In a world where the average new vehicle loses 20% of its value in the first year, and another 40% over the next four years, it’s no wonder why so many people choose to buy used cars. Whether you’re on a budget, or just a savvy shopper who knows how quickly new cars depreciate, buying a used vehicle that’s in good condition can save you a significant chunk of change. While you might be missing out on some of the technological perks that come with modern models, that doesn’t mean you have to live without them. All of these additions are easy to implement yourself, and most of them won’t cost you over $100.
Problem #1: Issues playing music from your mobile device and/or no Bluetooth connection
Solution: Vehicle FM Transmitter
Cost: Under $25
This inexpensive little accessory is a game changer for drivers who prefer listening to their own music over the radio. The palm-sized gadget plugs into your car cigarette lighter port and attaches to your phone via Bluetooth. All you have to do is find a vacant radio channel and voila — you can play music through your speakers from your phone like any car with Bluetooth.
FM Transmitters are available at any electronics store, or you can choose from the many options on Amazon. Most of them even include extras like USB charging ports and hands-free calling.
Problem #2: Poor rear-view visibility when parking
Solution: Install a back-up camera
Cost: Under $100
Since May 2018, Transport Canada has mandated that new cars and small trucks be equipped with rear-view cameras, a feature that’s been required in the U.S. since 2014. The regulation was put in place in response to the high number of injuries and deaths that occur in back-up incidents. Transport Canada estimates that such accidents killed 27 people and injured more than 1,500 from 2004 to 2009.
If your vehicle was manufactured before 2018 and isn’t equipped with a backup camera, it’s not too late to install one. Many cameras available these days are under $100 and won’t take more than a few minutes to set up. The NATIKA Backup/Front View Camera comes highly recommended by Forbes. If your car doesn’t have a monitor, you can purchase one for under $30.
Problem #3: A dull exterior and/or chipped paint
Solution: DIY wax job
Cost: Under $20
Nothing gives away an old car like an aging paint job. If your vehicle is looking dull or starting to chip in places, waxing your car is a simple solution that will give it that new-car shine again. It also protects your paint from exposure and might even save you from needing a paint job down the line. The best part is, it’s cheap and you can do it yourself in an afternoon.
It’s important to begin with a clean exterior, as dirt and grime can leave scratches once you start waxing. There are many different brands and types of wax to choose from; keep in mind that carnauba wax will have a slightly different effect than paint sealant. Whichever type you go with, a high-quality automobile wax shouldn’t cost you more than $20. Turtle Wax T-222R Super Hard Shell Paste Wax is a tried-and-true choice for autophiles everywhere.
This comprehensive manual from Guide To Detailing tells you everything you need to know about the different types of wax and how to apply them.
Problem #4: A car that takes a long time to warm up in the winter
Solution: Heated seat covers and remote-start kit
Cost: Under $350 total
With winter inching ever closer, there’s never been a better time to have seat heaters. If your vehicle doesn’t have them built in, you’re in luck. Today, there are heated seat covers on the market that will make your morning commute infinitely more comfortable; some of them even have a massage function. Most of the models available work via a 12 V power source and can be placed on top of your seat like any other seat cover. You can find a variety of options in the $90 range on Amazon.
If you spend a lot of time in your car or live in a part of BC where the winters are especially cold, you might want to consider investing in a remote car starter. With the push of a button, you can start your car’s heat (or air conditioning) from your home. By the time you’re ready to hit the road, your vehicle is warmed up to a comfortable temperature — sounds blissful, doesn’t it? Typically, remote car starters are in the $150-$250 range.
Problem #5: No GPS
Solution: Install a phone mount
Cost: Under $15
So your car doesn’t have a GPS (or perhaps not a ‘working’ GPS). A phone mount is an easy fix for smartphone users. While there are mounts available that attach to standard car AC units, dash and windshield mounts are the most versatile option. Once you’ve bought and installed your phone mount of choice (make sure it’s one that can accommodate your phone size), simply type your destination into your phone’s map app and let the GPS guide you — just make sure all of this happens before you start your car and begin driving.
With the holidays coming up, these gadgets make great gift ideas for friends and family who are driving older vehicles. If you’re in the market for a used car, be sure to check out our blog on What to Look For When Buying a Used Vehicle, and whatever you’re driving, these tips on beating car depreciation are worth the read.