After paving the country, embracing the suburbs, and transforming communities into something akin to highway rest stops, you pretty much need a car to survive in the modern world unless you’re very thoughtful about your life choices. And right now buying a car — used or new — is expensive and frustrating. As a result, people are carefully maintaining their cars longer than ever — the average age of a car is closing in on 13 years now. And if you bought your car back in 2010, there’s a decent chance it lacks a lot of the new technology and features you can find in a new model.
Fortunately, many old cars support a robust aftermarket industry, and you can easily make an older car feel much newer by giving it a good, detailed cleaning and adding some of these upgrades.
Add a touchscreen
If your car lacks a touchscreen (and, probably, Bluetooth connectivity), you can get both pretty easily by replacing your current car stereo. The main thing you’ll need to know before pursuing this upgrade is whether your car has a single- or double-DIN stereo. DIN refers to their height — a single-DIN system is two inches high, and a double-DIN system is four inches high.
Once you know that, you have a lot of choices, like this one for a single-DIN dash space or this one for a double-DIN. Prices and features vary — some offer Bluetooth for your phone, some offer CD players, most offer USB charging — but they’re all as easy to install as any car stereo, and they instantly bring your car into the modern age.
Add a backup camera
One of the best new features of modern cars is the backup camera, which not only shows whether some random child has decided to sit on the pavement behind you, but also helps you parallel park. If your old beater lacks one, you can install one very, very easily for not a whole lot of money.
Add blind spot detection
Another great safety feature found in almost all new cars is blind spot detection — the sensors that beep when something (like another car) enters your “blind spot,” the area around your vehicle you can’t see through the windshields or in the mirrors. These blind spots can be large enough to hide a whole other car — an obvious problem if you change lanes and ram into one. Installing an aftermarket blind-spot monitor not only makes your car feel more modern, it increases your overall safety. These devices come with sensors that you attach to various spots on your car, communicating with indicators that you attach near your side-view mirrors.
Most of these kits require a bit of effort to install cleanly, but they don’t usually require any drilling or other invasive work, which means a moderately handy person can probably install one themselves. But there are also professional installation options — check with the same folks who install car audio systems.
Add heated seats
Sometimes it’s the little luxuries that make something feel new. If your old car’s seats have the standard cloth upholstery and zero features, consider the simple, affordable upgrade of heated seats. It’s not terribly expensive or difficult to install a heated seat cushion. If you’re staring down some winter weather in your future, this might save your sanity as well as make your car feel years newer.
Install new (or polished) headlights
One reason your old car looks so old is the headlights: Dull, cloudy headlights or headlights that manage a weak, amber light don’t exactly scream cutting-edge transportation. If your headlights have turned into opaque monuments to lost time, you can buy polishing kits online, or improvise your own DIY stuff pretty easily without spending much money at all — and the results will be dramatic.
Alternatively, upgrade your headlights to the more powerful, clearer versions available today. It’s possible to do this on your own, but calibrating headlights takes a bit of skill, so consider getting a professional to do it.
Add a tablet headrest mount
If your kids have been in a fancier car recently, you’ve probably heard about having a screen in the backseat. Sure, you can hand your kids a tablet and tell them to go to town, but adding a simple, inexpensive headrest tablet holder upgrades the whole experience. A holder like this one offers multiple configurations, so you can adjust your multimedia for a variety of screens and backseat populations.
Install tyre pressure monitors
Tire pressure has a big impact on handling and fuel economy, and now you too can monitor your tyre pressure with a glance. These aftermarket systems all work on the same basic principle — you replace your valve caps with the provided sensors, and they test your tyre pressure regularly and beam the info to an app or a display.
Throwing a little money to make your driving experience a little more modern is a great investment, especially if you’re planning to keep your old car until the market settles down. Which should be any day now, right?
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