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Car Product Awards 2024: the best kit for your car

From waxes and washes to tyres and tools, the top kit for your car

Financial pressures have eased since our 2023 Product Awards, but they are still there, with mortgage, utility and food costs at levels never anticipated even a few years ago.

However, cars still need maintaining, cleaning and repairing, so when you spend your hard-earned cash, you need to know you are going to get something that works and is good value. And that is why a product-testing programme has been a key part of Auto Express for well over two decades.

Each year, more than 600 products pass under the critical gaze of our team of testers, who have decades of experience in assessing kit in their areas of expertise.

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Our tests remain unmatched in the UK’s mainstream automotive media: fiercely independent and not afraid to call out underperforming products. And that independence is valued not just by our readers, but also by the industry, which puts considerable effort and resource into making the 50-plus multitests we conduct every year possible. 

Our thanks go to all those who have assisted our team throughout the past year. The series of tests we’ve published simply wouldn’t have been possible without them. 

Our testing programme may have been around for some time, but we do not rest on our laurels and we are always looking to adapt to match changes in the industry. As a result, this year we have included EV cables, aggregators, automotive cashback sites and cordless ratchets for the first time.

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While we are always ready to call out a product that doesn’t work as it should, the following products celebrate producers who’ve got it right and deliver great value and performance. 

Best car products 2024

Product of the year: Nextbase iQ

  • Price: £349.99-£449.99 (64GB SD card included)
  • Contact: nextbase.co.uk

Once in a while, a company launches a new product that changes an entire market and makes all its rivals seem obsolete. The most obvious example is how Apple turned the mobile-phone business on its head.

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We think that the Nextbase iQ will do the same with the dash-cam market, which is why we have named it the Auto Express Product of the Year for 2024. 

The big difference over other cameras is its connectivity and AI tech, making it safer, more secure, and generally more useful.

The conventional SD memory card stores all the footage from the front, driver-facing and rear-view cameras, but it is backed up by cloud storage fed through the iQ’s built-in mobile data connection. 

This means you can check in on your car from anywhere using the Nextbase app on your smartphone, seeing both the live and saved footage. Even if the car isn’t moving, the Nextbase will alert you if it senses a parking knock or break in. And if the camera itself is stolen, footage of the crime will be safely stored in the cloud. The GPS data is also fed back, so it acts as a tracker. 

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While you are in the car, you can ask the iQ to do various tasks using voice activation, including an option to alert someone if you feel threatened or need their help. This will allow them to see what’s happening through the camera. 

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Nextbase has also thought about what happens after an accident. The software will create a report for you to give to your insurer or the police, which includes footage, maps and even the speeds of anyone involved. The AI can also identify other vehicles and pedestrians. 

We understand not every driver will need all of the iQ’s features or be able to justify the substantial purchase and subscription cost, which is why the Nextbase wasn’t named the Best Buy in our dash cam test. The cheapest model costs £349.99, and the connected features require a monthly subscription at between £6.99 and £9.99.

But this award is all about innovation and moving the technology forward, and for some, it will bring real peace of mind. As a result, we expect its features will gradually filter down to more affordable cameras. 

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Best all-season tyre: Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3

The Gen-3 Vector 4Seasons has been around for a few years – it made its test debut in 2020 – but it has always been among the top performers. Now, at the fourth time of asking, it has finally taken the top spot by the narrowest of margins. 

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Wet-weather performance is key in our tyre tests, and the Goodyear was joint best alongside the Vredestein. It had the edge on feel, with sharp steering and good traction pulling the car through the turns. It also felt good enough in the dry and on the snow to take the win. 

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Buy now from BlackCircles

Best summer tyre: Continental PremiumContact 7

We knew the PremiumContact 7 was good after it beat three rivals in a mini test. But the margin of its victory against 10 brands here was a surprise. 

We’re used to tyres being split by a few tenths of a percentage point, yet the Continental was a full one per cent clear of the next best. It took three wins on its way to victory and was only off the podium three times across nine tests. It wasn’t only effective, but it was also good to drive, inspiring confidence in the wet with a pleasing sharpness rivals lacked.

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Best winter tyre: Continental WinterContact TS 870

This is the second win on the trot for the WinterContact TS 870, and Continental’s second win this year, after its success with the PremiumContact 7. 

While the TS 870 was close to the top on the white stuff, it secured the win in the wet and dry. Across all of these tests it finished first or second – ideal for our rating, which aims to find the best for the UK climate. As with the PremiumContact 7, there’s a liveliness behind the wheel which others can’t match. Plus it was also the most fuel-efficient design. 

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Best battery charger: Draper 12V Intelligent Battery Charger 53491

This is something of a redemption for this 10A charger that was a contender for the win in our last test before a spark during misuse hurt its overall score. There were no problems this time around as it breezed all our tests, finishing runner-up in the race to 80 per cent by completing the task in four hours and 45 minutes. 

The instructions are good and the unit has intuitive controls and decent-length leads. Add in a competitive price, an IP65 protection rating and lithium capability, and you have a charger that would be an asset to any garage.

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Best snow foam lances: AVA Premium Foam Cannon Kit

AVA seemed to start with a clean sheet when designing this snow foam lance kit. It has three containers, allowing you to have mixes for snow foam, shampoo and wash/wax. The lids double up as sturdy bases and allow the bottles to be stacked. Each bottle has clear measurements that make mixing chemicals easy. 

It doesn’t have brass connections, but the plastics have a high-quality feel and the price is keen. The nozzle has lots of adjustment too, but you have to make do with a vertical fan spray pattern. 

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Best snow foam: Halfords Advanced HP Snow Foam

  • Price: Around £11  
  • Size: 2.5 litres
  • Contact: halfords.com

You might expect an own-brand product to trail behind the pricier rivals, but the snow foam from Halfords’ new Advanced range was a winner in our tests.

The clear instructions suggest a 1:5 dilution ratio in the snow foam bottle, which produced a thin foam that clung to the dirt on our paintwork. After rinsing with a pressure washer, Halfords’ patch more than matched its competitors’. The £11 cost for a 2.5-litre bottle works out at 18p per wash, and this snow foam is readily available in any Halfords store. 

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Best scratch remover: T-Cut Perfect Compound

T-Cut is the best-known brand for scratch-removing creams, and its Perfect Compound is more effective – and better smelling – than the original formula. It also beat all 18 rivals in this test to become our shining star.

The green liquid can be used by hand or applied by machine and can be felt working quickly. After our controlled rubbing, the marks from the wire wool and trim tool were barely visible. While not the cheapest, Perfect Compound is still good value and widely available. 

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Best dash cam: Miofive S1 4K Dash Cam

  • Price: Around £80 (plus SD card)  
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Contact: amazon.co.uk

Miofive has pushed the dash-cam market in the past few years with innovations that make a real difference to users, combined with very competitive pricing. The S1 is the camera which will really worry rivals. 

It includes GPS tracking to embed speed and location data. There’s a built-in screen, so it’s easy to check the view and access menus, or you can link up via a fast WiFi connection to use an app. The 4K footage is up with the best, yet it costs less than £100, even with an SD memory card. 

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Best car headlight bulb: Philips RacingVision GT200

As always in this test, the results are close and it was a mixed bag of finishes for Philips across the four assessments. At the heart of its win here – its second on the trot following victory with the single-filament H7 in 2022 – was the huge area above 30 lux, which could easily be seen in the light tunnel. 

It also delivered the brightest spot in that beam. It was a bit behind its rivals in the other tests, but close enough to take the victory. It remains our pick despite a small price hike since the headlight bulb test.

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Best inspection lamps: Philips Xperion 6000 Slim

It’s a second win for the top-quality Philips Slim, which has a weighty feel that keeps it upright on non-metallic surfaces. There’s a strong magnet on the base, which helps make full use of the fold-out LED strip blade that produces 500 lumens. There is an energy-saving mode and a decent torch in the tip, too. 

It comes with a charging lead, but can be used with an optional dock plus the Philips Find My location system. A keen price completes a winning package that ticks just about all our boxes.

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Best cordless drill: Ryobi RPD18X-0 18V ONE+ HP Cordless Brushless Combi Drill

We like the build quality of Ryobi’s flagship drill, which is finished as ever in bright yellow and comes with a hefty 4Ah battery. This gives a long running time, but makes it a little weighty, at 2.1kg, something that’s offset by it being quite short and wieldy.

Having a detachable handle is very useful for more heavy-duty jobs. It’s the fastest here, with a maximum speed of 2,100rpm, and has the best torque figure of 95Nm. It’s hard to fault at the price, especially if you already have a charger. The instructions are poor and no case is supplied, however. 

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Best torque wrench: Halfords Advanced Model 300

In a sea of lookalike tools, Halfords has gone its own way with this torque wrench, which covers 60-300Nm. It’s also longer than most rivals, making hitting the big- number torque settings less of a strain. Plus it boasts a push-through half-inch drive, so it measures in both directions. 

Setting torque levels is easier than most through the smart window and there’s a high-quality feel, as you’d expect at this price. It was just outside its claimed three per cent tolerance at 20 per cent, but within it at the top two levels. Not a cheap tool, but good.

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Best car glass cleaner: Bilt-Hamber Trace-Less

The way Trace-Less cuts through grease is impressive and it takes cleaning glass to another level, on the inside at least. 

When you spray the liquid onto the window, it clings to the glass instead of running. You can then attack it with the supplied cloth, which picked up most of our dirt on the first wipe. The cleaner then evaporated, leaving a smear-free finish without needing extra polishing. But it struggled to shift the water mark, and the pear-drop smell can become overpowering in a confined space. 

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Best car plastic and trim restorer: Simoniz Back to Black Tyre & Trim

The Simoniz’s rare aerosol application makes it exceptionally easy to use. The instructions suggest you can add more than one coat, but we made do with one generous layer on our horizontal bumper surface and noticed an immediate darkening of the colour and a pleasant satin finish. It was still darker than all but the Angelwax at the end of our test, and it was obviously repelling water too.

Although it couldn’t quite match the endurance of the Angelwax, Simoniz’s price and ease of use put it in top spot. 

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Best interior wipe: Everbuild Multi-Use Wonder Wipes

There was some serious interior cleaning power here, each tub containing nearly 5m2 of wipes which, even with a price increase in the past 12 months, equates to a test best of £1.48 per square metre. Because each of the 100 wipes was around 480cm2, many tasks needed just one to get the job done. 

They cleaned our test surfaces well, although the performance on the biro mark could have been better. They also had an antibacterial additive to the EN 1276 standard (for chemical disinfectants and antiseptics), and vitamin E with aloe vera for the skin. 

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Best trim cleaner: Dodo Juice Total Wipe Out

This was a very tight win for Total Wipe Out trim cleaner. In terms of cleaning ability, it shared the top score with Kenotek, providing exceptional results on both soft and hard trims. To try and separate them we extended the test to fabrics, but both products excelled again. The prices are just a penny apart, too.

In the end we gave the top prize to the Dodo Juice because it’s an all- purpose cleaner. That versatility means it can be used on any interior or exterior surface. If you’re only faced with light dirt, it can be diluted to make it go further.

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Best leather cleaner: Supernatural Leather Cleaner

We aren’t sure what is in Supernatural’s leather cleaner, but it is so far ahead of any rival that we had to double check we hadn’t done something wrong in the test. 

Just one wipe with the microfibre was sufficient to clear most of our test dirt, which would be enough for the majority of cleaning jobs. It was also the only cleaner of the 20 we tried that easily shifted the ballpoint pen mark. Granted, it’s slightly more expensive than its rivals here, but we think you’ll be able to use much less to get the same results. 

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Best wash wax: Dodo Juice Future Armour

Dodo Juice’s Future Armour can be applied in several ways, making this wash wax very versatile. The first is to spray it directly from the bottle onto wet or dry paint and wipe off with a microfibre cloth. But if you’re in a hurry, it can be diluted and fed through a snow foam bottle. 

Whichever method you use, one bottle should be enough to treat a car at least 10 times. But Dodo Juice suggests you’ll need to leave the Future Armour to cure in the dry for 24 hours, which could be tricky in our unpredictable climate. 

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Best wax and sealant: Bilt-Hamber Double Speed-Wax

When we conducted the beading test after our three-month trial, Bilt-Hamber’s square of paint was shining and repelling rain at the same level as the sample next to it, which had been treated with a wax costing £120.

This is why it’s been our serial winner for a number of years and is the wax to beat. The 250ml tin comes with an applicator pad and microfibre cloth that are easy to use. Although it requires some effort to apply the coating and then buff off, it’s worth it for the results.

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Best wheel cleaner: Bilt-Hamber Auto-Wheel

Bilt-Hamber’s Auto-Wheel reacts with iron fragments in the brake dust almost instantly, turning a rich shade of purple. Leave it to dwell for a few minutes, then blast it away with a pressure washer and most of the dirt will disappear. 

If you have even tougher, baked-on dust in hard-to-reach corners, then you may need a little scrubbing. Handily the Auto-Wheel comes with a brush which is designed for the task. This, and the fluid’s effectiveness, helps us forgive its relatively high price and put it ahead. 

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Now read our full range of product tests

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Products editor

Kim has worked for Auto Express for more than three decades and all but a year of that time in the Products section. His current role as products editor involves managing the section’s content and team of testers plus doing some of the tests himself. 

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