Buying a great car is only the beginning of your journey as a car enthusiast. Your driving experiences also hinge on your ability to drive safely, keep your car clean, and handle any weather that comes your way. Making the right investments in car accessories makes an enormous difference to your driving adventures, especially if you have family members or friends in your car as well.
Although your vehicle likely comes with certain default accessories, you can upgrade them or get more specialized versions to suit your needs and aesthetic preferences. Start with essentials like car covers and floor mats, and then work your way through the rest based on your family size and technology needs. Here are the top 16 must-have car accessories, regardless of your car make or model.
1. Phone Holder
Having your phone in a safe and accessible location can prevent delays caused by misplacing it. Fumbling around for your phone while driving can also be a serious safety hazard, especially if road conditions are bad.
A simple phone holder that attaches to your dashboard with a magnet is ideal, even if you rarely use your phone while driving. Get one that clips to your rearview mirror or sticks upright in your cup holder if you prefer, but make sure it doesn’t block your vision or get in the way when you reach for the parking brake or gear shifter.
2. Auxiliary Cord
Most cars now have Bluetooth or USB technology for connecting a smartphone to your car’s audio and navigation system. However, it’s difficult to run music through one phone and navigation through another with these systems. Plus, sometimes smartphone Bluetooth pairing functions don’t work like they’re supposed to. An auxiliary cord for audio is always a good backup to have in your car, especially if you don’t listen to the radio often. CD players are losing popularity because of the bulky design and limited music selection, but most cars still have auxiliary ports.
3. Steering Wheel Cover
Steering wheel covers are great for protecting your steering wheel from dirt and general wear and tear. However, they are also nice for protecting your hands from a cold or hot steering wheel in extreme temperatures. A light-colored leather steering wheel cover provides excellent hand protection year-round, as it stays warmer than most materials in the winter but won’t get as hot as black surfaces in the summer.
4. Seat Hooks
Seat hooks are small plastic hooks that attach just under your car’s headrests and hold jackets, hats, and other accessories. They usually come in packs of two or four so you can use them on both sides of your backseat, or even flip one around and use it on the passenger’s seat if you’re driving alone. Get hooks with wide, flat surfaces that distribute the weight of the jacket or purse evenly. Cheaply made hooks with thinner surfaces could wear on your seat’s fabric, especially if they’re leather.
5. Power Adapters
Car chargers and adapters for phones, GPS systems, and other electronics often use the same standard car adapter plug. Since many cars now have several USB charger slots available, you can rely less on a traditional car charger, but it’s wise to keep at least one as a backup if the USB slots are full.
Many newer cars have 12V outlets designed for standard wall plugs in their backseat, making it easier to use laptop chargers and various other charger types on the go. However, most cars only have one such outlet, which can be a hassle if you’re moving a car full of people. You can buy special adapters that allow you to plug 12V plugs into the standard car charger slot. Many also include an additional USB slot for maximum versatility with today’s technology.
6. Car Cover
Snow, ice, UV rays, hail, sea salt, and debris can all wear on your car within the first few months of buying it. After several years, this damage can significantly reduce your car’s resale value by damaging its paint job. Although you can buff and polish out minor scratches, it’s much better to prevent this damage from occurring.
Car covers are essential when keeping your car outside for any length of time and help protect it when stored indoors. Even minor scratches from a bicycle or other objects stored in the garage are a potential hazard. Indoor car covers are made of an even softer material than outdoor covers, providing excellent protection.
Get a custom car cover for the best fit possible and stronger protection. Semi-custom covers are a solid choice for families on smaller budgets since they still fit snugly and don’t blow off easily in the wind. Avoid universal car covers, as these don’t provide as much protection from ice, snow, dirt, and rodents.
7. Car Cover Straps and Locks
Although most car covers stay in place well on their own, car cover straps help hold it more securely. These large bungee cords with clips on each end hold your car cover down even during strong gusts of wind.
Anywhere in the U.S. can experience powerful gusts of wind, especially during winter or summer storms. Even if you don’t think you’ll use these straps every day, keep them in your trunk or glove compartment for when the forecast calls for storms or windy conditions.
Also get a car cover strap with a lock on it for long-term storage or even overnight storage. It helps prevent vandalism and theft, especially for older classic cars that don’t have built-in anti-theft protection.
8. Custom Floor Mats
Your car likely came with floor mats, but upgrading to better ones is a great way to protect your investment. Floor mats without gaps between each section are best for keeping dirt and crumbs from getting caked into your carpet. Like car covers, floor mats are available in custom sizes for different models. Waterproof synthetic leather fits your car’s exact size gives your floor much better protection without compromising aesthetics.
When upgrading your floor mat, get one with a non-skid base for optimal support and safety while driving. CarCovers.com has a full range of customization options for your floor mats. Our Platinum Shield Floor Mats feature a non-skid base that keeps the surface from moving even while you’re climbing in and out of the car. The diamond pattern attracts and traps debris so that you can simply detach the mat and shake it outside the car to clean. The side walls provide 360° protection for your car carpets, and the snap locks keep the mats in place.
9. Waterproof Seat Cover
Most car owners are careful about their car’s inside, even if they don’t have a luxury vehicle or leather seats. Although seat covers are an excellent idea for everyday use, some prefer not to use them because they can get bunched up or objects can even get stuck underneath them. However, car owners should keep a waterproof seat cover on hand. Whether you’re moving food to a family get-together or hauling a muddy pet to the vet’s office, a waterproof cover comes in handy.
10. Snow Brush
Even a thin dusting of snow can cause visibility problems as soon as you pull out of your driveway, and larger amounts can even land you a fine. Instead of relying on your coat sleeve to brush snow off, get a snow brush to keep in your garage and an additional one to keep in your car trunk. Even if you have a garage, you might need the snow brush after work or any period the car is outside. A car cover is still vital for protecting your car from the elements, but a snow brush helps remove heavy snow from the top of the cover.
11. Ice Scraper
Snow brushes are fantastic for light to heavy snow, but, once there’s a layer of ice on top of or under the snow, removal becomes a lot more difficult. Ice scrapers are usually made of plastic and have an angled head that can remove even the thickest ice layers. Since ice scrapers can scratch your car if misused, it’s still best to use a car cover over the car itself, and then use the ice scraper to loosen ice that freezes to the cover.
12. Microfiber Cloths
Both the inside and outside of your car need careful cleaning to keep grime and debris from building up. Using the softest cleaning cloths possible gives your car the best possible chance of staying in like-new condition, maximizing its resale value. Microfiber cloths are one of the best options for cars of all makes and models because of their superior softness. Their ultra-fine fibers attract dust and dirt, leaving surfaces clean after just one wipe. They’re perfect for detailing and drying, too, so stock up on them to keep your car looking perfect.
13. Trunk Organizer
Instead of letting objects roll and slide around your trunk, it’s best to put them in a box or container. You can get a soft-sided trunk organizer to safely store groceries, emergency supplies, or anything else you want to keep in your trunk for a short or long time. Trunk organizers come in multiple sizes but typically aren’t custom-fit for your car model. However, they usually come with straps to tie them down, so they’ll stay in place even when filled with heavy objects that might slide around.
14. Console Side Pocket
Although luxury cars often have plenty of storage in the center console, sometimes items can fall down the gap between the seats and the console. You can expand your storage capacity and close this gap with a console side pocket. Console side pockets are available in driver-side and passenger-side configurations for maximum comfort and ease of use. Even if you don’t need one every day, they come in handy during long car rides and road trips.
15. Car Safety Kit
A basic set of screwdrivers, sockets, pliers, jumper cables, and other safety tools are essential if you can’t get a car repair service to your location quickly. Keep all the essentials in one place inside your car to ensure you can find things when you need them.
Purchasing a pre-made car safety kit is the best way to keep everything tidy and organized since mismatched tools and accessories are hard to fit into one neat toolbox. When putting your new safety kit in your car, check your car’s spare tire and ensure it is at the right tire pressure. Keep a larger kit in your garage or workshop, too, so you can tackle any problems before you hit the road.
16. Escape Tracks
Escape tracks are durable plastic mats that drivers place under their tires to get out of snow, ice, mud, or anything else that their car has gotten stuck in. They are not intended to be used over long distances, but they can be an immense help if your car spins out and ends up in a snowy ditch.
Although you’re unlikely to need them if you live in an area that never drops below freezing, they also help in mud. Since they take up so little space in your car, they’re well worth keeping in your trunk.
If you live in an area that gets heavy snow, consider getting snow chains as well. Some states even require them in certain weather, although this is more likely for very large vehicles.
Hitting the Road Fully Prepared
Whether you have just one or two cars or a collection of classics, your cars deserve the best care and accessories possible. The goal is to protect your investment and make it more enjoyable for everyday use.
CarCovers.com makes it easy to pick out your semi-custom or custom car cover with our convenient online search tool. Our covers receive stellar reviews from satisfied buyers with a massive range of car makes and models. Pair one of our covers with a floor mat to cover the parts of your car that need protection the most.