Automotive technology is only getting more advanced, but you don’t have to shell out for a fresh release in order to experience the best of it. With so many aftermarket products available to bring new tech to your ride, you can have all the niceties of a modern model without the price tag. Check out this DIY guide for techy additions that upgrade your trim on your terms.

Safety

Head-up display

The first windshield HUD was released in 2004 by BMW. Since then, more luxury vehicles have taken a liking to the feature, but many cars still stick with the traditional navigation screen. 

If you want one for yourself, consider the Yuguang 6″ HUD that shows speed, navigation, and more right on the windshield. With alarms for speed, voltage, and RPM, I’d argue it does more than your average HUD.

Blind-spot monitor

New vehicles love to boast blind-spot monitors, but you don’t need a fancy Honda Sensing® Suite to snag one. The BrandMotion Radar Blind Spot System is the first new tech to hit the aftermarket that features cross-traffic detection and a 40-foot range. It even minimizes false alerts by 95% in comparison with other aftermarket technology. 

It does need to be professionally installed, but if DIY is a requirement, you can always go with the Greenyi Integrated LED Blind Spot System which plugs into your 12-volt cigarette lighter socket.

Air purifier

The FRiEQ is an ionic air purifier and freshener that you just need sitting shotgun. Plug it right into your 12-volt outlet and enjoy the effects of 4.8 million negative ions per cm³, all within the confines of your own car.

Entertainment

Phone-Compatible Stereo

Most cars from prior to 2014 don’t have a speaker that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay. If you have an older vehicle that isn’t compatible with your Apple or Android smartphone, don’t fret. You can always switch out your stereo for a setup that’s in sync — and the process is super easy. 

Consider switching to stereos like the Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX  or Sony XAVAX1000 to access smartphone compatibility.

GoPro

Slap a camera on your dash and have an in-house recording of every road trip to come. Best of all, it doubles as a dash cam, which helps prevent fraudulent insurance claims.

Consider the GoPro Hero8 Black, which features Hypersmooth 2.0 video stabilization and voice control. Alternatively, you could swing for the GoPro Max which has six-mic processing and on-camera horizon leveling.

Mobile hotspot

The Verizon 5G MiFi M1000 is a bit of a splurge, but it sure transforms that car of yours into a roaming entertainment center. Use your Wi-Fi to download podcasts, hop on client calls, or put on a show for your backseat drivers.

Style

LED headlight conversion kits

More and more vehicles are being produced with LED headlights. In 2019 alone, 86% of new models were equipped with the technology. You can have them on your old car, too, for a safer drive and crisper style.

When upgrading your headlights with LED conversion kits, keep a lookout for ones with CSP (chip scale package). They’re smaller, brighter, and more efficient.

Interior lighting kits

Yeah, the Mercedez-Benz C-Class may have ambient lighting in its cabin, but your old car can have a colorful display, too. Switch out your interior lighting setup with a more modern display that speaks your stylish language.

Pick & choose your favorite new tech aftermarket products

Your old car has a lot going for it (like that broken-in comfort and day-one reliability). With new tech from the aftermarket, your vehicle can be just as fun as it is practical. Whatever way you decide to augment your ride is up to you; just know that your options are endless, and your car is only as custom as you make it.

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    7 Comments

    1. a dashboard camera is very cool idea, blackvue makes a great one.

    2. Some new cars feel like flying a spaceship.

    3. Dashboard cameras are a great idea, because you never know when it will be helpful. You can use it as evidence for insurance claims or anything like that, if there is a dispute.

    4. I didn’t realize that things like a blind-spot monitor could be added to a vehicle that did not come with the feature. The thought to add some of these features had never crossed my mind. My older car does not have bluetooth and the newer phones don’t have a way to plug in the notorious aux cord. A friend bought me this cool gadget to be able to play my music and calls through bluetooth, and now my older 2007 feels one step fancier. Bringing your car into the new age is often less expensive than buying a newer car altogether.

    5. Tech for your old car… the classic cigarette lighter voltage meter

    6. Great Ideas. I love my HUD its great to have. I think some of these upgrades are a must if your car didn’t come with them from the factory.

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