We’re in the modern era of smart cars that come with cool features such as Wi-Fi, vehicle app integration, voice commands, and dashboard consoles with Android or Apple OS. But if you drive an old car, it probably didn’t come with any of those cool features you find in most new cars today.
However, it’s possible to make your dumb car smart with the right gadgets. How can it be done?
1. Install a Remote Tracker With OBD
Most cars nowadays can be tracked or monitored through an app. However, if your old car doesn’t have that option, you can install a remote GPS tracker with OBD diagnostics that can be paired with an app. Ideally, you should be looking for a small GPS tracker that would be inconspicuous in your car.
The best GPS trackers are also designed with long battery life and a strong signal. Of course, the dedicated GPS tracker should be compatible with your Android or iOS smartphone, so you can easily track your car’s location in real-time through the app. Besides that, most apps paired with GPS trackers will compile a report of your driving habits, including acceleration, braking, and speed.
If you’re looking for the best car tracker, we recommend Hum by Verizon since it can monitor your vehicle’s condition through the OBD reader and send you an alert in case something needs your attention. For instance, if you’re involved in an accident, Hum by Verizon will automatically send an alert to your loved ones and request emergency assistance. The gadget also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, a Bluetooth speaker, and a car charger, and it is handy for keeping tabs on your new teenage driver.
2. Update the Stereo System
Most smart cars nowadays are designed with stereos that can support apps like Android Auto, Apple Car Play, or MirrorLink, which make it possible to integrate your smartphone with your car’s infotainment system. If your old car doesn’t support smartphone-to-vehicle integration apps, you can update your stereo system.
If you want to use Android Auto, you can consider specific stereo models from reputable brands that can support it. Similarly, you can install aftermarket infotainment systems compatible with Apple Car Play. The same can be said about MirrorLink—you need to choose a compatible MirrorLink head unit.
However, when choosing an aftermarket stereo, you should consider a single unit that is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play and, if possible, it should also support MirrorLink. A head unit with a touchscreen will also give you more flexibility compared to an infotainment system controlled through physical buttons.
3. Install a Headrest Monitor
If you drive a car with back seats, you can install a headrest monitor to entertain your back passengers. There are plenty of headrest monitors available on Amazon that you can purchase and install in your car.
For the best headrest monitors, you should consider a 14-inch IPS screen with 4K resolution and Android TV. In addition, the best headrest monitors come with HDMI ports just in case you want to play video games in your car.
However, headrest monitors can be labor-intensive to install since you need to connect wires and tuck them away. Then again, most headrest monitors are sold with mounting brackets and installation manuals.
Alternatively, you can buy a headrest tablet mount holder to support your tablet device on the backseat. A tablet is easier to install than a headrest monitor since it doesn’t require wiring—but it can be inconvenient if you need to recharge it after a few hours.
In addition, you can set up a smartphone mount on your dashboard, so you can easily access your phone.
4. Use Voice Assistant
If you don’t want to get distracted while driving, you should use voice commands to keep your hands on the steering wheel.
If you’ve installed a stereo system that supports Android Auto, you can use Google Assistant for voice commands while you’re driving. Another option is to activate Google Assistant Driving Mode if you’ve mounted an Android smartphone on the dashboard. However, there are differences between Google Assistant Driving Mode and Android Auto that you should be aware of before buying.
On the other hand, a stereo system that is compatible with Apple CarPlay can use Siri for voice commands. Alternatively, you could mount your iPhone on the dashboard and use Siri while driving.
For starters, you can download and install the Amazon Alexa app on your car’s head unit with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay—just like you can install it on your Android or iOS smartphone.
But if you want the best experience while you’re driving, you should use Echo Auto in your car. Echo Auto is a small device that features Alexa, and it comes with Auto Mode, which can be used while you’re behind the wheel.
5. Install Monitor Cameras
If you want to record everything while you’re driving, just in case you get into an accident, you should consider installing monitor cameras on your car. You can install two types of monitor cameras in your vehicle—a dash cam and a backup camera. A dash cam records everything in front of you while you’re driving, and a backup camera records the blind spot behind your car to help you reverse.
If you can’t afford a new dashcam, you could mount your old smartphone on the dash to record videos. But to pull it off, you must install dash cam apps on your smartphone. As for the backup camera, you need to buy and install it using the right tools.
It’s Easy to Make Your Dumb Car Smart
Upgrading your old car with the latest technology is not that complicated. At the bare minimum, you need to install remote trackers, a stereo system, and monitor cameras that can be integrated with smartphone apps. If you want to go the extra mile, you can install 4K resolution headrest monitors to play video games in your car.
But if you don’t want to blow your budget, you can mount your Android or Apple smartphone on the dashboard and use it while driving.