Must-have accessories for my car?
November 27, 2006 4:07 PM   Subscribe

What are some must-have accessories for my new car?

I just got a 2005 Mazda3, and the previous owner left me with a few extras: The first is an extra-large dimming rear-view mirror, which allows me to see not only everything clearly out of my back window, but also my blindspots if I shift slightly. The other is a bottle of RainEx, which makes rain glide right off the windshield (I barely need to use my wipers at all).

For their price, both of these have greatly improved the quality of driving for me. What else is out there that can make my driving experiences better without breaking my bank? (Already have a navigation system!)
posted by Ekim Neems to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
A flashlight, a set of jumper cables, and a set of flares or long orange glowsticks.

I know your car is new and reliable, so you'll never need them, but you never know when you'll stumble across a desirable member of the appropriate sex who needs a hand. :)

I love my sheepskin seatcovers too, but that's a matter of personal taste (and good ones aren't cheap)
posted by toxic at 5:38 PM on November 27, 2006

Get a tire pressure guage, and check your pressure every few weeks. Badly inflated tires are at worst dangerous, and at best cost you money in lower gas mileage and faster tread wear.

Get a little air compressor that plugs into your cigarette lighter - nice for a quick pressure boost when you find your tires are low. Better than paying $.50 or whatever at a gas station.

Get a decent lug wrench. The kind that are plus-shaped. The ones that come with cars these days basically suck, and the first time you have to change a tire and deal with lugs that were tightened with an air wrench, you'll be glad to have to extra torque to get them off.

Get some kind of emergency kit, or put one together yourself, which includes a flashlight and a multi-bit screwdriver, an emergency blanket if you live in a cold climate, and a little first aid kit.

Those are all pretty affordable accessories that are great to have. You can get them at any auto parts store.
posted by autojack at 5:39 PM on November 27, 2006

Some kind of trash receptacle.
posted by kmel at 5:49 PM on November 27, 2006

Rocket launcher. It's the "must have" accessory for the season.

Ok seriously: Stuff I keep in my car all the time:

First Aid kit...and not a couple of bandaids...a real trauma kit. They cost about $50 - $75...and are literally a lifesaver if you (or anyone else), gods forbid, need it.

A silvered thermal blanket that still stays warm even if wet.

Jumper Cables

A "Call The Police" banner. Usually part of any good Roadside Assistance kit...which you should also have.

Pressure gauge, screwdriver, and a real lug wrench. (Makes a handy weapon too...)

I didn't know there were air compressors that would work from the cig lighter...but now, I have to have one.
posted by dejah420 at 6:01 PM on November 27, 2006

Since this is a "previously owned" new car, if you didn't get the original owner's manual, you may want to purchase one.
posted by SPrintF at 6:30 PM on November 27, 2006

Spare key. A magnetic or velcro spare key holder to hide the key somewhere on your car. You won't know what an incredible relief it is to have one until you finally use it.

I didn't know there were rocket launchers that would work from the cig lighter... but now, I have to have one.
posted by klarck at 6:37 PM on November 27, 2006

If it exists, get the Haynes manual for it.
posted by Katravax at 6:42 PM on November 27, 2006

Good to keep a disposable camera in the car in the event of a fender bender or small accident to show damage at the time of the incident rather than what will be claimed in a week when the insurance battles begin.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:15 PM on November 27, 2006

A small AC adapter can come in really handy.

And I love the "magic duster" things -- made out of yarn infused with some dust-attracting substance. A quick sweep of the dash & console every couple of weeks keeps dust & grime from building up in all the nooks & crevices.
posted by Tubes at 7:28 PM on November 27, 2006

an ash tray?
posted by brandz at 8:05 PM on November 27, 2006

posted by oxford blue at 8:18 PM on November 27, 2006

On the freeway every so often is a ugly burn spot on the shoulder, where some ones car caught fire, so have a fire extinguisher under the seat.
posted by hortense at 8:29 PM on November 27, 2006

A remote starter is nice for the winter months, have your car warmed up before you step outside. Wastes a little gas, but it's a nice luxury. (Easier and safer if your car has an automatic transmission than a manual one.)

Window tint, if it's legal in NJ, is really nice. In the summer, it keeps your car cooler. In the winter, when the sun is at a low angle all day long, it keeps you from being blasted by harsh light whenever you drive. (Except, of course, you don't tint your front windshield.)

Radar detectors, if you have a problem with speeding tickets. I have the Valentine 1, which is pricey, but the best one you can get.

Upgrading your headlights to the HID (high intensity discharge) type can be nice if you do a lot of night driving. It costs a few hundred dollars, typically, but should give you much better visibility at night.

Others have mentioned some of the preparedness items, which may come in handy some day: flashlight, pressure gauge, blanket, jumper cables, hand tools.

Most importantly, just do the routine stuff that will make your car last. Change the oil and oil filter every 5000 to 7000 miles. Wash the salt off your car in the winter as often as possible, and wax it twice a year with a quality wax product (i.e. Meguiar's, 3M). Whenever it rains, the water should bead up into little balls on the paint. If it's not doing this, it's time for a new coat of wax. Change the other wear items (spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter) as often as the manual recommends. Keep up with the maintenance as soon as problems come up -- letting things go for a while and then being hit with a $1500 bill sucks. (i.e. brakes, tires, ...)
posted by knave at 8:43 PM on November 27, 2006

If your car looks even remotely new on the inside, invest in some floormats and maybe seatcovers - you'll love yourself for it later. Keeps the interior in great shape.

I agree with either a made-for-your-car hanging garbage bag or a plastic bag for the same purpose.

Also, I personally keep a stash of kleenex in my console. I have allergies, so YMMV.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:31 AM on November 28, 2006

posted by baker dave at 3:00 AM on November 28, 2006

A stick-on blind-spot mirror for your outside driver's mirror. It's saved me any number of times.

If you don't have a cell phone, an emergency phone set to call 911.

A wide elastic band that fits over your sun visor. It has no end of uses -- holding freeway toll tickets, maps, notes with local directions, shopping lists, pencils and pens.

A small flashlight for the glove compartment, and a cigarette-lighter-powered floodlight for the trunk.

I strongly agree on the need for a camera-in-a-box. After a fender-bender, take as many shots as you can. It's an incentive for honesty in an area that has almost none of it. Get one with a flash and replace it once a year to keep the batteries fresh. Also a pad of paper to take down information.

I also agree on a lighter-socket tire pump. It got me to a garage just a few days ago. Sears has inexpensive ones.

A largish (case-of-wine-size) cardboard or plastic box (or two) for the trunk. Keep tools, an ice scraper, a broom, rags, a tire pressure gauge, duct tape, about 25' of light rope, etc. in it.

Tire traction mats for getting out of snow or mud.

An old pair of gloves, to keep your hands clean when you go under the hood, and keep them warm for winter ice removal.

Polarized clip-on sunglasses. The polarization is important, since it blocks reflected glare.

A beach towel to keep yourself clean during a tire change.

A small (but not tiny) ViseGrip wrench, for loosening and tightening bolts.

A set of replacement fuses.

Touch-up paint to keep dings from rusting.

A spray can of WD-40 and another of WindEx. They soften paint, though, so wipe them off any paint after use. A spray can of white lithium grease for when doors get hard to close.

A couple of cheap pillows for trips.

A folding sun-shield that fits above the dashboard, for summer parking.

A fresh USA atlas.

And if the car is a cream-puff that you want to keep forever, think about an auxiliary oil pump, which you turn on for 20 seconds before you start the car. According to Tom and Ray Migliozzi, most engine wear happens when it's is turning over with no oil (which has drained to the bottom of the crankcase).
posted by KRS at 9:20 AM on November 28, 2006

A few pairs of pantyhose, with runs. They can be used as emergency belts, and will last long enough to get you a few miles.

I like a small pry bar that lives by my right foot, but that is a remnant of living in Massachusetts, where they have very odd rules about weapons. Tools, however, were a completely different matter.
posted by QIbHom at 1:38 PM on November 28, 2006

How about a cold air intake? It'll stretch your fuel econ a bit more, plus it gives you about five extra horses as a bonus.
posted by AdamOddo at 2:53 PM on November 28, 2006

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