Fun Stuff

Automotive Christmas Gifts They Will Actually Use

We’ve all seen the Black Friday and Boxing Day coverage of crazy sales: people lining up all night, fighting to get into the store, and then fighting each other for the gotta-have-it Christmas toy or marked-down, big-screen TV.

These people are not gearheads.

Gearheads do their homework, decide what’s going to work best for their vehicles, and then set out to buy said items in an orderly fashion (providing no one else is reaching for the last one, and then it’s open season). Here are some items that caught our eye, and we think will catch yours as well.

Bolt Lock

This system only works with older or entry-level vehicles that use an ignition key, rather than a pushbutton start, but if that’s what you have, this is what you want. Put your key into the Bolt lock for the first time, turn it, and the lock is instantly and permanently set to that key, eliminating the need to carry a separate one. The company makes padlocks, receiver locks, cable and coupler pin locks, and retrofit toolbox locks, along with locks made specifically to secure a Jeep Wrangler’s hood or spare tire. (

Winter Tires

Yeah, we know what you’re probably thinking – winter tires, blah blah blah. And, no, they don’t easily fit into a Christmas stocking. But nothing says, “Hey, I want you to get home safely” like a set of winter booties for your loved one. They make your vehicle stop sooner, accelerate better, and handle any emergency manoeuvres necessary around drivers who don’t have them. If you live in a warmer-clime corner of the country where dedicated winter tires might be overkill most of the time, consider a set of all-weather tires, which you can leave on all year.

Resqme Original Keychain Car Escape Tool

While your vehicle’s safety features are there to help you, there are rare circumstances when you need to escape them. The compact, made-in-America Resqme tool contains a seatbelt cutter, plus a spring-loaded glass breaker that can smash a side window even when the vehicle is submerged. The company also sells emergency glass hammers, LED lights, personal safety alarms, a Bluetooth car beacon, and a drowsy driver alert that fits behind your ear. (

Weigh Safe

If you tow a trailer – especially a variety of trailers – you’ll want this. It’s a hitch that includes a built-in scale to measure tongue weight. It comes in four drop lengths from four to ten inches, three shank sizes, includes two stainless steel trailer balls, and can handle up to 2,200 lb of tongue weight. You can get either an analogue gauge on the hitch, or a Bluetooth model that sends the information to your phone. (

Dash Cam

Buy one for someone else, and then put it on your list for Santa to bring to you. It’s not just about capturing stuff to put on YouTube. There are lots of bad drivers out there, and even worse, scammers who pull stunts like cutting you off and then hitting the brakes, in order to blame you and collect from your insurance. A dash-cam video can tell the cops what really happened.

Rim Protector

We know you don’t need it – but you no doubt know someone who does. It takes about half an hour to snap these plastic protectors into most alloy wheels up to 22 inches, keeping the wheel edge safe if brushed up against a curb. This RimPro-Tec version includes a black or silver mounting track, and inserts available in a variety of colours to mix or match the vehicle’s shade. (

Snap-Apart Flashlight

These nifty little Prime-Lite lights are two-piece, held together with a magnet. Pulling the flashlight apart turns it on, while snapping it back together shuts it off. The LED bulbs are battery-operated. Put it on your key chain, and you can snap it off and illuminate the door lock you’re trying to open with a key on the ring (because gearheads always remember to turn on the light over the garage door, but never the house door). They’re great for snapping on a child’s backpack, too. The Ontario-based company sells a variety of flashlights and work lights. (

Haynes Manuals

The familiar do-it-yourself repair manuals are still in print, but Haynes is going online as well. You can now buy a code for online access to a manual for your model and year, which includes colour pictures, videos, and interactive features. If you need a specific repair, a few bucks will buy you a year’s access to a video showing you how to do it. Every manual is based on Haynes actually buying the vehicle, tearing it down, and putting it back together. Motorcycle, ATV, and farm tractor manuals are available too. (

Whitewall Rims

Like the look of whitewalls on your classic car? Normally they’re part of the tire, but Deluxe Wheel Company makes ’em so they’re part of the rim. The 20-inch aluminum rim looks like a 15-inch steel wheel, but lets you run a low-profile tire. The whitewall is a soft-touch paint that feels like rubber, but the company says it has the durability of powder coat. We want to go cruising. (

Loss Prevention Fasteners

Nothing’s completely theft-proof, but if you can create a deterrent, a thief will likely bypass your vehicle and go on to the next. This British Columbia-based company sells US-made fasteners for licence plates, light bars, roof racks, catalytic converters, and other enticing add-ons. The fasteners use a matching five-lobe tool that isn’t sold in stores, along with an anti-tamper centre stud. For items you want to attach permanently, there are bolts and nuts with extra heads that break off when they’re tightened to torque specifications, leaving a smooth finish that a tool can’t grab and turn. (

Grit Guard

If you wash your car using a bucket, there’s a good chance your sponge will pick up dirt at the bottom, and that’s like rubbing sandpaper across your paint. The Grit Guard is a plastic insert that fits into the bucket bottom. Dirt settles below it, where the sponge can’t reach. For even easier washing, get the matching bucket on wheels. (

Tire Stickers

You have to order these stickers online and have them shipped to you, but then you have a tire that no one else has. Order from the company’s available logos, or come up with one to make your tires uniquely your own. You can get temporary stickers that stay on for about a week or two, or permanent letters in a variety of colours. (

Blacksmith Shifter

Anyone can buy a shifter and knob at the parts store, but what about having a real blacksmith bang you out one on an anvil, custom-made to fit your transmission? Colorado-based F & L Metal Works will make you one out of twisted iron, or if you’re willing to spend more – about sixty bucks an inch – they’ll forge you one out of luscious Damascus steel. Just try to find anybody on your street with a matching one. (

Hot Wheels Car Care Products

What gearhead doesn’t love Hot Wheels? And what gearhead doesn’t want a clean, shiny car? Put the two together with this line of car and wheel cleaners and polishes. It can even clean up the Hot Wheels you left out in the sandbox, too. (