The essential security devices every car needs

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

After your home, your car is likely to be the most important – and most cherished – possession you have. It is your pride and joy, yours and yours alone. So how would you feel if someone stole your car or managed to get inside it and make off with valuables such as your car stereo or Sat-Nav?

You would be livid, of course.

Unfortunately, car theft and the opportunistic stealing of vehicle-based valuables is a feature of modern life; so, even if you have not had to deal with this kind of thing before, you can be pretty sure an unscrupulous so-and-so will look at your car at some point in the future and consider trying their luck.

Happily, there are a number of security devices now available for purchase which can stop (and help to deter) car thieves from getting their hands on your pride and joy. Below are three of the most essential.

Kill switches

An ignition kill switch is basically a relay which is inserted somewhere into your ignition circuit and stops the circuit from being completed without the switch being turned on. This means that car thieves have to find and activate the switch before they can start the car. It is fair to say that most car thieves find kill switches to be supremely frustrating as, even after doing everything they can to override a vehicle’s security, their ‘prize’ still won’t start. Of course, kill switches need to be installed in well hidden places in order to be effective: you can choose you own location and install it yourself or get a qualified vehicle electrician to do it for you.

Steering column locks

These locks are simple but effective security devices which encase your steering column in a protective metal casing, thus preventing thieves from accessing your ignition switch or tampering with the surrounding casing and wiring. Steering column locks are great deterrents as car thieves know how hard these security features make it for them to pull out wiring or get to the ignition switch beneath the key barrel to hotwire the car. Some steering column locks also come complete with a bar that acts as a steering wheel lock, thereby limiting steering wheel movement as well as protecting the steering column.

Car radio removal keys

It is often the case these days that when you buy a new car with a decent stereo, you get a user manual with it which has a key-like tool contained within which is used to remove the unit. These removal keys – there are normally two of them – slide between the sides of the stereo where they unlock the unit, enabling you to pull your stereo out of its cavity with ease. Regardless of how hard they might try, ill-equipped thieves find it practically impossible to prise a locked stereo from a vehicle that uses this kind of security feature. Do not worry if your car didn’t include removal keys when you bought it; these handy tools can be purchased for most makes and models.

How to upgrade your vehicle in four easy steps

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Not so long ago, what you saw was pretty much what you got when you purchased a new car. Unless you were a self-confessed petrol head, custom-car enthusiast or boy racer, you could pretty much guarantee that the car you bought home from the showroom or forecourt would effectively stay the same for the entire period of time you owned it.

Of course, things are very different these days as there are all manner of easy-to-install ‘add-ons’ and car specific upgrades now available that enable you to modify elements of your vehicle to your heart’s content. Here’s how you can achieve a comprehensive vehicle upgrade in just four easy steps.

Step 1: make your vehicle safer to drive

It is an unfortunate fact that hundreds of people are killed every year by reversing cars. Tragically, many of these deaths are children. In addition, ‘backing-up’ accidents also account for tens of thousands of non-fatal injuries each year. Adding an inexpensive and easy-to-install reversing camera to your vehicle can help to mitigate your chances of contributing to these dreadful statistics as it is able to relay real-time images to a dash-mounted monitor, thereby enabling you to maintain a clear and constant view of what’s happening behind you.

Step 2: improve your vehicle’s security

Although most modern cars come complete with a swathe of security features, you can never do too much to ensure your vehicle remains as secure as possible. An ignition kill switch is an invaluable upgrade option in this respect as it is one of the most simple and effective anti-theft measures currently available for purchase. These inexpensive relays are the bane of car thieves everywhere as it doesn’t matter how experienced or accomplished they might be, they simply will not be able to start the car without locating and turning on the hidden switch which stops the ignition circuit from being completed.

Step 3: make your car more family friendly

Back in the ‘good old days’, children who didn’t get travel sick had three main things they could do to keep themselves amused on car journeys lasting longer than half an hour: delve into a colouring-in book, play a game of ‘I Spy’, or fight with their brother/sister (really long journeys involved doing all three). Happily the availability of car specific upgrades like a DVD player ensures today’s parents can undertake long family journeys with far greater confidence. Individual DVD players placed on the back of front seats are great options for a brace of children who find it hard to share, while single-screen, roof mounted options are ideal for keeping a brood entertained with Peppa Pig et al.

Step 4: improve your chances of avoiding fines (and points)

While we all freely admit that the presence of speed cameras on our roads is, on the whole, a good thing; there are few things more frustrating than receiving a fine and/or getting points on your license for going 33mph in a 30 zone. Happily, investing in a speed camera detector can help to ensure you don’t get caught out in this way as these handy devices can make you aware of the local authority’s safety measures before you approach them, thereby giving you time to make sure you are travelling well within the appropriate speed limit.

All-Time Great Road-Trip Playlists

Monday, March 31st, 2014

There comes a time when the music in your car is much more than just the accompaniment to your commute: The road-trip.

The road-trip isn’t just another journey. It is the means to a highly anticipated end and an opportunity to perfect the ideal soundtrack.

The playlists archetypes below have stood the test of time and proven themselves beyond all doubt. All track suggestions are just that; suggestions.

‘To Boldly Go’:

Not all road trips revolve around carefree adventures. ‘To Boldly Go’ is designed to make you feel invincible and completely in control. No matter what is thrown at you during the course of your day, you’ll arrive with a fanfare.

Starting with Rush and taking in classic film themes from the Last of the Mohicans and Raiders of the Lost Ark, this playlist is Mr Miyagi to your Karate Kid.

Tom Sawyer-Rush

Knights of Cydonia- Muse

Little Green Bag- George Baker

The Gael (Last of the Mohicans)- Trad. Celtic

Raiders’ March (Raiders of the Lost Ark)- John Williams

‘I’m Free!’:

The release from working life for a holiday or the weekend deserves more than drive-time radio. Mark the occasion properly with an eclectic, punchy and powerful selection of mood music. ‘I’m Free’ should consist of songs that tap into the hopeful energy that sweet release brings.

Jailbreak (live)- Thin Lizzy

We’re Not Gonna Take It- Twisted Sister

Signed, Sealed, Delivered- Stevie Wonder

Atomic Dog- George Clinton

Friday I’m in Love- The Cure

‘Evening Smoothie’:

This playlist is all about making you feel like you’re gliding through space and time as you travel on into the night. Best started as the sun is going down, these songs should have you eating up miles without even realising.

Night Moves- Bob Seger

The Boys of Summer- Don Henley

Lenny- Stevie Ray Vaughan

Purple Rain- Prince

All Night Long- Lionel Richie

‘Stand By to Party’:

Not every road trip is about eating up the miles on a cross-country adventure. Sometimes the journey is meant as an appetiser rather than the main course.

This playlist should be short and sharp, designed to squeeze your adrenalin glands and set your heart racing in anticipation of the evening ahead. Ideal for blasting out from the car stereo as if no one else was listening!

Ooh La La- Goldfrapp

Come into My Life- Rick James

Santana- Smooth

Senorita- Justin Timberlake

Rock With You- Michael Jackson

Radio is Dead, Long live Radio! Has the in-car Analogue Radio met its Demise?

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Radio has been mourned many times in its history, most notably in songs by Queen and The Buggles. While that may seem like an unfortunate eulogy, it is one that is happily premature.

Yes, analogue radio is on the wane in terms of new production. Digital radio is now cheap and compact and MP3/Bluetooth integration has brought the iPod revolution to the highways.

But analogue isn’t going anywhere.

Instead it’s embraced the uncertainty of the future and bust out of its rut, ready for what comes next.

To begin with consider this: why, given the rise of the above, do commercial stations and the BBC continue to use analogue signals?

Why bother to continue with such a blatant anachronism when modern technology seems to offer you music before you even knew you wanted it?

Could it be because most people have chosen to enjoy their radio in exactly the same way they have before?

Well yes and no. New model cars continue to install far more sophisticated kit as standard as do the vast majority of after-market sound systems. Crucially though, there is still AM/FM tuning available.

While it would be wrong to say that analogue radio will remain an unchanged entity, it has clearly carved out its own niche to survive in.

For the millions of car models on the road that are not relatively new, the traditional radio; radio/cassette; radio/CD setup is still king of the road. Where changes have been made, there is still an option to use the old ways.

The excitement and flexibility of new options does not mean the death of old ones, just that evolution is necessary.

While it is unlikely that the present arrangement will remain forever, the new wave of technology has that covered.

Eventually car makers will sell models that have no need for analogue signals. Much like television switched over to digital signals in Britain, there will come a time when analogue signals are finally unnecessary.

AM/FM tuning will no longer be needed, but it won’t matter. Changing the way a signal is received and sent doesn’t alter what the substance of what is heard. Analogue radio will shed its body but not its spirit.

It will be a mobile-broadband fed, digital quality sound that can be controlled by umpteen gadgets. But it will still be the same content, crisper and uninterrupted maybe, but the same nonetheless.

Top 5 musical gadgets for your car

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Trying to get the best from your music while you’re in your car can seem to be a bit of a daunting task.

Speaker combinations, integrated entertainment set-ups and radio options are myriad and overwhelming the more you try to understand.

Fear not good reader because we can help you! The gadgets below are those that best compliment your in-car music of choice.


Aimed at those with a sophisticated speaker set-up and a desire to fine-tune the overall audio experience, equalisers are the next logical step for those serious about the way they play their music.

Equalisers allow finely tuned control of up to ten frequency bands from bass to treble, with fading options and left/right adjustments.

MP3 Connectors

At the opposite end of the scale, we have a very basic gadget but one that is frankly an elegant and simple approach.

Finding an auxiliary connector cable for your MP3 player is a quick and clean way of maintaining access to your music, a 21st century take on the CD wallet.

Plug and play has never been easier, with a number of alternatives designed to suit smartphones as well.

Integrated Stereos

This particular gadget is the best friend of those individuals who just can’t quite let anything go. Managing to squeeze in radio, CD, MP3 and Bluetooth connections as well as auxiliary inputs and charging facilities they are a perfect half-way house.

Integrated units make the most of what you’ve got without breaking the bank or requiring complicated rewiring.


While many gadgets define their existence by multiple controls and technical specifications, amplifiers are, first and foremost, hardware. Installing them is a more passive approach a little removed from the active fiddling that an equaliser entails.

They are powerful and come in a range of channel options depending on your preference, and some are even available as part of a subwoofer package too. Turning up to 11 has never been easier.

Multimedia Systems

At first glance this may well seem an over-the-top version of an integrated stereo, something that works best as part of a complete overhaul to your in-car sound set-up.

Well yes and no. Yes they are an upgraded integrated stereo. However, imagine for a second you possess a concert DVD.

Combined with your car’s speakers, you suddenly have your own mobile front row seat. Who wouldn’t want to pass that up?

5 new car technologies that will pimp your ride

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Feeling a little stone-age behind the wheel? If you’ve only just mastered the art of hooking your iPod up to the car stereo, you might not want to read this list of technologies coming to car users soon – from cars that can talk to each other, to interactive windscreens.


A small team in Washington, D.C. recently started a funding campaign on Indiegogo to get their prototype windscreen HUD (heads up LCD display), unimaginatively coined HeadsUp, developed. The technology means that your phone or device can screen apps onto a part of your windscreen, a la Google Glass. The premise is promising, but the team behind this model have been quiet since December ’13.

Nissan Nismo

Nissan have designed a watch that connects wirelessly to your car. Like something out of a Bond film, the device can take accurate readings of your vehicle, which can currently only look at your median speed and average fuel consumption. The Nismo can also read your heart rate but is currently only available to Nissan drivers.

Active cornering headlights

Active cornering lights are intuitive to your steering and swivel the lamps to light up the parts of the road you need to see more clearly when making a sharp turn. Currently a feature found on some new high-end cars, the technology has proven particularly popular and could see a mainstream assimilation soon.

Self-driving cars

This one is more one for the future than a strictly ‘new’ technology –but engineers working for Google are known to have already tested the idea of self-driving cars fairly extensively. Though something we’re more used to seeing in sensational entertainment such as Knight Rider, the idea of a self-navigating car seems feasible, even with current technology.

Inter-vehicular communication

The U.S. government has poured funds into researching a technology that can allow cars to interact with each other on the road – potentially preventing nearly four out of five car accidents, according to research. The in-development technology has been dubbed V2V, vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Of course, there’s always the need for a traditional car stereo among all the high-tech gadgetry, providing a welcome entertainment alternative on very long journeys.

How to turn your car into a cinema on wheels

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Tired of the classic radio? Was it the repetitive pop music, the auto-tuned vocals, the endless adverts or the DJ you want to punch? Have you finally exhausted your Aerosmith greatest hits? If your car journeys, particularly the longer ones, are starting to drag, you might want to invest in some more substantial in-car entertainment. Equipping your car with the hardware that qualifies it to be a cinema on wheels might sound like excess– but you definitely deserve it.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is acquire an upgraded sound system. Premium surround sound systems are a costly endeavour for motorists – a high end system such as a Bang & Olufsen will nearly always set you back at least £5,000. But once installed, when your car has the acoustic quality of the Royal Albert Hall’s interior, you might feel like it was worth it. More affordable sound systems are available for the budget spender.

Now consider the archetypal cinema experience. One of the main words to come to mind is comfort. You pay extra for premium seats, with legroom and space to relax. The seats you put in your mobile cinema are integral to that feeling of luxury. Obviously, we aren’t talking about the cinema seat that folds into itself when you stand up: rather, the type of seat where merely sitting in it is an experience in itself. Luxury leather and heated car seats are a must for a driver coveting the cinematic feel.

You can’t have a cinema without a screen. The best screens aren’t cheap, and the smartest systems are the ones that come with a mechanism that unfolds the screen at the press of a button. In-car TV systems vary in price from model to model and car to car so it’s important to know where you want to situate the screens, also.

Above all else, be safe out there, particularly when driving a cinema on wheels.

NEW In Phase BT MATE Bluetooth cra kit with A2DP and AUX input for any AUX input car stereo

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

In Phase BT MATE Bluetooth Car Kit with A2DP Audio Streaming

This great product design and function allows you to connect to your car stereo system via Aux-In to allow you to make bluetooth handsfree phone calls and stream audio using A2DP from your bluetooth media device direct to your stereo system.

  • Car speakers will play voice from your call and audio from your media device (connected via line-in or streamed via bluetooth)
  • Audio played from your media device is automatically muted during an incoming call
  • Recharge the built in li-polymer battery via USB in 1.5 hours
  • Use the supplied audio dock to reposition the BT MATE in a more accessible location if you wish
  • Full duplex communication with echo and noise cancellation
  • Supports 3-way call function

BT Mate

Car Audio Centre will now deliver to new countries

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

The Car Audio Centre will now ship to these countries

Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, France, Sweden, Romania, Belgium.

Please contact us for cost of shipping for these countries +44 (0)870 754 4486


Nissan 350Z has the Sony XNV-L77BT installed at Car Audio Centre Tooting

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Nissan 350Z has the Sony XNV-L77BT installed at Car Audio Centre Tooting

Sony really pulled out all the stps when it came to developing the new XNV-L77BT, TomTom based sat nav double din stereo system, built in bluetooth, full touch screen, detachable front panel and full speed and control over iPod and iPhone, this has been installed in the Nissan 350z Gt series, Great looking car now with a fantastic stereo system to really make the original Bose system play to its full potential.

Car Audio centre Tooting 0208 971 9181

Nissan 350Z has the Sony XNV-L77BT installed at Car Audio Centre Tooting

Nissan 350Z has the Sony XNV-L77BT installed at Car Audio Centre Tooting

Nissan 350Z has the Sony XNV-L77BT installed at Car Audio Centre Tooting