5 of the Top Accessories for New Cars

Boost your vehicle's capabilities with these useful aftermarket add-ons.

Hand holding jumpstart box over car battery under car hoodManuel Carrillo III | Capital One

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Many modern cars can be had with seemingly endless options, but there are still aftermarket automotive accessories that can improve the ownership experience. Whether you're looking for a tool to help you deal with maintenance, a helping hand in a tough situation, or a way to improve your storage space, these five accessories for new cars and trucks easily earn their keep.

OBD-II code scanner, about $25

Check-engine light got you down? Plugging an OBD-II code scanner into your vehicle's data port will pull up a specific trouble code, quickly telling you why you're seeing that warning on your dashboard. Once you know what the problem is, you can decide if it's serious enough to see a mechanic right away, if you can wait to schedule the required work, or if you might be able to take care of it yourself.

Car battery jump-starter, about $60

Being stranded by a dead battery might be avoidable if you invest in a car battery jump-starter. What was once a large and clunky power pack has shrunk to handheld size while still offering enough of a jolt to bring your battery back to life. Many jump-starter designs can also function as portable batteries for charging your phone or laptop, making this accessory a multiuse tool.

Spot cleaner, about $100

Transporting kids from point A to point B means exposing your automobile's interior to industrial-strength stains from crumbs, spilled drinks, and the occasional dropped pudding cup. Pets can also wreak havoc on your carpets and mats. Over time the buildup on seats and upholstery can overpower even the best efforts of soap and a brush, which means it's time to call in a more hard-core cleaning solution. A steam-based spot cleaner relies on heat and moisture rather than harsh chemicals to clean your cabin, ensuring that no passengers (human or otherwise) are exposed to toxic fumes or irritating residue. Better yet, these small handheld units can be easy to use and a cinch to store in your garage or closet.

Winter traction aids, about $200

If you live in a part of the country where winter weather can turn treacherous, you might appreciate a set of traction aids. Traction mats small enough to fit in your trunk, light enough to easily lift, and strong enough to support even the weight of an SUV can be helpful in cold and messy weather. Designed to slide under your vehicle's wheels when you're stuck on snow or ice, traction aids can be a safe and effective way to extract yourself from a slippery situation.

Rooftop cargo carrier, about $500

Sometimes there just isn't enough room inside the vehicle to transport all of your family's gear on a big road trip. Enter the rooftop cargo carrier, a durable add-on that's intended to accommodate the luggage, sports equipment, and camping supplies you can't cram into your vehicle's storage areas. Consult the cargo carrier's manual to determine weight and capacity limits. Available in a wide range of styles and designs, cargo carriers can be suitable for both cars and SUVs.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.