How to make your old car smarter

The latest fleet of smart cars have all the mod cons a family could need but such technical wizardry comes at a price. Before you start scrimping and saving up for a fancy-pants motor, however, compare your car insurance to see if you could save some money and use your savings to give your old banger an upgrade with these 10 clever car accessories and apps.

Dream Screen

Modern family cars have amazing entertainment systems for kids, but older cars no longer have to rely solely on the power of music (or endless singalongs to Wheels on the Bus) to keep kids amused. Now you can buy replacement headrests with inbuilt monitors to turn the backseat into a mobile cinema. Some already include DVD players, but if you’re really tech-savvy you can just get one with an AUX input, then plug in your phone or tablet with some downloaded Netflix and be on your way.

Up and coming brand NAVISKAUTO (so new they don’t even have a website) have great ratings on Amazon, and we’ve got our eye on their ultra-thin 10.1 inch option.

Available online at Amazon
Currently £92.99 per screen

best car gadgets

Full charged

Newer cars are designed with our busy lifestyles in mind and have loads of places for you to charge your devices. But even hand-me-down cars can be instantly updated with a simple charging port. This one from CH Geek comes with two cigarette-lighter charging ports – ideal for keeping phones and tablets fully juiced so the kids can watch movies and play games throughout long journeys while you concentrate on the road. 

Available online at Amazon

ch geek car charger

Wifi on the go

It’s all very well turning your car into a portable entertainment centre, but get stuck in a Bank Holiday tailback for hours and you could soon run out of downloads. This is where a car wifi adapter comes into its own. This EE Buzzard 2 Car Wi-Fi (available in a variety of sizes and data plans starting from 2GB up to 64GB options) has enough inclusive data to make that possible, as well as making it easier for parents to check for directions (or their emails) while they’re parked. Just remember that you’ll need to top up or buy a new sim once you’ve used up the data. These types of dongles are also available from other network providers including O2 and Three.

EE example available online
Currently their best-selling pay monthly plan is the 4GB, 24 month plan at £10.50 per month.

EE car wifi

Find it fast

Few things are more frustrating than forgetting where you parked and having to wander aimlessly around a multi-storey car park with a week’s worth of family food shopping.

The Find My Car Smarter app automatically saves your parking location, sending it to your phone via a device plugged into your cigarette lighter. You only need to launch the app if (when) you forget what space, floor or car park you ended up in. Not really tech-ing out your car, but mean no more traipsing around a concrete jungle with a herd of crying children for 20 minutes.

Available on iOS

find my car smarter logo

Handy - and hands free

Holding your phone while driving isn’t just dangerous – it’s illegal. But sometimes you need to make or take an urgent call. For those of us who don’t have Bluetooth-enabled steering wheels (or Bluetooth-enabled anything), Drivemode allows you to respond to calls and messages, change music and control navigation without picking up the phone or staring at the screen. It also acts as a hub to keep your music and navigation apps in one place.

Available on Android
Free (with in-app purchases available),

handy hands free app

First rate reversing

Navigating safely outside busy school gates or through a bustling high street can be stressful at the best of times so it always helps to have eyes in the back of your head – and car.  The Maplin Reversing Camera Car Kit is very useful when you need to back up, throw a 5-point-turn or squeeze into a tight space. 

Available at Maplin

Maplin reserving camera

Radio star

No matter how old your car is, you can pair it with your phone to play music and take calls through your speakers. The GOgroove FlexSMART X3 uses an FM signal to throw sounds to your stereo from your phone. The built-in microphone with voice detection lets you answer calls safely too.

Available online at Amazon

gogroove flex smart

Beat the traffic

Waze is a community-based navigation and traffic tool in which local users communicate with others to alert them about traffic snarl-ups, roadworks, breakdowns  – and even where to find the cheapest petrol. You can also sign into Facebook to communicate with friends and fellow parents who might be travelling to the same destination and so co-ordinate meeting or pick-up times so everyone’s in sync. Perfect for work car sharing or the school run. 

Available on iOS and Android

waze traffic app

Big it up

Once you’ve downloaded all those GPS, music and hands-free calling apps on your smartphone and it’s mounted on your dash or windscreen, iCarMode makes the whole thing safer to use while driving.

Everything you need is displayed with big buttons and custom shortcuts for your most used apps as well as your favourite contacts. So you don’t need to squint unattractively (and dangerously) at your screen.

Available on iOS

Cold comfort

One easy and cost-effective way to make your car feel like a top-of-the-range model is to get heated seat covers – especially for these icy winter mornings. There’s a huge variety on offer. Most are easy to fit, plugging into your cigarette lighter, and have adjustable heat settings.  

Available on Amazon
Currently from £14.99

Need a little spare cash to tech out your car? Then why not use our car insurance comparison service to see how much you could save on your car insurance and possessions cover to use towards tech-ing out your car?


All prices and details in this article correct as of 16th February 2017

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