Edmunds' Holiday Gift Guide for Car Lovers
Find Something for the Car Fanatics on Your List for Less Than $30
It's the time of year to think about those on your holiday gift list, and if you have a car fanatic or two among the family and friends you're shopping for, we've got you covered. Given the state of the economy, you're probably pulling back a bit on holiday spending like most people, so we kept gift prices under $30. Whether it's an off-the-wall stocking stuffer or something more practical to put under the tree, one of these 14 items will likely put a smile on the face of any car aficionado.
If someone on your list has a long commute and likes to fuel herself up along the way, the Heated Smart Mug from Driving Comfort will keep her preferred beverage warm the entire drive. The 16-ounce mug plugs into a car's cigarette lighter, allowing a built-in heating element to maintain the beverage temperature between 85 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and an audible alert sounds when the target temp is reached. It's available in either red or blue for $24.95 or stainless steel for $29.95 at Driving Comfort.
Crazy Hitchhiking Critters
Hitch Critter animated hitch-ball covers from Frogworks plug into a vehicle's trailer-light harness to act as a third brake light and draw attention to your vehicle's rear end in a variety of wacky ways. The Flopping Bass wiggles his tail, the Don't Shoot Deer raises his arms and a target lights up on his chest, the Dog wags its tail, the Horse holds up a "Whoa" sign and the Duck flaps his wings. $24.95 each at Frogworks.
Give the Gift of Music
Given the popularity of portable media players (PMPs), you usually can't go wrong by giving someone an iPod or MP3 player accessory. Griffin Technology's iTrip Auto Universal is a safe bet since it wirelessly transmits music from any PMP with a standard mini-plug connection to a car's FM radio. And it also has a built-in USB port to charge an iPod or other USB-based media player. $25 at Griffin Technology.
Good for the Last Drop
Most car lovers are careful not to drip or spill fuel on their paint at the pump because it can ruin the finish. But no matter how careful you are, it happens from time to time. Fuel Bib is designed to catch and soak up such spills and is treated with an organic flame retardant that's environmentally safe. $12.99 for a package of five at Fuel Bib.
Proper tire inflation is not only essential for safe driving but also ensures optimum fuel economy. With the Accutire Set Point tire gauge, you can program in your tires' recommended inflation pressure to take the guesswork out. An audible signal will tell you when you've reached the correct PSI. It also has a large backlit LCD, a built-in LED flashlight and an auto-off function. $17.95 at Tire Rack.
Car designers may think drivers like to rest their left arms about midway down the door, but the windowsill is often a popular option, particularly in warm weather when the window is rolled down. To make that spot a bit more comfortable and save your skin on hot summer days, there's the Arm-Restler. It's a Lycra-covered gel pad that slides between the window and the door and works whether the window is up or down. $19.95 at Driving Comfort.
Glass Pain Relief
Keeping a ride sparkling clean is a ritual for true car enthusiasts, so they'll appreciate the Glassmaster Pro System windshield cleaner from AutoSport. The pivoting paddle's shape allows you to reach cramped lower corners of a windshield, while foam backing conforms to the contours of the glass. It comes with two paddles and three interchangeable and reusable cleaning pads. $19.95 at AutoSport.
Bowl 'Em OverIf you've got a hard-core off-roader on your list, let them dig into everything from their favorite soup to nuts with Wrench Ware's Nobby Tire Bowl. It's 6 inches in diameter, 2.5 inches deep, has a rubberized "tread" and comes with a chromelike hubcap lid that snaps on to secure its contents while jostling along the trail. $18.95 at Wrenchware.
Beyond iPod and MP3
Plenty of FM transmitters let you plug in an iPod or other MP3 player and stream music to an existing car stereo. The Wagan Smart Sound USB/MP3 FM modulator does, too, but it also connects a USB drive loaded with digital tunes. It has a frequency and track memory function to pick up where you left off and comes with a wireless remote control. $19.99 at J.C. Whitney.
Easy Tire Tote
Anyone who lives in a cold climate and has to switch to winter tires knows what a hassle it is to handle and store their car's summer rubber. The Tire Rack's Seasonal Tire Tote makes this task much easier while also protecting your clothes and vehicle interior from tire and brake residue. Each Tire Tote has an integrated carrying handle, fits tires between 22 and 31 inches in overall diameter and holds more than 80 pounds. $19.99 a pair at Tire Rack.
Treat the Formula 1 race fan on your list to this cool Race Car Wing Coat Hook made of die-cast metal and finished in bright racing red, complete with air intakes and graphics. It measures 6.3 inches across the wing's end plates, sticks out from the wall 4.8 inches and comes with mounting hardware. $29.99 from Griot's Garage.
More Power to You
Almost everyone brings portable electronics on the road these days: iPods, cell phones, navigation systems and radar detectors. But vehicles typically have only a couple of 12-volt outlets in the cockpit to power these gadgets. AutoSport's Twin USB and 12-volt cupholder adapter solves the problem by providing two extra 12-volt outlets and a pair of USB ports. It fits into most cupholders and has an LED battery-indicator light. $17.95 at AutoSport.
An iPhone 3G can take a lot of abuse on the road and even during the trip to and from the car. Give the iPhone owner on your list the OtterBox Impact Series case and their expensive Apple gadget will be well protected within an impact-absorbing layer of silicone, while all of the phone's buttons, ports and controls are still easily accessible. $19.95 at Otterbox.
Give Music and Medicine
(Red)Wire is a gift that keeps giving long after the holidays — both to the recipient and to people in Africa battling AIDS. Part of the Product (Red) project started by U2's Bono, for $5 a month subscribers get new music delivered to their computer every Wednesday, and half of the subscription fee goes to buying medicine for AIDS victims in Africa. The tunes can be automatically loaded into iTunes but are also DRM-free. Trial subscriptions start at $15 at (Red)Wire.
Need even more gift ideas and would like to spend a bit more? Check out this Top 10 list of stocking stuffers under $50.