Here’s a reality check: The holiday season is officially upon us (when tinsel and eggnog hit the store shelves, it’s on, folks). And that means it’s time to start shopping for gifts. If you’ve got a car lover on your list, never fear: we’ve put together the best stuff for auto buffs.
1. Haynes Manuals
Like textbooks and classics, there’s something comforting about manuals. So ditch the idea that manuals are merely for ignoring and stuffing into a glove box. The Haynes Manuals make a great gift for drivers of Acuras to Volvos and seemingly every model in between. Perfect for the do-it-yourself-er who wants to get schooled in such niche studies as anti-lock brake systems, heating and air conditioning and automotive computer codes. Your car loving buddy will also dig the digital version that has large-format color photos, color wiring diagrams, keyword search function and quick links to common jobs. The manuals also feature model-specific HD videos to walk them through a variety of processes.
2. Steeling Wheel Protector and Car Seat Protector
When it comes to cars and accoutrements, sometimes simple is best. We love the un-fussy, stylish genuine leather steering wheel cover by Elegant USA. It protects hands in chilly weather, makes your digits a little more comfy, and looks like it belongs in every car. It fits in by standing out — in the best way. If you have a friend with a penchant for hitting up the drive-through (with more than a few smudges to show for it) a new cover is the best way to spruce things up. 2-pack, $89.99, driveautoproducts.com
Crumb-age (the unsightly onslaught of too many croissants) is a real problem. Keep your auntie’s seats in pristine condition and get her a set of car seat protectors from Drive Auto Products. These neoprene-backed beauties don’t slip or slide out of position. They have a thick foam cushion to give your tired bod a little boost, and are heat-resistant, fade-resistant, waterproof and have a universal neutral fit. Choose from black or dark gray, and give your loved ones a lovely new reason to snack away — these guys clean up in a snap. $14.99, Sears.com
3. Roav Dash Cam C1
For the camera junkie you love, nothing captures the holiday spirit like the Roav by Ankor Dash. This dashcam records in full HD, can simultaneously track up to four lanes of traffic with a wide-angle lens and is shock activated (a sensor activates the camera if your car is bumped or moved to automatically record hit and runs).
The lighter side of the dash cam is just pure fun, like when your pal catches a crazy meteor shower he’s just got to show off, he can download the ROAV app to share in a snap.
4. Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit
Like chefs with their knives, and ballerinas with their pointe shoes, car geeks and kits go hand in hand. Get your gear gal a Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit to ring in the New Year and let the happy dance commence. This 12-piece cadre of fun includes a bottle of Gold Class Car Wash, Gold Class Carnauba Plus liquid wax (with special conditioners that reflect damaging UV rays), Endurance Tire Gel (to help keep tires inky black with a rich, dark gloss shine), Quik Detailer, a container of ScratchX and some essential car spa tools like a microfiber towel and wash mitt. Yes, of course you can hire someone to give your ride a spa day, but it’s so much fun to roll up your sleeves and bring back the sparkle yourself with some elbow grease.
5. Streamlight Night Com UV LED Flashlight
It may not be the sexiest gift in the world, but a heavy-duty flashlight is a safety must-have for all drivers. This one from Streamlight has an unbreakable polycarbonate lens, several different modes — LED high, LED low, UV LEDs and Safety (the latter mode prevents the light from coming on when you don’t want it to). This is no wimpy flashlight (like the ones you hoard from the dollar store that conk out ridiculously fast). This light is a favorite of law enforcement — who click it on to detect fraudulent documents — but your bestie can use it to check for engine and HVAC leaks. He or she should place one in the glove box and give you a huge hug for giving a safe gift, in all the right ways.
6. Chevy Seatbelt Belt
Cute, clever and chic. Done. You’ve checked off each of those boxes when you fork over a crisp $20 and get a Chevy Seatbelt belt buckle for your GM-loving friend. Fashioned from a real seat belt made from high quality polyester and chrome-plated steel components, these fit any standard size pants and are fully adjustable up to size 38 (with XL sizes available upon request). It opens with the — you guessed it — click of a button. They’re made in the U.S. and are officially licensed by General Motors, so you’ll feel giddy about giving something glam without burning through too much cash.
7. DeWALT Tool Set
We’re guessing the car nut on your list has a pretty paltry tool set — you know, lots of random pieces sort of haphazardly thrown into a tackle box. All that changes when he or she opens this 108-piece beauty. Its packed with sockets of varying sizes, adaptors, ratchets, hex key sets and a 22-piece bit set with handy storage case. A polished chrome vanadium finish makes it extra gift-worthy. I mean, who doesn’t want something sparkly under the tree this year?
8. AVANTEK Universal Cell Phone Air Vent Car Mount Holder Cradle
Not all gifts need to put a dent in your wallet. A car mount is the perfect gift for that pal who needs a safe place for his phone (read: not in his hands). With its spring-loaded arm and sturdy mounting clips, this cradle can securely accommodate most phones, and the ability to swivel 360 degrees is an added plus. The two flexible clips may be rotated to fit vertical or horizontal air vent blades and the space in between is also adjustable. For those of us a little scratch-leery, this mount’s soft rubber padding protects a phone from any scuffs or nicks.
Gotta love when being a thoughtful gift giver with safety on the brain only sets you back about $10.
Whether you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, or you’re looking for budget gear, spoil the car lover in your life this year with gifts that illuminate, sparkle and shine. It’s just the kind of fuel we all need.