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9 low-tech car tech accessories

You have your high-tech smartphone paired to your high-tech ride. Now, to make them both work to the best of their ability, you may need a few low-tech accessories.

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Antuan Goodwin
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1 of 10 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

9 low-tech car tech accessories

You have your high-tech smartphone paired to your high-tech ride. Now to make them both work to the best of their ability, you may need a few low-tech accessories. We've rounded up nine of theses low-tech accessories, but don't be surprised to find a few high-tech gadgets mixed in.
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2 of 10 Joby

Lighting accessories

Whether it's to illuminate a dark underhood cranny or to spread some lumens during a roadside tire change, every driver should keep some sort of auxiliary light source in their car. The Joby GorillaTorch Blade is an ultrabright LED flashlight with an adjustable beam, two brightness levels, and a trio of flexible, magnetic legs to hold it in place while you work.
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3 of 10 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Universal phone cradles

Whether you're using your smartphone for calling and navigation or you lost your standalone GPS device's cradle, a universal cradle will help you to keep your device stationary and your driving safe (or at least safer). Products like the Breffo Spiderpodium work with nearly any pocket-size product. More specific products (like this Kensington cradle for iPhone) only work with the devices they're designed for, but also offer unique features, such as passive amplification.
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4 of 10 Pylon/Michelin

Jumper cables

At their most basic, a set of jumper cables is essentially a pair of insulated, copper cables with clamps for connecting the batteries of two cars--pretty low-tech stuff. However, more advanced sets, such as the Michelin Smart Jumpers or the PowerSafe system, include circuitry to prevent dangerous misconnections and shorts.
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5 of 10 Black & Decker

Portable jump starters

Jumper cables are great, but there might not always be a good Samaritan about to give you a jump in your time of need. For a few dollar more, a portable jump starter literally puts the power in your hands, allowing you to restart your own dead battery. The Black & Decker Electromate 400 also rolls in an inverter for your 110-volt products and a portable air compressor.
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6 of 10 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

FM transmitters

FM transmitters like, this Dexim Touch Screen unit, are an inexpensive way to pipe audio from a phone or portable media player through a low-tech FM radio without going through the trouble of installing hardware. Understand, however, that the simplicity of FM transmission comes at the cost of audio quality.
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7 of 10 Sony

Tape adapters

If you can appreciate the irony of connecting your high-tech portable audio source to your car's low-tech cassette player, perhaps a cassette tape adapter is the accessory for you. Jokes aside, the cassette adapter offers better audio quality than an FM transmitter, but its moving parts makes it more prone to breakage.
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8 of 10 Accutire

Tire pressure gauges

Believe it or not, your tires are probably the most important parts of your car. Maintaining proper pressure can have huge effect on your vehicle's performance, fuel economy, and (most importantly) safety. Tire pressure gauges range from the most low-tech analog models to highly advanced tire pressure monitoring systems. This Accutire remote programmable gauge allows you to monitor its four wireless valve stem covers from the comfort of the driver's seat.
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9 of 10 Craftsman

Portable air compressors

You could go the low-tech route and use a bike pump, but we suggest you spring for a 12-volt portable air compressor. This is a great accessory for keeping your tire pressure topped off. Play your cards right and this maintenance gadget could be built right into the portable jump starter that we discussed earlier.
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10 of 10 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Power inverters and chargers

Whatever high-tech gadgets you bring with you into the car, there will come a time when you need to power them. Chargers, like the Monster iMotion CarPlay 3000, will allow you to juice your iPhone using your car's 12-volt outlet. Inverters, on the other hand, give you a 110-volt outlet to power, for example, your laptop or a video game console.

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