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If you have someone on your gift list whose favorite room in the house is the garage, and who likes to repair and upgrade cars as much as drive them, how do you figure out what to get them?
The car enthusiast website AutoMD.com polled its staff and came up with a handful of good gifts for less than $100. Here they are …
1. Mechanic’s Tool Set: You can’t go wrong with a good set of hand tools. Sockets and wrenches for a home mechanic are like pots and pans to a home chef. The basic set costs between $50 and $100, depending on quality and complexity. Get a set that includes both standard and metric sizes.
2. Digital Multimeter (DMM): This is a critical diagnostic tool these days, because modern cars have computers and electronics that can be more complex than the engines. Multimeters check for voltage, current, and resistance – which is crucial to finding out which electrical part is bad and needs replacing. For example, if your car won’t start, the multimeter will tell you right away if the battery is the culprit. While there are “volt meters” on the market for as little as $30, AutoMD.com recommends digital multimeters with a “10 megohm input impedance” – which prevents the irony of damaging the sensitive electronics in your car when you try to test them.
3. OBD-2 Code Reader/Scanner: You’ve probably never heard of this device, but you’ll love what it does: It easily decodes the infamous “check engine” light on any car made after 1995. Obtaining the so-called “diagnostic trouble code” is the first step in figuring out what’s wrong with your car. But for all of its importance, it still costs less than $100. AutoMD.com mechanics recommend purchasing a model that has reset capabilities (clears the light).
4. Floor Jack and Jack Stands: Enough with the high-tech gifts. These are basic safety and convenience items. The floor jack and jack stand lift a car so it can easily be worked on – a must-have for simple repairs like replacing brake pads and changing the tires or oil. They can be had for less than $100, although AutoMD.com recommends a “low profile floor jack with a 3-ton capacity.”
5. Vehicle-Specific How-to Manual: We may live in a digital world, but car enthusiasts still need to get their greasy hands on a paper book if they’re going to fix what’s wrong. The two most popular are Haynes and Chilton Repair Manuals, and both sell specific model manuals for less than $30 each. These are complex guides that include detailed photos of certain components and electrical diagrams, plus step-by-step procedures for fixing the problem.
“Even if the aspiring home mechanic on your list wants to start with a few simple repairs and leave the complicated ones to the repair shop, any of these items should make those repair tasks easier, while potentially saving hundreds of dollars a year on the auto repair bill,” says AutoMD.com President Shane Evangelist. “And if you are looking for something for the seasoned DIYer, sneak a peek in their toolbox or garage, they might just need a new multimeter or hydraulic floor jack!”