Finding the perfect gift for your car-savvy man can be quite the challenge. Your main goal is to avoid comments like, "It's the thought that counts" and "Well, honey, at least you tried." Besides, why waste money on goofy stuff he's just going to shelve away in the back of the garage? Face it, your guy has grown tired of the clichéd car-care gift box, or the handy tool kit with the pretty plastic case. You know the ones — the quick and easy prepackaged arrays that are always so prominently displayed at your local discount superstore.
If you haven't a clue what kind of car-related gifts really push his buttons, have no fear. We are here to end the cycle — an automotive gift-giving "intervention." With a quick scan of our handy-dandy top 10 car-savvy gift list, you can now buy with confidence. Not only will he be impressed with the actual gift, you'll wow him with your amazing thoughtfulness and in-depth research. That is "the thought that counts."
1. Hitch Cover: If your guy has a receiver-type towing hitch on his vehicle, this simple add-on will guarantee a smile. Many styles are available — from sports team logos to illuminated smiley faces. The folks at www.etrailer.com have a wide array of options. We especially like the cobra with light-up eyes ($24.95). Take note, this gift may require some research to determine the size of the receiver hitch opening.
2. Slush Mats: Also known as heavy-duty rubber floor mats. A nice array of custom-fit mats can be found at www.weathertech.com. Their deep grooves and rugged textures are designed to catch all sorts of grime and grunge.
3. Bacon Air Freshener: Face it — guys like bacon. Well, maybe not all guys. But if yours is a bacon-'n-eggs man, he'll get a kick out of a bacon-shaped air freshener (set of three for $4.95) scented to " give the family "a sudden craving for a BLT." You can find this, as well as a corn-dog-scented variety, at www.mcphee.com.
4. Solar Battery Saver: Your guy will be impressed that you thought of this one. If he has a rarely driven vehicle (that sits outside exposed to sunlight), he'll love this handy device that provides just enough juice to keep the vehicle's battery charged. We found a simple solar battery saver ($34) at www.batterystuff.com that sits on the dashboard, and plugs right into the lighter/power outlet. Guess who'll no longer have to unhook the battery when he's not going to be driving his car for a while, and guess who won't have to get a jump-start when he wants to go for a quick spin? You'll be a hero.
5. Vintage eBay Finds: The ultimate source of just about anything, www.ebay.com, offers a wealth of gift ideas for just about any car nut. Here's the secret: find out your guy's favorite car-related topic. Let's say, for example, he's really into classic Mustangs. Search eBay using keywords like "rare Mustang" or "Mustang brochure." A list of hard-to-find Mustang-related stuff will appear before your eyes. Something as simple as a $20 vintage Mustang sales brochure will knock his socks off. Note: this may not work too well if your guy already shops for things like this on eBay himself.
6. Magnetic Tool Holder: Don't ever buy your guy any tool as a gift, unless you know of a very specific tool he wants. Your chances of buying the right brand are slim, and you may even end up getting him something he already owns. Really, how often do you inventory his workbench? A better gift idea is something to organize the tools he already has. Craftsman offers a handy Mag Mat ($14.99), which is essentially a strong magnetic sheet. Tools are steel, and steel sticks to magnets. Pretty simple.
7. Nutty Key Chain: No, we're not talking about those gag key chains with tacky phrases or lewd images. We're talking real nuts (and bolts) here. This unusual item can be found at www.uncommongoods.com. The "I'm nuts about you" key ring ($20), replete with silver- and gold-plated nuts, is sure to be a hit.
8. Portable Navigation System: Yeah, we know — guys never get lost, so there's no need for them to ever stop for directions. So think of this as a fun gadget — not a tool to help him find his way. Magellan offers a variety of portable GPS units sure to fit his active (or inactive) lifestyle.
9. Titanium Wallet: How many guys do you know who carry a metal wallet? Any real car guy will dig a wallet made of aircraft grade titanium and aluminum (though he may not relish the idea of sitting on it). Brought to you by the crafty individuals at onthefly.com, the pricey Gary Scott USA Polished Sammy Wallet ($345) will make a very unique gift. (Item is no longer available)
10. Bullitt: We have saved the best for last. The 1968 movie Bullitt is the Holy Grail for many a car guy. This legendary flick combines the coolest movie star ever, Steve McQueen, with by far the most incredible car chase scene ever caught on film. Assuming he doesn't already own it, get your man the DVD ($13.99).
To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit Edmunds.com's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.