GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gift-giving isn't easy, don't let anyone tell you it is. You have to stay within budget, you have to buy for a wide range of folks. Before you get overwhelmed, think about this, there are an estimated 290 million registered cars on the road in the U.S. Chances are, the people you have to buy for our drivers. Aha! You can start with that as your gift-giving common denominator.
Consumer Reports auto experts picked their favorite gifts.
A headlight restoration kit. The product is easy to apply and can restore nighttime visibility.
Consider tickets or coupons to a local car wash if you live in a snowy area. Keeping all that salt off the paint will help protect it. And washing the underside will keep everything underneath clean and free of corrosion.
A really nice thing to get is a battery maintainer. It makes sure that your battery doesn’t go dead if you don’t drive much these days. And when you do need your car, it’ll start right up.
Or how about a set of good floor mats? WeatherTech floor mats are molded to your specific vehicle. They keep the mud and dirt out and make your car easier to clean.
An emergency roadside assistance kit is another good gift for yourself or others. You never know where you’re going to be when you might need it, so it’s good to keep it in your car.
A tire pressure gauge is something else that’s good to have on hand. A small digital one bought at a hardware store will be easy to use. It allows you to check your tire pressure monthly like you’re supposed to.
And for the person who’s tough to shop for, a music service subscription for when they’re working on their car or driving it is the perfect accompaniment.
If you want to tell your favorite driver that you really care and want to keep them from getting stranded on the side of the road, basic roadside assistance plans start around $60 for the first year. They usually include four to five service requests per year.
GIFTS FOR TRAVELERS
No matter where your loved ones wander, they’ll need to stay hydrated. And they can with the CamelBak Podium Chill for $17, which is easy to tote around. Plus, once the valve is closed it won’t leak.
Speaking of bags, CR’s tests of luggage turned up some great options. The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 40L for $129 converts to a backpack for the adventure-seeking traveler on your list.
For a more traditional carry-on, consider gifting the Made by Design Hardside 20-Inch Carry-On Spinner Suitcase for $90 at Target. It shined in CR’s durability tests, it’s very easy to maneuver, and it comes in several fun colors.
And just because your globe-trotter may be jet-lagged doesn’t mean their hair needs to look bad. CR’s panelists said the “weightless” dryer from Rusk W8less 2000 for $80 gets nice and hot but doesn’t smoke or singe hair like many hotel hair dryers.