Stuff We Use: Add-On In-Car Tech


stuff we use add on in car tech

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have deployed in our travels. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.


Looking critically at that headline, it’s probably the most hyphenated string of words used to date in this series. But there’s a good reason for it. Many of our readers, and most of the staff around here, have numerous old-school hoopties in their fleet – hoopties which can benefit from an injection of modern communication technology.

Sure, we know there are plenty of luddites out there who recoil at the thought of any vehicle newer than several decades old squatting in their driveway, shuddering at the thought of OBDII diagnostics and weeping at the image of fuel injectors being involved in firing their heap to life in the morning. We also know that wide swaths of the general public accept that there’s a bit of room for some measure of modernization.

stuff we use add on in car tech

 Starting in the cabin, of course. Save for the most ardent traditionalist who eschews modern conveniences in favor of manual brakes and a starter handle, many of us buy the argument that a skiff of updates aimed at the smart utilization of a device can earn a place in one’s car. Sure, we advocate for remaining hands-free whilst on the road but simple adapters which turn a 12V outlet into a pair of USB ports mean users can now charge their device in their hooptie so it’s ready to go upon hitting the destination.

stuff we use add on in car tech


A well-worn Ford Super Duty from the 2007 model year darkened my driveway just this past weekend, and while the thing had more duct tape on its seats than the entire HVAC system in a high-rise building, USB ports just like these units were neatly plugged into the 12V socket hilariously labelled ‘POWER OUTLET’ by Ford nearly twenty years ago. Like so many others of its type, the charger didn’t stick out from the dash beyond an extra fraction of an inch, beating the tar out of ones which protrude like a sore thumb.


This author has also installed a few of these types of USB ports in a variety of rigs, preferring them to the one above since they are hardwired into the car. Designed for environments such as off-road or marine applications, the package comes with decent eyelet connectors and fusible links in the off-chance something goes incredibly awry. Alert readers will note the cover (marine apps, ‘member) and handy on/off button so the thing doesn’t drain a battery in the long term. Finally, the so-called QC 3.0 charging technology permits charging speeds much better than that found in most other units of this type.

stuff we use add on in car tech


Not that anyone needs the corporate behemoth that is Amazon listening in on our lives any more than it already does, but we did see the company’s Echo Auto product in action whilst tagging along in a vehicle used for the occasional Uber fare. Paired to a burner smartphone which was linked to throwaway accounts for the likes of music and maps, the Echo Auto did prove useful for quick utterances which reliably summoned directions or some form of audio entertainment. The device seemed solid enough to endure the rigors of life in a car and its associated cabling was long enough to hide out of the way and not look like a home-based hack job of an install.


This unit had a strong magnet on its anterior side which locked it in place to a small lozenge-shaped mount which itself was stuck to the dashboard with double-sided tape. We’ll check back to see if the tape damaged the dash after its inevitable removal. We’re still not totally sold on the idea of providing a ton of info (burner-based or otherwise) to Amazon in exchange for a bit of convenience, but must concede the device can have its advantages on a bust Uber night.

stuff we use add on in car tech


As planned, this series of posts will continue to focus on items we have actually used instead of randomly plucking products from the ether of Amazon. We hope you found this one helpful.

[Images: Manufacturers]

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