Best car accessories & gadgets

Modern cars are packed with technology. Manufacturers even use the tech to sell new models and differentiate them from other cars. But if you want to bring your existing car up to date, there are plenty of great gadgets around to do just that.

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  • tyrepal solar review best car tech TyrePal Solar
  • pure highway 400 review display detail Pure Highway 400 DAB Radio
  • lifepowr LifePowr triple port car charger
  • nextbase 312gw review main Dash cam
  • roav viva In-car Alexa
  • best car tech iclever jump starter 2 iClever Jump starter
  • best car tech bestek 300w inverter Bestek Inverter
  • vodafone v auto V Auto
  • nonda zus Nonda Zus
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TyrePal Solar

For the best fuel economy you need to keep your tyres at the right pressure. And to avoid ruining a punctured tyre by driving after it deflates, you need a warning system. TyrePal's Solar does exactly this, allowing you to retro-fit a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) to your car.

You remove your existing dust caps and fit the wireless monitors supplied in the kit. They come with rubber covers and nuts to keep them firmly in place and protected from the elements. You won't need to get your wheels rebalanced, reckons TyrePal.

The main display can be stuck on top of your dashboard with the reusable sticky pad. A solar panel on top should provide all the power it needs, but there's a microUSB port and a bundled car charger as well. The sensors' batteries should last over a year, and up to two years.

On the display you'll see tyre pressure and temperature, the latter in the small rectangles. You can choose to see temperature in Celcius or Farenheit, and pressure in bar or PSI. It's important to set the high- and low-pressure warnings according to your car's recommended pressures rather than relying on the defaults, though.

The TyrePal will quickly alert you (with a beep as well as a red backlight) if a tyre gets too hot or the pressure goes below - or above - your set limits. Considering the cost of new tyres and also the fact it could prevent an accident, it's well worth the cost.

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Next Prev tyrepal solar review best car tech

For the best fuel economy you need to keep your tyres at the right pressure. And to avoid ruining a punctured tyre by driving after it deflates, you need a warning system. TyrePal's Solar does exactly this, allowing you to retro-fit a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) to your car.

You remove your existing dust caps and fit the wireless monitors supplied in the kit. They come with rubber covers and nuts to keep them firmly in place and protected from the elements. You won't need to get your wheels rebalanced, reckons TyrePal.

The main display can be stuck on top of your dashboard with the reusable sticky pad. A solar panel on top should provide all the power it needs, but there's a microUSB port and a bundled car charger as well. The sensors' batteries should last over a year, and up to two years.

On the display you'll see tyre pressure and temperature, the latter in the small rectangles. You can choose to see temperature in Celcius or Farenheit, and pressure in bar or PSI. It's important to set the high- and low-pressure warnings according to your car's recommended pressures rather than relying on the defaults, though.

The TyrePal will quickly alert you (with a beep as well as a red backlight) if a tyre gets too hot or the pressure goes below - or above - your set limits. Considering the cost of new tyres and also the fact it could prevent an accident, it's well worth the cost.

Pure Highway 400

Found in a lot of new cars, but likely lacking from older models is DAB radio. This is the digital equivalent of FM and brings not simply audio quality improvements but also a much wider choice of stations and some handy extra features.

Pure's Highway 400 offers an easy way to add DAB radio to your existing car stereo, even if it doesn't have an aux input. It gets power from your cigarette lighter socket and you simply run a wire up to the top of the windscreen (just like a dash cam) for the antenna.

As well as DAB, it also has Bluetooth so you can play music from your phone through your car stereo, and if you install the Pure Go app you can also use your phone's assistant.

Read our full review of the Highway 400.

LifePowr triple port car charger

While most modern cars come equipped with a USB port, it’s ordinarily used to play music via the car’s entertainment system – but what if you need to charge your tech? You could pick up a standard car charger and trickle-charge your devices, or you could splash out for LifePowr’s triple-port car charger that boasts impressive charge speeds and compatibility.

The design of the charger is simple; it’s T-shaped, and slots nicely into your car’s (now defunct) cigarette lighter. On the top you’ll find three ports; two USB C ports along with a single USB-A port for standard devices.

The standard 18W output should be enough for most smartphones and even portable consoles like the Nintendo Switch, but it won’t make much of a dent when it comes to large-capacity laptop batteries. That’s why in addition to two 18W ports, LifePowr’s charger also offers a USB C PD port that delivers 60W of power, enough to charge MacBooks and the like.  

If you’re always on the go and find yourself constantly running low on battery, the LifePower car charger could be what you need. It’s currently on Indiegogo at a discounted price (£24 / $25) , but unlike other campaigns on the crowdfunding website, the car charger is already being manufactured with delivery due in July.  

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Nextbase 312GW

A dash cam records video constantly while you drive which can be used evidence if you're ever involved in an accident. 

Our top pick is the Nextbase 312GW, as it combines good image quality with easy setup, lots of features and a sensible price. 

You can read our full 312GW review and see the current list of the best dash cams.

Roav Viva

Alexa is a useful digital assistant at home, but now you can talk to her in your car as well thanks to the Roav Viva.  (And also now the Nextbase 422GW dash cam.)

There are two models, and the Pro version adds a minijack aux input and costs £49.99, just £5 more. In the US, the Pro is $69.99, $20 more than the regular version.

It may look like a USB car charger (because that's what it is) but the top has a an LED light ring which works just like an Amazon Echo. It's just square instead of circular. You plug it into a 12V accessory socket and pair it to your phone, which it uses for an internet connection.

You can then use the Roav app to authorise your Amazon Alexa account, after which you can talk to Alexa hands-free.

The app offers a choice of audio output: use your phone via Bluetooth or use your car's Bluetooth input. Neither of these are ideal since your phone's speaker is probably too quiet and the Bluetooth input means you can't listen to your car radio or any other audio source.

There is integration with mapping software including Google Maps and Waze, but you probably won't need this as you could simply use your phone. But it's there so you can have a satnav and Alexa at the same time.

We also found that it wouldn't work in the cigarette lighter socket of at least one older car, but we had no issues with modern cars.

iClever 800A Portable Jump Starter

Car jump starters are traditionally large batteries that you keep in your garage, but modern lithium-ion batteries mean you can now keep one in your glovebox for emergencies when your car's battery has drained too much to start the engine.

iClever's 800A Jump Starter is a superb gadget. As well as providing 800 amps for cranking over engines, it's also an 20000mAh power bank with two USB ports that support Quick Charge 3.0. There's also a USB-C port which supports Power Delivery, offering 30W fast charging for phones and laptops.

The same port is used for charging the jump starter, which takes 2.5 hours from empty to full using the included USB-C charger, which you can use for your phone, tablet and laptop if you like.

It also has a built-in torch which is useful in emergencies at night, and tells you roughly how much charge is remaining via four LEDs. Included in the case is a 12V socket so you can even power car accessories such as a dash cam, tyre inflator etc.

The battery clamps are good quality and have built-in protection circuitry. Importantly, we were able to start our test car (a 2.5 litre petrol engine) with a flat battery more than a dozen times, and the capacity didn't dip below 75%. Impressive stuff.

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Bestek 300W inverter

Most cars have USB ports these days, but one you won't find is a 3-pin UK mains socket. So if you need a power something that can't be charged via USB - such as a laptop or your DSLR battery - then you need an inverter.

These gadgets convert your car's 12V DC electricity supply to 240V AC (or 110V for US models).

The Bestek 300W inverter delivers, as the name suggests, 300W. But if you want to connect anything over 150W you'll need clips to attach it directly to your car battery. Bestek sells a model with the clips included for just £2 more.

That's enough to power a laptop, TV or camping fridge. But always check the power consumption of your device before connecting it. Products such as travel irons, hairdryers and straighteners need too much power and can't be used.

As well as the mains socket (there's one on the UK model, two on the US version), there are two USB ports with each providing 2.4A of power - enough to charge two iPads at the same time.

A switch on the back lets you turn off the inverter instead of unplugging it from you car's accessory socket and the internal fan isn't too noisy.

Vodafone V Auto

If you wished your car was smarter but can't afford a new one, then Vodafone is on hand with the V Auto.

It's a nifty device that plugs into the ODB port that most cars, even pretty old ones, have. It's compatible with most cars from 2003 onwards but some older cars, too.

Using the accompanying app, you can keep track of your journeys (handy for claiming mileage) and you'll also get a Road Safety Score so you know if you're actually as good a driver as you think.

Many will make use of the Find My Car feature that helps you locate your parked car if you can't remember where it is.

We haven't tested it due to not crashing, but the V Auto has an Auto SOS service that means the device will contact agents if you're in a serious accident and contact assistant of emergency services for you. This could be helpful if you're worried about a particular family member driving alone.

The V Auto costs £85 and you'll then need to pay £4 a month as the device has its own embedded V-SIM for data, GPS and battery. It's a lot if you're not going to use all the features and is available to anyone, not just Vodafone customers.

Buy it from Vodafone and Amazon.

Nonda Zus

If you want to find your car wherever you parked it but don't fancy the monthly cost of the V Auto, then check out the Nonda Zus.

At a glance, it's just a regular USB car charger that plugs into your 12v cigarette lighter. It can charge your phone and a second device simultaneously so your passenger doesn't feel left out – they're reversible, too.

But there are hidden smarts providing a number of handy features.

You can use the companion app to locate where you parked your car - useful if you're the forgetful type – and the location can be shared if you're picking someone up, for example. You can also set up parking meter alerts so you don't accidentally run out of time and get a hefty fine.

Furthermore, the Zus can monitor the health of your car's battery and let you know if there's something wrong. You can also track journeys including mileage if you need to.

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