The best car accessories depend on your lifestyle, vehicle, and preferences. That said, there are a number of accessories (like a car emergency kit) that every driver should keep in their car. Here, we’ll suggest car gadgets ranging from the essential to the useful.
Each of the items we recommend was tested and evaluated alongside similar accessories and scored based on a number of criteria.
What Car Accessories Do You Need?
The car accessories you might need depend partially on your climate and how you use your vehicle. But there are several items that most people benefit from keeping in their car. It’s generally a good idea to have:
- Emergency kit that includes a first aid kit
- Ice scraper (climate dependent)
- Air freshener
- Phone mount
- Pencil and paper
- Insurance information
- Jumper cables (or portable jump starter)
- Tire inflator
- Tire repair kit
- Spare tire
In addition to the items listed above, there are a number of things that you may not need but are convenient to keep in your car or can improve your car experience. This includes items like:
- Seat cushion
- OBD2 scanner
- Dash cam
- Backup camera
- Portable charger
- Sun visor extender
- Neck pillow
- Car trash can
5 Essential Car Accessories
#1 Emergency Kit: First Secure Car Emergency Kit
Cost: Around $80
A quality emergency kit is a must for any car owner. Accidents happen and it’s always prudent to be prepared. We tested several of the best car emergency kits, and think that First Secure offers one of the best overall options.
This kit includes essentials like jumper cables, tow straps, tire repair kit, air pump, and first aid kit. Included tools are durable and high-quality.
Throw this kit in your truck or center console: It is compact and could easily fit in any car. There are only two internal mesh pockets, so there’s no way to organize, but in an emergency, you simply empty the entire pack to locate the item you need.
#2 Cell Phone Holder: Ram X-Grip Mount
Cost: Around $60
If you use your phone for navigation while driving, it’s extremely useful to have a mount that allows you to easily see your phone screen. The Ram®X-Grip® offers a secure grip and is compatible with a wide range of phone sizes. It can be mounted on your windshield or drilled into your dashboard.
Overall, we think it’s one of the best car phone mounts. However, be aware that in some states it is illegal to attach objects to your windshield. Be sure to check local laws before installing this phone mount.
#3 Jump Starter: Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry
Cost: Around $150
It’s handy to keep a pair of jumper cables in your car, and these will be included in any auto emergency kit. But what if there’s nobody around to help revive your car battery? If that happens, it can be useful to have a portable jump starter like the Clore Jump-N-Carry.
The Jump-N-Carry weighs about 20.0 pounds but is relatively portable and will fit in most trunks. This jump starter has a lead-acid battery and can emit a powerful charge. Its peak amperage is 1,700.0, meaning it can jump even large vehicles like pickup trucks. The Jump-N-Carry can also charge handheld electronics using a built-in USB port.
#4 Tire Inflator: Fanttik X8 Apex Tire Inflator
Cost: Around $120
Keeping your tires properly inflated increases fuel economy and can save money in the long run. Keeping an air pump in your trunk can help you maintain proper tire pressure when the weather shifts.
Having reviewed several of the best tire inflators with gauges, we like the Fanttik X8 Apex Tire Inflator best. It can inflate tires up to 150.0 psi (pounds per square inch) and it’s cordless, meaning you can take it with you and top off anywhere. The battery is rechargeable, and the device has an auto shut-off feature so you don’t accidentally over-inflate.
The Fanttik X8 is easy to use and has a lightning-fast inflation speed. The smart features are robust and easy to use. This inflator can even double as an extra power bank to charge your devices.
#5 Air Freshener: Air Spencer CS-X3 Air Freshener
Cost: Around $20
The Air Spencer consists of a plastic case and changeable gel insert. The plastic case can be stuck to your dashboard, floorboard, or center console. It’s a long-lasting car air freshener with several scents (squash, lime, citrus, and crystal).
We tested the Air Spencer alongside several of the best car air fresheners. The Air Spencer is easy to use and excellent at masking bad odors. We liked the smell a lot, though this is subjective. We recommend the squash scent (which smells more like lime soda than the gourd).
Perhaps most importantly, the Air Spencer scent lasted longer than any other air freshener that we tested. You can get well over a month of odor from a single refill.
5 Useful Car Accessories
#6 Dash Cam: Kingslim D4 Dual Dash Cam
Cost: Around $120
Recording at 4K video resolution and 30 frames per second (FPS), the Kingslim provides clear video, especially for a camera in this price range. It also has a built-in GPS that records speed and location as well as video. The Kingslim is easy to use and suitable for those who’ve never used a dash cam before.
#7 Backup Camera: Auto-Vox CS-2 Wireless Backup Camera
Cost: Around $120
The Auto-Vox is a simple wireless backup camera that anyone can quickly install. While most new vehicles already have a built-in backup camera, this is not often the case with older cars. Backup cameras can help prevent fender benders in the parking lot and make parallel parking much easier.
The Auto-Vox backup camera offers a 110-degree viewing angle, features a wireless digital connection, and is waterproof. We rated the Auto-Vox CS-2 as the overall best backup camera because it is reasonably priced, has useful features, and is easy to install.
#8 OBD2 Scanner: Launch CRP129E Scan Tool
Cost: Around $310
An OBD2 scan tool is a useful tool for car owners, even if you don’t know much about car repairs. OBD2 scan tools can help even the layperson diagnose and clear some engine codes. And if you want to work on your own car, an OBD2 scanner is a must.
We think the Launch CRP129E Scan Tool is among the best OBD2 scanners. It’s easy to use and has a depth of features for those interested. You can check live data, perform emissions tests, and reset diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs).
The CRP129E comes with data code protocols from nearly 60 carmakers and over 1,000 models, and it provides free lifetime updates.
#9 Portable Charger: Anker Portable Charger
Cost: Around $22
While some of our suggestions for best car accessories also include charging ports, it can be worthwhile to carry a dedicated portable car charger. Especially since these can be small and fit in your pocket.
We like the Anker PowerCore Slim 10K and even think it’s the best portable charger on the market. We found that this power bank charges extremely quickly and is very durable. It’s small, powerful, and easy to use. Compared to other chargers that we’ve tested, the Anker was twice as fast.
#10 Sunshade: Sailead Polarized Sun Visor
Cost: Around $40
Sunglasses are typically the best way to filter harsh sun rays in the car, but glasses aren’t comfortable for everyone. If you want to forgo the wraparounds, a car sun visor has you covered.
The Sailead polarized sun visor is adjustable and stable. You can situate it close to the front of your face, effectively protecting your entire field of vision. We think it’s the best car sun visor extender because of its adjustability. Most extendable visors connect to your existing visor via an elastic strap. The Sailead attaches with a spring clip which allows it to fit more vehicles.
5 More Car Accessories
#11 Neck Pillow: Trtl Pillow
Cost: Around $45
The Trtl Pillow is an adjustable travel neck pillow that’s well-suited for sleeping. You shouldn’t wear a car neck pillow while driving, but it’s one of the best car accessories for passengers and a good item to keep in your back seat. This lightweight device keeps your neck cool and supported. The Trtl offers a more rigid alternative to memory foam, though it does sacrifice plushness.
This pillow is easy to wash, you can throw it into the washing machine and turn the settings to low. It takes about a day to air dry completely after a rinse cycle.
#12 Seat Cushion: Purple Ultimate Seat Cushion
Cost: Around $125
The right car seat cushion can keep your bottom gently padded for long drives. In high temperatures, the best car seat cushions will also keep you cool. We think the Purple Ultimate is the pinnacle of seat cushion technology. While it packs a hefty price tag, it’s well worth it. There’s also a cheaper version available.
We tested several top car seat cushions, and the Purple Ultimate cushion was easily the most comfortable and breathable. It comes with a no-slip cover that is machine washable for easy cleaning. Be aware that this cushion is big. If you have small car seats, it may not easily fit in your vehicle and you’ll want to opt for the smaller version.
#13 Backseat Baby Mirror: Shynerk Baby Car Mirror
Cost: Around $20
Backseat baby mirrors can be a comfort to small children. If you have a child in a rear-facing car seat, it can be calming for them to see a caretaker’s face. A baby mirror is also a means for the driver to quickly check the mood of their child passenger.
The Shynerk Baby Car Mirror is our pick for the best backseat baby mirror because it’s easy to use and install. It’s a large, shatterproof mirror (11.4 by 7.5 by 1.1 inches) that has been crash-tested.
#14 Food Tray: Stupid Car Organizer
Cost: Around $30
The Stupid Car Organizer is a useful car accessory for long road trips or short commutes. If you find yourself eating in your car or have passengers who do so, a car organizer provides a much-needed flat surface. It can also help keep your car clean by catching crumbs.
We think the Stupid Car Organizer is among the best car trays because it is easy to set up, inexpensive, and easy to clean.
#15 Car Trash Can: Lusso Gear Spill-Proof Car Trash Can
Cost: Around $30
A small, leak-proof container with a sealable lid like the Lusso Gear car trash can can help keep your car organized. If you often find yourself snacking or eating in your car, a handy trash bin is a must.
This bin is also a good buy for rideshare drivers. It includes a Velcro® adhesive that lets you attach it to a passenger seat or glove box. This 2.5-gallon container has enough capacity to last through several passengers.
Our review team named the Lusso Gear Spill-Proof Car Trash Can the best car trash can because of its durable construction, high capacity, and useful design elements. We think the washable liner that’s easy to remove and clean.
#16 Bonus Recommendation: Nulaxy KM18 Bluetooth FM Transmitter
Cost: Around $25
These days, most car radios include Bluetooth® compatibility. However, if you have an older vehicle, you’ll need to purchase an aux cord or a Bluetooth FM transmitter to pair your smartphone with your radio.
We think the Nulaxy KM18 is the best Bluetooth FM transmitter. It has a large LED display and flexible gooseneck. It can pair with most Apple, Android, or Galaxy devices. It also has a USB port, AUX port, and built-in micro-SD card reader to stream all your music over the airwaves.
The Nulaxy KM18 is easy to use. It plugs into your car’s auxiliary port (cigarette lighter) and quickly pairs with most phones. The clarity and connection are smooth and this device even adds hands-free functionality for calls.
Our Review Standards
All of the car accessories we recommend in this article were tested by our review team. The review standards for each type of product can vary, but all were first selected based on positive customer reviews on sites like Amazon and Advance Auto Parts.
Why You Can Trust Us
Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.
We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more.
Car Accessories: FAQ
*Data accurate at time of publication.