19 Useful Car Accessories That You Actually Need
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I remember how psyched I was to get my first car. It was synonymous with “absolute freedom,” even if the thing had a cassette player. Years later, I’m still grateful to have something with a working motor, but I’m all about the awesomely useful car accessories that you actually need — because you bet I’m still rocking that ’05 Hyundai, cassette player and all. After all, if you don’t necessarily have the funds for new wheels, you can always dress up the one you already have with the coolest car gadgets and other essential vehicle accessories.
What To Look For When Shopping For Useful Car Accessories
No matter what you drive, though, there are a few things that just about any car could use. An awesome gel-padded cushion can make your daily commute go a hell of a lot more smoothly (anyone up for some immense comfort?) — but there are also some brilliant products that ensure you’re always safe, prepared, and ready for anything that gets thrown at you while you’re on the road. If you’re looking to dress up your car with some of the coolest and most useful car accessories out there, look no further than these epic gadgets.
1. A Smart Car Charger That Helps You Locate Your Car In The Busiest Of Parking Lots
- Also available on Walmart, $27
Everyone has lost their car in a parking lot at one time or another, and most have spent precious time wandering around, beeping their keys in an attempt to find it. This smart car locator and USB charger has two USB ports to charge your phone while in the car (faster than other cigarette-lighter chargers, too), and it also doubles as a Bluetooth tracking device that you can access from your phone to hunt down your car.
Promising review: "Living in New York City with a car means moving the car on a regular basis several times a week for alternate side street cleaning. [...] Ever since I got my first ZUS a little under a year ago, my life has changed. No more trouble locating the car. Never. [...] This is the solution to one of the most annoying problems with owning a car in a major metropolitan city.”
2. A Phone Mount That Secures Your Device With A Magnet
To conveniently view your navigation without making any permanent additions to your car, there’s this magnetic air vent smartphone car mount. Boasting 23,000 perfect five-star ratings, it hooks onto your air vents without any installation, attaches to your phone with a super strong magnet, and swivels all different ways, so you can see the screen from any angle.
Promising review: "The unique "hook" design of the LISEN attach system looked to me to be a clever way to avoid pulling the holder out every time with the cell phone! And it worked! The system is adjustable to fit all sizes of vents. Plus it also has a swivel adjustment to position the desired phone angle! The magnet is strong and the phone is held securely in place.”
3. A Dashboard Grip Pad That Holds Your Phone, Keys & More
- Also available on Walmart, $23
This silicone grip pad requires zero installation — just place it on your dashboard, where you can store sunglasses, keys, and cables in dual compartments. The traction surface holds your small items securely, even if you hit a bump in the road or take a tight turn. Bonus: You can even use it to mount your phone, thanks to the smart tab that props it up at an angle.
Promising review: "I absolutely LOVE this dashboard grip pad; it does not have any sticky surface at all. Although there is a slight slant to my dash, this pad gripped the dash and did not budge during my 20+ hour drive in 2 days... no matter how many times I grabbed for one of my readers or sunglasses, etc. yet it is easy to move to another spot. This would work for holding your phone, change, whatever."
4. A Bluetooth Key Finder So You'll Never Lose Your Keys Again
Now that you’ve got a way to track down your car in a crowded lot, you need a way to track down your keys when they’re buried in the laundry. The Tile Bluetooth tracker attaches to your keys and syncs up to your phone, so you can use your device to ring them from anywhere. For even more functionality, the Tile also works in reverse; you can press the button on the small tag, and it’ll ring your phone — even if it’s on silent mode. It has a 4.6-star overall rating after 15,000 reviews, and is so lightweight, you won’t even notice it’s on your key ring.
Promising review: "Works great! Wife always losing her keys or phone. We end up searching the house, cars, backtracking the places we last visited. This little gem is the answer to all that. 400 feet range finds the keys or phone anywhere around the house. If you've left the keys someplace where the ring cannot be heard the app has a series of concentric circles that lets you know when you are getting close to the location of the misplaced item. It also has a function that tells you geographically where the item was the last time it was connected to the app."
5. A Car Trash Can That Contains Messes On The Go
Keep the granola bar wrappers out of the cupholders for good with this waterproof organizer that can double as a cooler. Hang it from the door, the seat back, or behind the center console, and never let gum wrappers and the like find new homes in your car's corners again. This is especially great for long road trips, where frequent garbage disposal stops are slim, and you'd rather not store fast food containers at your feet.
Promising review: "Way better than the old shopping bag I was using. This *actually* keeps garbage from piling up in my car. it's a really ideal size. for me, who drives 40 miles to and from work 5 days a week, it holds about 2 weeks worth of miscellaneous driving trash."
6. A Car Vacuum Cleaner That Keeps Your Car Clean & Fresh
- Also available on Walmart, $40
Ah, the inescapable layer of dust and the shredded tissues in your car cupholder. This car vacuum cleaner plugs into your 12-volt outlet to give you loads of cleaning power anywhere in your car — in fact it’s got a 16-foot cord, so you can reach all the way back to your cargo area. The vacuum comes with several interchangeable tools, including a brush head for carpet and upholstery, a flat-head hose for hard-to-reach spots, and an extension tube for cleaning under the seats.
Promising review: "This thing is awesome! I only a 2018 Dodge Durango that sadly does not have leather seats. I own three dogs and it is just a nightmare pulling out my extension cord to vacuum my truck. I can now just plug this little guy into my 12v car outlet and I’m good to go! The power in this vacuum is as good as it’s going to get for a car vacuum...”
7. A 3-Pocket Net That Keeps Groceries & Bags From Spilling Everywhere
How did shopping trips work before this three-pocket net? No clue, but now you won't be stressing over the sounds of spilled vegetables as you pull out of the parking lot. Three pockets keep items from shifting, and its built-in hooks make temporary installation in any car pretty easy.
Promising review: "It easily reaches across width of the truck bed and keep everything put into the three compartment areas from rolling around. I have used it to contain everything from potted plants to full 5-gallon water jugs.”
8. An FM Transmitter That Makes Any Car Bluetooth-Friendly
- Also available on Walmart, $26
For anyone without a Bluetooth hookup in their car, there’s this Bluetooth FM transmitter. Not only does it have a super fast USB charging port, but it can also be used to play music from your phone or MicroSD card. The built-in microphone allows you to make hands-free calls, and reviewers are raving because it’s compact, looks great, and works really well.
Promising review: "WOW. Took all of a minute and a half to unpack, setup, and listen to crystal clear music through my truck's vintage audio system. I looked into and compared this with a cassette option, and happy I did NOT go that direction. The less cables the better. Less clutter. [...] VERY impressive little connection option. I'd sure buy again if needed for any other older vehicle, and for sure highly recommend it to everyone with the desire for GREAT sounding tunes in vintage rigs.”
9. A Console Insert That Keeps Things From Falling Between The Seats
Bring a little organization to your car with this KMMOTORS console side pocket. Not only does it have a coin pocket and slot to collect all that loose change, but it has an extra cupholder (because sometimes you need water and coffee), as well as a slim pocket to hold your phone, wallet, keys, glasses, or anything else. It fits right between the seat and the console, and it’s sleek and convenient.
Promising review: "I have an Audi A4 and finding a gap organizer has not been easy. Some of them have been cheaply made and others were so wide that it took up an uncomfortable amount of space on the passenger seat . This product resolves both of these issues. Also, it has a removable coin container, which most others do not, and the cup holder looked sturdier than the others I've seen."
10. A Bamboo Charcoal Air Freshener Keep Your Car Smelling Naturally Fresh
This PURRGO car air freshener is one of the most effective options for getting rid of smells in your car. It’s made from 100% natural bamboo charcoal, which soaks up odors, moisture, and allergens quickly and efficiently. This one’s also got a slim shape and a built-in cord, which is designed to hang from the headrest. Last but definitely not least, it’ll work for over a year straight, so it’s a great, cost-effective investment.
Promising review: "I have two dogs that travel with me several times a week to and from various walking trails. Often they get into the car wet or muddy and that leaves an odor that later even I, with a bad nose, can smell. After one week with Purgggo in the vehicle I've noticed a huge difference and others have as well.”
11. A Seat Cushion That’ll Improve Your Ride Tenfold
To make your daily commute just a tad more enjoyable, there’s this Kieba coccyx seat cushion. It’s particularly innovative because it’s contoured to support your hips and tailbone, which helps to align your spine and promote great posture. Since it's made from memory foam, it keeps you supported and comfortable the whole ride, and the infusion of gel helps regulate temperature to keep you cool.
Promising review: "Very comfortable. I have a relatively late model car with all the extras yet the seats aren't comfortable after about an hour straight of sitting. The cushion make longer distance traveling comfortable."
12. A Car Jumper Set That's A Must-Have For Emergencies
This portable jump-starter might just be your absolute best friend in emergencies. Thanks to its powerful lithium polymer battery, it has the ability to jump-start via your car’s 12-volt outlet up to 20 times before needing to be recharged. What’s more, it has an integrated flashlight, so you can see in the dark, and built-in USB ports for charging your phone or tablet. In short, it’s one of the best things to keep in your trunk at all times.
Promising review: "My model of car is notorious for being a battery-drainer and I knew there would come a day I needed it. It is Christmas Eve and today was the day that I found a dead battery (of course, on a day I am not about to go get a new battery) but it was exactly zero problem because this Noco had me up and running in mere seconds with an instant start!”
13. A Brilliant Net That Secures Your Bag & Other Essentials
I know it sounds dramatic, but my life changed when I got myself a center console net; they stretch between your seats and provide a sling-like holder for your bag, so you can keep your passenger side empty, access your wallet in a second, and stop worrying that your purse will go flying every time you hit the brakes. The AMEIQ mesh organizer also has three built-in pockets for other essentials — plus it doubles as a way to keep your pet in the back seat while you drive.
Promising review: “I had to drive out of town unexpectedly and this was wonderful! I put my phone, print outs of directions, credit card and sunglasses in it and was able to easily reach items without having to dig through my purse while driving! An unexpected benefit of this is that it also got my dogs to stay in the front or backseat, normally they walk and jump back and forth between the seat whenever they want which could be dangerous. With this up they stayed where they were!”
14. A Windshield Treatment That Repels Water For Better Visibility
Even when your wiper blades are brand new, rain and snow can still limit your visibility. Rain X is an easy-to-use treatment that causes moisture to bead up and roll away effortlessly, so you can see much better in poor weather conditions. This pack of two has a 4.6-star rating overall and gives you enough formula for years of use.
Promising review: “Wipers, schmwipers; you can drive in a storm with no wipers for weeks if you use this product.”
15. A Steering Wheel Desk For Your Lunch Or Laptop
Some people use their cars to drive — and others use them as an impromptu cafeteria, workspace, and lounge. If you belong to the latter group, you’ll seriously appreciate this steering wheel desk. It’s a best-seller because it attaches to most standard steering wheels to give you a sturdy surface for eating, working, or playing around on your laptop. It’s also double-sided (one side has a pen spot and notebook board, while the other has a built-in cupholder), and it’s thin for easy storage.
Promising review: “This product is by far the most useful car accessory that I feel like everyone should get their hands on. It’s double sided, one for a small work station, and the other as a small tabletop to eat on. It’s sturdy enough to hold a combo meal, and to hold a MacBook Pro 13” (not simultaneously). Being a college student I spend quite some time in my car on my daily commute, and often times will have lunch in my car, or spend some time studying. This product has been nothing but a huge help.”
16. A Genius Gel That Makes It Easy To Clean Dust & Crumbs
- Also available on Walmart, $10
Gunk, crumbs, and dust all have a habit of accumulating in the hard-to-reach nooks of your car. No worries — this satisfying cleaning gel slime was specifically designed for detailing. Just squish it into your vents, cupholders, door handles, or media console, and it’ll pick up all the stuff that you can’t get with a rag or vacuum. It’s also reusable — just toss it once it turns a dark hue.
Promising review: “It’s funny how you can fall in love with a simple product like this. It’s perfect for the car for getting dirt and debris out from around the gearshift and cupholders in my car.”
17. A Set Of Cheap Blind-Spot Mirrors That Are A Breeze To Install
According to a few of the more than 14,000 reviewers, these little mirrors have prevented “many accidents” and “really help” with blind spots while merging or changing lanes. Just stick them on to your existing side mirrors using the self-adhesive pads, and their convex shape will help you to see a much wider range of objects behind and around your car. They’re also thin, frameless, and rotatable for different angles.
Promising review: “They're great parking mirrors for backing into tight spots or reversing around obstacles. The mirrors indeed look and feel like glass. [...] They survived a touch-free car wash and tons of rain. I applied Rain-X spray to them to keep raindrops from sticking. They're good parking mirrors and don't block my normal view at all, so I see no reason not to have them on my vehicle.”
18. A Snow & Ice Cover That Seriously Cuts Down On Scraping Your Windshields
- Also available on Walmart, $16
If you live in a place that gets snow and don’t have a garage, reviewers swear the FrostGuard windshield cover is “absolutely the best thing,” eliminating the need to brush off snow and scrape off ice in the morning. Two flaps on the sides of the cover tuck into your car’s doors for secure placement, and there’s dedicated protection for side mirrors and windshield wiper blades. There are integrated poles on both sides of the cover — this provides sturdiness, so you can easily lift off and away, even when there are piles of wet snow on top. Choose from three sizes to fit most vehicles.
Promising review: “I bought this just before we got hit with 18" of snow. When I took it off I was surprised at how clear the windshield was - no frost - nothing! I used it again since when no snow was coming but wanted to see how it would do with just cold temps where the windshield would normally frost - again, no frost. I didn't really plan on using the mirror covers, but did on my first use and it was really nice to have the mirrors clear, too.”
19. A USB-Powered Humidifier/Essential Oil Diffuser For Your Car
Finally, there’s this ultrasonic essential oil diffuser. It’s a humidifier and an aromatherapy device diffuser in one, so you can add moisture into the air and reap the benefits of scents like lavender, lemongrass, or peppermint while you’re on the go. Unlike many other top-selling diffusers, though, this one is designed for the car. It’s USB-powered, leak-resistant, and shaped to fit inside most cupholders — plus, it has a few mist settings and a color-changing mood light.
Promising review: “This is so amazing I have to drive a lot for work and seriously this helps the air not feel so dry and I love using essential oils. Make my car smell great. I also like that you can use the color feature or leave it off.”
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