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At Hearst Autos, we're constantly trying out new gear for cars, trucks, and motorcycles—and for the people who love them. The staffs of Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Autoweek are in the trenches week after week to bring you the best in automotive news and information. In the process, we use a lot of stuff.
That includes tools for working on vehicles, aftermarket products for improving them, and the gadgets, tech, cleaners, and accessories that make them more user-friendly.
There's a ton of automotive gear and products out there—and plenty of places to buy it all. But if you haven't tried something yourself, how can you know whether it's worth spending your hard-earned money on? That's why we're sharing our personal recommendations for the car gear and automotive accessories we use ourselves.
Here are our picks for the best car gear of the week.
Lisle Spill-Free Funnel
Flushing coolant or refilling a cooling system after doing a repair can be a mess. Either you have a system full of air pockets, not enough coolant, or a huge spill on your hands. In a repair shop, none of those are acceptable to mechanics—and they shouldn’t be for you either. The solution: a spill-free funnel.
The Lisle Spill-Free Funnel (image at top) comes with four caps, five adapters, and a stopper, allowing you to prefill the funnel and safely transfer any leftover coolant to an overflow or empty bottle. The four cap styles cover a large swath of common radiators, and the adapters help you put the funnel in the right spot. The cap holds the funnel upright, placing it at the highest point in the system to help massage air out of the nooks and crannies. It's a low-budget solution to a high-pressure headache. —Wesley Wren, associate editor, Autoweek
Solary Magnetic Induction Heater Kit
If you’re turning wrenches in the Rust Belt, the Solary Magnetic Induction Heater Kit can be your best friend. Instead of taking a blow torch to every third rusty and seized bolt, I reach for the induction heater kit instead. These little machines can get the job done with precision and speed most Midwest techs only dream of. Rusty-suspension woes, begone!
This particular kit is on the lower end of the Solary spectrum, where prices go as high as $900. But believe me when I say that this unit is enough to beef up your job turnover. Or at the very least, save you a few frustrating afternoons trying to release that rusty bolt from its home. —Katherine Keeler, technical assistant, Car and Driver
Flying Eyes Optics
Flying Eyes was started by a pilot who wanted sunglasses that would fit comfortably under the headset he wore while at the controls. They're great for race-car drivers, motorcyclists—anyone who wears a helmet. The arms are flat and slide right between your head and ear pads. On a daylong ride, you definitely don't want sunglasses that grind and slice into your ear or cranium.
Thin and light, Flying Eyes are virtually unbreakable, providing 100 percent UV400 protection in several lens choices, including polarized. Flying Eyes makes prescription lenses too. Prices start at $199. —Mark Vaughn, senior editor, Autoweek
RiotPWR ESL Gaming Controller for iOS
Mobile gaming is a massive industry, and racing games take up a sizable chunk of that market, boasting powerful graphics and impressive car lists. However, using your thumbs to drive is . . . underwhelming. To combat this, RiotPWR has released the ESL, a gaming controller that plugs into your phone, unlocking the power of traditional gaming controls for a huge list of compatible mobile games.
RiotPWR sent me the iOS version (you can buy an Android version as well), and I tried it out with the game Gear.Club. Setup is easy—plug into the lightning port, insert the phone mount, launch a compatible game, select the option that says "play with controller," and you're good to go.
The controller feels great—the corded connection produced zero lag, and the construction feels sturdy. The button layout is nearly identical to an Xbox One controller, and besides the bumper buttons being a bit loud, gaming with it feels natural. The one knock I have is that the cord is excessively long for phone gaming; a shorter one would suffice. Overall, if you want to take your mobile gaming skills to the next level, you gotta have one of these controllers, and the ESL from RiotPWR is a great choice. —Collin Morgan, assistant commerce editor, Hearst Autos