Head Up Displays
It’s Head Up by the way not Heads Up, just for you grammar geeks. This is still rare even in new cars and such a cool idea but it’s going to be ubiquitous one day. For now, though, there are a number of manufacturers, most of them start-ups actually, who make some interesting units that kind of mount on top of your dash. What they can project is speed, traffic conditions, navigation instructions, hands-free messaging assists, just a whole basked of really useful prompted information. This category could use a little more maturation in terms of the quality of the devices, as well as how will they integrate with cars.
In the old days, you could add a kit that would give you a key fob to remote start. Nowadays it’s all about doing it from a phone app, or a smartwatch app. It is very dependent on where you live if you’re in a climate, especially cold climate, and how sensitive you are in a too cold climate. Today’s systems can work over the cloud, so your car doesn’t need to be near your key fob or your phone in this case, it goes over the cloud to be remote started from just about anywhere. And that means it can also roll in some nice sort of features like to locate the car, operate the lights, check the locks, etc.
Blind Spot Warning Technology
Now this is actually very new in the aftermarket, hasn’t been around that long and the latest wrinkle is, you can add a kit in your rear bumper that will actually use the same kind of radar technology that the factory systems use. It can be pricey, pushing $700+ or so, but you end up with a very OEM style indication of whose back there in your blind spots. This one’s kind of a home run with 69% of people who have it saying they appreciate and use it every day.
A Video Rear View Mirror
A rear view mirror that’s got a video screen in it and also video inputs. So it can bring in the image from a rear cam that you might add, as well as the mirror having a forward viewing cam integrated into it. A so-called dash cam. Now on top of all that, almost all of these have a little solid state TiVo, a DVR built in to record what’s happening as you drive in front of your car. And these are also typically very inexpensive, maybe $200 and one afternoon to put them in if you know what you’re doing at all. On the downside is, it’s mostly third party or off brands, so shop carefully. But everyone loves cameras in their car.
It’s a dongle you put up underneath your dash and the OBD-II port that can do almost anything. It helps you diagnose and clear those trouble codes that are behind the check engine light or be great for recording your performance at the track.
Android Auto or CarPlay Head Units
The Top upgrade to your old/new car is to put in a new Android Auto or CarPlay Head Unit. Pioneer, Alpine, Sony, these are some of the guys that make them. For about $700 to $1,000 you can get a really nice unit that gives you all the functions of your smartphone like your smartphone because the software was designed by the folks that engineered your smartphone. This is where automotive electronics can go and should go.
The only downside here is these are double DIN standard size units. They can be a lot of work to fit into some of the customized dashboards of many cars today, but if you can find a dash kit that allows you to do that, this is your Number One upgrade to make you feel like your driving and smiling.