Good as new: the best aftermarket car parts

Give your used car the latest tech, with our pick of the best aftermarket car parts including digital radio and Wifi hotspots

Leon Poultney
Nov 23, 2016

Great value doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the latest technology.

While brand new cars increasingly come with digital radio, sat-nav and WiFi, there’s a huge fleet of used cars on the road that even lack Bluetooth so that you can wirelessly connect your phone with your car.

That’s where aftermarket accessories come in, which bring your second-hand car up to date for a fraction of the cost of a new model.

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Fitting a digital radio and Bluetooth costs around £100; you can have some fitted by a professional so that they are fully integrated, or purchase products that you simply plug in yourself.

Here's our pick of the best in-car tech that will transform the tired family machine into a hi-tech motorway mile-muncher.

Best digital car radio and Bluetooth handsfree car kit Pure Highway 600

£149, Halfords 

This gizmo might be small, but it packs a technological punch. It's a digital radio adaptor that can receive the latest DAB radio stations and can also connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth. This allows you to make and receive hands-free phone calls, as well as stream your tunes, Spotify and other music services

There's no need to dismantle your dashboard and wire the unit into your vehicle (although you can if you want) because the small screen is powered by a couple of batteries and slots into an auxiliary (Aux) socket. If you don’t have have such a socket, then the Pure Highway 600 can also be set to transmit its output to your car’s stereo on a radio frequency.

It takes around 15-minutes to install, or it can be set up by a Halfords professional for an additional fee.



Best car wifi Car Wi-Fi from EE

£22 per month, EE

Plug this dongle into your 12-volt cigarette lighter and it's possible to turn any car into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, to which all occupants (apart from the driver) can connect their devices and stream movies, catch up on television and listen to Podcasts.

It does rely on having a mobile phone connection, so you can forget about catching up on EastEnders in the Outer Hebrides. Where there’s a fast 4G connection, though, you can connect up to ten devices.

You need to bear in mind that there are data allowances, just like on a smartphone. You’ll need a large plan if there’s going to be a lot of streaming going on.



Best aftermarket Apple Carplay system Pioneer SPH-DA120 Stereo with Apple CarPlay

£329, Halfords 

If your stereo looks like a relic from the 1990s, then you might want to bring it into the digital era with a touchscreen system that has Apple’s CarPlay system, which makes it easy to control your phone via the dashboard.

The Pioneer SPH-DA120 is the one to have, with a responsive 6.2in display. It will need to be professionally installed. Once in place, you can connect it to your smartphone wirelessly using Bluetooth and use it for handsfree calls or to stream music.

Apple smartphones can also be plugged into the device’s USB slot to increase the as a range of functions. You can access Spotify and iTunes, use Apple Maps for navigation and take advantage of Siri voice control to dictate text messages and access the calendar without taking your hands off the wheel.



Best sat-nav Garmin DriveLuxe 50LMT-D

£299.99, Garmin

Even now, sat-nav is an option on many cheaper cars, despite it being a gadget that car buyers look out for.

So there’s still a booming market in aftermarket systems that are getting ever-more sophisticated, such as this example from Garmin. The design is sleek and slim, while the maps look crystal clear on the premium 5in touchscreen display.

It comes with free traffic alerts and will also warn you when you’re coming up to sharp bends, school zones and speed limit changes.

But this sat-nav goes beyond directional duties and will also connect to your smartphone wirelessly using Bluetooth, so you can make hands-free calls through the unit.



Best sat-nav reversing camera
Garmin BC 30 Wireless Backup Camera


If you’ve already invested in a hi-tech Garmin sat-nav, like the one above, then you’re one step away from upgrading your car with a reversing camera too, to help relieve the stress of parking.

The BC 30 camera is fitted onto the rear bumper and wired into the car. It then transmits footage to a compatible Garmin sat-nav - which does need to be bought separately.

The unit does need to be professionally installed.



Best car coffee maker Handpresso Auto E.S.E


You might struggle if your coffee of choice is a decaf soya milk latte with a shot of caramel, but an in-car coffee maker can produce a decent cup of espresso that means you won’t have to settle for the sludge that’s served at lay-by burger vans.

It takes around three minutes to make a coffee with the Handpresso. You fill it up with water, plug it into your car’s 12v power outlet, add a fresh coffee pod and wait for the gadget to get to work.

Pouring can be a delicate business, so it’s not something that you could do from behind the wheel; you’ll either need to stop or leave it to a passenger.



Best in-car DVD player
Nextbase Car 9 Dual - 9" Dual Portable In-Car DVD Players

£179, Halfords

Typically available on only the most expensive vehicles, seat-back DVD players can be the difference between quiet, placated children in the back or a screaming rabble.

These slim-line dual DVD players come with a safe mounting system that clips onto the headrests of the front seats. From here, rear passengers can enjoy DVDs, as well as other media from the built-in USB and SD card slot, via wired or wireless headphones.

The twin screens do require a 12v power source, which most cars have, and can be synchronised so both rear passengers can enjoy the same film or TV show.



Best car phone holder 
Mpow Grip Pro 2 Dashboard Car Phone Holder


You don't have to go out and spend a small fortune to drag an older car's interior up to date, as a simple smartphone cradle and some snappy apps are all that most drivers ever need.

This mount from Mpow features almost endless adjustment possibilities, a two-step locking lever for added security and a smartphone grip unit that will fit almost any device.

From here, users can download apps like Waze (iOS and Android, £Free) for up-to-date mapping and navigational advice, or Google Maps (iOS and Android, £Free), which now gives turn-by-turn directions for effortless navigation.

If your car has Bluetooth, then your smartphone can be connected with the in-car entertainment system and used to stream songs, play podcasts or stream digital radio.



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