Category: Accessories

By on August 16, 2019

best racing simulator cockpits

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


It’s a fantasy harbored by every single gearhead on the planet: the ability to jump aboard any supercar or race machine in the world and rip off a lap of their favorite racetrack. The likes of Forza, Gran Turismo, and iRacing now affords us that opportunity, albeit digitally. Still, you’re left with steering your way around Eau Rouge with a joystick or d-pad and mashing the throttle of a McLaren Senna with your right index finger.

The advent of sim steering wheel and pedal kits solved that problem and the units shown here take that a step further. You’ll need a healthy amount of footprint space dedicated to one of these racing sim cockpits, so expect to be banished to the garage or basement with it once the novelty has worn off for the rest of the family.

Presented here are seven of the best we could find on Amazon. Note that some units being hawked online don’t come with a seat, so read the fine print carefully. All of the ones listed here do have a chair as of this writing.

Your author also wondered how long it would take writing these posts for him to unholster his Visa debit card and buy one of the units on which he is writing. The UPS truck arrives next Thursday.

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By on August 9, 2019

best head units

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Several lifetimes ago, your author was the first person in his small town to install a good set of subwoofers, plunking them in the hatchback area of a rusting Ford. Aftermarket stereos had been around for ages, of course, but banging woofers? Not so much. All hands quickly followed suit, one-upping each other and generally infuriating the community’s rapidly aging populace.

Back then, it was easy to source an aftermarket head unit because all cars had either a DIN or Double DIN sized hole in the dash. Today’s interior styling choices have put a knee in the groin of this accessory segment but there are still a few machines into which one can swap a good receiver.

Popping the extra bit of cheddar for an installation kit is always a good idea, as it precludes the need for hacking into your car’s factory wiring with the élan of Edward Scissorhands by turning the affair into essentially a plug-n-play situation. Your author speaks from personal experience in this regard. Before the presence of such kits in the stores of his home province, many a wiring harness met with particularly graphic deaths by bludgeoning.

And, for the love of all that’s holy, use good wiring practices if you’re doing this install yourself. Simply stripping the ends, twisting stuff together, and shoving it all back into the dash isn’t good enough. Familiarize yourself with the wonders of heat-activated shrink wrap or, even better, improve your soldering skills.

Now, crank it up and annoy the neighbors.

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By on July 30, 2019

best trickle chargers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


What did the bartender say to the set of jumper cables that walked into the bar? Why, he said “You’d better not start anything in here tonight,” of course!

Hey. I’m a dad and am allowed to make dad jokes.

But here’s the thing – there’s an excellent chance that natty set of thick 2-gauge jumper cables actually won’t start anything if you’re working with a battery that’s constantly flat. Constantly running a battery flatter than the Prairies is a one-way ticket to the town of No Start. That’s why trickle chargers were invented.

Designed to feed a small but measured amount of juice into a car battery, trickle chargers – also called battery maintainers – use electricity to replenish batteries at or near the same amount of self-discharge. Try to find one that shuts off at appropriate times, called a ‘float’ mode, so the battery doesn’t get overcharged like festival goers trying to buy a bottle of water.

Their most common use is to be connected when a car goes into winter storage, allowing the battery to remain at the ready for the first flick of the key next summer. Some also advocate the use of a trickle charger to boost a flat battery, since the gradual re-introduction of juice is easier on a battery than a sudden jolt. It takes a helluva long time, though.

We’ve gone through the options on Amazon and present our findings here. No more dad jokes, we promise.

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By on July 22, 2019

best trailer brake controllers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


If you’re thinking about using your truck or SUV to tow anything more than a child’s inflatable dinghy, it is an exceedingly good idea to invest in a trailer brake controller. These units, generally about the size of two stacked smartphones, manage the amount of braking force being produced by the electric brakes fitted to your trailer’s axles.

Not sure if your trailer has electric brakes? Check the plug size on the end of its electrical pigtail that gets connected to the tow vehicle. If it is rectangular with four metal connections, it is only tasked with providing the trailer’s lights with juice. If it is round with seven pins, your trailer has electric brakes.

These controllers allow the driver to monitor the braking situation astern and, in all but the cheapest examples, set the level of braking aggression provided by the trailer when you apply the brakes on your tow vehicle.

We’ve picked out eight of the best for you to consider before getting hitched and hitting the road. Be safe out there, kids.

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By on July 12, 2019

best car covers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Whether it’s a sports car or snazzy truck, chances are you’ve invested a lot in your ride. If you’re serious about preserving its value, whether for trade-in time or simply for extending the life of its paint, slapping down a few bucks on a car cover falls squarely into the category of a Very Good Idea.

Like most security items in life, a cover isn’t perfect but it certainly acts as a good deterrent. That ne’er-do-well with the keys in his hand will find it more difficult to carve epithets into the paint of a covered car than one which isn’t comfortably ensconced in some form of man-made polypropylene. Same goes for the miscreant who wants to haul open the door and drive away.

We’ve searched Amazon to unearth eight good examples of the breed. As you’d expect, some are cheap while others are uber-expensive. Read on to discover what we found.

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By on June 28, 2019

best trailer locks

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Yes, I know it seems we got our pithy phrase backwards in the title. What we mean by it is that after loading your trailer, you should lock the thing, geddit? We’ll be here all week folks; try the veal.

It doesn’t matter what’s in the tow behind — boxes of tools, camping equipment, or a Hemi ‘Cuda — it all makes a tempting target for the criminal element. This goes for actual camping trailers, too. A retailer near your author’s hometown has to deal with loss prevention more often than anyone would care to admit. After all, in most cases, the theft is as simple as a hitch-up-and-go.

In the same way The Club steering-wheel lock is used to simply provide a deterrent, rather than making your ride theft-proof, so do these hitch locks for trailers. If there are two units side by each, a thief will likely make off with the one that provides the least resistance to an easy payday. A person should still lock the doors on the thing or, if it’s a flat deck, find some other way to secure the valuables.

Meaning, of course, that none of these are a total waste of money. Something is always better than nothing and we waded through a few different options so you don’t have to.

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By on June 27, 2019

best floor mats

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Floor mats are, much like your author, routinely ignored until needed or they fail to work properly. These things serve faithfully to keep your car’s carpets clean yet are hardly given a second thought — unless they’re annoyingly bunched up near the base of your seat, at which time they’re cursed to high heaven. They’re the Rodney Dangerfield of car accessories, I tell ya.

Okay, maybe that’s too much hyperbole but you get my point. A good set of floor mats make the difference between a salt-stained mess that scuppers your car’s trade-in value and a clean whip that you’re proud to show off.

You guys know my flamboyant personality, so there will be a mix of practical and retina-searing suggestions on this list. We don’t care which one you choose, so long as you choose something. A clean car is a happy car and, if the placebo effect is of any consideration, it runs better too.

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By on May 30, 2019

best hitch cargo carriers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


There’s a theory that the amount of stuff parents need to carry with them is inversely proportional to the age of their kids. Newborns generally require at least 500 diapers and wipes plus a mandatory assortment of toys and attention grabbers. Toss in an ergonomically correct jogging stroller and a pediatrician-approved collapsible play pen and you’ve suddenly no room left in the car for humans.

Fortunately, there’s an answer. It arrives in the form of exterior cargo bags. After all, these types of storage solutions have been around for ages in some form or another. Fun fact: the shape we know as the modern sedan was created when an enterprising person bolted a rectangular chest to the back of their pre-war rig for extra storage.

Who says TTAC isn’t educational?

We’ve covered rooftop carriers in a previous installment of this series. Today, we have scoured the web for hitch-mounted carriers for those people who need extra storage space but don’t want to lose sunroof functionality. Here’s our picks.

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By on May 23, 2019

best bumper guards

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


It’s not your driving habits or parking skills that are in question here — it’s the other guy’s capabilities (or lack thereof) from which we need to guard ourselves. The cynical amongst us will say these types of bumper guards also fortify your own bumper to inflict maximum damage on others. Verticalscope’s bedwetting lawyers are reminding me not endorse that activity.

We’ve not limited ourselves to a single make or model in this post when selecting contenders for this list, so please be certain your bumper guard of choice fits your vehicle before ordering. Most of the ones shown here are of the “universal” variety. However, a lifetime of installing (and then removing and re-installing) vehicle accessories has taught your author that “universal fit” doesn’t always mean exactly what you think it does.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a garage, or even off street parking, so there is a measure of usefulness to these items. In fact, there must be a fairly big market for this type of car protection if the array of available options is any indication. Your author used to be proponent of the phrase “bumpers are for bumping,” but today’s styling decisions often render that belief more obsolete than a Commodore 64. Note well: the non-adhesive versions of these things should only be deployed when the car is parked.

And don’t worry, in addition to the best bumper guards, we’ll have a list of off-road bumper guards coming up soon.

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By on May 17, 2019

best foam cannons

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


For a good many gearheads, washing their car is a form of relaxation, if not outright therapy. From the initial hosing off of loose dirt to the final wipe of a chamois, taking one’s ride from dirty to clean hardly a chore for most people reading this post.

We’ve assembled eight options of foam cannons designed to help you make the most of that time. Whether one uses the two-bucket method or a foam cannon shown here, no one wants to scratch the heck out of their vehicle’s paintwork. Pro tip: if you drop your sponge or cleaning cloth, pitch it into a dark corner of the garage and don’t use it again until it has been thoroughly cleaned.

A clean car is a happy car (it’s my twisted belief it runs better, too). Here are a few options to help you get it your whip in top form.

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By on May 15, 2019

best portable fridges

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


The ability to serve up a cold drink has vexed automakers for years. There have been a few attempts – the icemaker in an early-90s Previa and cooled gloveboxes powered by ducted air conditioning being good examples – but, by and large, most OEMs haven’t put serious thought into providing an in-car fridge. Vacuum cleaners? Sure! But no refrigerators.

And, yes, I am intentionally ignoring the bucks-deluxe solutions from the likes of Rolls and Bentley. We’re a website for commoners, just like all the writers here.

Fortunately, the aftermarket has stepped in to offer some solutions to this problem. There are a myriad of companies building portable mini fridges designed to run off 110V and 12V power, allowing the things to work away in a car’s cargo area while the family circus travels down the road to Disneyland.

We’ve chosen eight options and presented them here. Some of them made the cut on price, a few on innovation, and one because it simply looked cool – pun intended.

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By on May 10, 2019

best cargo carriers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Look, we get it. Not every road trip in your vehicle will be a model of efficient packing. Jimmy wants to take along half his soccer gear, the dog won’t eat out of any other bowl, and Jane simply has to have her hockey stick for practice because tryouts are next month. Where are you going to fit it all?

In a rooftop cargo carrier, that’s where. These things have been around in various and sundry forms since the days of the Model T and, thanks to advancements in modern materials, have actually morphed into something resembling a usable tool. Most of them are easy to access (well, if you’re tall), waterproof, and rugged enough to withstand the forces pressed upon them by 60 mph highway travel speeds.

We’ve plucked eight different options from the digital pages of Amazon. Prices vary, as does total square footage, so be sure to select carefully before splashing out the cash. These things will scupper the use of that panoramic sunroof, too, don’t forget. And, for the love of all that’s holy, carefully read and follow the instructions for a safe and secure placement of a cargo carrier on top of your vehicle. The last thing anyone needs is for the thing to fly off into traffic behind you at speed.

With that out of the way, let’s motor.

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By on May 7, 2019

best ipad holders

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Try as you might to avoid too much screen time for your kids, there will be times on a family road trip in which backseat urchins are kept in rapt attention by some sort of tablet. It could be on the way to a far-flung location, after the nth hour of driving, or simply you need all hands to be quiet or I’m coming back there. All those reasons are valid.

So, yes. Despite all efforts of encouraging them to look at scenery or play mind-numbing games of Road Bingo, chances are high that a tablet holder will make its way into most cars across America. On the flip side, there are also plenty of people who deploy tablets for uses other than The Backyardigans, so we’ve attempted to assemble some of those options here as well.

VerticalScope’s bed-wetting lawyers are screaming at me to remind all hands not to engage with a touchscreen tablet while driving, lest a person lose their concentration and crash into a school bus full of disabled children. They are correct, of course — hands off until the car is stopped, okay? Those riding shotgun or camped out in the backseat are free to do as they please.

With that nonsense out of the way, here are eight options for installing a tablet in your car.

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By on May 3, 2019

best running boards for trucks

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Here’s a tidbit of trivia for you. At a recent truck event, your author was told by an OEM engineer that running boards actually help, not hurt, fuel economy. Preliminary wind tunnel testing allegedly showed that the boards direct the air in such a way as to create something of an air curtain along the side of the truck, effectively creating a streamline effect and reducing turbulence. Scything a cleaner path through the air saves fuel. Take from that anecdote what you will.

If nothing else, running boards help the vertically challenged amongst us to hoist themselves up into the cab of a pickup without needing to deploy a rope ladder or load themselves into a trebuchet. There is an argument that they help improve the truck’s worth at resale time, but your author is not so sure of that assertion, having owned several pickups both with and without running boards. Cash will fly out the window no matter what.

Alert readers will note we’ve selected running boards which fit various iterations of the mighty Ford F-150. We chose a single pickup truck for continuity’s sake and, since the F-Series is America’s best-selling vehicle, we figured it’d be a logical selection. Most, if not all, of the boards in the following post are available for pickups without a Blue Oval on their nose.

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By on May 2, 2019

car seat covers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Routinely ignored until needed and often derided until put into use, seat covers are the Rodney Dangerfield of car accessories. Poor fitting units bear the brunt of buyer’s remorse, while a wanton color choice is obvious to all passersby. After all, seats take up most of your car’s interior – their covering is kinda noticeable.

Whether one wants to add seat covers to their ride because the car was previously inhabited by a rabid squirrel or simply to change up the interior vibe, there are no shortage of vendors looking to take your hard-earned cash. While this is a minefield of offerings, we have attempted to wade through it all and highlight eight of them here.

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