Gifts for car lovers, including a car with a bow.

There are many gimmicky gifts available for car lovers. Sure, an air freshener, "Back Off" mudflaps, or a bumper sticker may be fun, but there are far more practical ways to treat auto enthusiasts on your shopping list. 

The Cars team at Consumer Reports has pulled together a list of suggestions to turbocharge your holiday shopping. These products are based on our trials and testing. Most can improve the driving experience and potentially make it safer. 

The prices run the gamut from stocking stuffer to major treats. Here, we present practical gifts for car lovers. 

Go to Consumer Reports’ 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.    

Music Subscription

Music gifts for car lovers, such as a Pandora subscription.

With the ability to connect a smartphone to a car stereo, drivers have more music options than ever. Newer cars can play music stored on or streamed from a phone, and some can even control cell-phone apps. 

Pandora and Spotify are integrated into many infotainment systems, providing a compelling alternative to terrestrial and satellite radio. Each app has a base-level, free service that is ad-supported (meaning you'll hear an ad every so often between songs).

For $4.99 a month, Pandora Plus removes ads from its streaming radio service, and Pandora Premium—at $9.99 a month—allows you to search for individual songs or albums and create your own playlists. Spotify has a similar service, also $9.99 a month. 

Many cars over the last decade have come with a satellite radio receiver, enabling access to more than 140 channels of entertainment with a subscription to SiriusXM.

The service offers an introductory 12-month subscription for $60, allowing the music fan on your holiday list to play country, rock, hip-hop, classical, or pop music in the car.

A premier streaming option for the same amount expands the entertainment to over 200 channels. An All Access Subscription, now $8.25 a month (regularly $20.99) for a year, combines the in-car audio and streaming (via phone) offerings. 

Learn more about car infotainment.


Jump Starter Battery Pack

Portable jump starter battery pack.

Micro-sized battery packs are powerful enough to jump start a car with a failing battery. They can also be used to recharge portable devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, which makes them a useful part of an emergency kit—as long as you keep them charged up and ready to go. Most weigh only a pound and are roughly the size of a paperback novel.

All the units we tested had at least one built-in USB port to handle those recharging duties, as well as a built-in flashlight. Some had connectors that allow you to charge certain laptops. These functions add a lot of versatility to the jump packs, especially if you're camping or when the power goes out at home. The 10 units we tested had an average price of about $90.

The standout in our tests was the Antigravity Batteries XP-10. It provided power to charge devices such as phones and laptops for three times as long as the poorest performers in our testing. The Antigravity device has two USB ports, several laptop connection options, and best-in-test device charging capacity.

However, it can cost $50 more than the other models we tested. There are strong alternatives from Bolt Power, New Brights, and Spirit that performed almost as well, for much less money.

Quick Take

Antigravity Batteries XP-10 jump starter

Price: $125

Jump Start (Cold)
Jump Start (Warm)
Reserve capacity
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Tire Pressure Gauge

Tire pressure gauges.

A simple, stocking-friendly tire pressure gauge can be an important reminder to drivers that they should check their tire pressure monthly. A car's tires should be properly inflated to get the optimum performance, safety, and tread life. Without the proper pressure, tires can wear faster and unevenly, waste fuel, and hurt the vehicle’s handling.

There are three basic types of gauges: stick, dial, and digital. Our testing shows that you don’t need to spend much to get a good gauge. Stick gauges are the most compact, making them easy to stow in a glovebox. The Accutire MS-4021B and Accutire MS-4400B digital units are our picks for accuracy, durability, and ease of use, plus they're affordable.  

See our tire pressure gauge buying guide and ratings.

Quick Take

Accutire MS-4021B tire pressure gauge

Price: $9.99

Accuracy
Durability
Ease of use
Unlock Tire Pressure Gauge Ratings
Quick Take

Accutire MS-4400B tire pressure gauge

Price: $10.99

Accuracy
Durability
Ease of use
Unlock Tire Pressure Gauge Ratings

Cordless Tire Inflator

Cordless tire inflator.

A cordless tire inflator is a great way to top off the air pressure in a tire. It eliminates the need to run a large compressor or drag around hoses at the local gas station.

They typically come with a connection to inflate car tires and, adding to their appeal, a needle adapter to inflate basketballs, footballs, and the like. Most also include a special adapter for blowing up inflatables like pool toys, and some have adapters for inflating high-pressure bicycle tires.

Many cordless tire inflators are compatible with a line of battery-powered tools, making it tempting to add the inflator as part of a suite, rather than as a single, stand-alone item.

We liked the Ryobi One+, among the several we've evaluated. From that group, it had the most muscle with the fastest inflation performance. And it costs just $20, assuming you can use the battery and charger from other Ryobi tools.

However, if you're not already a Ryobi tool owner, it's a bit pricey when you add in the cost of the battery and charger. That total package costs $84. 

Learn more about choosing a cordless tire inflator.





Headlight Restoration Kit

Hazy, clouded headlight in need of restoration.

A headlight restoration kit can be a bright idea for a gift.

As cars age, especially those parked outside regularly, the headlight lens cover can become clouded or hazed because of exposure to the sun's UV rays. A recent AAA study found that, over time, the clouding effect can reduce the amount of light emitted by up to 80 percent compared with what you'd get when the car was new.

Fortunately, there are affordable, DIY kits for removing the haze and resealing the plastic coating those lenses. They take a bit of elbow grease, but the improvement can be dramatic. We evaluated several kits and were more impressed with the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit and the 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System. Prices for kits typically run $10 to $22.

Learn more in our headlight restoration kit buying guide.


Emergency Kit

Emergency kit.

If bad holiday weather leaves you stranded alongside a slippery, snowy road, a well-stocked emergency kit can help get you back on your way, or at least make the time waiting for help a lot less stressful.

Emergency kits vary widely in price and contents, but they commonly include battery jumper cables, a basic first aid kit, flashlight, space blanket, snow shovel, tow strap, and ice scraper.

We purchased a few winter emergency kits online just to gauge what you might get and how useful they are in a pinch. The ones we bought ranged from about $45 to $75.

These may seem pricey, but you’ll probably spend more than $100 to buy many of the items individually to assemble your own kit. Our team liked the AAA emergency kit shown here, for its completeness and portability. It includes a metal shovel, cold-weather gear, and many safety essentials in its compact package.

Look for a kit that will complement how and where you drive, and consider how much space it might take up in a car.

Learn more about assembling your own emergency kit





Car Shirts and Accessories

Mopar hoodie.

Car enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy a simple automotive-themed T-shirt, hoodie, baseball hat, or keychain, and they're often quite affordable.

Discount clothing stores like Kohl's and mass-market stores like Walmart often stock such items. A fan may appreciate more official brand apparel available through car dealerships or an automaker's online store.

Beyond the usual items, you might find a cool modern or classic car emblem there that can make for a fun decoration. 




Driving School

2017 Dodge Challenger Bondurant.

Driving schools offer everything from car-control training for inexperienced drivers to advanced skills for wannabe race car drivers.  

Often held at racetracks around the country, one-day events run by the highly respected, long-running schools listed below start at around $600, but a high-speed ride-along can be had for about $100. Check the links below for specific pricing and locations, and search online for schools based in your region.

One great series that CR actively supports is the teen training program Street Survival. This series of events hones the skills of a licensed teen by focusing on safe driving techniques and concepts. Street Survival is offered throughout the country, including programs twice a year at the CR Auto Test Center. 

It is worth noting that there are some special discounts available on driving schools for the holidays.

• Richard Petty Driving Experience Sessions range from one-lap ride-alongs to race driving instructions at tracks across the U.S. Prices range from $100 to $1,920, depending on the course and experience.  

• Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving Conducted at a track near Phoenix, Ariz., training courses include advanced teen driving (starting at $799) and training in high-performance driving skills using muscle cars (starting at $1,599).

Street Survival Teen-driving sessions held nationwide; $95.


Performance Tires

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ tire.

Better tires can transform how well a car holds the road. That's why upgrading to a top-rated higher-performance all-season or summer tire can improve a car's handling and braking.

One extra-special choice is the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+, our highest-rated ultra-high-performance all-season tire. It excels in dry braking, dry handling, and wet handling. The same concept of upgrading tires applies to all categories.

In most cases, there is a better replacement tire available than what the car came with or is currently running on. 

See our tire buying guide and ratings.

Quick Take

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ ultra high performance all season tire

Price: $159.00

Dry braking
Handling
Hydroplaning
Unlock Ultra High Performance All Season Tire Ratings

A New Car

Gifts for Car Lovers include a new car

A new car may be hard to gift wrap, but if you're in the market for one, there are great end-of-the-year deals available.

We have seen some CR Recommended 2019 models with projected savings of up to 14 percent off the original window sticker price. And some 2018s were spotted with even bigger discounts, up to 20 percent off.

Of course, local supply and demand will influence how much a dealer is willing to bend on price.

The 2019 Toyota Camry is a good choice. It excels in CR's testing, and this popular midsized sedan can be had for up to 10 percent off sticker price. 

See our complete list of best end-of-the-year car deals