Numerous devices are available
to keep you and your passengers from
crying, “Are we there yet?”
Satellite radio. Proponents of
satellite radio proclaim it the answer to
all broadcast woes. It offers crystal-clear
reception, little or no advertising, a wide
variety of programming and no censorship. The current major program
providers, Sirius and XM, offer more than
100 channels of music, talk, news,
weather and sports.
DVD players. While some cars may
already include an on-board DVD player
as an option, there’s no need to go
without if your vehicle didn’t come with
one. Overhead entertainment units are
available from costco.com, some with
installation included. Portable, handheld DVD players can be purchased at
costco.com and in the warehouse, with
no installation required.
The term “radar detector” is used as an umbrella category for devices that
sense when signals are being aimed at your vehicle. There are varying technologies today, radar being only one of them, but the name has become part
of the vernacular.
There is a wide range of detectors using different technologies and
features, depending on price. Some are designed to detect any type of signal,
while others are dedicated to one technology or another. Some offer audio as
well as visual alerts. Some include additional tools, such as a compass or a
memo voice recorder. Some make claims that don’t hold up upon testing. It is
wise to do a little research before buying.
While the primary intent of these devices is to alert the driver that law
enforcement is monitoring the speed of passing traffic, they are legal in
most of the United States, except Virginia and Washington, D.C. Restrictions
on the types of detectors that are acceptable exist in several states. Because
the technology used by police is keeping pace with the technology available to
drivers, you might want to be aware of any restrictions to be sure you’re not
caught breaking the law in more ways than one. Of course, the easiest way to
avoid a speeding ticket is to not go over the speed limit.
Many cars today offer keyless remote entry as a standard feature.
However, if you have an older model and would like this feature but aren’t
ready to buy a new car, check out the range of kits on the market. If you have
mechanical automotive expertise, you may be able to install one yourself. If
not, your neighborhood mechanic may be able to do the task in as little as one
to two hours. Your car should have power door locks in order for this to work.
Keyless entry systems come in different varieties. Some merely open the
doors. Others are tied to alarm systems, anti-theft engine cutoff and remote
starters. What will work in any particular car is tied to the functionality of the
vehicle. For instance, remote trunk-opening capability cannot be used with
cars that have mechanical trunk openers as opposed to electronic openers.
Portable power supply
There’s nothing worse than jumping in your car to go somewhere, turning
the key and having nothing happen. The battery is dead. Even if you have
jumper cables, there’s no guarantee a willing jumper will be available. If you
belong to an automotive association, you can call for roadside assistance,
then wait an hour for a repair truck to arrive.
Rather than leave your fate in the hands of random strangers, rechargeable portable power units are available for anywhere from around $50 up
to stow in the trunk for such an emergency. These units all allow you to
jump-start your car. Many offer additional capabilities, such as air compressors, which allow you to pump your tires and sports equipment; emergency
lights; and radios. The units may be recharged at home or in your auto.
If you’re an avid camper, portable units usually can also power other
devices, such as televisions, camcorders, laptops and cell phones. No need
to completely rough it!