from Goss’ Garage by Pat Goss

Holiday gifts are too often followed by disappointment when gifts that seemed just perfect flop miserably. But choosing an automotive gift from the thousands of practical and whimsical things available is sure to be a winner. Although car gifts aren’t glamorous or wondrous they’re normally actually used and appreciated.

But beware because the holidays bring out the crooks and scammers. Deceptive ads flood mailboxes, inboxes and the Internet this time of year. Catalogs and mailers often contain car-oriented gifts, so you could pick from thousands of items. No crowds, no lines, just choose, dial or click and in a few days your order is at your door.

Because some ads are deceptive you have to be careful. Catalog and Internet shopping isn’t like shopping in a store because you can’t examine what you’re buying. There’s no way to know the quality, practicality or desirability of your purchase. Even when it arrives you often can’t examine it because of packaging that utterly defies non-destructive opening.

Car stuff can be high quality or pathetic junk plus modern photography and printing combined with cleverly written, impressive-sounding text can make even the worst junk seem enticing in a catalog. So before buying, research which brands have good reputations then look for specific models within those brands. Same brand, different model may get you more or, oops, less quality. Some manufacturers make a discount line which looks like their first line product but may be more lightly constructed or lack features. Even the model numbers may be almost identical so look closely.

Unique car stuff can be interesting and show you really care but, I strongly suggest a huge helping of common sense. For example I recently saw an air bag deflation tool in a catalog that claimed; “Tool easily punctures air bag after inflation allowing faster exit.” Wow, sounds like a great safety item, and only $48.00 plus S&H. But save your money because it’s impossible for air bags to remain inflated which makes this tool a total rip-off. Yet there it was with a gorgeous picture and an enticing description. In fairness there was also a backup warning system that beeps if there’s anything behind your car when you back up. That was actually worthwhile. But enough caution here are a few ideas to make you a gift-giving star.

I hate booster cables but I love Smart Cables from Michelin. They make an excellent gift for anyone and they eliminate all possibility of vehicle damage and operator injury caused by regular booster cables.

Another practical idea are Drop Stops which prevent things from falling into the crack between the seat and the console. They’re inexpensive and add safety by eliminating fumbling and distraction while searching for a dropped phone or food.

I don’t know about you but my trunk is always a mess, nothing seems to stay put. A fix for that special someone with a messy trunk is a trunk organizer. Rubber floor mats to protect against winter slop make a thoughtful gift as do cleaning supplies, tools, emergency items, safety items and stores full of ideas.

For pure whimsy consider completely useless but interesting “stuff “like nostalgic reproduction metal business signs or coffee table books. The current selection of auto books spans the entire automotive experience from racing to rebuilding and driving to exotic cars to drool over. And if none of this makes sense because that special someone is totally car-illiterate how about a gift certificate to a good repair shop. One size fits all makes and models. Actually there’s an almost endless array of gifts for people with cars.

Happy Holidays to one and all — Please Drive Gently!