Safety and comfort on the road are essential to us all, and drivers are always looking for ways to enhance their driving experience. There is certainly no shortage of car gadgets on the market. Store shelves are stacked with a wide variety of tempting toys, and online shopping makes it easier than ever to click and buy the most enticing new products. All seem to lay claims on being the “best” or “most amazing” at something we just cannot live without. Some of these gadgets are so cost-effective that it’s incredibly tempting to roll the dice and make that quick purchase to see just what it is that they can do for us. Others cost a bit more, but their clever marketing campaigns convince us that it’s a worthy investment in our safety, or a must-have for our entertainment and comfort. Consumers drop a lot of dough on these little upgrades, and are willing to try just about anything if it is priced right and provides some added benefits or features!
Some of these gadgets get us hooked and quickly become items we cannot live without, while others leave us scratching our heads, wondering what we were thinking when we pulled out our wallets to buy them. No matter what your view is on the current car gadget in your possession, the fact remains-we all seem to buy them! Let’s take a peek at the ones that were a “hit,” and the ones that we could have, and probably just should have done without.
20 Worth It: Puncture Repair Kit
A flat tire is not only a frustrating experience, but it can also be a dangerous one as well. Being stranded on the side of the road is risky for men and women alike, regardless of the season, or location. Without the ability to quickly repair your own tire, you’re at the mercy of the roadside assistance program or friend you’ve called, which can easily translate to being a very long wait! There are many puncture repair kits on the market to assist in ensuring that you’re never without a quick-fix, should you find yourself on the side of the road. Easy to use, small in size, and simple to store in your trunk, puncture repair kits are they key to your own rescue.
19 Worth It: Portable Jump Starter
This gadget is designed to be a simple savior, and can get you out of a difficult situation if there aren’t any passerby’s to assist. Many other drivers are wary about giving someone a boost, as this does carry some risks to the other vehicle, so self-sufficiency is a vital selling point for this gadget! Roadside assistance is not very helpful if they’re going to take over an hour to get to you in the middle of inclement weather…and you never know when your car may need “a little boost” to get started. This gadget is relatively small in size, but as advised by Car and Driver Magazine, be sure to identify your positive and negative terminals before use!
18 Worth It: Breathalizers
It’s difficult for most to gauge their ability to drive after indulging in some evening fun. Your weight, choice of drink consumed, and how much you’ve eaten before drinking, all have an impact on how your body metabolizes the stuff. With all of these factors at play, it's difficult to establish your ability to drive. It's simple to see how breathalizers have been quickly embraced as life-saving devices. Many find this a handy gadget to assess and evaluate their capabilities behind the wheel. The way we see it, anything that makes you take pause in the name of personal and public safety is a pretty great tool.
17 Worth It: Dash Cam
An easy topper on our list is the dashcam. Front-facing options are widely available, and rear-facing can be added to give you full scope around your vehicle. Undeniably, dashcams have widely increased in popularity around the world, and the majority of drivers now have one installed that they cannot live without. Options for this handy gadget exist for every budget. The features within each model vary greatly, but the idea is the same; get a dashcam and you capture everything that happens during your driving experience. Incredibly useful in cases of collision, aggressive driving, and overall safety, we all seem to find this to be a useful tool. Let’s be honest, lots of fun stuff is captured on here too, making for some great entertainment value!
16 Worth It: Car Cover
One of the greatest features of this handy gadget is the fact that it can be used in all seasons and is very compact and easy to store. You’ll get your money’s worth with the ability to use it year-round, and it's as useful as it gets! Good for protection against the climate, dust, or passersby, and ideal when storing a vehicle for any length of time. This is a gadget that packs a lot of bang for your buck – and nobody seems to have anything bad to stay about it! Simple to use, and versatile, this one is a winner!
15 Worth It: Backseat Organizer
We spend a lot of time commuting and our cars tend to be more than just our transportation vessels- they become our personal storage spaces. Everyone can reap the benefits of an organizer. Whether it’s to safely stow away junk or simply to de-clutter, this backseat beauty holds a significant amount of items in an organized fashion. Using minimal space and easy to install, it maximizes on your ability to secure your items during sudden braking and keeps things handy and within arm’s reach at all times. If you’re traveling with kids in the car, this helps store everything you need to keep them entertained, providing an overall improved driving experience. The organizer is a one-time purchase, designed to last, and economical to purchase!
14 Worth It: Wireless Charger
Can you imagine having to function without your smartphone, Ipad, or tablet? Thankfully, you’ll never have to if you have a wireless charger in your car. Wireless chargers have increased in popularity in the recent past, and have not only become top-rated car gadgets, but also one of our society’s most utilized items. It’s become as automatic a motion to enter a vehicle and charge our phones as it is to enter our vehicles and put on our seat belts. Evolving from its wired ancestor, the wireless charger is a no-fuss, no mess solution. Neatly tucked away, your devices are recharged, as if by magic! No more messing with annoying cords, and definitely no need to ever go without having a fully charged device!
13 Worth It: Car Phone Mount
If you’re charging your phone, you may as well mount it! One gadget leads to another and this is another one we simply cannot live without. Car mounts for smartphones act as handy tools, not only to keep track of where your device is, but also to keep your eyes on the road. Eye-level access and a fixed location for your device result in fewer distractions and a more focussed driver! With tightened laws on handheld device use while driving, we all want to avoid the traffic ticket and police hassle. Car and Driver recently featured the Airo Phone Mount as being one of their favs! If you’re not mounting your phone, you’re likely losing it, or misusing it!
12 Worth It: Ztylus Stinger
One of our favorites for so many reasons, this emergency escape tool is designed to safely and quickly break glass and snip your safety belt for an efficient exit. Automotive glass is designed to sustain impact and keep its passengers safe inside the vehicle, which makes it very difficult to break from the inside. In an emergency situation, time is of the essence and having this one easy-to-use gadget can easily mean the difference between life and death. It’s affordable, easy to store, and simple to use. If you’re confronted with an emergency situation that calls for an escape, this gadget is easy to use and highly effective in its results.
11 Worth It: Wireless Head-Up Display
This product is so amazing that its features are now standard, in-bound technology features in the production of a wide array of new vehicles. Reported as an advanced feature in the Globe and Mail, this gadget is designed as an external display. It syncs to any mobile app and projects the information you need to view at eye level, within your sightline on the windshield. Enabling you to keep your eyes on the road, your information is now visible without you having to look down to fuss with your hand-held device. With quick and easy installation, this product is a must-have for any make or model vehicle that doesn’t boast this technology as an inbound feature!
10 Not Worth It: Fingerless Driving Gloves
We’re still struggling to figure this one out. Aside from allowing you to use your phone while keeping your palms securely gripped on the wheel, fingerless driving gloves seem to serve no purpose. Grip is compromised when there’s only partial coverage. They also tend to look very out-of-place and can leave your hands and fingers feeling sweaty and uncomfortable. Despite the fact that they are among the most cost-effective gadgets on the market, they’re really not useful, or widely utilized. Ladies, they’ll soon be covered in makeup, and its hard enough to keep track of winter gloves- losing these just seems too easy.
9 Not Worth It: Rooftop Hammocks and Tents
This gadget really had us scratching our heads. While we can all agree that it’s great to have our hammocks or tents raised above the ground, away from bugs and nature’s little critters, we can equally agree that having a hammock affixed to the roof of our cars is a strange concept. It’s a bizarre sight and a tough climb. This mounts on top of the roof of your car, and you’ll likely need a ladder to climb up there. Storing a ladder, and leaning it against the side of your car will surely result in paint scratches, and the end result isn’t the most desirable. It doesn’t seem worth the trouble or the possible vehicular damage to launch this on top of our cars!
8 Not Worth It: Handpresso
There is so much wrong with this gadget that its difficult to take it seriously. While we can all appreciate the necessity for a boost of java while you’re stuck in traffic, the Handpresso is downright strange. Designed to create the perfect coffee right in the comfort of your own car, we’re still stuck with the question of why? It’s easier to go through a drive through, and we can order from our local java-joint via our smartphones and skip the line ups. Messing with coffee grinds, filters, milk and sugar in our cars makes this gadget seem frustrating and inconvenient, and will take more of our time than just rolling through the nearest drive-thru to get the perfect blend.
7 Not Worth It: Twistep Pet Step
This comes fully assembled, and that’s the only credit we can give it. Aside from being fairly easy to install in your hitch receiver, this is essentially a pet-step with a really big price tag. You’ll spend hundreds of dollars to purchase it, and a few bucks more to accessorize it, all to give your dog a boost. There are several pet steps in the market that can just as easily be stored in the trunk and used when needed. There are understandable benefits to having a “lift” for our beloved K9’s that find it difficult to climb, but although this is a great concept, it’s too expensive to invest in when a simple removable ramp can do the trick.
6 Not Worth It: Radar Detectors
We happily embrace any gadget that keeps us away from traffic tickets and inflated insurance rates, but radar detectors are obsolete. They had a great run a few years ago, but newer smartphone application technology has replaced the requirement for a separate radar detector to be installed in our cars. Radar detectors use radar and laser technology while their more expensive counterparts boast enhanced features such as red light camera detectors and maps. The issue is, the cheap ones send many false alarms, and the new ones are constantly evolving, so yours becomes obsolete very quickly after its purchase.
5 Not Worth It: F1Z Power Launcher
This one seems so affordable that it's not a devastating disappointment if it doesn’t work...except that it doesn’t work! Save your money and stick to proper, professional engine enhancements. The idea behind this gadget is that the propeller spins with engine speed, generating maximum force/airflow into the combustion chamber. Sadly, while some consumers say it made a very slight difference, most admit that there was no visible change, or that in fact it slowed down the performance of their vehicle. While it's not an expensive gamble, the F1Z Power Launcher doesn’t seem to provide any added value whatsoever.
4 Not Worth It: Garagemate Bajabuster
Designed and marketed as a handy multi-tool, this gadget lays claims as being your all-in-one shovel/hoe/jack handle. This all-steel design is meant to be easy to use and compact for storage. However, consumers struggle to find worth in their investment when they can simply purchase those singular 3 items and keep them in their car. The advertising campaign for this product implies it is lightweight and easy to use, when in fact the components may prove to be quite heavy for the average user of this product. While the idea is a good one, the product itself fails to stand out as a functional, useful one.
3 Not Worth It: Aftermarket Cup Holders
Simply put, manufacturers have designed their own cup holders for a reason – don’t waste money going against this design. Spending on aftermarket holders will be a frustrating experience, every time. They’re big, clunky, and they really don’t ever seem to be secure no matter how much you try to wiggle and jiggle them into the right position. Messy spills will be sure to ensue within a matter of time, and chances are, these spills are dripping all over the controls of your vehicle since the car wasn’t designed for liquids to be suspended in that precise spot you’ve installed your cup holder! They don’t fare well with larger or oversized cups/thermoses either. Always in the way, these hinder way more than they help.
2 Not Worth It: Bull Bars
Sure, they score points for giving your vehicle a more aggressive stance, but they also seem to cause more damage than good. Originally produced to push large animals out of the way during off-roading or wildlife/outdoor experiences, these bars are now being widely used to accessorize your vehicle for your city-driving experience. While the aesthetic upgrade is appealing, these gadgets pose a serious threat to safety. They greatly increase the chances of your average fender bender becoming an injury-causing, frame-damaging collision. During impact, the force of the collision is sure to cause greater injuries when bull bars are installed. Pedestrian safety is drastically at risk, with many bull bars resting at roughly the height of school-aged children.
1 Not Worth It: French Fry Holder
They must have had “cute gag gift” in mind when they created this product, as once that initial appeal wears off, this is a useless gadget. French Fry Holders serve no purpose, as the fries you order come in a container, which is then put in a bag. If you’re a driver, you should probably keep them there as you focus on the road. If you’re a passenger, you have two free hands to manage your fries. Without any actual functionality, this gadget fails to provide any additional value. Perhaps if they created something that would contain the sauce or ketchup for these fries, they’d have our attention. For now, if you pass the fries, we’ll pass on the holder!
We hope you like the items we recommend! HotCars has affiliate partnerships, so we receive a share of the revenue from your purchase. This won’t affect the price you pay and helps us offer the best product recommendations.
Sources: Car and Driver, Globe and Mail