posted on October 14th, 2015

Are you looking at a new car or considering adding some upgrades to your current ride? New technologies, like backup cameras and integrated Bluetooth, can enhance your driving experience, but some costs may not be worth it. Here’s our take on how to prioritize.

Backup Camera

By law, all new cars in the United States will be required to have a backup camera starting in May 2018. If you already have a car without a camera, or if your car is built prior to that date, you’ll have to make the call whether a backup camera is worthwhile.

Want to add one on your own? Several companies, including car manufacturers, have options to install a backup camera. Depending on your car and needs, kits are available from around $90–300, some of which can integrate with your rearview mirror or require a dash-mounted screen. Going through your manufacturer may cost quite a bit more.

Verdict: Not worth the cost

Backup cameras are proven to increase safety, which is the number one reason they are required for cars in the future. As an added bonus, they make parallel parking, backing into parking spots, and anything you have to do while in reverse much easier. However, unless you need extra help parking or have small kids at home, you’ve been driving a long time without one and may want to prioritize elsewhere,

Integrated Bluetooth

Bluetooth allows your car to talk to your smart phone. Benefits include streaming audio from your phone to your sound system and making hands-free phone calls through your car.

Adding Bluetooth to your existing car stereo may be possible if your car is new enough. Some owners do not have as many options, and may have to made additional upgrades to make it all work. Kits that plug into your existing car stereo system run around $150–300.

Verdict: Worth the cost

While you can get hands-free earbuds with an integrated microphone for about $20, if you’re ever tempted to touch your phone while driving, Bluetooth can be a lifesaving technology. In many states, using your phone without hands-free technology will land you a fine that can cost more than an integrated system. Distracted driving claims far too many lives, and yours may be saved by this investment.

Blind Spot Detection

I recently drove a car with blind spot detection, and I have to say I was impressed. When a car was in my blind spot, a yellow caution light appeared in the side view mirrors letting me know that it was not safe to change lanes.

If you don’t want to wait for a new car with the features integrated, you may be in luck. Blind spot detection systems are available for $80-120 that can help you out when changing lanes.

Verdict: Undecided

While these sensors can improve safety, good driving habits offer nearly the same level of protection. Nervous drivers may feel better with the systems installed, but it is not clearly worth the cost in all instances.

Safety First

Whether you’re a renter or an owner, we are all about safety at Turo. Our $1 million insurance policy and 24-hour roadside assistance ensure drivers and cars are protected when things don’t go as planned.

Eric is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, travel, and real estate blogger. When he's away from the computer, he's out flying planes, riding bikes, and DJing the occasional dance party.