8 practical ways to ramp up your ride

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The MTV series Pimp My Ride was short-lived, running six seasons from 2004 to 2007. Yet the show wriggled its way into pop culture and never let go, commanding more than tens of thousands of monthly Google searches to this day. Yes, even more than a decade after the show’s last ride, the Xzibit memes run strong, and people still use “pimp my ride” to talk about upgrading their vehicles.

However, a lot of the vehicles on the show were more flashy. Upgrades included spinning rims, glossy paint jobs and excessively loud subwoofers. Sure, those are fun things, but what about for the more practical drivers that want to make their rides feel like new?

Here are eight modest—yet useful—ways to upgrade your vehicle.

A touchless hand sanitizer dispenser

It’s an all too familiar scenario: You’re on your way to a destination, perhaps to grab a meal. But you’re running late and don’t have time to find a bathroom to wash your hands. You’ve touched multiple surfaces in your car, the door of the building, maybe even cash or a credit card. You’re not able to clean your hands, but that food is getting colder by the minute.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to necessitate social distancing and sound hygiene practices, hand sanitizer is an even more useful tool. Instead of fumbling with a bottle or tab opener, you can place your hand above a device that neatly fits into your cup holder compartment and get a spritz of sanitizer.

HUD devices with GPS

Global Positioning System (GPS) is valuable for any driver. Gone are the days of unfolding a map that fills your entire car and blocks your view of the road. Now, you can enter a destination on your phone and have a map guide your way.

Unfortunately, a mobile map can still be distracting. Your eyes may shift from the road to the phone screen, which might be on your lap or in a cup holder.

A better alternative: Keep your head up with the appropriately named heads-up display (HUD) device. These gadgets offer helpful info, including speed, direction and water temperature. Some HUD gadgets project themselves onto your windshield, allowing you to quickly navigate between maps, music and phone calls.

The best part of waking up

If you’ve ever thought, “don’t talk to me until I have my coffee” and also like sleeping in, a Handpresso Auto is just the thing for you. Avoid waiting in a busy coffee store line and simply bring a cup of joe with you on any trip.

This coffee maker plugs into your cigarette lighter and works with both Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods and ground coffee. After two minutes, you’ve got a fresh cup of espresso. Awkward small talk with fellow coffee shop goers not included.

For those who prefer tea over coffee, you’re covered, too. A travel kettle water boiler ensures you can sip whatever hot beverage you desire.

Keep those sunglasses stylish

Depending on what time of day you drive, you may find yourself needing to wear some sunglasses. But if nighttime falls, they suddenly become hazardous, preventing you from clearly seeing the road ahead.

Previously, you’d callously toss your shades into the passenger seat or cup holder. Now, you can eliminate scratches or smudges via a glasses holder that slips onto your sun visor. It’s sleek and a handy way to keep your sunglasses available at a moment’s notice. 

Stop items from falling in the “black hole”

The space in between a car seat and the door goes by many names. The car seat gap. The black hole. The seat belt catch. Whatever you call it, it’s incredibly inconvenient when you drop something in that space. From loose change to phones, there’s a moment of dread as you watch the object disappear. If it happens while you’re driving, there’s an added element of danger.

This is such a common occurrence that a company made it onto Shark Tank to offer a solution. The Drop Stop is the “original” patented car seat gap filler, offering protection between the front seats and both the center console and their respective doors.

Some of these devices act as bumpers, filling up the space so anything you drop in there bounces off and lands safely back on the seat. Others are designed to catch whatever falls in the abyss. It’s almost like a treasure hunt in your own car.

Get work done with a steering wheel desk

You shouldn’t use a steering wheel desk while driving, but it’s handy for knocking out a few emails or eating a fast food meal while you’re parked. Snap it onto your steering wheel in seconds, put it to good use and stow it away just as easily.

There are ways to upgrade your car desk game, too. Steering wheel desk not enough? Try this snazzy birch passenger desk instead. It has a non-slip swivel tray and pad, hidden storage space and a small filing cabinet for storing important documents. 

Detail your ride with cleaning gel

When you were in school, you likely had at least one experience with Silly Putty. Whether it was a friend showing how you could imprint a comic from the newspaper or simply a teacher needing some peace and quiet, it was fascinating to see the putty mold however you wanted.

Guess what—putty is still doing great things. Even if you don’t drive frequently, your car is bound to pick up some debris. Dust, spills, nature and other passengers all contribute to a messy interior. A cleaning putty gel serves as a nice way to detail your ride without spending lots of money.

Slide the putty gel inside your vents and all the various nooks and crannies of your car. You may be surprised at what it picks up, but you’ll be pleased with the end result.

Catch a few comfy z’s

On trips to the grocery store, you won’t need a place to rest your head. But if you’re traveling with family on an extended road trip? Someone’s going to get sleepy.

In those cases, skip the sore neck and uneasy rest that comes with falling asleep upright and break out an inflatable air mattress. For finicky sleepers, some portable mattresses offer firmness adjustments on each side. And many are durable, so they can stand up to pets and other elements with ease.

Need some more ideas for your next road trip? Check out our printable games and checklists.

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