Get the tech of a new car, without the price tag

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New car tech for less

By Sarah Lewis

High-spec connected cars are amazing but, sadly, we can’t all afford one. Luckily, the plethora of new car gadgets and accessories on the market means you don’t have to.

Here’s how to get all the tech of a new car for a fraction of the price.

Rear view camera

Amazing for seeing the blind spot behind your vehicle when parking and reversing, rear view cameras are at the top of many people’s wish list when it come to in-car tech.

Luckily, these cameras are no longer the reserve of new or luxury cars.

Self-installation kits are available from around £25. If you’re not confident setting one up yourself, wireless versions can  be found online for around £50*.

Dash cam

Not only do dash cams provide peace of mind for cautious drivers, the footage can provide valuable evidence if you’re in an accident or are the victim of a crash for cash scam – a known trick where drivers crash deliberately in order to make a fraudulent insurance claim.

There’s a huge range on the market, priced anywhere from £25 to £500. But why buy one when you can get one for free?

Aviva has launched a new dash cam feature on the free Aviva Drive app. Download the app, attach it to a cradle on your dashboard and you’re ready to go. Cleverly, the app only keeps a recording when it detects a bump or accident, so as not to use up precious memory on your phone.

If that’s not reason enough to give it a go, the app monitors driving, rewarding safe drivers with a discount when they renew their motor insurance.

Headrest DVD players and tablets

Treat your back-seat passengers to the entertainment system of a luxury SUV by attaching a tablet or portable DVD player to a headrest mount.

Mounts can be bought online for under £10 — just make sure the one you buy will fit your particular device.

Download any films before you set off and, if you’re using a streaming service, check if there are any restrictions for how much you can watch in advance.

If you’re watching films then headphones are a must, and don’t forget to take a charger.

Connect your phone

We don’t need to tell you that using your phone while driving is dangerous, not to mention illegal, which is why hands-free and voice recognition systems are so popular.

Systems like Android Auto and Apple Play let you connect your smartphone to the car’s dashboard and speakers so you can stream music through the car’s speakers and see messages and apps on your dash.

Android Auto and Apple Play are still fairly new to the motor industry, and although you can retrofit these systems, there are less expensive ways you can integrate your phone with your car.

Connect your phone to your car via Bluetooth to play music via your speakers. To display messages on your dashboard as well as see navigation, speed and fuel consumption information, a heads up display (HUD) might appeal. They work using the car’s OBD port (used to electronically diagnose problems). Your car should have one if it’s under 10 years old.

In-car WiFi

A connected car is one with a link to the internet, usually by a modem embedded within the car. While some new cars come with in-built WiFi, most won’t.

An easy and inexpensive way around this is to connect to the internet by using your smartphone as a hotspot (you might have to pay extra to your network provider for this). If you don’t want to drain your phone’s data allowance, a mobile WiFi hotspot that plugs in to your car is a wise choice.

Prices start from around £30*, but what you get for your money varies widely so make sure you research data plans before you buy. If you don’t want to receive a surprise bill, opt for one with the first year’s data included or choose a pay-as-you-go deal.

*prices correct as of June 2018

And what the accessories can’t do…

Some features of new cars simply can’t be replicated by a low-cost accessory.

Modern safety features can be invaluable – like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology, which detects obstacles in front of the car and brakes automatically to prevent a crash.

Thatcham Research estimates that AEB could save around 1,100 lives and 122,860 casualties in the UK over the next 10 years.

Steve Ashford, Head of Underwriting at Aviva, says: “Cars fitted with this technology are significantly less likely to have an accident and, where they do, any impact with other vehicles is reduced. This means less damage and more importantly, less chance of injury. As a result, AEB will lower the cost of your insurance.

“We expect it to become standard fit in the majority of new cars over the next 5 to 10 years.”

Other features you won’t get unless you’re buying a new, eye-wateringly expensive car are autopilot settings, voice command and self-parking technology. All intended to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable.

But it’s important not to rely solely on the technology, warns Ashford: “In-car tech can be an aid to driving, but drivers should understand its limitations and how it can be used in accordance with UK traffic laws.

“Regardless what features your car possesses, it’s important to remain vigilant and in control of the vehicle at all times.”

This is a sponsored article from Aviva