Sunday, 21st September 2014

Treat yourself to a new gadget for your car

Tom Tom Go LiveCommercial feature - Motorists love their cars. Sometimes more than their friends and family, cynics might say. But there is one thing the car owner loves even more than their vehicle – the gadgets that go with it.

From in-car entertainment to technology that makes looking after the car that little bit easier, we adore car gadgets.

Websites will provide hours of shopping fun for the motorist who wants to bring back the pleasures of owning a car. We accessorize ourselves, our home, why not our car? A driver and their car may have their ups and downs, but it is good to spoil ourselves by spoiling our car with gifts from time to time.

Once upon a time a set of fluffy dice and some sticky letters on the windscreen announcing the names of the driver and their partner was the epitome of car cool. Honest. But we have come a long way. Nowadays car accessories can be as much about safety as about showing off.

Nothing is more likely to induce a bout of road rage than getting lost. Bad directions given verbally by the random stranger on the street, poor online maps, mis-communicated phone directions and worst of all, back seat driver directions, especially when wrong, can all bring about rising stress levels. But thanks to satellite navigation systems, all of the above can become a distant memory.

The sat nav is arguably the car owner’s most desirable gadget. And as can be expected from technology, automotive navigation is getting better all the time. Some of the most popular features are the sat nav’s ability to predict traffic problems.

The Tom Tom Go Live is pioneering in its ability to create routes and to tap into Google listings to show the driver nearby restaurants and features. But the unique and highly desirable feature of this gadget is its HD Traffic service.

For those who feel they spend huge chunks of their life in traffic jams, to the point that they have found themselves sitting behind the wheel with metaphorical smoke between their ears, thinking: “I’m going to sell my car and buy a bicycle!” the Tom Tom Go Live is the answer to your problems.

By utilising GPS to track the volume and speed of signals coming from mobile phones, this clever gadget can anticipate vehicle queues and traffic congestion in particular areas. It is one of the most accurate traffic services on the market and consequently, it does not come cheap.

After purchasing the sat nav, the driver is given the first year of the service free. After twelve months, however, it costs £47.50 per year. Whatever way you look at it, this is an expensive piece of kit. But for the frequent driver or long distance motorist, it can be life changing – and much less extreme than becoming a cyclist.

Hands up who has never quite gotten to grips with reverse parking? There is now a gadget to help you too. A back-up parking camera aids the driver by providing a good view of everything that is behind them, by sending live images to a screen housed in the dashboard. Perfect for those tricky manoeuvres. Do not be surprised if you find yourself saying: “sell my car and find me one with a built-in parking camera please!”

Okay, picture the scene: It’s winter, dark and freezing. Literally. You hobble outside in your wellington boots to find the world has turned white overnight. A rug of snow has enveloped your house, your street and much, much worse, your car. It is a familiar story, but it’s what you do next that matters.

Do you spit the words: “time to sell my car,” and start raking around for something with an edge to clear the frost from your windscreen. A CD perhaps? Or, even less effective, a book? (You will regret that one later – soggy pages) or maybe, in desperate times, a key ring? Well, you need never resort to such futile activity again. Who knows why they did not think of it before, but let us just be grateful that someone has finally come to our rescue with an electric window scraper.

This gadget has a built-in heater designed to quickly melt away ice, frost and snow. The scraper is rechargeable, just pop it into the car lighter socket and feel your winter stress melt away like ice cubes in a cold drink on a hot summer day. These humble little gadgets range in price from £5 to £15 and are worth every penny. Don’t leave home without one.

Another hazard for the winter driver is that most horrible scenario: the frozen lock. This problem can easily be eliminated with remote ignition. We have all become accustomed to the joys of the remote ignition system that starts the heating in the car without unlocking the doors, so the driver can stay in the warm until it heats up. But the truly trendy motorist has gone one better and embraced keyless ignition. The keyless system means the driver keeps a fob in their pocket.

A sensor anticipates that the fob is in the car and will start it. The driver then pushes a button on the dashboard and presses the foot brake for takeoff. The push-button keyless start takes the hassle out of inserting a key and while this may not seem like such a hassle now, in these days of high convenience, we could soon get used to it. Those with arthritis or other hand disabilities will find an immediate benefit in keyless ignition. It is the future.

But remember, as much as we love our car gadgets, they are often not included in our motor insurance policies. Many of us do not bother, but it is always worth reading the small print on policies or making a call to the insurer to ensure these little add-ons are adequately covered. After all, once you get used to those lovely gadgets, it is unlikely that you will ever get used to not having them. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. But with these swanky gadgets on board, the only time you will ever say: “I want to sell my car” is when you want to buy a better one.