If someone on your gift list is a car enthusiast, what do you do? It’s likely he or she already has many of the essentials, and doesn’t need (or want) a set of cheap-and-flimsy tools, or yet another “My Garage My Rules” tin sign.
Instead, we’ve compiled a list of items that are valuable in any garage, but which many enthusiasts don’t always think to buy for themselves. Consider some of these when you’re shopping for the auto hobbyist on your list.
There are several types, and if your car buff is hands-on, a selection of several will be appreciated. Mechanics’ gloves feature padding to protect against the inevitable scrapes and bumps, and some are also heat-resistant or cut-resistant. Some have rubberized gripping surfaces on the palms and fingers for picking up greasy parts, while cotton knit gloves keep the hands cleaner when protection isn’t an issue.
Along with these, throw in a box of disposable gloves, which are always useful. You’re best to get nitrile gloves, which do a better job of standing up to oil and grease than latex gloves.
You can never have too much light, but you can definitely have too much cord if it’s always in your way. Look for lights that can be clamped on (with a clamp or magnet) or hung from a hook, which increases their usefulness when both hands are needed for a job. For the ultimate in portability, look for a “headlamp” with a strap to go on the head. Many cordless lights are rechargeable, eliminating the need to buy batteries.
A surprising number of hobbyists’ garages aren’t equipped with this vital safety item, and if that’s the case, it’s a must-have for your list.
Don’t just stop at the garage – a compact extinguisher is a good idea to carry in a vehicle as well, whether it’s a classic machine or a brand-new model.
No one has ever complained about having too many. Make a gift of both reusable cloth ones, and disposable paper ones. For a professional-looking garage, add in a paper towel dispenser, or even an oily waste can for discarding used cloth towels (you can find them online or at some auto parts stores).
Carbon Monoxide Alarm
There should be a carbon monoxide alarm in the garage, and you can even buy types that hook into the garage door opener and will lift the door if the levels get too high.
If the garage door opens into the house, there should be a carbon monoxide alarm inside the home within three metres of the door. If there are rooms above the garage, they should be outfitted with alarms as well. Carbon monoxide is odourless, and you won’t know it’s there until it’s too late.
Compact Booster Pack
These little units pack a whack of starting power – and that’s especially handy when many people won’t give you a boost for fear of damaging their vehicles’ electronic components. They come in several sizes, including those small enough to fit in a glovebox. Look for units with outlets that will charge a phone as well.
Your do-it-yourselfer will appreciate one of these, but don’t scrimp here. You want a good-quality, heavy-duty one that’s not going to bend or break – this is definitely not something you buy for cheap at the local flea market. No one should ever crawl under a vehicle that’s held up only with a floor jack, even for just a moment, so you might want to throw in a set of axle stands along with it. Like the jack, they should be sturdy and well-made.
Yes, we know real car buffs fix cut fingers by wrapping them with paper towels and electrical tape, but it’s still a good idea to hang a first-aid kit over the workbench. If your car fan is really hands-on with repairs, throw in a bottle of eye wash solution as well.
A vacuum that handles both dry and wet messes is a real timesaver when it comes to keeping the shop clean. These come in a variety of sizes, so pick the one that’s appropriate for how much hands-on work your car buff does. If the vacuum uses disposable filters, it’s nice to include an extra bag of these.
Portable Air Compressor
These can be used to run air-powered tools or inflate tires, and some kits come with a few basic tools thrown in. While they’re made for lighter-duty work, their portability makes them perfect for pumping up tires in the driveway, or even inflating pool toys. And if you’ve got a serious car builder on your hands and the budget to match, a heavy-duty stand-up compressor could just be the perfect gift.