Must-have gadgets for your car
By Eric Peters
for immediate release

Not all the "bells and whistles" come from the factory that built your car. Gadget gurus working in the automotive aftermarket industry are constantly developing new ways to improve upon what the automakers built. Here are some of my favorite must-have gadgets -- and where to find them:

* Fold-away windshield sunshade ($39.99) -- This inventive gadget attaches to the inside of your car's windshield (on the passenger side), where it stays neatly folded up and out of the way until it's time to park and leave the vehicle. Then you simply reach over, pull the shade across the windshield and secure it on the opposite side by attaching it to a small catch hook. The sun's rays are effectively blocked -- and your car's interior will be substantially cooler when you return. When you come back to the car, unhook the shade and it automatically retracts into its housing. The shade comes in sizes/shapes to fit most popular vehicles. See the Improvements catalog at www.improvementscatalog.com (item number 270888) or call 1-800-642-2112.

* "At-a-glance" tire pressure monitors ($17.95 for a set of four) -- Simply inflate your car's tires to the correct pressure as recommended in your owner's manual, then screw on these replacement tire valve caps. If the pressure drops by 2 psi or more, the color on the end of the cap changes from green to red -- letting you know at a glance that it's time to add air to that tire. Continuous monitoring also alerts you immediately to potential problems such as slow leaks you might otherwise miss. No tools required and installs by hand in minutes. See Genuine Hot Rod Hardware at www.genuinehotrod.com (item number 533-4444) or call 1-800-575-1932.

* Digital alcohol detector ($49.99-$129.99) -- A fast, easy and portable way to know for sure whether you've had one too many for the road. The Alcohawk breath analyzer comes in either compact hand-held or "micro" keychain sizes and meets federal Department of Transportation and NHTSA standards for breath alcohol screeners. Operates on either a 9 volt internal battery or plugs into your car's 12-volt power point. Available from California Car Cover at www.calcarcover.com (item number AL2000/keychain or AL4000/hand-held) or call 1-800-423-5525.

* Drive-Alert ($29.95) -- Designed to combat the problem of "drowsy driving," Drive Alert issues a loud beep if you begin to nod off behind the wheel, letting you know it's time to pull over for some coffee (or a roadside nap). The lightweight unit is worn over your ear and has an adjustable sensor that detects when your head begins to droop, at which point the buzzer sounds to quickly wake you up. Especially helpful for long-distance drivers and the elderly. See www.Gadgetuniverse (item number TE322) or call 1-800-429-0039.

* In-car coffee maker ($29.95-$39.95) -- Why stop for a cup of Java when you can brew your own at 65 mph? The Road Pro in-car coffee maker is available in either 5 cup or 10 cup sizes and plugs right into any 12-volt automotive power point/cigarette lighter. The CE-certified design keeps the pot secure while the vehicle is in motion and features a drip stop function that lets you pour a cup before the brewing cycle is done (for those who just can't wait). See www.familyonboard.com (item number 845) or call 1-603-588-3177.

* Drive-e-mocion ($20) -- Better than the finger and more expressive, too. The Drive-e-mocion canbe programmed to display any one of several messages ("thanks," "back off," etc.) as well as smiling or frowning faces (but no electronic birdies) on a digital display mounted on your vehicle's rear window -- right in the line of sight of the cars behind you. See www.au-my.com/english/au-my_retail.htm.

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