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Parking sensors
Technology in an old car? 2018
7th September 2018
The modern luxury car is bristling with technology, and if you have an older model, you might feel as though you are driving a dinosaur. But if you love your old car, or cannot afford to trade up, you can always modify your car with a range of accessories. Imagine having a beautiful period 80's Bentley Turbo R, or 90's BMW 8-series, kitted out with the latest technology!

In this article, we review some of the most popular upgrades, that you might not have considered.
Reverse parking sensors were fitted to quite a few cars in the 90's. As we approached the turn of the Millenium, car makers started fitting them to the front of the car aswell. But if your car is too old to have benefitted from this technology, or if it was not selected as an option, you may have experienced parking dings, as you accidentally catch a wall (or another car!).

But parking sensors are actually a relatively low cost option, and they can be very discrete. Kits can be purchased for very little, and there are specialists who will visit your house and retro-fit these sensors for around £100, or a little more, if you want both front and back.

Watch out for 'flush' sensors, if you want the ultimate sleek look. These cost a little extra, but are worth it for the smooth finish.
Reverse camera
If you already have a colour LCD screen in your car, you might be able to easily add a reversing camera, to make parking your car in tight spaces, a doddle. Many manufacturer's offer parking camera's to connect to the screen, and many can be retro-fitted afterwards. Sometimes it can be an easy fit, other times it might require special cable looms, and software programming at your dealer, or specalist. Try seeking advice on Automotive forums, for your brand of car, and there will usually be someone who can offer some advice.

On the other hand, if you do not have a colour screen, you will need to fit one, in addition to your camera. There are quite a few 'Camera & Screen' bundles available, although some can look like a bit of an afterthought. It would be our preffered solution to fashion a fascia and sink your new screen into the dashboard, to provide an original manufacturer look.

Another option, if you do not already have an LCD screen, or cannot connect a camera screen, would be to purchase a compatible aftermarket head unit, which has a colour screen, and is compatible with reversing cameras.
Have sensors fitted by a mobile service at:

Both companies offer Nationwide installation.

A traditional parking sensor
A flush parking sensor
Android operating system for Navigation and Audio
Hands-free bluetooth telephone connectivity
USB charging sockets
This is a neat addition, which will come in handy for charging your phone. The easy option is to purchase a cigar lighter to USB charger adapter. These can be purchased for very little money.

Alternatively, you can install an aftermarket charging socket, which are also very affordable. There are a variety of units available which either clip into, or are fastened into, a circular hole which you can make somewhere on your dash or centre console with a hole saw. The units are powered from 12V, and should be wired so that they are only live when the ignition is on.
Blind spot monitoring
Soft close doors
You may have passed a new car recently, and noticed a small orange LED illuminated on their mirror, this is the blind spot monitoring light. The car has sensors which monitor the sides of the car, and can detect when there is a car passing in the driver's blind spot. The car then illuiminates the LED indicator, to let the driver know.
Soft close doors started appearing in the late 1990's, and although they are still a rare thing on todays roads, they represent the ultimate luxurious feel to a vehicle. No more slamming doors, or annoying dash lights when a door has not closed properly. When the door first latches, the system takes over and gently closes the door for you.

This modification has still not gained much popularity, and kits are hard to come by. If you car had this as an option you would probably be best to find some original kit, and upgrade using the genuine parts.

However there are aftermarket kits available from the following companies:

You can pretty cheaply purchase a kit to provide the same functionality. Of course it would be near to impossible to add an LED to your mirror glass, particilarly if you have Anti-dazzle mirrors, so the LED is usually fitted to the interior pillar instead.

Sensors are generally fitted to your rear bumper, and some systems have an audible warning.
In the modern world, the audio/infotainment system in a car, dates it like never before. The crisp resolution found on modern displays was not available 10 years ago, and music has changed, with people using online streaming services, or ripping music to internal hard drives. In addition to this, Navigation systems become out of date quickly, and map upgrades are not usually available for older cars.
Thankfully there are quite a few people who are interested in upgrading the standard system in a car, so there is a lot of reading material on the subject. There are also many 'off the shelf' upgrades available.

If you are lucky, companies like Erisin might produce an off the shelf head unit which can be swapped with your existing one. This will provide an updated interface, often with an Android operating system, and bluetooth phone connectivity.

If you are not so lucky, you might be able to modify a spare head unit, or even replace it with a custom made panel fitted with a crisp new LCD screen.

It is best to research your car model on the web, looking to forums to find other like minded car enthusiasts who have done the same thing.

The best example of head unit modification has been carried out on the Jaguar X350 by a talented electronics hobyist. His site can be found here:

The days of holding the phone to your ear, while driving your car, are long gone. However the worrying popularity of texting while driving, is only increasing year on year. The safest option is to never use your phone in the car, however the second best option is a hands free kit. Hands free kits vary from cheap and cheerful cigarette lighter 'plug in and go' kits, to full complex systems, which integrate to the car's infotainment system.

A popular choice are 'Parrot' kits, or similar versions from many other manufacturers. These offer great bluetooth connectivity, with their own little screen.

Better still are some after market head units which feature built in Bluetooth phone connectivity. See the above section on Android operating systems.
Heated seats
Manufacturers have been fitted heated seats to cars, for decades. But not all cars have this feature - yet it is easy to retro-fit.

It takes a bit of skill, you have to remove the car seat, and strip the cover. Then you need to insert a heated pad into the base and back, adding the necessary wiring. The power consumption of a heated seat is fairly substantial, so you need to fit a new fuse, and seperate power feed. Heated seat kits can be purchase pretty inexpensively online.

On the other hand, some retrimmers offer a heated seat retro-fit service.
Massage seats
The massaging seat is still a rarety in cars, even luxury brands. But it offers the ultimate in relaxation while you drive. The right massage system will leave you feeling completely refreshed when you arrive at your destination.

Unfortunately car accessories suppliers have not jumped onto this mod yet, so it is difficult to find a kit. However some retrimmers do offer a retro-fit service. There are also 'off the shelf' massagine car seats that plug into your cigar lighter socket, and sit over your existing seats.

We hope that companies will develop kits in the coming years. In the mean time, we have heard people discussing the concept, of disassempling an off the shelf massager, and installing the components into their seats....
Have you modified your car to fit luxury accessories? We'd love to hear about it - if you are interested, we might even do an article about your car?... Get in contact!