V-Checker Scan Tools

If diagnosing problems with VW/Audi engines is a part of your life, think about getting one of these: The Basic V-Checker reads and erases fault codes, and will reset service reminder lights. This unit works for pre-Controller Area Network (CAN) VW/Audi vehicles from 1996-2004. For connection to other OBDII-equipped models, including 2005-up, there's the V-Checker Pro, which comes in a zippered soft case. Basic $59.95, Pro $109.95. ecstuning.com

HRE Series S1 wheels

An HRE wheel is a thing of beauty. Continuing that tradition is the new Series S1 three-piece forged wheels. There are three different five-spoke variations (S101, S104 and S107) with diameters ranging from 19-22" and widths stretching between 7-14". There's also the option of titanium assembly hardware. From $2200 per wheel. hrewheels.com

Forge A4 2.0T hose kit

Forge Motorsport has a great reputation for performance parts. Its latest is a silicone boost hose kit for the B8 Audi A4 2.0T (2008-up). An easy replacement, the company claims "significantly greater ability to withstand higher boost pressures and temperatures." Forge also reckons its product will last longer than the factory equivalents. The kit is available in red, black or blue. $210. forgemotorsport.com

AWE vent-mounted gauge

Increasing the performance of your turbo engine requires a boost gauge to monitor performance. Luckily, AWE Tuning has one that fits neatly into the cabin decor of the 2012 Jetta GLI. The assembly, slats and all fits into the dash to the left of the steering wheel. What's more, the vent will still function normally. Backlit by LEDs, the 52mm gauge reads from 0-30psi boost and 30-zero inHg of vacuum. It requires an AWE boost hose (or something similar) to connect to the engine's vacuum source. $199.95. awe-tuning.com

HRE FlowForm wheels

HRE introduced its new FlowForm cast wheels series at SEMA in 19 and 20" sizes. The name comes from a low-pressure, flow-forming casting process, which are engineered and tested to the same standards as it's forged wheels. However, these won't dent the wallet as deeply. They come in gloss silver or satin black finishes and will fit a host of modern bolt patterns, with 18" on the horizon. From $725 per wheel. hrewheels.com

Black BMW grilles

It's not often the words "piano" and "tuning" appear together in a car magazine, but here goes: Introducing piano-black kidney grilles from ECS Tuning for the BMW 535i; specifically, the F10 5 Series that debuted in 2010. Fashioned from impact-resistant ABS plastic, these gloss black kidneys can be swapped over in minutes, but are suitable only for models without the night vision function. $79.95. ecstuning.com

034 upper control arms

Lowering the ride height can present problems for the suspension geometry. A situation not helped by solid, non-adjustable upper control arms such as those in the 1994-2001 B5 Audi A4. So 034 Motorsport is offering adjustable front upper control arms for this and several other VW/Audi models, with a wide range of camber adjustment. Lowered cars can achieve the optimum camber and wheel alignment, avoiding uneven tire wear, while enjoying more precise handling. $475. 034motorsport.com

Neuspeed RSe05 wheels

Clean, classy and functional. What more could we ask from a lightweight wheel like the new Neuspeed RSe05? Compatible with OEM center caps, lug bolts and tire pressure monitors, these 17" rims offer widths from 7.5-8.5", weighing from just 16.5 lb. They're made for VW, Audi, Mini and even the Fiat 500. They should clear most big brake kits without spacers or adapters. Choose from silver, gunmetal, satin black, white or red. $259 per wheel. neuspeed.com

ECS vent-mounted gauge

Made to blend with the instrumentation of the 2004-2011 E9X BMW 3 Series, ECS Tuning has the same orange backlighting, typeface and driver-oriented angle for its vent-mounted, 42mm gauge that displays boost and vacuum. Buyers can stipulate which side of the center vents they'd like their new dial to reside. Wiring, tubing, connectors, tie wraps and instructions come as part of the kit. $189.95. ecstuning.com

aFe Scorcher

BMW owners with the N20/N26, N54/N55 engines (turbo fours and sixes) can access more performance with aFe's Scorcher module. It alters pressure sensor signals for optimum boost over the rev range. Turbo lag is reportedly cut, throttle response improved and the powerband widened. The company claims up to an extra 53hp and 80 lb-ft of torque. "All-weather" connectors need no mods to the factory harness, and installation takes about 30min. $502.95. afepower.com

iStabilizer Dolly

Keeping a camera or smartphone steady while recording video is a challenge. However, the people at iStabilizer developed a compact, cost effective way of getting smooth, low-angle shots. Its aluminum deck uses rollerblade wheels and comes with everything you need to start shooting. It even has steering angles marked on the deck so you can lock the wheels to any radius you need. With three mounting points for the multi-joint arm, stabilizing the rig is easy and intuitive. You can push it toward your subject or tie a string around the mounting point and take it for a walk. It can secure your average smartphone (2.5" wide or less), a GoPro or even your DSLR. $59.95. istabilizer.com

Bosch oil filter

Bosch doesn't just make auto electrics and wiper blades. Far from it. Amid a diverse portfolio that includes solar energy and washing machines lies the humble oil filter. Actually, it's not so humble since the newest Bosch Long Life filter is made to deal with synthetic and semi-synthetic lubrication. It can apparently capture up to 99.5% of microscopic pollutants for 10,000 miles. Bosch says it can trap up to 22 grams of contaminants without clogging. There are applications to cover 93% of vehicles on America's roads. From $9.99. boschautoparts.com

StatiCap center caps

Whenever a car is stationary, the center caps on the wheels will always be upright with these StatiCaps. So far, the only marque they work with is BMW, Bentley and Rolls Royce, limiting the appeal somewhat. Accompanying each set is a special tool to remove the old caps and attach the new. The company offers a choice of more than 24 logos, flags and other graphics. $350. staticap.com

Drift HD Ghost camera

For people who attach cameras to their crash helmets, cars or motorbikes, this new video camera comes complete with everything necessary to get you started. However, the HD Ghost stands outs because it comes with a two-way remote control that can send a command to the camera, which will respond by displaying what mode it's in - an advantage over some competitors where the mode isn't very clear. The modes include video quality, still photo and continuous loop recording. The 2" screen is made from tough Gorilla Glass and up to three hours recording time is available from the battery pack. It's also waterproof up to 9ft (or more with a special waterproof housing). It's even wifi enabled. $399. driftinnovation.com

Bilstein B16 ridecontrol

We recently heard about the new Bilstein B16 ridecontrol coilover suspension system that allows the driver to tailor the car's handling with six different stiffness settings. These include Sport, Comfort and Sport+ modes. There are even expert settings and in-depth calibration menus available. The kit offers a lowering range between 30-50mm, and the system has been track tested on the Nurburgring. No word on when the kit will hit US Shores but keep an eye on the website. $TBD. bilstein.com

Optrix Accessories

For the past few months we've been showcasing the latest innovations from our friends at Optrix, creators of rugged iPhone camera solutions. They're perfect for anybody in motorsport or extreme sports enthusiast. We recently received a box in the mail with its latest Super Sucker mounting system, the mounting case, and a smaller universal suction cup mount. We mounted them to our project E46 M3 and snagged these photos. The Super Sucker uses a vacuum pump to remove air on the mounting surface for a secure hold under any circumstance. Swapping between mounts required a bit of time but it's straightforward. The smaller sucker mount system is also very secure, holding firm and is easy to transfer from one place to another. We suggest giving it a wiggle before you set off on a track run to ensure its on tight, but the neck is adjsutable for better angles. Stay tuned as we hope to put the mounts through their paces at a later date. And don't forget the Optrix iPhone app that overlays a speed readout onto your videos. Optrix.com

iPad Cases

With the iPad becoming an indispensible tool in a variety of situations, we've all seen photos of that "oops" moment when an iPad got dropped and shattered the glass. And as we find more outdoor uses for these tablets, we thought we'd take a look at some of the tougher cases to protect the device.

First was the Ballistic Tough Jacket iPad 2 case (in black at bottom). Figuring out how the pieces went together without looking at the instructions (we're men after all) was tricky and juvenile. But once sorted out the case seemed to be most functional. It has a silicone protective housing with a plastic shell to give it support, as well as a removable cover that can clip over the screen or the back when not in use. There's also a kickstand to allow upright viewing. It wasn't excessively bulky and the soft corners will absorb the impact of fall. $69.99. goballisticcase.com

Second up was the G-Form Extreme Portfolio (iPad 1, 2 and 3 in quilted black). This seemed to be the "technologically enhanced" version of the three. It's a zippered case constructed from a material that changes its molecular structure upon impact. That said, it was difficult to squeeze your iPad into, and the most awkward to hold. The iPad is secured by a rubber tab in each corner, and the lid/cover can carry small items if required. It was perhaps our least favorite but offered great protection nonetheless. $69.99. g-form.com

Lastly, the military-duty armored Survivor Case from Griffin Technology was designed for the iPad 2 and 3. Ours came in bright red with a black housings and kick stand. It felt like you were putting together a Lego set, but was perhaps the most comfortable of the bunch. You place it inside a plastic case and the silicone sleeve fits tightly around it. This was easy to deploy and looked good when it was in action. It even had pull-away silicone tabs that keep the exterior camera lens and buttons out of harm's way. Since the Armored case passed the Mil-STD-810F military field test, we trust we aren't the only ones who were impressed by this rugged case. $79.99. griffintechnology.com

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