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Best car accessories & gadgets 2021

From night vision and dash cams to digital radio and Amazon Alexa, these are the top tech gadgets you can add to just about any older car.

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  • pure highway 400 review display detail Pure Highway 400 DAB Radio
  • amazon echo auto review uk main Amazon Echo Auto
  • roidmi mojietu inflator Mojietu Inflator
  • best car tech lanmodo vast nvs Lanmodo Vast
  • roav viva Roav Viva
  • moshi quickduo car charger Moshi QuikDuo
  • best car tech bestek 300w inverter Bestek Inverter
  • vodafone v auto V Auto
  • nonda zus Nonda Zus
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Viofo A119 v3 with GPS

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

One of the top picks is the Viofo A119 v3 as it combines good image quality with easy installation, all the features you want at a sensible price. You can read our full review of it here.

You can also read our full roundup of the best dash cams.

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Next Prev viofo a119 v3 review thumb

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

One of the top picks is the Viofo A119 v3 as it combines good image quality with easy installation, all the features you want at a sensible price. You can read our full review of it here.

You can also read our full roundup of the best dash cams.

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.

Amazon Echo Auto

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The Roav Viva, which we've also included here, was one of the first ways that you could add Alexa to your car, but now Amazon's official product has arrived in the UK and Australia, having been launched first in the US.

It's easy to set up and use, but does require that your car has either Bluetooth or an aux-in port so you can hear Alexa's voice and any streamed music through your car speakers. It's also important to note that like the Viva and Nextbase dash cams, you still need your phone to provide the internet connection for Alexa.

Mojietu Inflator

Having to drive to a service station to pump up your tyres is inconvenient, and so are those traditional foot pumps.

A battery-powered inflator is the answer, and thanks to the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries, you can now buy one that's portable and affordable.

The Mojietu (a sub-brand of vacuum manufacturer Roidmi) delivers up to 150psi - way more than you'll ever need for your car - and can inflate a 195/55/R15 tyre from flat in nine minutes.

That's the claim, and a strange one, as you're much more likely to top up a tyre that's lost a bit of pressure because of cold weather or a slow puncture. We found adding 10psi took a few minutes per tyre - not the fastest, but less hassle than a wired pump that connects to your car's 12V accessory socket.

The unit comes with a zip case and adapters so you can use it to pump up footballs and other things. And of course, it's ideal for bikes which use the same valves as car tyres.

It has an LCD display on top (which wasn't bright enough on the pre-production sample we were sent to test out) and this was a problem as controls are all touch sensitive, and we couldn't see them, except in the dark.

You can set a pressure for each of the four modes: car, motorbike, bicycle, ball and it will stop when that pressure is reached. It'll also display the pressure so you can use it to check tyre pressures.

It's small enough to fit into the drinks bottle holder on your bike, and weighs 750g. The battery has enough power to inflate a car tyre from 29 to 35 psi six times. 

Lanmodo Vast

Night vision isn’t an option in most cars, being reserved mainly for high-end models and being an expensive option otherwise. With the Lanmodo Vast, you can add night vision to any car for less than a manufacturer would charge.

It has an 8.2in 1080p screen (though not a 16:9 aspect ratio) and uses a camera built into the rear of the device with a Sony sensor and a 28mm lens. This gives a bright, zoomed in view of the road ahead and makes it a lot easier to see in poor conditions including when it’s raining.

Unlike some built-in systems there are no warnings when hazards are detected, so you won’t get alerts if a pedestrian is spotted. However, this also means no false warnings, as you sometimes get with those systems.

You can use the suction cup to mount it to your windscreen, or the silicone base so it sits on your dashboard. In testing, we found we had to attach the three included sticky pads to stop it moving when cornering or braking hard.

The unit can be powered via your car’s 12V accessory socket or via the OBD port, and both cables are included. There’s a second camera input on the cable which is for a rear-facing camera. You can buy a kit including the 720p rear camera separately for an extra $100.

Buttons on top of the unit allow you to adjust brightness and contrast, switch between front and rear cameras and rotate the screen, which you’ll need to do if you use the suction cup mount instead of the base. Another button switches between colour and black and white.

The display is about the size of a rear-view mirror, so it’s quite large, and it takes a bit of getting used to glancing at it while you’re driving. If you already have a car with extraordinarily powerful headlights you may not need the Vast, but in many cars it really does enhance vision at night, even when there’s street lighting.

If there’s a negative, it’s that the camera has limited adjustment so the screen has to be roughly parallel with your windscreen - you can’t turn it much before the camera isn’t pointing at the road any more. Lanmodo says this is intentional to ensure that the camera doesn't shake and cause a blurry image on screen. 

Build quality is below what you might expect at this price, with cheap feeling buttons and suction mount.

The Vast doesn't record: it's just a monitor.

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 via the Nextbase 422GW dash cam as well as 522GW and 622GW.)

There are two models of the Viva, 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 (from early 2000s), but we had no issues with more modern cars.

Moshi QuikDuo Car Charger with USB-C PD and Quick Charge

USB car chargers that plug into a vehicle's 12V accessory (or, if you're old-fashioned like me - cigarette lighter) socket are common. And cheap. But with the latest phones able to charge considerably faster than they used to, traditional car chargers aren't up to the job.

Moshi's QuikDuo is, though. It offers 36W of power shared across two ports: one the old-style and the other being the new USB-C.

Not many phones need more than 36W to fast charge, but it would have been nice to have had a little more power as you can't truly fast charge two phones at once, especially if they're two Huawei P30 Pros, which would require 45W each.

It's also a bit too pricey, but does look good and has over-charge protection.

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.

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.

The V Auto also 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. We couldn't test this feature for obvious reasons.

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 but it's much, much cheaper from Amazon 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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