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6 car gifts not to buy

Don’t waste your money on these bad ideas

Published: December 11, 2013 01:30 PM

Blackout taillights on a Honda CR-V

There are plenty of great holiday gift ideas for the car lover on your shopping list, but we came across some products that are just a bad idea. They either promote distracted driving, are dangerous, or just plain stupid.

Here is a list of car gifts not to buy.

Dash-mounted DVD player

What could be better than driving along the road and watching your favorite movie? We think it's better to get to your destination safely without telling an officer that you crashed not because you were speeding, but because you were watching the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Save the driving movies for your kids in the backseat; our kids positively love “Cars” and “Turbo.” The rear passengers can enjoy entertainment on the go with a built-in DVD system or a tablet computer—either is best viewed with the kiddies wearing headphones in case mom and dad don’t want to hear the lines of the movie they’ve heard 17,000 times.

Front seat laptop/iPod mounts

Distracting driving is a serious issue, and we don’t need any more accessories that make it easier to access electronics while driving. Yes, we know some commercial vehicles (and also police cars) have access to laptops. And while many people use their cars as a mobile office, running your electronics while driving is a devotion to your job that might be going too far. If you need to type a work memo, pull off at a rest stop. Don’t risk the temptation by having a laptop or tablet mounted within easy access of the driver’s seat, even if you’re using it for navigation. If you need route guidance, use a portable GPS or smart phone mounted on the dash or windshield where it can be easily seen, rather than take your eyes off the road.

Steering wheel phone mounts

Connecting your phone to your car via Bluetooth is one thing, but physically connecting the phone to your steering wheel is a whole other issue. Not only is it distracting to have your phone accessible right in front of you while driving, but it could also become a dangerous projectile or seriously injure a driver (or any one else in the car) should the air bag deploy in a crash. And, yes, we have seen such products sold online.

Car seat accessories

The number of ad-ons and toys that line the car-seat aisle of many retailers tempt young parents but are generally not a good idea. “Soft goods” such as covers and head bolsters may seem like a good idea, but some products may not meet flammability requirements or could change the function of the harness if they add bulk behind the child. Other car seat accessories not to get include toy bars or similar items to entertain your child. These products are not crash tested (car seats are, though) and could be dangerous to a child in the event of a crash. Most car-seat manufacturers also prohibit the use of added accessories with their seats unless they’ve tested the products themselves and approved them for use.


This is not a joke; it’s a real product! You can actually buy lashes for your car—we found them on Amazon. The flirtation may be short lived, though, after looking at the reviews that say these Betty Boop-style lashes scratched the car paint and broke off in the wind. Save the vanity for yourself instead of your car.

Blackout tail-light lens covers

These covers are a popular aftermarket accessory to give your car a sleek look. While they are visually appealing, these covers are not very functional and illegal in many states.  Even if you just use them in the daylight, they still mask the brake lights, making them harder for others to see when the car is stopped.

See our recent blog for car-related gifts we recommend. For more gift ideas, see our holiday shopping special section.

—Liza Barth

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