10 Best Automotive Christmas Gifts For 2015
So you’re looking for a gift for that car lover in your life, but you’re not sure where to start. Time is running out, and well, a wall clock that revs at the top of every hour just won’t cut it. Don’t worry, because no matter what your budget may be, we’ve got you covered! From tools to parts, toys to entertainment, there’s a little bit of everything in here.
Not a car lover yourself? That’s ok! This article will give you the basics for each gift, including what to look for and an idea of how much you’ll need to spend. Think of it like a cheat sheet for auto-themed gift ideas.
Continue reading for the 10 Best Automotive Christmas Gifts For 2015.
Just about every new car produced these days comes absolutely loaded with infotainment gadgets, which might lead some older car owners feeling a bit out of the loop. Thankfully, the aftermarket is here to help.
Whether it’s a simple smartphone connection or a full-blown infotainment overhaul, the options are only limited by your budget. One of the more popular routes is a new touchscreen to replace that aging head unit (a cassette player? Really?). For something like that, expect to pay at least a few hundred bucks. Other cool stuff includes hands-free calling, navigation, and a back-up camera.
Look for big names like Alpine, Crutchfield, Kenwood, and Pioneer. And unless the intended recipient has a nice working relationship with electrons and wires, don’t forget to budget in pro installation at the local car audio shop.
Recycled Car Part Art And Furniture
This one’s a little strange, but hey, anyone who enjoys tire rotations isn’t exactly normal, right? Spruce up the garage with a collage made from license plates, or outfit the man cave with a table made from an old engine block. The car lover in your life will enjoy the aesthetic, and you’ll enjoy the fact its not another cluttered heap of miscellaneous bolts.
Pricing varies wildly, from small $15 trinkets, to intricate sculptures costing thousands.
Basic Auto Maintenance Items
Odds are your favorite car lover takes pride in keeping his or her chariot in tiptop shape. Oil changes and air filter swaps are all done properly at home, which means some other mechanic’s greasy fingers aren’t groping around under the hood. If that sounds about right, check out picking up some motor oil, oil filters, and air filters as a gift.
“But there are so many, I don’t know which ones I should get!” I hear you. The easiest solution is to go straight to the dealership parts department with the car model and year. Ask for authentic parts and fluids – it might cost a little more than the off-brands ($15 for an air filter, $10 for an oil filter, $25 for a quart of oil), but when it comes to auto maintenance, the extra outlay is more than worth it.
Let’s say the gift recipient in question prefers hatchbacks of the airborne variety. Let’s say he’s the kind of person who would happily head to Sweden in the dead of winter just to catch a glimpse of Colin’s Crest. Let’s say he admires guys like Tommi Makinen, Sebastien Loeb, and Sebastien Ogier.
If any of the above hits home, consider giving him a subscription to WRC+, the online streaming service for the World Rally Championship. It includes live HD video coverage, live onboard footage, expert commentary, live maps, timing info, highlight videos, and more. Cost is 4.99 euros ($5.45) for one month or 49.99 euros ($54.56) for a year. Check it out here.
I don’t care how old your favorite car lover claims to be – a remote controlled car is always a good choice. The best bet is to go with a favorite model or make, because even if you can’t afford a real Ferrari, a 1:14th scale 458 is still pretty awesome.
Alternatively, you can step up your R/C game with a product from Taxxas, which makes some of the most bonkers products out there. Just how crazy, you ask? Try the X0-1 on for size, which can hit 100 mph in less than 5 seconds. Did I mention it was an R/C car?
Piloti Driving Shoes
Whether it’s track days or canyon carving, anyone who takes their time behind the wheel seriously needs a good pair of driving shoes. Brake modulation and heel-toe downshifts are far easier when the footwear in question offers the right combination of support, size, grip, and feel, and for something like that, look to Piloti.
Piloti makes a variety of different shoe styles, from pure racing, to the everyday. Pricing starts at around $150, but ranges up to $500 if you’re feeling fancy.
With the right apps, a smartphone can do just about anything. It’ll record your lateral acceleration on the skid pad, then navigate back home, entertaining you with music on the way. But keeping it secure on the move can be tricky, especially if your only option is a sticky cup holder. Time to get a mount.
There are tons of options out there, and prices vary pretty widely, but expect to pay between $10 and $20. You’ll want to look for something that’s small, installs easily and cleanly, and most importantly, fits the phone in question. In general, you’ll also want to stay away from windshield mounts that reduce forward visibility, so go with something that connects to the dash or center console.
Tire Pressure Gauge
It doesn’t matter how mechanically minded you are – if you drive, you need a good tire pressure gauge. Those rubber bands you see in the corners are (hopefully) the only things that actually touch the road, and their importance can’t be overstated. Not only is a properly inflated tire critical for safety, it’s integral to fuel economy as well.
You can find tire pressure gauges online or at any local auto parts store. You’ll want to spend at least $30 – anything cheaper, and accuracy starts to suffer. It also helps if it’s somewhat compact and can be easily stored, such as in a seatback pocket, because it won’t do much good if it’s left at home.
Another essential maintenance item is an OBDII reader, which is a device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port and offers several helpful features. It’s basically a window into your car’s brain, and can be used to monitor a variety of real-time info, such as throttle position and coolant temperature.
However, the most common use for an OBDII device is reading and clearing engine codes (you know, that annoying check engine light on your dash). This can help you figure out what’s wrong with your car, and whether or not it’s a problem worth fixing. You can pick one up online for around $20, or spend more for expanded capabilities like wireless tablet and smartphone connectivity.
If your favorite car lover was extra good this year, then maybe she deserves a shifter kart. No, I’m not talking about some bumper car you’d ride at the county fair. A shifter kart is a hardcore racing tool used by the pros to hone driving skills. Few machines match the visceral performance of a true shifter kart, and if you’re looking for an inexpensive entry into real racing, this is the best way to go.
Of course, when I say “inexpensive,” I’m speaking relatively. While less expensive than the typical race-ready road car, a decent shifter kart will still run you several thousand dollars. Then you’ll have to buy the helmet, racing suit, spare parts, fuel, tires, trailer… and well, you get the picture.
Still, if you have the means, a shifter kart is probably the best way to assuage any adrenaline junkie’s need for speed.
So there it is, the 10 best automotive Christmas gifts for 2015. What do you want Santa to bring you this year? Let us know in the comments.