Americans have a love affair with their cars. This long-running relationship has taken many forms over the years, everything from hot-rodding to restoration has fallen under the umbrella of this love affair. Even as technology changes the design of modern cars, drivers continue to lavish attention and money on their favorite mode of transportation.

Gadgets fall into two distinct categories. The first are devices that make your driving experience more enjoyable or interesting. Bluetooth equipped gadgets that let you talk on your phone while driving fall into this category.

The second category are devices that help you if you have car trouble. Computerization has made it difficult to perform repairs on engines or electronic systems while pulled over on the side of the road, but the non-computerized parts of a car – like the tires, cooling system, belts and others – can still be repaired by drivers.

Cool Toys

These devices won’t keep your car running, or get it back on the road, but they will make the drive more interesting and comfortable:

  • Heads-Up Display projector.

Several companies make a projector that throws a virtual image on your windshield. The primary purpose is to display information from your cell phone without having to take your attention from the road.

  • Voice controlled Bluetooth kit.

Again, several companies make a hands-free kit for answering and talking on your smartphone without taking your attention off the road.

  • RoadPro 12-volt portable stove.

The usual choice between cold food and fast food is getting an upgrade with the RoadPro stove. This handy device will heat up food (or keep hot food warm) and it plugs into your car’s 12-volt accessory socket.

  • PowerCup AC Inverter.

Inverters are becoming more common in cars and trucks, but the PowerCup takes the convenience of an inverter to the next level by keeping the inverter out of the way. This 200-watt inverter comes with two AC outlets and a USB port to charge any device you might need.

Handy Gadgets

Designed to help when something goes wrong, these devices are not as fun as the previous items, but will get you back on the road in case of an emergency:

  • iOBD2 Car Data Reader.

The same tool, that your mechanic plugs into your car to determine what is wrong with it, is now affordable and can display the results on your iPhone or smartphone. Less than the cost of a single diagnostic, the iOBD2 pays for itself the first time you use it.

  • Jump-N-Carry 12V jump starter.

Jumper cables are so ten years ago.The Tool Nerds’ jump-n-carry portable jumper packcan make jumping your battery and getting back on the road a one-person job and, although more expensive than jumper cables, thesavings in time and frustration are more than worth it.

  • CarLock.

Stopping vehicle theft is becoming easier. Typical car alarms are annoying and have become so ubiquitous that we no longer hear them. CarLock adds GPS and the internet to send reports of suspicious activity involving your car straight to your smartphone. Now, you will know if your alarm is going off.

New toys and gadgets for your car are released every day. This list, scratching the surface as it is, does illustrate the difference between cool devices that will help you get more out of your drive and helpful tools to make your car safer and easier to get back on the road in case of an emergency.

Our love affair with our cars will continue into the foreseeable future and you can bet that when self-driving cars become a feasible option, technology manufacturers will follow with devices that make the ride more enjoyable.