Cars these days are equipped with so much more technology than they were when I was a teenager scraping money together to buy my first car (a 1982 Dodge Colt I picked up for $200 at an auto auction).
Hell, even my 2005 van doesn’t have much to offer in the way of technology. Thankfully there are companies out there striving to make driving easier with a host of useful gadgets and technologies.
Hum by Verizon (Hum.com)
Even with AAA, it can be scary going on a road trip in an older, high-mileage car. While some vehicles are equipped with OnStar and other emergency roadside assistance programs, not all are. Hum by Verizon aims for that market.
Offering vehicle tracking, stolen vehicle assistance, roadside assistance, driving history, vehicle diagnostics, and even a mechanics hotline, Hum provides peace of mind for any driver of nearly any vehicle made since 1996 by plugging into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and monitoring as much as possible.
If you’re ever in an accident or need a mechanic’s advice, simply press the appropriate button on Hum and access the service you need anywhere Verizon’s service is.
Automatic Pro (Automatic.com)
If you’re not on Verizon and don’t want to pay a monthly fee for car service, Automatic Pro is a $130 ODB device that provides 5 years of unlimited 3G service.
Automatic Pro provides many of the same features as Hum, including tracking vehicle location, diagnostics, and crash alerts. It doesn’t, however, provide the live chat and emergency dialer options of Hum.
What it does enable, however, is IFTTT recipes that open your garage door, turn on the lights, and automate other tasks based on your proximity to home. This makes Automatic Pro a must-have for smarthome and home automation enthusiasts.
Juno Jumper (Junojumper.com)
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery, especially when you have places to be. Even with the most advanced vehicle diagnostics, you can’t keep your battery charged forever and you may one day need a jump start.
Juno Jumper is a portable USB drive that can not only charge USB devices, it can also jump start your car with the included jumper cable attachment.
It weighs about as much as two iPhones and has enough juice in its 6000 mAh battery to provide 300 amps of power and jump start almost any 4- and 6-cylinder car, van, or truck. Next time your battery dies, you’ll be glad you have one under your seat.
MyQ Garage Door Opener (Chamberlain.com)
Chamberlain’s MyQ Garage turns your ordinary garage door opener into a connected garage door that connects to your home’s WiFi, allowing control from your smartphone or even through homebrew IFTTT recipes.
Unfortunately MyQ doesn’t come with compatible IFTTT recipes on its own, so you have to depend on the user community (and understand a little about computers) to get it working. Still, it’s a nice feature to have.
With MyQ, you don’t need to buy a whole new garage door opener. It retrofits most models and can make your garage much more efficient, notifying you when the door is left open or even allowing you to open it remotely to let a friend in while you’re on vacation.
RAVPower iSmart 27000mAH 100W Portable Charger (Ravpower.com)
Keeping everything charged while on the go isn’t easy, and I like always having some extra charging options available. RAVPower’s iSmart technology is among the best in chargers, and this extreme battery bank can charge via standard USB, USB Type C, and even a standard 12/v outlet.
This battery bank can handle up to 110V, 100W appliances, extending battery life of your laptop, tablets, and other devices.
Never again run out of power while camping or vacationing with this powerful battery backup from RAVPower.
Zus Car Charger (Nonda.co)
A car charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter adapter and allows you to charge USB devices is nothing new. What makes Zus so exceptional is it not only allows you to charge two USB devices at 2.2A each, it also acts as a bluetooth car tracker and battery monitor.
Using the Zus app, once you park your car, and walk away, it’ll mark the location so you can find it again later. You can also set timers and monitor battery health through the software.
The Zus charger also lights up its reversible USB ports so you can easily find the hole and get charged while on the road.