There are many add-on devices and gizmos for cars that can provide features to make your ride better. There are accessories that will give you music that is more to your liking. A gps with maps can display the route to take to your chosen destination. A heated mug will keep coffee hot as long as the car is running. There are other useful functions and nice effects that add-on accessories can provide. Many car accessories are low enough in price so that they may be well worth installing. This article concentrates on the lower priced accessories. Most are under $50.
Here's the list with some information and comments about each:
12 volt heated mug - A mug with a plug for getting power from the cigarette lighter socket. It keeps a liquid such as coffee hot for as long as the vehicle is running. Some models have a thermostat to set the temperature.
Wagan Tech Heated Travel Mug. At www.autoanything.com/products/product_sp.aspx?p_id=1552,about $30.
NexxTech™ Travel Mug with Thermal Control At www.circuitcity.com/ssm/NexxTech-Travel-Mug-631-8375-/sem/rpsm/oid/100379/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do, about $20.
Power Up Thermal Mug. At www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&category%5Fname=CTLG%5F010%5F004%5F001%5F000&product%5Fid=270%2D4133, about $20.
Cooler/warmer - These give the choice of keeping food or beverage hot or cold. Some are sized to hold a can of soda or a mug of coffee, larger units might hold a six pack or more.
Wagan Car Cooler/Warmer. At www.autoanything.com/products/product_sp.aspx?p_id=1300 about $75
Koolatron 8 quart Food Cooler/Warmer. At www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/ItemBrowse/c-10101/s-10101/p-100000200861/mediaCode-ZX/appId-100000200861/Pr-p_CATENTRY_ID:100000200861, about $80
Vector 6-can Portable Food Cooler & Warmer Chest. At www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/ItemBrowse/c-10101/s-10101/p-100000154620/mediaCode-ZX/appId-100000154620/Pr-p_CATENTRY_ID:100000154620">ZX076971R, about $50
Cell phone charger - Plugs into the cigarette lighter socket to power or charge your cell phone.
Custom Accessories Deluxe Power Cord Charger - Motorola. At www.carlovershop.com/karparts/itempg.icl?secid=2&subsecid=25&dirpage=dir2&curitempos=6&numitems=13&itmid=197&eflag=0, about $20.
Custom Accessories Power Cord Charger - Motorola. At www.carlovershop.com/karparts/itempg.icl?secid=2&subsecid=25&dirpage=dir2&curitempos=12&numitems=13&itmid=200&eflag=0, about $10.
Radio Shack 273-1288 Car Power Adapter for Hitachi SH-P300 Wireless Phone. At www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&category%5Fname=CTLG%5F008%5F001%5F014%5F028&product%5Fid=273%2D1288, about $30.
Quick Cell 3900 Car Charger Nokia. At http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3072&mfrcode=QUI&mfrpartnumber=3900, about $15
12 volt coolers - These range in size to hold 2 soda cans up to full size refrigerators for recreational vehicles.
VDP Road Chill 2-pack Cooler. At www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/ItemBrowse/c-10101/s-10101/p-100000299067/mediaCode-ZX/appId-100000299067/Pr-p_CATENTRY_ID:100000299067, about $30.
Multipurpose lights - Can be incandescent, flourescent or led. They might plug into the cigarette lighter socket, might be wired directly into the car's power circuits, or be battery operated and portable. If used while the vehicle is not running, a consideration may be that led models will drain the battery the least (but in general produce less light).
Bonatrade International 6-Watt Single Tube 12V Fluorescent Light. At www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/ItemBrowse/c-10101/s-10101/p-100000218648/mediaCode-ZX/appId-100000218648/Pr-p_CATENTRY_ID:100000218648">www.jcwhitney.com, about $15.
Custom Accessories 10716 Power Lite: Magnet Mount. Plugs into cigarette lighter jack. At www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1292120&cp=1312328.1258923&parentPage=family, about $10.
Custom Accessories 76665 Utility Light 12v sold at www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1381736&cp=1312328.1258923&parentPage=family, about $3.
Voltec Industries 0800255 Trouble Light: 12 Volt. At http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3158&mfrcode=VTI&mfrpartnumber=0800255 (www.advanceautoparts.com), about $4.
Alert HC20 Halogen Worklight 12v. At http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3158&mfrcode=ALE&mfrpartnumber=HC20 (www.advanceautoparts.com), about $20.
Compass - Some are magnetic, mechanical; some are battery powered with digital displays, can be lighted to read at night, and/or have additional features such as time, date, and/or temperature.
Wayfinder V100 Digital Compass. At http://store.yahoo.com/rodi/v100.html, about $24.
NexxTech™ Digital Compass with Calendar, Clock and Temperature. At www.circuitcity.com/ssm/NexxTech-Digital-Compass-with-Calendar-Clock-and-Temperature-631-1000-/sem/rpsm/oid/100535/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do, about $30.
Radio Shack 63-1221 Digital Vehicle Compass. At http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&category%5Fname=CTLG%5F010%5F004%5F001%5F000&product%5Fid=63%2D1221, about $20.
Custom Accessories 18100. At http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3037&mfrcode=CSM&mfrpartnumber=18100 (www.advanceautoparts.com), about $10.
Custom Accessories 55558. At http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3037&mfrcode=CSM&mfrpartnumber=55558 (www.advanceautoparts.com), about $5.
Type S Compass. At http://store.yahoo.com/rodi/compass.html (www.autobarn.com), about $5.
Flashlight - Dozens of types available including windups that don't require batteries, solar rechargeables, flourescent tube (bulbs last much longer), and led models that will run many hours on one set of batteries.
Energizer Folding LED Compact Mini Lantern Model # LED4AA1BP. At www.coolflashlights.com/LED-Lights_a.html, about $15.
Dorcy Waterproof LED 4AA Flashlight. At www.coolflashlights.com/LED-Lights_b.html, about $15.
Dorcy Mini LED Zoom Spot or Area Hanging Lantern. At www.coolflashlights.com/LED-Lights_c.html, for about $15.
Himount Windup LED Flashlight. At www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/Product/tf-Browse/s-10101/Pr-p_Product.CATENTRY_ID:2010116/showCustom-0/p-2010116/N-111+10201+600002964/c-10101, about $20.
4 point safety harness - Has four anchor points with a restraint for each shoulder. These are more likely to get you through a crash with less injury than if you had been using a standard belt (across one shoulder and across the lap). Many of these models are made to attach to a roll bar, so make sure the one you are getting is appropriate for your vehicle.
Peak Racing Equipment PEK-507-2. At http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0006HPOIA, about $75.
Peak Racing Equipment PEK-507-2. At http://store.summitracing.com/default.asp?target=search.asp&type=bysummitpart&searchtype=both&part=pek-507-1, about $70.
Power inverter - Plugs into the cigarette lighter sockect, clips to battery, or wire it in. The vehicle's 12 volts dc is changed to 120 volts ac to power things like laptop computers, coffee makers, cell phones, camcorder battery chargers and other small appliances. Don't go bigger than 400 watts unless you want to go directly to the battery with heavy wire. Even then, high power devices will drain your battery quickly and could fry the alternator if the engine is running.
Coleman Powermate CMN-PMP400 400 watt. At http:// store.summitracing.com/partdetail.asp?part=cmn%2dpmp400, about $60.
Motor Trend power inverter HDL-MTI-12-3716. At http://store.summitracing.com/partdetail.asp?part=HDL%2DMTI%2D12%2D3716, about $60.
Xantrex X Power Mobile Plug 75. At http://www.fisheriessupply.com/online/ln_menu/product.asp/mode/1/product_id/116429/letter/X/N/4294873001/catalog_name/FISCO, about $30.
Go Power GP 175 Modified Sine Wave Inverter. At store.hamiltonmarine.com/browse.cfm/4,25448.html, about $30.
Other accessories that can be used to enhance your car include seat covers, floor mats, steering wheel covers, sun shades, head rest covers, litter bags, can and cup holders, inside/outside thermometer, gps/map device, extra loud or novelty sound horns.
Items to keep in your car for repair, emergency, safety, miscellaneous- Jack, lug wrench, trouble light, flares, jumper cables, maps, cell phone and phone numbers, coolant for radiator, drinking water, long storage food, empty container for gasoline, various hand tools, gloves, coat, hat, blanket, rain poncho, and a first aid kit.
About the author:
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Alan Detwiler is the author of several books on leisure activities. The books are available at Amazon.com