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Use the latest technology to update your old car

By raccars Published

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You may not be able afford a new car, but can you use the latest technology to update an old one?

If there's one thing that distinguishes a new car from an old one these days, it's not modern design, it's the amount of technology on board, used to improve performance, economy and comfort. Modern tech is even causing a cultural shift in the way we use our cars. This year's Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, showcased how the cars of the future will be connected and autonomous.

While you won't get a 15 year old Hyundai to park itself or brake autonomously in an emergency, there are plenty of interesting aftermarket options you can retrofit to make sure that your car keeps pace with the fast changing landscape of automotive technology.

You will, of course, need to spend some money but you might be surprised at the changes you can bring about without spending a fortune, especially if you can complete the work yourself. The first thing you need to consider is the availability of 12V sockets in your car, as you will be using a few of these.

Also check that your battery is equal to the extra demands which will be placed upon it in keeping up with newer cars. Bear in mind too that you should notify your insurer of any modifications you make to your vehicle. Certain changes to the vehicle may require a policy update or a difference in price.

Retrofitting the latest technology

DAB and Apple CarPlay

Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB radio is standard on about 75 per cent of new cars, offering a clearer sound and extra radio stations. Some DAB units also offer integrated sat nav and other useful features. You'll need to make sure that your vehicle is compatible with the DAB unit you choose and you may need a professional to fix the wiring harness and external antenna. Prices for an entry level DAB unit start at £129 but even the more expensive models make a great addition to your car, especially if you get features such as Apple CarPlay included.

Cruise control

If you do a lot of motorway driving or tend to have a heavy foot, cruise control can be very useful, making long distance driving more comfortable and potentially saving your licence by ensuring that you don't accidentally stray over the speed limit. It's also an economical way of driving. Retrofitting cruise control is beyond most amateurs, requiring the removal of the airbag from the steering wheel and possibly an ECU remap. This is an affordable upgrade, with cruise control units available from £60, but make sure you go for a manufacturer approved system.

Parking sensors and reversing cameras

Save yourself from minor bumps and scratches by fitting sensors and cameras via a 12V socket. You will need to cut into the bodywork to fit sensors but if your parking isn't up to scratch it's probably a worthwhile project. Kits are available from £64.99, but check for model compatibility before buying.

Lane departure and collision warning

Radar warning systems can save you from accidents with a simple audible warning of an impending collision. Statistics suggest that there are 14 per cent fewer insurance claims made when cars have these systems fitted. You can sometimes retrofit one via a 12V socket but in some cases manipulation of the car's electronics is needed. For £89.99 you can get lane departure and forward collision warning, plus a dash cam.

Heated seats

They're a luxury but a very welcome on cold, winter mornings. It's best to leave installation to the professionals as there's some electrical wiring involved and the removal of the seats. A pair of heated seat pads costs from £64.99, plus installation.

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