With the holidays approaching fast, everyone begins to think about the gifts they will give to loved ones in order to celebrate the season – how about a gift that is genuinely useful ?
These gifts will allow the recipient to extend the life of their vehicle, offering a long-term benefit that few other types of gifts are able to provide. In fact, these gifts are so useful, you might want to consider treating yourself, too!
If you’re short on money but have some time to spare and don’t mind using some elbow grease, there is no better present than the gift of a complete wash and deep cleaning. Of course, you might need to put up some money for the necessary tools, which include a soft sponge, buckets, car washing liquid and a microfiber towel for drying. Don’t give into temptation and use dish soap or glass cleaner; products designed specifically for cleaning the car are gentle and are designed to protect the car’s finish and wax shine. Take on this job on an overcast day or in a shady spot as excessive heat causes the vehicle to dry too quickly and leads to spotting. Always use two buckets, one for clean and another for dirty water. Start at the roof and work your way down, using a different sponge for wheels and tires. When rinsing, use a nozzle-free hose to create a gentle, sheeting effect. This minimizes mineral deposits. Use a microfiber towel for drying, and then apply a coat of spray wax to boost the shine.
Then move on to the interior of the car. After de-cluttering it, clean the steering wheel, dashboard and center console area with household cleaner. Then move on to the door pockets and cup holders. Next, wash the insides of your windows, windshield and sunroof with a non-ammonia glass cleaner on a microfiber towel. Shake out plastic mats or vacuum carpeted ones. Vacuum the entire interior of the vehicle from ceiling to floor, using an upholstery nozzle for the seats, a crevice tool for hard-to reach places and a dusting brush to get rid of those pesky particles. Finally, open the windows to let the air in. If your loved one likes air freshener, use their favorite scent as a finishing touch.
Coolant. Coolant is a combination of distilled water and alcohol that is stored in the car’s radiator. As the name suggests, it circulates throughout the engine and keeps the vehicle running without getting overheated. Coolant is a great gift since it should be changed at least once a year. Doing so keeps the system from getting too hot in the summer or freezing up in the winter. It also protects the engine metal from corrosion and its plastic and rubber parts from degrading.
Oil. This vital fluid lubricates all of the parts of the engine, absorbing the heat that results from friction and helping all of the moving parts to work together smoothly. Depending on the age and make of the vehicle, oil should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, perhaps less frequently if the car uses synthetic oil.
Upholstery cleaner. Especially if your loved one has children, stains on the seats of their car can be a real issue. That’s where a bottle of upholstery cleaner can save the day. Both gentle and effective at removing spots, its regular use can improve the appearance of even the most care-worn interior.
Windshield washer fluid. This combination of a detergent and solvents is sprayed onto the windshield, after which the car’s automatic wipers clean the surface while the car is in motion. These fluids can come in various types. If your loved one lives in a cold climate, you might want to gift them with a bottle specially formulated for the winter months.
Rust prevention spray. Rust is the archenemy of any vehicle, and winter road conditions can pave the way for damaging corrosion. Rust prevention spray works by laying down a protective coating that does not allow grime and road salt to eat into the vehicle’s finish, thus adding to the car’s longevity and resale value.
Particulate filter solution. This cleaning solvent is what makes the particulate filter system in diesel engines work effectively. The diesel particulate filter is a honeycomb-shaped device that has sealed channels. As fuel flows through the walls of the filter, it is cleaned by the solution, and solid particulates adhere to the filter walls.
Touchup paint. When someone’s car has minor nicks, dings or scratches, it isn’t necessary to pay for a complete repainting or detailing. An excellent interim solution is touch up paint, which can be applied with ease by a novice. Companies like TouchUpDirect offer accurate color matching, enabling you to get the exact shade you want by providing details about the vehicle’s year, make and model.
Weather stripping kit. If your friend complains that water is seeping through their car doors during heavy rain or when they are washing their vehicle, it’s probably time to replace their weather stripping. Kits are inexpensive, usually under $50, and the installation process is not difficult. Give the gift of dryness and coziness this year!
Digital tire pressure monitor. Tire pressure needs to be at optimal levels to provide a comfortable and safe driving experience as well as to prolong the life of the tires. Although it varies according to the vehicle type, pressure should generally fall somewhere between 30 and 35 pounds per square inch (PSI). The owner’s manual or the car’s trunk lid, fuel door or console should contain a sticker that shows the manufacturer’s recommended optimal pressure. A digital pressure monitor gives your loved one an accurate way to keep tabs on this important measurement. It’s not a bad idea to get one for yourself while you’re at it.
Tire repair kit. Every car should have an emergency bundle in case the worst happens. Among other things such as blankets, flares, a flashlight, a first aid kit, car tools and winter-specific items, it should contain tire repair equipment. No one wants to be stuck in an isolated place with a deflated tire. Having glue, plugs and tread repair tools at hand can protect tires and wheels and might just get your loved one out of a tough spot.
UV shades. Sunshine is great in many ways, but it does a number on a car’s upholstery. Giving the gift of a UV shade can keep your loved one’s auto interior looking brighter and less faded for a longer period of time.
New wipers. If you rub your finger down the windshield wiper and it doesn’t feel smooth, if you see streaks or loud noises while the wipers are operating, they probably need to be replaced. Blades are made of flexible rubber and endure extremes of heat and cold. Over time, they can dry and crack and can damage the windshield. For that reason, they should be replaced every six to 12 months depending on weather conditions. If you are giving wiper blades as a gift, you might be able to just buy the rubber refill if the blade arm is in good condition.
New air filter. Air filters prevent dust, dirt and debris from entering the car’s engine, enhancing its ability to run smoothly. Giving the gift of a new air filter provides your loved one’s car with a real efficiency boost.
Battery charger. If someone on your holiday gift list goes on extended vacations without taking their vehicle, it is probably sitting idle for longer than it should. This leads to a real drain on the battery. Keeping it connected to a charger can prevent the battery from going dead even after weeks of inactivity.
Handheld vacuum. There isn’t a more indispensable auto interior cleaning partner than a handheld vacuum. With no cords to get in the way, your loved one can use it to enable their car’s seats and carpets to pass the white glove test.
Pressure washer. This device makes cleaning vehicles a breeze. With onboard detergent and a powerful motor, it’s easy to get even the most stubborn contaminants off of the exterior of the vehicle. Since most models come in at somewhere around $100, they quickly pay for themselves as compared to taking the vehicle to a carwash. This gift is guaranteed to please.
You can never go wrong when you make your own gift certificates, especially when they involve tasks that people either dislike or don’t know how to accomplish on their own. Offering to do engine repairs, transmission flushes and even a full-service tune-up are presents that would delight virtually anyone. Just be sure you have the mechanic skills to support your good intentions.
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