It’s your car. Your kid carrier. Your mobile office. Your coffee spot. Your grab-dinner-on-the-fly-and-head-to-the-ballfield/yoga/PTA meeting space. Our vehicles take a lot of abuse and how do we repay them? With a car wash? A regular oil change (I hope)? An occasional deep cleaning down to the floor mats? If you spend much time in your car, you likely have your own favorite gadgets that make the commutes easier and the traffic jams more fun. (O.K., maybe not fun.)
I’ve rounded up 37 must-have products for those of us who spend a lot of time in our cars. Everything from coasters to protect your cup holders and floor mats to safeguard your floors to lights that dress things up and a travel tumbler that both warms and cools your beverage (but, not at the same time). So, whether you’re the driver (driver picks the music!), the passenger or a backseat driver, sift through these three dozen gadgets that’ll elevate your drive from “basic” to “blissful.”
You will love our editor’s curated product picks! FYI: We are an Amazon affiliate partner and may get a share of the sale of your purchase (at no cost to you).
Add Some Color To Your Commute
Who says a ride in the car has to be boring? Banish “boring” with these interior smart lights that you can control with a corresponding smartphone app. Not only can you customize light effects and access up to 16 million colors, but you can sync the light show to your favorite tunes so the colors and light speeds change with the beat. If that isn’t a party on wheels, I don’t know what is.
A Foaming Cleanser That Gets Your Upholstery Super Clean
It’s a scientific fact that a clean car drives better … and by science, I mean my own personal opinion. Regardless, you’ll always find me at a car wash just before I’m headed out of town. A clean car is a happy car. This foaming citrus cleaner works on the inside of your car — cloth, carpet, and upholstery — to lift stains and remove odors.
Don’t Desk And Drive
Does your driver’s seat double as an office chair? If so, you need this steering wheel desk. You can’t use it when you’re driving, obviously (please don’t do that), but it’s the perfect solution for laptop space or, say, a dinner table for your burger and fries on the road. It’s very light to tote around or store when not in use, but sturdy enough to stand up to your furious email sending.
Put Your Foot Down On These Mats
If you’ve been looking for a more reasonably-priced alternative to Weathertech floor mats, meet your new BFF. This four-piece set will only run you about $33 and will provide heavy-duty all-weather protection throughout your ride. It’s a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon with more than 47,500 reviews and counting. If they’re not an exact fit, you can trim them to your vehicle’s needs.
Dash Off To Get This Dash Cam
Safeguard your car and yourself with your very own dash cam, available to you from Amazon without breaking your bank. This dashcam features a large screen and a wide-angle lens to capture up to four lanes of traffic. It also features a built-in sensor that detects when a crash has occurred and locks in the video footage for you to retrieve later. Its seven important functions — loop recording, motion detection, on/off audio, license plate stamp, time stamp, auto power-off, screen saver, and burst photo will cover all your needs.
These Sponges De-Fog Your Windshield With One Swipe
Driving with a fogged-up windshield isn’t just annoying; it’s dangerous. Enter these nifty little de-fogging sponges. Simply get one wet, slide it across the underside of your windshield, and like magic, it will become crystal clear. Because actually being able to see where you’re going is a good thing, right?
Charge Everything On The Go
I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest struggles for me on the road is not having enough juice to charge all the electronics I travel with. Between a phone, tablet, or laptop, e-reader and smartwatch, I always have more chargers than ports. This power inverter offers exactly the extra charging capabilities that I need, with two AC outlets and two additional USB ports.
Put Some Humor In Your Ride
Not all car accessories have to be functional; sometimes, you just need fun! Your passengers will get a chuckle out of this cigarette lighter replacement that says “Fire Missiles” on it in bright red. Designed to fit a 12-volt lighter, it’s made of anodized aluminum. But, enough about that. The real star here is the messaging on the front, which will leave your riders wondering whether you’re going to unleash fury at any moment. (Missiles not included.)
Harness The Power of Alexa In Your Auto
You no longer have to leave Alexa at home. Now, she can be your ride or die for all your road adventures. Echo Auto connects to the Alexa app on your phone and projects the sound through your car’s speaker system. Ever have to yell at your Alexa at home? (Just me?) No worries here; Echo Auto was designed especially for your vehicle and can hear you above the radio, road noise, and even kids yelling in the backseat.
Get Your Trash Off The Floor With This Portable Trashcan
We’ve all got that one friend whose floorboards look like a miniature landfill. (If you don’t have that friend, you are that friend.) It doesn’t have to be that way, though! This portable trash can holds more than two-and-a-half gallons of garbage and is easy to stash anywhere thanks to its design. Flip-up the lid and toss in your trash. The exterior storage pockets are a nice bonus feature.
You’ll Love Cleaning Your Dash With This Goop
I clean my car a lot: At home, at the car wash, at red lights. This cleaning gel that’s reminiscent of slime adds a fun component to an otherwise monotonous task. Just press it into your vents and console panels or onto steering wheels, storage bins, cup holders, door handles, dashboards, and more, and watch the dirt get sucked right up. You might even enjoy cleaning with this one.
A Place To Stash Your Stuff
Lots of cars come with storage trays and cubby holes where you can stash your lip balm, coins, phone, gum, keys, and other pocket essentials — and some don’t. This anti-slip dash grip pad tray is a great solution if you don’t have those storage options in your center console or if you just need more space for your stuff. There’s no installation required so you can move it and re-use it over and over.
Organize Your Bags and Purse With These Handy Hooks
Get your hooks into these headrest hooks and get your prized handbag or gym tote off the floor and out of the way. Sold in a set of four, you’ll have two hooks per headrest and you can stop worrying about your groceries or cosmetics spilling out of their bags and rolling around in your floorboard. Ever lost a perishable item in your car this way? Trust me, after about a week in the sun, you’ll be tearing your car apart to find “that smell.”
Head’s Up! Watch Your Speed (Literally)
I’ve always loved vehicles that have the speedometer projection right in your line of sight on your windshield, but alas, not all vehicles come with this cool and helpful feature. This head-up display not only gives you your speed but your RPM, temperature, voltage, mileage, and more. A plug-and-play unit with no tricky installation, it encourages you to keep your eyes on the road.
This Mini Vac Is Vehicle-Perfect
Why haul out a bulky hand vac or make a stop to use the giant vacuums at your closest car wash when you can stash this portable cordless vacuum in your car at all times? Ultra-lightweight and powerful, this vac will grab fast food crumbs, pet hair, and dust quickly and easily. My favorite feature is its cordless design; you’ll get upward of 30 minutes per charge without the hassle of cords getting in your way.
Bring Organization To Your Trunk
This trunk organizer might be my not-so-secret favorite car accessory on this list. It attaches securely inside your trunk and is packed full of multiple compartments to help, say, your bread from getting crushed by your orange juice. When you’re not using that (not sure when that’s going to be!), it easily collapses for out-of-the-way storage. You’re going to want one for each vehicle, trust me.
A Magnet To Hold Your Smartphone
I love the idea of a magnetic dash mount, but every single one I’ve ever seen has a bulky magnetic component that you have to keep attached to your phone. Not so with this one. It features both an ultra-thin magnetic plate for your phone and an unobtrusive magnetic mount that’ll fit in various places along your dash. Reviewers rave about the strength of the magnets — even strong enough to hold a tablet!
Pack The Party In Your Own Portable Fridge
Pack the party with you, with your own portable mini-fridge that keeps your cold stuff cold and your hot stuff hot. Ideal for any on-the-go moment, it’s especially handy for tailgating, long road trips, or jobs that keep you out and about with no way to keep your food warm or chilled. Weighing in at only four pounds, it has a four-liter capacity. The uses are endless.
Try This Aromatherapy With Attitude
I’m always on the hunt for fresh scents for my car. (Is it just me or do store-bought air fresheners fade almost as soon as you buy them? Sigh.) This aromatherapy fragrance diffuser imparts a nice fragrance, but it’s the design that steals the show here. Look at that mini-turntable! And, the “records” that store the fragrance and actually spin with the assistance of your air conditioner are retro chic.
Keep Your Sunglasses Within Reach With This Visor Clip
I stopped buying expensive sunglasses years ago because I would either A. Lose them B. Break them or C. Never have them handy when I really needed them. I solved the latter with visor clips that keep your sunglasses safely out of the way (but well within reach). If you’re curious, I solved the remainder of my sunglasses dilemma by buying cheapies (but goodies!) at places like Marshall’s. Thank me later.
Blind No More With This Mirror Attachment
I know, I know, newer models of cars have those fancy built-in blind spot sensors, but a lot of vehicles haven’t caught up to that technology yet. This blind spot mirror is essentially a sticker you can place on your side mirrors to eliminate that pesky (and dangerous) blind spot when you’re navigating through traffic. It’s a smart investment for 10 bucks, delivered right to your door.
You Wheel-y Need These Lights
You wheel-y need these wheel lights. You’ll never “tire” of them. Wheel you buy them? O.K., O.K., enough wheel/tire puns. But, seriously, these car tire lights might add just that extra touch of uniqueness you’ve been seeking for your ride. The sensors are light- and motion-activated and install easily on your car’s existing air valves. They display four colors: red, blue, green, and white.
Make A Mini-Office With This Visor Organizer
If you’re like a lot of people, your glove box is crammed with vehicle maintenance receipts and napkins from various drive-thrus. It can make digging for your registration or car insurance tricky. This visor organizer is ideal for stashing those documents and other things, from sunglasses to your smartphone. Always have a pen, debit card, or a charging cable within arm’s reach.
Cool Your Backside On Your Ride
You’ve heard of seat heaters, but what about seat coolers? These cooling car seat cushions would be especially refreshing in my home state of Florida, where it’s sometimes so hot by 8 a.m., that your face feels like it’s going to melt off. The design of these cushions helps cool air circulate, putting a breezy layer between you and your car’s upholstery. Reviewers raved especially about their use of hot and sticky leather seats.
This Purse Pocket Safeguards From Spills
At first glance, this looks like just a plain ol’ purse pocket that installs in the gap between your front seats and the seats in the back. But, envision for me if you would, it being used as a barrier to keep bouncy kids or overbearing pets from distracting you while you’re driving. But, hey, if you want to use it just to keep your purse upright and its contents secure, be my guest.
You Must, You Must, You Must Dust Your Ride
One of the hardest places to keep clean in a vehicle is the dash — probably because parts of it, depending on the model of car you drive, can be outside of arm’s reach. This car duster extends your reach and gets into those tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas to grab dust and wick it away from your car’s surfaces. It can also be used for washing, waxing, or even household cleaning, making it truly multipurpose.
This Backseat Organizer Keeps Things Neat
Speaking of backseat drama, you might want to grab this set of handy backseat organizers to contain all of the “stuff” that comes along with having kids in your backseat. These organizers strap onto the back of your front seats and offer pockets for everything, from tablets to books to sippy cups. These are a must-have for family vacations and even long commutes.
Fix Flats On The Fly
Can you believe gas stations charge for air? AIR!! Absurd. Beat them at their own game by traveling with your own air compressor. You’ll be able to keep a check on your tire’s air pressure and also inflate everything from bike tires to pool floats. One reviewer said the product is “easy to use” and shut off automatically when the correct PSI was achieved. Not bad for an investment of less than $30.
Keep An Eye On Young Drivers With A GPS Unit
Let’s not get into any weird territory here, m’kay? There are myriad possibilities for installing a GPS tracking system on your vehicles. Maybe you want to keep track of employees using company vehicles or perhaps you have a young driver (or senior driver) in your home who you’d feel more comfortable knowing where they are. You’d expect a GPS unit with an accompanying app to be pricey, but this one will only set you back 30 bucks.
Read Your Own Codes — No Garage Required
There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing something is going on with your car and then that “something” stopping just about the time you get to a garage to have it checked. Check it at home and avoid that mess with your own diagnostic code reader. More than 20,000 reviewers are hyping this purchase with one saying, “Saved me a trip to the mechanic and paid for itself in one use.”
Blast Your Tunes With Portable Bluetooth
Have you had the blues because your car doesn’t have Bluetooth technology? Be blue no more! This hands-free Bluetooth transmitter features a large screen, easy setup, and the ability to listen to your favorite tunes and receive incoming phone calls. The gooseneck design means you can adjust the placement until it’s right in your sweet spot. Then, it’s smooth driving and jamming out all the way to the grocery store.
Supplement Your Car Seats With Plush Pillows
Be honest: Do you use your car’s headrests? If you’re like me, the answer is probably “no” and the reason is that they’re too tall and thus, not in a good place for you to utilize to their fullest. These headrest pillows are the perfect solution. They sit in that gap between your seat and your headrest, making them a comfy addition to your drive while also improving your posture.
Unbuckle The Littles With Ease
If I had a quarter for every time I’ve broken a nail or stubbed a finger trying to get a kid out of a car seat, I’d have a lot of quarters. UnbuckleMe was created by an occupational therapist who had arthritis, and we’re all the beneficiaries of its design. Press the extended arm of the UnbuckleMe, and car seat buckles pop open with ease. Worried it won’t fit your car seat? No need — it has universal functionality.
Stash A Hammer For Emergencies
This is one of those gadgets that you should have in your car but hope that you never have to use. This emergency gadget is two helpful tools in one — A seatbelt cutter and a window breaker. The lightweight body and carbon steel tips will break glass with little effort and the seatbelt cutter can free you or a passenger in the event of an accident. For $11, it’s a no-brainer to throw in your glovebox.
Diffuse Commute Tension With Aromatherapy
Essential oil fan? Me too. But, I’d never considered taking my oils on the road. This car diffuser plugs into your vehicle’s existing ports, cleansing and refreshing the air around you. Don’t have a port to give up? No worries. Once plugged in, the diffuser provides two additional USB ports so you can continue charging your phone and inhaling a refreshing scent. Might I recommend mint, lemon, or grapefruit?
Cute Coasters For Your Cup Holders
I had never considered coasters for my car until my best friend bought me a cute set as a gift. Car coasters are more than just adorable (and trust me, this leopard print set is super cute). They’re also functional, absorbing condensation from your drippy fast-food cups and protecting your cup holders from wear and tear. With the anti-skid bottom, you don’t have to worry about things sliding around either.