Easy Ways to Modernize Your 10-Year-Old Vehicle
New cars offer the latest in infotainment, safety and convenience but what if you aren't in the market for a new ride? Fortunately, there are many aftermarket products that can add value to a car you’ve already paid off, and are often more advanced than factory-installed features on the road today.
“The aftermarket offers an array of options for car and truck owners,” said Chris Kersting, president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). The trade association represents the $33 billion automotive specialty equipment industry that includes thousands of products that are available to enhance a vehicle’s styling, performance, comfort and convenience. “Install these items into your older vehicle and you’ll have all the latest technologies to enhance your driving - and your passengers’ - experience.”
Integrating wireless functionality from your phone and other devices is an easy way to add convenience and, most importantly, a safer hands-free experience to your daily drive. The simplest and least expensive option is a standalone universal Bluetooth kit that works with any car stereo and comes with a small speaker and microphone. This option does not require any modifications but is limited to hands-free calling only.
A New Receiver / Head Unit
The best option for adding Bluetooth calling and streaming is to purchase a new stereo with this technology built in. If music is your major motivation, you won’t have to retire your old CDs, as there are plenty of units that still offer a disc player as well as a USB port to connect with your phone or with a portable drive for MP3/WMA playback, and an auxiliary input for universal connectivity.
Now that your trusty transportation has some new hands-free audio features, it’s probably time to upgrade the sound quality in your ride. Go for speakers that fit in your car’s pre-existing mounts, and add an amplifier and subwoofer for a clear and dynamic audio experience. Make sure you match your new speakers to the correct speaker wire for peak performance.
Heads Up Display (HUD)
Aftermarket Heads Up Display (HUD) units mount to the dashboard in front of the steering wheel and project data onto a transparent screen or a transparent film mounted on the windshield in your line of sight. This allows you to receive turn-by-turn navigation, vehicle speed information, and lane guidance instructions while keeping your eyes on the road.
Portable Navigation Device
Smartphones offer plenty of navigation options, but the latest portable navigation devices (PND) go beyond simple driving directions. PNDs offer voice command, spoken direction, large screens, and real-time traffic updates. Many units even search points of interest from Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and more.
Blind Spot Monitoring
Relatively new even in the latest vehicles, blind spot monitoring systems detect cars that may be out of your line of sight. The kit relies on two front and two rear sensors mounted to the bumper that work together to detect a vehicle in your blind spot, and an LED display inside your vehicle lights up on the appropriate side when one is detected. An audible alarm will then sound if you then signal and intend to change lanes.
Rearview cameras help drivers see what is behind them when the car is in reverse. A complete setup includes a camera, mounted to the rear of the vehicle, a receiver, and a display mounted on the dashboard. Major manufacturers of aftermarket head units offer camera add-on packages to their receivers with in-dash display, and some GPS units offer the add-on as well, making the update inexpensive and easy to install.
Vehicle Tracking and Telematics
There are a few products that offer detailed information about your vehicle via real-time notifications from your smartphone, including driving habits, fuel, engine and battery monitoring, and engine trouble code translation. The device will even send mobile alerts when the car arrives at a certain location, travels beyond a preset GPS “fence” or exceeds a specified speed limit … ideal for anyone who want to keep tabs on their 10-year old car when others are behind the wheel.
To learn more about the different types of auto-related products available to upgrade your vehicle, visit your local specialty automotive parts retailer.