation moving from GPS units to our smartphones, having a way to mount the phone so you can see it while you drive is critical.

Many of us have CD players in our cars that we don’t use. This is a simple magnetic mount that you wedge into the CD slot. You get a metal plate to attach to your phone or slip inside your phone case to allow the phone to stick to the magnet. It works wonderfully well.

Who is it for: Anyone in a car who wants to keep their phone in view. Its small and quick to remove. It’ll travel well in your bag so you can even use it on rental cars.

What does it cost: $11

Where can I get it: Amazon.com

— Brightech Scorpion Portable Jump starter

What is it: Remember when car jump starters were almost as big and heavy as your car’s battery? Lucky for us, battery technology has advanced so you can use a battery the size of a paperback book to start your car if they battery dies.

The Scorpion has a 10,000 milliamp-hour battery that can provide up to 400 amps of cranking power and it weighs just 14 ounces. You can also use it to charge your phone, tablet or laptop.

Who is it for: Anyone who drives.

What does it cost: $60

Where can I get it: Amazon.com

— Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth Car Receiver

What is it: Many modern cars have stereos with Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream music or phone calls through your car’s sound system.

If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, you might still be able to add it with the Anker SoundSync. You need a car stereo with an aux-in jack. The SoundSync pipes music from your phone to your car stereo and it sounds great.

Who is it for: Drivers without Bluetooth, but with an aux-in jack

What does it cost: $22

Where can I get it: Amazon.com

— Scosche USB car charger

What is it: The Scosche charger has two ports and provides 24 watts/4.8 amps of output to charge up to two devices as fast as possible.

Who is it for: Everyone could use a USB charger for their car.

What does it cost: $13

Where can I get it: Amazon.com

— First Alert Emergency Beacon

What is it: These are small LED flashing lights you can use instead of flares if you have a roadside emergency.

They come three to a pack and each has a magnet so you can attach them to your car or you can just place them on the road like flares. They run on 3 AAA batteries and are weather resistant.

Who is it for: Great for anyone’s emergency car kit

What does it cost: $25 for three

Where can I get it: Amazon.com

———

ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.


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