Gifts for Him - and the Backyard Pitcrew

December 6, 2010 | Posted By: Laura Pagles | Categorized in: Shopping, Gift Ideas
Whether you are buying for a wannabe mechanic, a skilled automotive DIYer, or someone you want to be a mechanic, the surprise of killer tools and gadgets elevates the average gift-giver to rock star status. The two coolest gifts I’ve ever presented: Milwaukee Sawzall and a barely-used Generac generator scored in the classifieds (classifieds are like Craigslist's grandpa).

For every gear head, there is another who will happily advise on the technical requirements of any equipment you consider gifting. Ask for help. This list was inspired by me asking my own spouse and mechanic-extraordinaire, “What four automotive tools should every DIYer have in their garage?” Note he offered way more than four.

OBDII Scan Tool
Ever wonder the difference between the orange light and the red light in the dash? Not only does an OBDII scan tool say what that little light means, it equips a mechanic to go House, MD, on your car’s mystery symptoms. Almost. Look for a scan tool verses a car reader. The car reader only communicates what the error code (orange oil-can-looking light) means, while the scan tool will run real-time diagnostics on every other system your backyard mechanic pretends to know. Even if he can’t fix the problem, he’ll have just enough info to be a pain in the rear when walking into the local shop.

Oil Drain Valve – Stocking Stuffer Alert!
Imagine the look of excitement or complete confusion resulting from the discovery of this stocking stuffer. And how impressive when you explain, “Install this valve and you can drain your engine oil without tools and without mess.” Take the old plug out, screw this one in, drain it into whatever you want.

Chilton’s Repair Manual(s)
Tired of greasy, mid-repair forum-search finger prints on the keyboard and mouse? It’s time for the make and model anatomy book, especially with all the useless useful information gained from the scan tool. This is about as practical as a gift gets – you might want to pair it with any one of the other scintillating gifts in this post.

Portable Air-Compressor
My husband has two air compressors: one the size of a refrigerator that rattles the windows when it powers up or this little guy. The 20-gallon variety runs on 110-volt power (a regular plug). This baby's like a pet - it rides in the back of the truck, plays in the yard, and sleeps in a corner. In all seriousness, the portability lends to helping friends, airing pool toys, and justifying the purchase of air tools.

Lightweight Aluminum Floor Jack
I have been informed that owning a jack necessitates jack stands – for safety’s sake. Pretty sure the complaint about the existing jack on the premises and the safety side-note were hints. Why aluminum rather than steel? Speed. Pit stop speed. (It’s lightweight)

Battery Jumpstarter
When charged, the Power Dome rides in the trunk of a vehicle, ready to spring to the aid of innocent batteries victimized by demanding dome lights and stereos. This one includes a little air compressor. It’s the ultimate superhero cape. And look at all of those gauges.

Gift-Giving Diagnostics
As a mis-purchased tool typically adds to the collection rather than trekking the return trip to the store, a gift receipt may be futile but can't hurt. These big-impact big investments warrant at least a pre-purchase inventory check. And good luck hiding and wrapping an air-compressor.
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