Older used cars offer much value, but they lack many of the features common to today’s models, including rearview cameras, USB ports and navigation systems. If buying newer may be beyond your budget, that doesn’t mean you have to do without today’s technology. The following are affordable upgrade ideas you can make to many older vehicles.
1. Add Navigation on the Cheap
Before there were in-car navigation systems, you had to rely on dash-mounted GPS systems manufactured by companies like Garmin or TomTom. Modern versions of these systems are still available. Or if your budget allows, consider investing in a new GPS navigation radio upgrade.
But there is a much more cost-effective upgrade, utilizing a device you likely already own: a smartphone.
Smartphones offer travel apps with turn-by-turn directions, including some that are better than what you’ll find in certain cars. For as little as $10, you can invest in a cell phone mount cradle holder to place on top of your dashboard, or choose a magnetic vent mount and position your phone there.
2. Get Remote Start for Your Car
Dread heading out to a car on a cold morning to face frigid conditions? Despise scraping ice off of the windshield and other windows before you can head out? Then, to top it off, the car door is frozen shut. Or perhaps you live in tropical climes, where your car resembles an oven, even first thing in the morning.
Some new models come equipped with remote start, which allows you to activate the ignition from the climate-controlled comfort of your home. Simply have the climate control system set appropriately the night before, activate the ignition, and your hot or cold car will be ready for you before heading out.
If your ride lacks it, it can usually be added for less than $200, plus installation. Look for a system with a long range as you may find yourself wanting to start your car from inside an office building or a shopping mall. Some systems include a security feature, while others can also lock or unlock car doors.
3. Add a USB Charger
Without a USB port, you may feel like a Luddite, especially as most new cars and trucks come with two or more outlets. Fortunately, a USB car charger adapter provides an ideal solution, plugging into a 12-volt outlet or cigarette lighter. Adapters typically have two outlets and provide charging for most current smartphones. Connect your dash-mounted smartphone to keep it charged while obtaining driving directions. It costs less than $20.
4. Improve Safety with a Rearview Camera
All cars and trucks manufactured after May 1, 2018 must be equipped with rearview cameras. Some newer used cars have them, but if yours doesn’t, an upgrade can be had for about $200.
Upgrading means swapping out your current rearview mirror for a new one with an embedded color LCD monitor. Choose one that also works at night. Some rearview monitor kits include a second camera input, which is an ideal way to add front, side or cargo camera monitoring. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says, “Backup cameras reduced the blind zone by about 90 percent on average.”
5. Update Your Audio System with Bluetooth
Bluetooth, the wireless technology used to exchange data, has been standard in many new cars since 2010. You can use Bluetooth to stream audio, make phone calls and transfer data between devices. Upgrading your car’s current audio system to one with built-in Bluetooth is possible for less than $150 before installation.
Adding the Latest Technologies to an Older Car
The older the vehicle, the more likely you don’t have such features as heated seats, a head-up display, lane departure warning or a heated steering wheel.
Whatever upgrades you choose for your older used car, make sure it provides you with everything you want. A warranty for costlier items makes sense.