The Best car tech of 2017

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
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  • nextbase 312gw review main Dash cam
  • best car tech iclever jump starter iClever Jump starter
  • best car tech topdon obdii reader Topdon code reader
  • best car tech endo kam usb2 Endo Kam USB2
  • flic button best car tech Flic
  • best car tech bestek 300w inverter Bestek Inverter
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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 buzzer 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 buzzer 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.

Nextbase 312GW

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

Our top pick at the moment 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.

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iClever 600A Portable Jump Starter

Jump starters are traditionally huge 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 too little charge to start the engine.

iClever's 600A Jump Starter is a superb gadget. As well as providing 600 amps for cranking over engines, it's also an 18000mAh power bank with two USB ports that both deliver 2.1A. That means you can charge two tablets at once.

It also comes with a selection of tips for charging laptops on the go, has a built-in torch, red flashing 'emergency light' and a little compass in case "you get lost in the wild".

Ok, so the compass probably isn't really necessary, but the backlit LCD display is great as it shows the remaining power and also the voltage for laptop charging: it can switch between 12, 16 and 19V.

The battery clamps are good quality, but more importantly, we were able to start our test car (a 1.8 litre petrol engine) with a flat battery four times. This only used around 10 percent of the pack's battery: iClever says it can start a car up to 30 times before it needs recharging.

The kit comes in nice-looking zip-up case and although it's currently only available from Amazon.com, it will be available to buy in the UK from January 2018.

Topdon ArtiLink 201

It can be worrying when the 'check engine' symbol lights up on your dashboard. But with a code reader such as the ArtiLink 201, you can quickly find out exactly what's wrong by searching Google for the codes that come up.

This reader can also clear codes (and the engine light) when the problem is fixed and show you real-time data from your car's O2 sensor, which tells you a lot about the way your engine is running.

For the price, it's well built and easy to use thanks to the 2in colour screen. It may be more expensive than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi dongles, but it's much more convenient with no software or apps to install.

Endo Kam USB 2

Not all car tech is designed to be used while you're driving. This waterproof endoscope lets you look for dropped objects in hard-to-reach places, whether that's behind the dashboard, in the engine or simply in that silly gap between the seats and the centre console.

A dial allows you to adjust the brightness of the LEDs so you can see in dark crevices, and a button takes a snapshot which is saved as a file in Windows. Drivers (which work in Windows 10 as well) are included inconveniently on a mini CD.

The flexible neck is 600mm long and keeps its position once set. Attachments are included: a mirror for seeing behind the camera and a magnet for picking up screws or other magnetic objects.

With a diameter of just 8mm, the camera will fit just about everwhere. Although resolution sounds low at 648x488, images are in colour and are detailed enough to check out damage if you're investigating faults such as burst pipes.

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Flic

With the recent changes to UK law, you could be fined if you're using your phone while driving. Flic is a Bluetooth button that has almost limitless uses because you can set it up to do just about anything.

For drivers this means you could press it to get directions home in Google Maps, or fire up Shazam to identify a catchy song playing on the radio. Or you could use it to call up Siri or the Google Assistant and dictate a message saying you'll be a bit late - it works with iOS and Android.

It has an IFTTT channel and can also work with Glympse so a simple push can send your location to those you've set up in the app.

The button is effectively three in one as you can also double-press it or long-press it, so you could set up three different actions.

The battery lasts around 18 months and is easy to replace, yet the button is waterproof and can be used outdoors as well as in the car.

A single Flic costs £29.99 from Amazon, but you can save if you buy a multipack of four. They come in various colours, so if you can remember the functions you've set up you could use more than one in your car.

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.

STK Hub

One issue with modern day car travel is that just about everything requires USB power – from phones and tablets to satnavs and more. Most new cars come with one or two USB ports for charging and multimedia use, but the STK Hub provides a five handy USB ports via for charging on-the-go, making use of the old cigarette lighter present in most vehicles.

But rather than bundling all five USB ports together, the ingenious design provides access to two USBs for front passengers and three USBs (at the end of a 1.5m cable) for those in the back. The front ports output 2.4A, while the back offers up to 2.0A, more than enough for most smartphones on the market. It’s sleek, simple and works exactly as you’d expect.

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