Holiday Gifts for Car Enthusiasts

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Buying the perfect gift this holiday season for that car enthusiast on your shopping list will require a bit of thought, but probably not much money.

"You can obviously spend as much as you want, but you can usually find rows and rows of interesting gizmos and gadgets in the under-$20 category at your local auto-parts store," says Michael Calkins, national technical-services manager at auto-club AAA.

Calkins, an ASE-certified master auto technician, says the biggest hurdle to getting your favorite gearhead a good holiday gift is making sure you buy something the person doesn't already have.

He recommends starting any auto-related gift hunt by tactfully asking the person what they want.

"We all get gifts from time to time that are nice but not really what we had in mind," Calkins says. "So a little bit of careful questioning prior to starting shopping is definitely in order."

The expert also generally recommends staying away from buying automotive tools as gifts, as most car aficionados probably already have whatever they need in that department.

"Buying tools for car people is kind of like buying your wife a vacuum cleaner -- it's probably something the person already has or is not that exciting if they don't," Calkins says. "It's fine if someone specifically asks for the latest tool, but I'd stay away from buying sets of screwdrivers or crescent wrenches or things like that. There are enough unique things out there that you can avoid the common stuff."

Click below to check out five gifts Calkins does recommend this holiday season for auto buffs. All items are listed in order of their approximate retail price.

USB car charger
Approximate price:
$3 to $40

A USB car charger for cellphones and other electronic devices makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone who spends a lot of time in a car.

Prices start at around $3 for a basic adapter that lets you plug the cord your cellphone or other device came with into your car's cigarette lighter/12-volt outlet. Fancier devices cost as much $40 or so and feature color-coordinated cords or special adapters to fit a wide range of electronic devices.

Best of all, you can find USB car chargers at all kinds of shops, from auto-parts and electronics outlets to big-box retailers and even drugstores.

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