Smart technology is everywhere these days, and over the past decade or so, a lot of the most advanced, state of the art software available has found its way inside the average modern day vehicle. Manufactures also tend to offer car buyers the opportunity to upgrade the tech inside their current cars, regularly releasing new software additions designed to create a driving experience reflective of the digital age.
The downside? Tech-heavy cars are expensive, and so is the process of installing software to make your vehicle look like it belongs in the 21st century. If you're looking to save a little cash but still fancy the added perks, take a look at these nifty, affordable tech hacks for your car.
Turn Your Smartphone Into A Dashboard Cam
If you have a spare smartphone kicking around, why not turn it into a camera that you can fit onto your car dashboard?
Having a dash cam to record your travels is a funky little addition to your vehicle, and may prove to be particularly handy if you ever get into an accident and need to claim on insurance.
It's surprisingly easy to sort, too. The first step is to get yourself a mount on which to store your smartphone. Search for a sturdy design and take it for a test spin around your block before you hit the open road (this will determine whether it's guaranteed to stick in place). The next move is to find yourself a suitable app. There are plenty out there on the smartphone app store, including CamOnRoad, Car Camera and AutoGuard Dash Cam. Have a play with all of them to see which one is right for you.
Hidden Garage Remote
If you own a garage with an electric door, or live in an apartment block with a gate, you've probably got the access remote stowed away in the cup holder by the gearstick or in the loose change compartment. A handy place to keep it? Yes. But a sensible place? Not really. Some thieves are opportunist, but others like to take a quick look around the car before they act. If they spot a device that offers them access to your garage (where you'll probably have valuable items stored) they will not think twice about breaking in to get it.
So why not make yourself a cheeky garage remote concealer? Invest in a big cup that you can store inside your car, and tape the remote to the base. This way, the valuable piece of tech is hidden from sight, giving thieves little incentive to break in and even less of a chance of them finding a way to access your garage / apartment gate if they do.
This is not the coolest hack on this list by any means, nor is it even very tech-y. Nonetheless, it could well be the most useful.
A shade sheet offers an increased sense of visibility when you're on the road, blocking out those pesky pockets of light that can come streaming into the car to blind your eyesight. You can buy one for a very reasonable price at several different outlets. Just make sure the design you choose can be easily peeled off the screen in a moment's notice, but is also ready to stick rigidly in place for the portion of the journey in which you need it.
Having a GPS tracker on your car allows you to determine where your vehicle is at all times. If you're a parent who's recently – but somewhat begrudgingly – agreed to insure your child on your car, this is a great way to keep an eye on them and make sure they are not driving to any dodgy places. A GPS tracker will also prove invaluable if someone decides to pinch your motor, giving the police every chance of tracking the thief down and getting the car back to you in one piece.
Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot
Did you know there are actually ways for you to turn your car into a Wi-Fi hotspot?
By having your own internet network in your vehicle, you'll be able to link up to the web in a moment's notice at faster speeds, allowing you to make crackle-free calls while you're on the go (using a hands-free headset or speakerphone of course – never phone in hand) and offering a way to keep your kids entertained on long journeys as they connect to the web on their smartphone or iPads.
You can find devices that transform your car into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot all over the web, and often for a very reasonable price. If you use this software frequently enough, you'll soon make your money back from all the cash you save by using a Wi-Fi connection instead of 4G.