In today’s age, safety is one of the most important features when it comes to buying a car. Often, safer cars are more expensive. The more sensors and gadgets that get added for safety, the bigger the price tag. If you’re anything like me, you want to find an affordable way to boost your car’s safety.
There are a number of aftermarket parts that will affordably make your car safer. They target things like a lack of visibility, mechanical problems with your vehicle, and distracted driving. Something as simple as a mount for your phone can prevent an accident in the future.
If this is the case, you came to the right place. In this piece, I’ll outline 17 different affordable ways to make your car safer. All of them can be installed by yourself with no mechanic needed.
What is Vehicle Safety?
Simply put, I’m going to be talking about the safety of your vehicle. This refers to how safe it is for you to drive from point A to point B and back.
Things that hurt your vehicle safety are anything that could lead to an accident. As a broader term, it also applies to how your car reacts when in an accident.
How a Consumer Can Improve Car Safety
Improving “car safety” isn’t as easy for the consumer. Things like how effective an airbag is or how prone your car is to flipping over are outside of your control. However, that just deals with a single category when it comes to car safety.
The other part of your car’s safety is you and the cars around you. You might not be able to change how your car reacts to a violent crash, but you can help prevent that crash in the first place.
Until self-driving cars become the norm, we’re left with a human behind the wheel of the car. This, naturally, leads to human error which is a big problem.
There are a few common places where human error can lead to an accident:
- Distracted driving
- A mechanical problem in your car
- Lack of visibility
Luckily, all four of these places can be improved with a handful of products.
17 Affordable Ways to Make a Car Safer
Now, let’s talk about how to actually make your car safer. These 17 products will help by improving one of the four categories that lead to an unsafe driving experience.
1. Install a Reverse Camera
My life has become so much easier since I added a reverse camera. If you’re not familiar, this is a little camera that’s positioned at the rear of your vehicle looking behind your car. There’s a screen in the car that shows you a live feed from outside.
A lot of newer cars come with a reverse camera built-in. If your car doesn’t have one, that’s not a problem — you can buy and install your own reverse camera. The process is surprisingly easy and the product works really well.
You’re left with a professional-grade reverse camera. Now you can see if a car’s coming as you back out of your spot and avoid an accident.
2. Update the Electronics
Fault electronics are a huge safety concern. When sensors and gauges stop working, you’re not getting the full picture of your vehicle.
Your truck could be overheating and you won’t notice until the issue becomes much larger if your temperature sensors are dead. This is just one of the dozens of examples in which old electronics lead to a huge mechanical issue.
I would highly recommend going through and updating all of your old electronics, especially if your vehicle is old and worn out.
3. Upgrade Your Tires
Sometimes an accident can be avoided if you can stop sooner or maneuver away quicker. For the best results, you might just need some upgraded tires.
A good place to start is by checking the health of your tires. If the tread is worn, then you’re due for new tires anyway. You might as well splurge for safer tires that can help your car stop sooner.
High-quality tires have a lot of grip on the road under you. This allows you to control your vehicle in more dangerous situations and stop a lot quicker. In simpler terms, it keeps your car safer.
In addition, cheaper tires are more prone to a blowout.
4. Grab a Blind-Spot Alert System
There are a ton of blind spots around your vehicle. The most common spots for a driver are just behind the rear doors. If you can’t see these zones, how are you supposed to merge into another lane?
To minimize the risk of hitting other cars, you’ll want to get eyes on your blind spots. You can do this by either twisting your body around to physically see these areas or by picking up a blind-spot alert system.
This is a new safety feature that you’ll find on a lot of new vehicles, but it can be retroactively installed on your car.
It gives you a heads up whenever someone is in your blind spot. It works by using a sensor and scanning your blind spot. If the sensor picks up a vehicle in this zone, it will give you a light and a beep to let you know.
5. Consider Run-Flat Tires
A flat tire can lead you to an unsafe situation of losing control or trying to change your tire on the side of the highway.
A leading cause of flat tires is a puncture in the rubber. Road debris creates a hole and then air escapes your tire until they’re down to a dangerous level.
In an effort to avoid this, you can install run-flat tires. These are specifically engineered to resist getting deflated once they’re punctured. Without changing the tire, you can still go a short distance at a reduced speed. Typically, it’s enough to get you to a repair shop or back home.
6. Grab a HUD Speedometer
Any time you take your eyes off of the road, you run the risk of getting into an accident. Still, almost every car manufacturer put their speedometer below your eye level. Constantly looking down to see your speed is actually dangerous, despite how generally accepted it is.
If you want to boost your safety, you can install a heads-up display (HUD) speedometer.
This unit attaches to the piece above your dashboard so it’s closer to your eye level. The product typically has an adhesive bottom so you can stick it wherever you want.
It uses an accelerometer or GPS to find out your accurate speed. From there, it gives you a clean interface without all the confusing lights and gauges that a typical dashboard has. This HUD is specifically for telling you how fast you’re going so you don’t need to look down at your dash every few minutes.
7. Upgrade Your Rearview Mirror
This is one of my personal favorites — you can grab a rearview mirror that’s wider and has less of a curve to the glass. As a result, you get a full field of vision around your car.
I put one in my car, and now I can see all of my blind spots without even moving my head. This is the type of mirror that rally car racers use for the same reason.
Most options are spring-loaded and hook right over your current rearview mirror. That means no arguments at the end of your lease term since you didn’t change anything on the car.
Some aftermarket rearview mirrors have added goodies like the direction you’re traveling, outside temperature, and light-detecting dimmable glass.
A better mirror will help you see the vehicles around you while you’re driving.
8. Put On a “Novice Driver” Sticker (if You’re a Novice Driver)
People don’t understand the real power of a “novice driver” sticker. When I come across a car with one of these stickers in the wild, I back off and give them a ton of space.
We’ve all been there before. Learning to drive is stressful and you just need some extra space and reaction time.
By putting this sticker on your car, you’re letting drivers around you know that you might be a little unpredictable on the road. In general, people will be more forgiving and give you more space, resulting in a safer driving experience.
9. Tint Your Windows (Where Legal)
Sun glare is another big safety concern. One option is to blow up the sun so it stops bothering us, and another option is to legally tint your windows. I truly believe that tinting your windows is worth it because it results in a safer vehicle.
The big function of window tint is reducing the amount of sunlight and glare that goes into your eyes.
With a reduced glare, you’ll have better visibility and you’ll unlock the ability to drive safer.
10. Install a Baby Car Mirror
If you’re driving around with little ones in the car, you already know how distracting they can be. A “baby on board” bumper sticker won’t stop you from constantly turning around and making sure your baby is okay.
As I mentioned before, every time you take your eyes off the road, you’re risking an accident. At the same time, not checking on your baby is just as dangerous.
The best solution is to grab a baby car mirror. This is a small mirror that can be positioned somewhere in your car. The idea is that you can set up this mirror and use it to check on your baby instead of turning around.
For example, you can stick this mirror to your center console and position it so that your little guy is in view while you’re driving and looking forward. Just like checking your mirrors for cars around you, you’ll be able to check on your baby safely.
11. Get an Engine Diagnostic Tool
How are you supposed to know if that rumbling noise is something you can avoid or a serious issue? One way is to use an engine diagnostic tool.
This tool plugs right into your car and reads your onboard computer. The computer often knows what’s wrong with your car, but doesn’t have a way to tell you unless you plug in a diagnostic tool.
This is the same tool that a lot of mechanics use to troubleshoot and diagnose a car that rolls into their shop.
12. Grab a Visual and Audial GPS
Holding your phone and using a GPS app while you drive is one of the most dangerous things you can do. You’ll find yourself constantly glancing down and you’re only driving with one hand.
Turning up the volume and stashing your phone will make your drive more confusing and frustrating since you can’t see where the GPS is telling you to go.
If your car doesn’t have an infotainment screen with navigation built into it, then you’ll need to grab a visual and audial GPS. These often suction cup onto your window or dash in a place that’s out of the way. Still, they’re close enough to your eye level so you can occasionally glance at the GPS and see your upcoming directions.
The audial piece is always good because it gives you a hint that you should peek at the GPS soon.
If you can remember way back, this method was used as a replacement for a physical map before phone navigation came along.
13. Get a Phone Holder
If you still want to use your phone’s GPS, then that’s not an issue. You can pick up a phone holder that’s built for use in a car.
You’ll see these in almost every Uber and Lyft on the road. There are a dozen different styles of phone holders that attach in different locations. The common theme is that they hold and position your phone in a much more convenient place.
There are some that attach to your windshield, console, air vent, or even cup holders. Take a look and find the best option for your personal vehicle.
14. Install Aftermarket TPMS
In an earlier article, I talked all about TPMS in your car. A TPMS is a sensor that constantly checks on the pressure in your tires.
A lot of cars use a cheaper style of TPMS that doesn’t give you a lot of insight into your tire health. You can install an aftermarket option that helps a lot. Remember, underinflated or overinflated tires are really dangerous and can lead to your car spinning out or losing control.
Aftermarket TPMS will ensure all of your tires are set to the perfect pressure and will alert you if any of them get low or high. Certain sensors tie into an app or a remote screen that you can monitor and check your tire pressures.
The alternative is to manually use a tire pressure gauge every day before and after driving. In my opinion, the added convenience and safety factor of aftermarket TPMS packages is definitely worth it.
15. Don’t Forget Your Portable Car Jumper
A portable car jumper is something that I talk about time and time again. This is basically just a portable battery that you can use to give your car juice when it runs low.
A dead battery can lead to some really unsafe situations — like asking a complete stranger to help you after telling them that you’re stranded.
With one of these car jumpers, you can jump your own car (without a donor car needed). Plug it portable jumper up to your car battery and hit a button. That’s really all it takes.
The jumper can be stored in your trunk until you need it. Just be sure to charge it whenever it needs it.
16. Use a Dog Seat Belt
If you’re an animal owner, you undoubtedly take them in your vehicle at some point. A road trip is just so much better with your little buddy next to you.
However, dogs can be a safety liability in your car. All they have to do is see a squirrel or another dog and they could start jumping around and hitting you.
A lot of pet owners swear by the safety achieved with a dog seat belt. This clips into their collar and ensures they stay in one place during the trip. Your dog or cat won’t get in trouble or hurt themselves running around, and you won’t get distracted or bumped by them.
It makes the whole experience safer. Don’t worry, your doggo still have plenty of mobility to enjoy a Puppuccino at their convenience.
17. Ditch Your Bumper Stickers
Speaking of pets, let’s talk about one of my biggest pet peeves as a driver: cars with a million bumper stickers.
It’s actually so distracting for other drivers that an abundance of bumper stickers is illegal in a lot of states. You can get pulled over specifically for your bumper stickers and get a hefty ticket for it.
There’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself and showing your personality on the back of your car, but too many stickers are a big safety concern. As people are reading your stickers, they aren’t paying attention to the road around them or what you’re doing.
In fact, they might even be tailgating you so they can read your stickers better.
If you have to slam on your brakes, you can assume the car reading your bumper stickers will get a much closer look at them as they rear-end you.
A quick way to boost your own safety and eliminate distractions around you is to ditch the bumper stickers.
There you have it. Now you know 17 different affordable ways to boost your car’s safety. For more driving and car guides, explore the rest of my blog. I have a number of products that every car owner should buy. Have something to say about this piece? Let me know in the comments underneath.