Love your, ahem, “vintage” minivan but dying for a few bells and whistles to help bring your vehicle into the modern age? We have good news. From heads-up smartphone displays to in-seat car massage (seriously), there are a slew of affordable, aftermarket car upgrades geared to help you bring your car into the twenty-first century without draining the coffers. Here are a few to consider.

1. Backup cameras
These handy systems are now coming standard in many new car models, but you don’t need to buy a late model vehicle to reap the same benefits. Backup camera systems are now widely available as an aftermarket purchase and can be installed DIY. Most systems include a backup camera and an LCD monitor (some are integrated into the rearview mirrors, others mount to your dash). And some systems offer integration with supplemental cameras to give you even more views (front/rear/or side mounting.)

2. Heads-up displays (HUD)
These transparent displays project data from your smartphone onto your car’s windshield, so you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Many available systems use Bluetooth® and voice commands to make operation a hands-free and wireless experience. Others go a step further, giving you access to your vehicle’s onboard computer, so you can get real-time drive data like mpg, maps, and more.

3. Heated massaging seat cushions
Talk about hot technology! Calm your nerves on your next rush hour commute with a warm lumbar massage from a set of heated, therapeutic massaging seat cushions. Technologies and styles range, but most can be operated through a hand remote that lets you control duration, temperature, and speed.

4. Trunk organizers
If you’re tired of that needle-in-a-haystack search for your lone umbrella, Frisbee, yoga mat, or tire iron, then a collapsible trunk organizer may be right for you. Lightweight and inexpensive, these sturdy systems allow you to neatly and securely store (and find) all of your rear-storage essentials.

5. Leakproof garbage cans
There’s no greater upgrade than cleanliness. If you’re tired of spending the last 2 hours of a road trip with a bag of fast food composting at your feet, then this is the easy upgrade you can’t afford to pass up. Fully leakproof car trash systems contain odors and keep trash out of sight. Individual features vary, but many are designed to hang from the back of a car’s headrest and are constructed from machine-washable fabric for easy cleanup.

6. Car tablet holders
No integrated onboard DVD system? No problem! For those traveling our nation’s highways with little ones in tow, the car tablet holder may be the one aftermarket upgrade you can’t do without. Attach the tablet mount-holder to a headrest and turn your backseat into an instant movie theater. Most systems are adjustable and compatible with a range of tablet sizes and brands.

Now get out there and enjoy the ride.

DIY hacks | For your car


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.