Sunday 21 January 2018

The Top 10 'practical' motoring gifts that won't cost you a fortune this Christmas

And they will show you put real thought into choosing them

High-viz vest.
High-viz vest.
Back and neck support.
Winter essentials package.

You don't have to spend a fortune to make it a happy motoring Christmas - and 2016 - for someone.

Here Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham picks and chooses 10 presents - some ordinary, some obvious, some off-beat but all of them are practical and have an added dimension.

Most importantly, they will show that you gave considerable time to really thinking about the sort of gift you wanted to give this Christmas.

1 Seeing as this is a guide, I suppose the best and only place to start off is with a sat nav

You can spend as much or as little as you like on one but do shop for something you know will fit in the car/on the dash of the person for whom you are buying.

Some can be difficult enough to fit exactly where you want them so make sure you get one that is simple and straightforward.

I'm not the greatest fan of sat navs but I do know they can be a God-send.

2 We don't get too many punctures but when we do isn't it always raining, windy or freezing?

High-viz vest.

And you are always in your best clothes and, of course, only have a skimpy overcoat with you. The same goes for when something goes wrong with the car and you have to get out (always be extremely careful in doing so - that is how accidents can happen).

Buying the one you love a waterproof coat that stows permanently in its own little corner of the boot - for the ultimate rainy day - is as thoughtful and practical a gift as you'll find. Make sure to get a hi-viz one to ensure safety. Some day or cold night - and it might be sooner than you think - your present will bring a warm glow of appreciation.

3 A nice CD/DVD set of your/his/her favourite artists is a lovely way to show appreciation (and avert rows about what radio station to listen to).

The happiest times for those of us who often drive alone are those when we can sing our hearts out to tunes that mean something to us. And the memorable times for families and groups of friends are when all aboard join in. It can be great, great fun.

Equally talking books are wonderful ways to pass the journey and time for younger passengers. They are relatively inexpensive and the really good ones stand myriad repeat plays.

Put the children - and maybe yourself - in a good mood on the way to or from school; or on the way to and from family visits by picking up a couple or three of the latest.

Biggest plus of all, of course, is you won't hear the 'Are we there yet?' chorus. Maybe it's a present you should buy for yourself?

4 So many people suffer from sore backs and stiffness when, and after, driving.

Back and neck support.

There is a huge variety of devices out there - all designed to support your back, shoulders and neck.

I don't think it is something you can necessarily buy for someone else but you can always get a voucher and let them find their own best fit.

This is one of the most practical and thoughtful things you can do - and the benefactor will thank you many times for the idea.

5 Not many people realise it until it happens but a wintry sun, sitting low in the sky, can dazzle you and increase the risk of an accident or collision.


I know it sounds crazy in the depths of December to even make the suggestion but a nicely packaged pair of sunglasses to be permanently slotted in the car is not just a lovely present but represents a little bit of a safety aid as well.

You don't have to spend a fortune on them and, obviously, make sure they will fit the intended recipient.

That means being upfront about it and have him/her try out what suits best.

You should expect to get good bargains on them this time of year as well.

6 Membership of a motoring organisation is simple to organise and not overly expensive.

Many cars now come with roadside assistance but a lot of older ones don't - and they are more likely to get into trouble. There are also enhanced assistance packages over and above the basic.

Your present will not only give peace of mind but should also be a real boon on the frosty morning the car won't start because the battery is flat.

7 An in-car charger for a phone is, I think, one of the best presents you could give.

How often does the mobile die just before or after a journey? It's great to have it charging up while you're on the move. But please don't take that as a licence for anyone to use it while driving unless they have hands-free. Never, ever drive and phone/text. Plenty of time for that when you arrive - with the phone fully charged.

8 A set of seat covers is always welcome in an older car that bears the scars of young-family wear and tear or a new one that needs protection from such vagaries.

A new set can bring life to a drab cabin. Sometimes you can only wash them so often before they become unsightly and badly worn. So if you think it is time the old one was dispatched to the great cabin in the sky now is your chance to do two things at once.

Depending on your budget you can spend a little or a lot but try to get a colour that will hide stains and take the rough with the smooth.

9 There are some lovely little packages you can buy that are super-practical for the driver - such as de-icer, scraper, windscreen cleaner blade, air fresheners, etc.

Winter essentials package.

These are the things people lose or discard and always value getting.

And properly de-icing your car is a lot safer and easier than having to boil the kettle and splash the windscreen when you should be on the road to work.

10 Maybe it is the time of year that is infuencing my choice of presents for 'the-worst-of-times' buy I reckon anything that takes the stress out of a fraught situation is something well worth doing.

Which is why making a present of a combination of torch, triangle (if not already supplied), hi-viz vest and few cereal/fruit bars in a little box of their own will be greatly appreciated.

*I'm sure you can think of at least that many more.

Do let me know your suggestions and we will publish the best of them as practical presents for the new year.


Twitter: @ecunninghamcars

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