Make the next road trip easier and safer

Special to The Times

One for the road takes on a more helpful meaning with the following new products, which should keep you safe, up to speed, headed in the right direction and traveling in style.


Handling inflation

Tire gauge: Deflation is a tire’s enemy and a mileage killer. The palm-size Smart Pressure Tire Gauge measures the actual tire pressure against the vehicle’s recommended pressure, which you program into it. Just snap the gauge onto the air valve, and the color screen display will light up blue if the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) is met, green if the tire is under-inflated and red if it is over-inflated. The gauge can remember PSI settings for two cars. There’s a bleeder valve for manually reducing the pressure if you overfill. Runs on two button cell batteries, which are included. A must-have for the glove compartment.


Smart Pressure Tire Gauge, $35, from Brookstone, (800) 846-3000 or

Baby go lightly

Stroller-car seat: The dizzying number of stroller/car seat systems on the market can confound couples searching for a sturdy comfortable choice that doesn’t require a forklift to hoist or a truck to transport. Graco’s Metrolite LE Travel Stroller System is safe and sound and blessedly lightweight (18 pounds) thanks to a cleverly designed aluminum frame. The car seat has a five-point harness, a three-position recline and a base that stays in the car for on-the-go convenience. The height-adjustable handle on the stroller makes pushing comfortable for all sizes.

Add to this a “parent” organizer with two cup holders (in huge demand, according to the manufacturer), a pivoting kid’s tray (also with a cup holder) and a quilted canopy with peek-a-boo windows, and you’re good to go.

Graco Metrolite LE Travel Stroller System, $229. Graco, (800) 345-4109 or

Highway helper

Service guide: Say you’re zipping along the interstate and need a burger, rest stop, more gas, hotel or even a hospital. The battery-operated Talking Road Whiz might instantly become your favorite companion. Key in the state, highway, direction you’re headed and mile marker number, and a woman’s voice will prompt you to choose a restaurant (including 24-hour establishments), gas station (including 24 hour and diesel) or other service. The device will display and speak your selection, along with the distance, directions and driving time.

The Road Whiz, about the size of a TV remote control, has data on 80,000 services near U.S. interstates. It also provides directions between 250 cities. But it can’t be updated and is confusing to operate at first.


Talking Road Whiz, $40, Ultradata Systems, (800) 274-0971 or

Meter minder

Parking timer: The Auto Parking Timer key chain could quickly earn its keep. The timer, which is shaped like a little parking meter, has adjustable 59-minute and 19-hour countdown functions to help you remember when your meter is going to expire. The bright LCD display has a digital clock. The timer has a flip-down face with push-button settings. It runs for about two years on one included replaceable button cell watch battery. At just 2.5 by 1.5 by .66 of an inch thick and weighing just .75 of an ounce, load it on.

Auto Parking Timer, $9.95, from AJ Prindle, (866) 774-8278 or


Petal to the metal

Car vase: If you can’t stop and smell the roses, you can at least take some along. The newest nicety for vehicles is a slim 1-inch diameter, 7-inch-high Pyrex vase sheathed in a sporty leather holster with an attached plastic plug that fits snugly into the cigarette lighter socket. The vase fits into most nonrecessed car and RV lighter sockets, and dual lighter adapters have a vase plus an extra power outlet.

Vehicle Vase, $29.95, from Dashing Roses, (866) 827-3498 or

Gear & Gadgets runs once a month.