Best Car Accessories To Enhance Your Ride
And Where To Get Them Online

-- by Alan Detwiler

Add-on devices for your car make your ride more enjoyable. A power cord plugged into the cigarette lighter socket keeps your cell phone fully charged. An iceless cooler conveniently keeps a drink cold. A heated mug keeps coffee hot as long as the car is running. Listen to music that is more to your liking with an MP3 player. Add accessories to your car to add enjoyment to your ride.

Below is information and comments about five car accessories that can be purchased online. The features of each one is given so you can decide which will be good for you. Most are available from major retailers. All are available on line. Clickable links are provided to go to each online purchase site.

12-volt heated mug - A mug with a plug for getting power from the cigarette lighter socket. It keeps a liquid such as coffee hot for as long as the vehicle is running. Some models have a thermostat to set the temperature.

Example models:

  • Wagan EL2227-1 12 Volt Travel Mug Set of two. Removeable cord plugs into cigarette lighter socket, 16-ounce capacity, double wall vacuum insulation to keep drinks hot up to an hour after you unplug, mug fits cup holders. Available through for about $22.

  • New VR3 Stainless Steel Heated Insulated Travel Mug Cup Plugs into cigarette lighter socket, 14-ounce capacity, base sized to fit cup holder, about $10 plus shipping. Available through

  • Bell & Howell Hot N' Go Heated Car Mug Heats to 145-degrees F in 30 minutes, 16-ounce capacity, available through for about $18.

  • JLR Gear Smart Mug Set the temperature you want, has ready light, 16-ounces, plugs into lighter socket, available through for $20 plus shipping.

Cooler/warmer - These give the choice of keeping food hot or cold. Can warm food and can cool. Some are sized to hold a can of soda or a mug of coffee, larger units might hold a six pack or more.

Example models:
  • PEAK PERFORMANCE Thermoelectric Portable Food Cooler-Warmer Chest Cools to 40°F and warms to 120°F, 9-can capacity. Compact thermoelectric chest cools to 40 F below outside temp. Warms up to 120 F. Circulating air ensures even temperature throughout. Low-battery auto shut to prevent draining vehicle battery. Keeps food warm or cool without ice. Plugs into car, boat, or truck 12V cigarette lighter outlet. 12V CLA 10 ft cord. Available 110V household charging plug available. SKU #: JCW-PEAPKC0JO, Mfr #: PKC0JO $72.24 including shipping.

  • KOOLATRON 12V GREY COOLER/WARMER TRAVELLER III Keeps food and drink cool at approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature. For a vehicle cigarette lighter of 12 volts DC. Stores up to 9 12-ounce cans. Dimensions 13"H x 11"W x 9"D. SKU #: JCW- 861043 Manufacturer #: P-9 $80 including shipping.

  • 18-qt. Upright Portable 12-volt Food Cooler/Warmer Chest Keeps food and beverages warm or cool without ice. Plugs into 12-volt cigarette lighter socket or into 110-volt household outlet with AC power converter (sold separately; ZX813074). Holds 23 12-ounce cans. Interior air circulation for even temperature throughout. Thermoelectric chest cools to 40° F below outside temperature or warm to 125° F. Urethane foam insulation. Plastic outer case. Detachable 10-ft. cord. 3-amp draw. Limited one-year manufacturer's warranty. SKU #: JCW- 489428 Manufacturer #: P-20 Available through for about $120 including shipping.

  • ROADPRO 12-Volt Mini Cooler / Warmer Holds 9 12-ounce cans. Plugs directly into cigarette lighter socket. Five liter capacity. Equipped with a adjustable shoulder strap. Keeps contents warm or cool after being unplugged. Cool and warm LEDs indicate whether the device is cooling or warming contents. Cools to 40 F below ambient or warms to 120 F. Food should be pre-cooled or pre-warmed. Clip-lock lid. About $57 plus $8 shipping.

  • ROADPRO 12-Volt 7 Liter Cooler/Warmer Food should be pre-cooled or pre-warmed. Holds 12 12-ounce cans. Picture in ad may not match shipped unit. Price about $34. Ships from by

  • Wagan 2577 Personal Fridge/Warmer - 7L Capacity ASIN: B001RKH7FS, item model number: 2577. Holds 9 Cans / 7 liter capacity. Padded armrest and carrying strap. Food should be pre-cooled or pre-warmed. Power: 12V DC, 48 watts, 4 amps. Optional adapter (model number EL9903) for 120 volt standard AC outlet. Cooling capacity: 35-40 degrees F below room temperature, as low as 38 degrees F. Heats up to 140 degrees. Can hold up to 9 (8-ounce) drink cans. It measures 11 by 6 by 12 inches (H x W x D) on the outside and 8.5 by 5 by 8.5 inches on the inside and weighs 7 pounds. One-year limited warranty. Ships from and sold by $44

Cell phone charger - Plugs into the cigarette lighter socket to power or charge your cell phone.

Example models:
  • Motorola Vehicle Power Adapter micro-USB Rapid Rate Charger Model SPN5400A Motorola OEM Micro-USB car charger ASIN: B000S5Q9CA 4.75-5.25V and 950mA. Works with most devices with a micro USB connector. Talk and Charge at the same time. Very bright blue LED. Fully charges phone in 2-3 hours. Guaranteed for over-voltage protection, which helps protect the phone warranty. Ships from and sold by $6.34 plus $6 shipping.

  • Griffin Powerjolt Dual Universal USB Micro Colors May Vary ASIN: B0042B9U8Q Built-in SmartFuse for circuit protection. Input voltage range - 12-16V DC at 2A. Output per port 5 volts @ 1 amp. Some devices may need a charge-only USB cable to charge/run at full 1 amp current. Sold by Millennium Tech and Fulfilled by Amazon $8 plus $6 shipping.

Power inverter - Plugs into the cigarette lighter socket, clips to battery, or wire it in. The vehicle's 12-volts dc is changed to 120-volts ac to power things like laptop computers, coffee makers, cell phones, camcorder battery chargers and other small appliances. Don't go bigger than 400 watts unless you want to go directly to the battery with heavy wire. Even then, high power devices will drain your battery quickly and could fry the alternator if the engine is running.

example models:
  • TruPower Marine Power Inverters 400 watts continuous, 800 watts surge. Internal conformal coating for anti-corrosion. Soft start and noise filtered technology. True rated continuous power. Hi-surge ratings for demanding loads. Heavy duty marine construction. Highly visible power and fault LED indicators. Input polarity, short circuit, overload, thermal and over voltage protection. Low battery alarm and shutdown. Bat'Saver Mode Operation ensure crank battery will stay above 11.5V. 9.25"L x 6"W x 3"H. Sku #184682, item ID PRO 05040, Pro Mariner # 05040. Each $96.62, shipping rates are calculated at the time of checkout.

  • Whistler 400-watt Power Inverter with Circuit Pro Will run TV/DVD combos, laptops, cooling fans. Available through for about $30 plus shipping.

  • Xantrex Technologies XPower Plus 400-Watt Inverter #851-0400 400 watts for 5 minutes, 600 watts surge for easy startups, and 300 watts continuous power, plugs into car cigarette lighter, automatic shutdown mechanism protects against overload, over-temperature and low battery conditions, two 3-prong grounded AC outlets, and a DC outlet. Available through for about $30.

  • Cobra 400-Watt Power Inverter. Model#: CPI-480. Cobra Power Inverter has 400 watts continous/800 watts surge. Cigarette lighter plug. USB output. Dual AC outlet. Includes Direct-to-battery cables. Product in Inches (L x W x H): 3.6 x 8.6 x 9.2 Walmart # (11020914). Online price $29 plus a few dollars shipping.

  • Cobra 800-Watt Power Inverter. Model No.: CPI-880. 800 watts continuous/1600 watts surge. Ad says cigarette lighter plug, customer review says no cigarette lighter plus. Direct to battery cable included. USB output. Dual AC outlet. Product in Inches (L x W x H): 10.7 x 7.6 x 3.01 protection from current overload, short circuit, low voltage, and over heating. Online price $59 plus shipping.

mp3 player - Down load music or other audio content, save it to either the player's memory or a separate flash drive. Some content can be downloaded for free. Hours of audio can be stored in a single memory device. Listen to the program any time you choose.

example models:
  • Supersonic Deckless AM/FM Receiver with MP3 Playback, USB/SD/AUX Input and Detachable Panel Play your own multimedia from SD memory cards, USB storage devices or connect an external audio player to the auxiliary port. AM/FM radio. USB input compatible. SD card slot compatible. MP3 playback. Front panel auxiliary input for external audio players. Detachable front panel. LCD digital color display. Rotary tuning control. Clock display. Electronic volume control. Mute function. 4-channel output. RCA line out. Product in inches: 8.7 x 3.2 x 6.7 online $29.

  • Boss Audio 620UA - 1-DIN MP3 Receiver Single-DIN mounting. Active black mask display. Illuminated control buttons. PLL synthesized tuner with 30 station presets. USB port, SD memory card port and front panel auxiliary input. 1 x audio line-in ( mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm ) ¦ 1 x USB ( 4 pin USB Type A ) ¦ Audio line-out ( RCA phono x 2 ). Switchable USA/Europe radio frequencies. Compatible with audio output of iPod and other MP3 players. Stereo/mono and local/distance switches. Output power: 50W x 4 channels. Includes wireless remote control. ID3 tags support, iPod ready. usb port is not iphone compatible. Product in Inches (L x W x H): 7.4 x 4.41 x 2.32 Online $39.

  • Boss Audio 612UA - MP3 Compatible Solid State Receiver, AM/FM Receiver, USB/SD Single-DIN mounting. Active black mask display. Illuminated control buttons. PLL synthesized tuner with 30 station presets. USB port / SD memory card port, USB/SD can play MP3 tracks from other media players and iPods. Front panel AUX input. Compatible with audio output of iPod and other MP3 players. ID3-Tag display, with the ID3-Tag display, you can identify the title, track number, artist, and genre of audio files. Quartz digital clock. Separate bass and treble. Balance and fader controls. 2-Channel RCA outputs. 1 x audio line-in ( mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm ) ¦ 1 x USB ( 4 pin USB Type A ) Loudness feature. Stereo/mono & local/distance switches. Output power: 50 watts x 4. Product in inches (L x W x H): 7.4 x 6.4 x 2.3 Walmart No.: 001078275. Online $39. Centon 16GB DataStick Pro USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Gray.
  • Centon 16GB DataStick Pro USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Gray Sturdy aluminum housing. Plug-and-play design, requires a USB 2.0 port, Interfaces: 1 x Hi-Speed USB - 4 pin USB Type A. Holds up to 4800 eight-megapixel photos or 275 hours of music recorded at 128Kbps. LED indicator light. Connector for lanyards or keychains. Works with Windows and Mac computers. Does not have a hole for attaching lanyard. Lifetime warranty from Centon. Width: 1.7 in., depth: 0.3 in., height: 2.6 in. Walmart No.: 550125175 Online $10.29

  • Dane-elec 16GB Capless USB Drive - Gray / Silver Does not work with Trucks USB port, 16GB Sandisk Cruzer does. Sliding cover means there's no cap to loose. Soft surface. Has hole for attaching lanyard. measures 5 x 0.5 x 3.5 (L x W x H) inches $11.85

  • SanDisk Cruzer 16GB USB Flash Drive Two Pack Model#: SDCZ60016GAW11. slider to protect your USB connector. Product in Inches (L x W x H): 7.0 x 5.0 x 0.4 2 Year Limited Warranty. 21944284 (two pack) Online $14.

Other accessories that can be used to enhance your car include seat covers, floor mats, steering wheel covers, litter bags, can and cup holders, inside/outside thermometer, gps/map device, extra loud or novelty sound horns.

Items to keep in your car for repair, emergency, safety and miscellaneous - Jack, lug wrench, trouble light, flares, jumper cables, maps, cell phone and phone numbers, coolant for radiator, drinking water, empty container for gasoline, various hand tools, gloves, coat, hat, blanket, rain poncho, and a first aid kit.

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Updated 20080115