Whether you’re shopping for the car aficionado in your life, or looking for gift ideas to add to your own holiday wish list, here are our top picks for this holiday season.
USB battery starter
Remember when you used to have to find someone with jumper cables, if you left your lights on and found your car battery too depleted to start your car?
Good news—the days of jumper cables and having to ask a total stranger for help (or call and wait for roadside assistance) are over. Now, all you need is a tiny USB battery starter. Keep it charged (it will hold a charge for months) and in your trunk or glove compartment, and if you find your battery drained you can just clip it do your battery and start your car right up! You can find a good one for about $50-75. We like the TOPVISION battery starter.
Is there anything more frustrating than when your ‘check engine’ light suddenly comes on? Is it something minor, like you didn’t screw the gas cap on tight enough (a common culprit), or is your fuel injection system about to fail in catastrophic fashion? There’s no way to tell—that little light on your dash just glares at you, cryptically.
The only way to know exactly why it’s lit up, and what it’s trying to tell you, is with a scanner that can identify the fault code that’s causing it. You used to have to take it to a dealer or a mechanic to have these faults read, but now you can do it at home, very simply, with an OBD2 scanner. (OBD stands for ‘onboard diagnostic’).
There are two primary types of OBD2 scanners, and they’re both relatively inexpensive. The simpler type, which connects via bluetooth to your smartphone, is just a small piece of plastic that plugs into your car’s OBD port (which is almost always located very near your steering wheel, usually somewhere under the dash or in the driver’s footwell area).
The other type does not rely on a smartphone; it has its own small screen, and is usually a device with a cord and a plug that connects to the OBD port.
Once you connect the scanner to the port, usually turning your ignition to the AUX on position, the scanner will tell you—either in the smartphone app or on the OBD2 device’s screen—the fault code causing the warning light. From there, you can look the code up online and find out what it means. It’s possible that you may still need to take your car to a mechanic, to fix the problem, but at least you’ll likely have enough information to tell whether it’s something serious, and whether or not it’s safe to continue driving your car.
The one we use, and recommend, is the LELink Bluetooth low energy BLE.
One thing you can never have enough of is microfiber towels. They’re great for household use—like wiping mirrors, counters, stainless steel appliances, and device screens. And they’re perfect for cars. Their extreme absorbency works well for everything from drying to removing wax and polish, and buffing to a shine. They’re a must-have for any car enthusiast.
One of the best ones for cars is this one, from Adam’s Polishes—it’s available in several sizes.
California Car Duster
The California Car Duster has been around for decades, and that’s because it’s a simple and really effective tool for keeping a car clean in between washes.
These dusters started out being sold at car shows, where most vintage and exotic show car owners use them to keep the dust off their cars during the events. They actually work better the dirtier they get: their ‘magnetism’ for dust increases with use.
You can order these direct from the maker, on their website.
You may have heard about the ‘foam cannon’ method of washing a car. The primary advantage is that the foam sticks to the car, and when you let it ‘dwell’, it loosens the dirt so you can wash and then rinse it without scrubbing it.
The foam cannon can be attached to a garden hose or an OE sprayer, but the ideal setup is to use it with a power washer.
The cannon we recommend is the MTM PF22.2, and Obsessed Garage is a great place to get it.