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After-Market Tech for Cars Is Booming. Soup Up Your Ride

December 18, 2015
After-market tech for your older car

Love your current car, but want the latest tech for your ride? You can have both.

Many Americans are keeping their cars longer. IHS Automotive said earlier this year the average age for both passenger cars and light trucks in 2015 is 11.5 years. Given that most vehicles on the road are older than the first iPhone (which debuted in 2007), it’s no wonder the after-market auto technology sector is booming.

Still Rising

A 2014 survey from the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and the Auto Care Association suggests that by 2017, total aftermarket sales will increase to $273.4 billion, from $238.4 billion in 2013.

We know how swiftly technology changes. That means even owners of relatively new cars may still desire some upgrades.

Safety First

Willet Hossfeld, manager of member programs for Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), said at a recent show in Chicago that the most desired technology for cars is safety and driver distraction elimination. Next are smartphone integration and entertainment, followed by remote starting and preventative maintenance.

According to the CEA, these are some of the newer and popular additions for after-market auto technology:

Cameras. By 2018, backup cameras will be mandated for new cars, but companies like Brandmotion make versions that fit existing cars. Their Rear Vision System is made for specific car brands, but they also offer a universal kit. The car-specific kits for many luxury cars are just under $1,000. Dash cameras, such as Garmin’s Dash Cam 35 GPS Driving Recorder ($199), record crashes and use GPS technology for detailed information.

Remote monitoring. Voxx CarLink  (prices vary, but around $249, plus $9.99 a month) has several features to monitor your car. It lets you find your car, start it remotely, and lock/unlock it from your phone. It also has a safe driver feature to block texting while driving. Car monitoring includes tracking the vehicle every five minutes while it’s running. Geo-fencing can alert owners when teens or aging parents have entered or exited areas such as schools or homes.

Battery chargers. Never worry about a dead battery with portable emergency power systems that can charge your phone and jump-start your car. Cobra JumPack CPP 8000 ($119.95) has built-in protection circuitry (including short circuit, reverse charge, over-charge, and reverse polarity protection) and holds nearly 90% of its charge for up to eight months.

Smartphone integration. Pioneer’s NEX multimedia receiver allows users to integrate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ($700), making phones more compatible for driving. The Axxera receiver ($249) allows you to mirror your phone on the receiver’s screen via an HDMI connection. Its built-in Bluetooth allows for wireless audio streaming from your phone.

To add new tech to your car, look for installers that specialize in automotive electronics installation, the CEA said. With new aftermarket products, your ride could be just as tech-savvy as the latest cars on the road.

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