Whether you’re checking off your holiday shopping list or planning a present for another special occasion, there are endless gift options for the car owners in your life. The Kelley Blue Book editors have gathered a list of their favorite vehicle accessories and add-ons. Here’s a roundup of gift ideas for car lovers, driving enthusiasts, and commuters alike.
The Platinum Pluffle
The Rag Company calls their Platinum Pluffle Towels “one of the most unique high-quality detailing towels ever produced.” Made with both plush and waffle textures, they’re great at removing dust on the dashboard and interior surfaces.
Car Escape Tool
This American-maderesqme® tool cuts through seat belts and breaks tempered glass windows for “when seconds count” emergencies. The 2-in-1 survival device was created for first responders and is now widely available for anyone to be prepared for emergency and rescue situations.
All-weather floor mats
Traditional cloth floor mats can be difficult to clean and get worn down over time. All-weather versions made of rigid materials with non-slip backing are great for drivers who visit the beach, live in snowy climates, or frequent hiking trails or campsites. Keeping a set of rubber mats available to use in those situations reduces time spent vacuuming afterward.
Ice scraper mitt
Where there’s snow, there’s ice. Drivers in colder regions prone to inclement weather understand the struggle of scraping ice off the windshield on frigid days. “An ice scraper mitt helps keep your hands protected and warm while getting the job done,” said Kelley Blue Book Senior Advice Editor Renee Valdes. “When it’s cold outside, there’s no better way to scrape the ice or remove snow from your windshield.”
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Remember that the back areas of your vehicle can get dirty. Valdes suggests considering WeatherTech custom liners for your trunk or cargo area. They help contain spills when hauling groceries, plants, landscaping supplies, and other messy goods.
The Tuft Viking Large Trunk Organizer includes an insulated, leak-proof cooler bag that is excellent for transporting bigger grocery hauls. It prevents produce and other items from rolling around in the back of your trunk or hatch and keeps everything upright, so nothing spills or gets smashed.
Optimal tire inflation helps ensure proper handling and safety on the road, and every driver needs a quality tire gauge to measure air pressure with precision. Don’t rely on the ineffective gauges built into the air pumps at gas stations. Head to your auto parts store and choose a digital gauge that’s easy to read with a face that lights up in the dark for nighttime use. Kelley Blue Book Video Editor Lyn Woodward is an off-roading expert who recommends ARB gauges and compressors to off-roaders who reduce tire pressure to improve grip.
If you’ve ever been stranded in a parking lot with a dead battery, you know how important it is to have jumper cables handy. “Be sure to choose a set that has a thicker gauge,” said Chris Hardesty, Senior Advice editor for Kelley Blue Book. “Look for 8- or 6-gauge cables that have enough heft to jump-start most passenger vehicles. Avoid thinner cables that often come in pre-made vehicle emergency kits.”
Take one more step beyond a set of cables and consider giving a portable jump starter or portable battery charger to people you care about, including yourself. These are easy to find for under $100 and boost dead batteries to get back on the road. They’re especially helpful when there’s no other car nearby to assist with a jump-start. “A jump-starter came in handy when our car battery was on its way out,” SEO Manager Ellen Edmands shared. “We needed an extra jolt to get us started until we replaced the battery. We’ve also used it to charge our devices.”
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Portable tire air compressor
Some portable jump-starting units double as portable air compressors, which can help if you’re stranded with a flat tire in an inconvenient or dangerous location. Senior advice editor Hardesty owns this model by Dewalt. It has enough power to jump most vehicles, and it can pump air back into your tire so you can move the car to a safe place to put on the spare or call for assistance. Helpful tip: Get in the habit of charging the unit on the first of each month to ensure it’s ready to perform when needed, Hardesty says.
Those who hand-wash their cars regularly should consider a Kenai Waterproof Glove. Trevor Spedden, an SEO Content Analyst at Kelley Blue Book and expert car detailer, likes the glove’s durability and functionality. Spedden says they protect your hands from drying out, provide adequate grip, and are easy to take on and off.
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Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine
Optimum claims their No Rinse Wash & Shine will “reduce the water usage to a fraction of a conventional car wash.” It doesn’t have to be rinsed off with water and dries down to a shiny, streak-free finish. Spedden suggests the product is an excellent addition to a car enthusiast’s detailing arsenal.
Many states now have distracted driving laws, but standard phone mounts can be difficult to install or obstruct your view of the road. Spedden recommends the CupFone, which fits universally in most cupholders and is fully adjustable.
Michelle Clark, the Director of Content and SEO operations and distribution for Kelley Blue Book, favors a magnetic phone holder. These must be secured to a vent, but they attach to your phone more easily than a clip-on version. “The 3-point vent hook secures the magnet far better than any other phone holder I’ve ever had on my 2016 Ford Escape,” Clark said. “None of the others would stay secure (in the vertical air vents).”
The Drop Stop is a device that sits at your seatbelt base to block the gap between the console and the seat. If you drop your keys, phone, snacks, etc., instead of falling between the console, it “stops” at the cushion.
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Car cleaning gel
It’s not surprising that Kelley Blue Book’s team pays attention to details and enjoys sharing tips on car ownership — and vehicle cleanliness. Melissa Fach, Lead SEO Content Manager, and Tessa Nadik, Senior Director of Content & SEO, both recommend this cleaning gel for small cracks and crevices. Fach says the gel makes it easy to “get all the gunk out of hard-to-reach areas,” like inside the vent openings and around the gear shift.
The BAK Revolver X2 Tonneau Cover is one of the pricier items on this list, but it’s an incredible gift for the truck owner in your life. It helps protect items in the truck bed from water damage theft and it creates a sleek, seamless look along the rear of the vehicle.
Car seat covers
Protect your seats from pet hair, drool, and scratches with a waterproof seat cover. These also help keep pet smells out of your upholstery. It is washable and folds up for easy storage. Car seat covers are an excellent gift for all kinds of drivers, not just pet owners. A good set can give your car’s interior a facelift, and waterproof versions also protect your upholstery from drink spills and stains.
Rooftop cargo carrier
Larger families who take road trips may benefit from a rooftop cargo carrier. The carriers let you pack luggage on top of the automobile, keeping room in the cabin for everyone to sit comfortably. There are options for vehicles with and without a roof rack.
Leather steering wheel cover
Austin Morris, advice editor, and Sean Tucker, senior news editor, both recommend a leather steering wheel cover. “It adds a personal touch,” said Morris, “and it can cover any damaged or worn-down stitching” on the original factory materials.
Tucker also suggests a shift knob is a great gift for car owners. “The easiest way to quickly change the feel of your car is to update the control surfaces,” he says. “A custom shift knob is a simple way to make your car feel bespoke.”
Ratchet and socket set
This 46-piece ratchet and socket set is small and compact enough to fit under your seat and comes in handy for car-related fixes. It’s also nice to have it handy for other unexpected needs.
Owners of newer cars can charge their phones using multiple USB ports throughout the cabin. Meanwhile, classics don’t have any charging ports, and many late-model vehicles might have just one in the front. But what about the rear passengers? A charger hub plugs into the DC port and can charge up to four devices simultaneously. This is especially useful for long drives and road trips with family or friends.
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Portable impact wrench
Andy Bornhop, Kelley Blue Book’s Senior Editor of vehicle reviews, suggests gifting a power tool to help with inconvenient car ownership chores. “If you ever have to change a tire on the side of the road, a portable impact wrench will save you gobs of time.” Keep the tool’s battery charged to help immediately loosen tight lug nuts and make changing a tire much easier. Bornhop’s choice has an LED light that helps with nighttime use.
Smart interior car lights
Interior LED lights liven up your road trips and local drives with fun colors. These ambient interior lights are fully customizable with a color wheel and can be controlled with a remote control or via an app on your smartphone.
Chemical Guys air freshener and odor eliminator
Over 32,000 customer reviews make it hard to overlook Chemical Guys air fresheners. Kelley Blue Book’s Tessa Nadik admits she’s not a fan of most perfumes and air fresheners, but she says products from Chemical Guys are “amazing.” She likes the signature and leather scents, and she describes the “new car” scent as a “clean smell that isn’t overwhelming.”
Custom car cover
California Car Cover Co. makes custom car covers for all kinds of vehicles. High-quality, multi-layer versions start at $179. The covers are a great gift for drivers who don’t have a garage but want to protect their car from the harsh sun or intense weather conditions.
Meguiar’s detailing kit
The complete car care kit by Meguiar’s comes with products for both enthusiasts and professional detailers. The company says its products make “the perfect car gift kit for the car fanatic in your life, even if that car fanatic happens to be you!” Several of our editors agree with the manufacturer’s claim. You (or the gift recipient) can replenish a supply of individual products if the starter kit isn’t needed.
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Gift cards and certificates
If you still can’t decide what to give the car lover in your life, choose a gift card for their favorite automotive retail shop. Many oil change shops, car washes, and detailing companies offer gift certificates as well.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.