12 great automotive gifts for under $100
The holidays are fast approaching, and—considering America’s well-documented supply chain issues—it’s never too early to start shopping for your favorite gearhead. We’re here to help. Below are some automotive-related ideas that are sure to please the car buff in your life … even if that means you.
(Editor’s note: Hagerty Media has no direct affiliation with any of the products featured in this story, nor can we guarantee they work exactly as advertised.)
Magnetic pickup tool ($8.99)
We all drop stuff. No mechanic is immune to that phenomenon. Alleviate the situation by adding this magnetic pickup tool to their stocking to help your favorite wrench spinner with the inevitable. Stuck wrenches, sockets, or hardware never stood a chance of hiding when your toolbox has a magnet on flexible handle. It’s even rescued one of our writers who dropped a nut down the the intake of one of their cars … though we can’t get them to own up to it.
Spark plug pliers ($13)
Spark plug boot pliers often fall by the wayside because they’re not the sexiest of specialty tools, but they can and will save your beloved car lover some money. Since most manufacturers suggest we change our plugs every 30,000 miles—not every 3000—many driveway mechanics choose to just “make do” with the tools they have. Big mistake. Trust us, the car enthusiast in your life will be be happy you care this much.
World’s Lowest Coloring Book ($20)
Artist Nick Crouch has made 60 of his hand-drawn hot rod, truck, and motorcycle renderings into one of the coolest coloring books ever, perfect for any automotive enthusiast that wants to put their pencil or marker skills to the test. Crouch also has some great prints available if you’ve got a bare spot on your wall.
360-degree swivel seat cushion ($24.99)
Remember the cool swivel seats that automakers tried in a handful of vehicles beginning in the early 1960s? If you’d like to add the swivel seat feature without going to the trouble of swapping seats and hardware, several manufacturers now offer padded, circular lazy-Susan-style cushions that’ll do the job. Designed to help you swing your legs and get in and out of your car easier, they vary in price but have the same basic idea. If you buy one from Sharper Image, you’ll be in the $50–$100 category, but you can also find many others for well below 50 bucks—like those from Trenton and Carex for around $25 on Amazon. Some department stores also sell swivel seat cushions, in case you feel better about holding one in your hands before you fork over your credit card.
Toolbox Widget tool organizers (starting at around $25)
If you’re like us, you like to have tools where they can be easily found. We’ve tried the springy steel socket rails, but one too many cuts from the sharp metal has us looking for a better solution. Toolbox Widget has a line of socket, ratchet, plier, wrench, and screwdriver organizers that cleverly link together with dovetails and stick to the toolbox drawer with strong magnets. Because they’re fully customizable, you’ll never have an empty place in the drawer for a tool you don’t own and you can arrange everything to make the best use of each compartment.
Battery Tender Junior ($44.95)
Short of a few odd vehicles and motorcycles, all vintage or modern fun vehicles have batteries. Those batteries aren’t cheap to replace either, so it’s best to keep them maintained and happy. Battery Tender float charges batteries to keep them topped up and ready for a smooth startup out of storage. The Battery Tender Junior is a great starting point to cover basic storage needs and comes in variants for 6-volt or 12-volt systems. There are more powerful options with fancy features that might fit your loved one’s situation a little better, just take a look around Battery Tender’s website and see what is available.
Wireless Inspection Camera ($30–$49.99)
After mentioning the magnetic pickup tool, we should also mention the nifty and affordable inspection cameras that have hit the market over the last few years. They use Bluetooth to display video straight to your phone! It makes it a whole lot easier to pick up a dropped fastener if you know exactly where it is, and because it leverages the display on your phone rather than needing its own dedicated monitor, the prices of these cameras can be really affordable. They include LED lights and often come with attachments to retrieve objects on their own, but besides that they can also be used as a diagnostic tool. For example, these cameras can look inside an engine to inspect the valves without removing the heads. These can be found for for $30–$50 at many online retailers, like Amazon.
OBD2 Diagnostic scanner ($69.99)
Whether it’s your late-90s Corvette, your daily-driven Toyota Highlander, or your mother-in-law’s Buick Enclave, the check engine light is always an unwelcome sight—if you don’t have the means to figure out why it’s on. This OBD2 scanner from Foxwell costs $70, but in addition to error code reading, it can give you real time data from your car while it’s running, meaning that you can single out faulty oxygen sensors, check air/fuel mixture, and study a host of other engine vitals, all from the palm of your hand. Even if you don’t end up being able to fix the issue yourself, knowing what’s wrong can greatly reduce the stress of car ownership—no matter how often your ride sees the road.
Folding creeper seat ($72.59)
Garage space is always at a premium, and that’s why tools that do double duty—and do it well—are nice to have. We’ve tried our fair share of under-car creepers and some are better than others. This one functions as both a creeper and a roller seat which can be very nice for working in the fenders of a jack placed on jack stands: i.e. that brake job you have been putting off. It is also low-enough-profile that it can be stored under most rolling toolboxes. Remember, storage is hard to come by.
Upholstery spot cleaner ($89.99)
You don’t need a detailing addiction to appreciate the gift of a clean interior. These easy-to-use machines are powerful little units that can handle the nastiest of small jobs at home or in the garage. Go to town on your vehicle’s carpets, mats, or (cloth) seats, and you’ll be amazed by the amount of coffee-colored sludge you’ll extract. Get one (for $89.99) for yourself, or perhaps someone you carpool with. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your upholstery.
Neon garage sign ($99.99)
There’s something about neon signs that really light up vintage car enthusiasts (pun intended), so who wouldn’t enjoy a personalized neon sign for their garage, workshop, or bar? There are plenty of companies that’ll make one for you, but this one caught our eye because you can get a 16×12-inch sign with your name on it for $99.99. Larger sizes are also available.
Mobile detail kit ($99.99)
Driver car or show car, we all want our vehicles looking their best and detailing supplies have a way of disappearing quickly in a garage. That’s why we like Griots Concours Lawn Kit. It’s a tidy package with all the products you need to spiff up your ride at home or on the go. Keep it in the trunk and you are ready for any show—including one you didn’t know was happening.