Most car guys have a Christmas wish list that is usually filled with what they consider dream items. We know if we put in a request to the Missus for a fire-breathing big block, we’re going to get laughed at. Let’s face it, we’re guys, and we want the biggest and best. If you’re shopping for a car guy, the budget usually doesn’t match the ability to acquire a big block that delivers 700 horsepower. That’s why I decided to put together this short list of a few inexpensive items that every car guy should have when they travel. In fact, these items are so versatile, they can be carried in the daily driver during the week, and then placed in the trunk of the hot rod for the weekend drive.

I wanted to keep the items on this list “small,” as I understand budgets – and trunk space – can be limited. Although these items are small is size, these valuable pieces of automotive rescue items can really get enthusiasts out of a sticky situation. That makes them something we should all make room to carry on our next trip.

If you’re like me, you probably have several people that would like to have something under the tree with their name on it, so I decided to keep the items on this list under $100.

Roadside Wrenching


This 204-piece tool set from Kobalt (sold at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores), is the perfect trunk-sized carry along tool set. Inside the hard case, you’ll find a hammer, 10 screwdrivers, 15 wrenches, 6 pliers, and a variety of other sockets and accessories. The tools are a polished, chrome vanadium-steel construction that provides strength and durability.

Kobalt hand tools come with a limited lifetime warranty.

Get A Jump On Things


Every car guy has experienced an engine that will not turn over after they have parked their car. Harbor Freight has a powerful Viking compact jump starter that can fit in the glove box of almost any car or truck. car guy ChristmasThe Lithium-Ion battery in this powerpack is designed to maintain a charge for extended periods. In fact, it is reported to hold a 70-percent charge over the span of two years. It has a high power-density for more efficient power transfer. The built-in USB and 12-volt DC power ports can also charge your electronics, such as a cell phone or the kid’s Nintendo.


Don’t Make Me Get The Belt

Price: $64.88*

If your car has multiple engine accessories with multiple V-belts, do you carry a spare for all of the different length requirements? Not if you have this 3/8-inch-wide link belt. While it is designed to be used on electric motors – like the one on your drill press, table saw, or sander, it could be used as an emergency belt while traveling.

car guy Christmas

While it might not be suitable for continuous or high-RPM use, it is a perfect “get you out of a jam” idea.

This link belt easily adjusts for nearly any length needed. It can replace a standard V-belt and is made up of interlocking segments of polyurethane elastomer and multiple plies of polyester fabric that retain their original shape, thereby reducing vibration. What’s more, you can easily add or subtract links to get the optimal tension. When opened, it is 5-feet long, and that is plenty of length to do a roadside belt-replacement if needed. A pair of needle-nose pliers make length adjustment easy, so this could be a package gift with the Kobalt tool kit.

A Small Blowhard

Price: $45.95*

The VIAIR 78P portable air compressor comes with a 45-inch air hose and a generous 16-foot power cord that connects to your car’s 12-volt power outlet. That should make it easy to reach any tire on almost any vehicle. It even has a built-in work light, so you can see what you’re doing at night. It has a 30-continuous-minute operating time, so you’ll be able to fill every tire if needed.

It comes with a handy carrying case, and it doesn’t “walk around” on the asphalt while it is running. The only real drawback that I could see, was it has a maximum pressure of 80 psi. While this is not an issue for the average car tire or light truck tire, it does limit the 78P’s use with some high-pressure RV and commercial truck tires.

Flame Out Part One

$15.00 to $20.00*

Watching a classic car burn to the ground is not something anyone wants to experience. But, if you have a First Alert fire extinguisher in your car, a large tragedy could be kept minimal. For liquid or electrical fires, you will want the best automotive fire extinguisher for the job and the FIAFESA5 offers exactly that. Targeted directly at extinguishing gasoline, oil, grease, and electrical fires, this is an easy and safe method for putting out the flames.

It comes with a mounting bracket that is easy to attach for extra bang for your buck.

The FIAFESA5 has a UL-rating of 5-B:C and comes with a 5-year warranty. That is great peace of mind when purchasing an extinguisher. There are 1.38-pounds of fire-suppressing agent inside, and for the small cost, it is well worth the money.


Flame Out Part Two


If you’re carrying a fire extinguisher, you need a place to mount it within the car. It doesn’t do you any good rolling around in the trunk or getting stuck under the seat. The Bracketeer UFEB1317/D Universal Car Fire Extinguisher Bracket provides a quick and secure solution to mount a fire extinguisher in most modern and classic passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

The Universal Car Fire Extinguisher Bracket simply drops down onto the front or rear of the seat rails on the driver or passenger seat of most modern vehicles, and is secured firmly using grub screws. For vehicles with a traditional bolt-in seat frame design, the clamping loops are simply inverted and secured through holes onto the factory mounting bolts.

car guy Christmas

The clamping loops are bolted onto the slotted Adjustable Spacer Bar, which provides a wide range of lateral adjustment to ensure compatibility with almost any seat-rail width.

The angled arms are bolted either on top or underneath of the Adjustable Spacer Bar, using one of the five mounting holes, in either a downward or upward orientation.

The OE cradle supplied with the fire extinguisher is then bolted onto the multi-drilled arms using any of the remaining holes. This provides more than 30 different mounting combinations for the extinguisher, ensuring the most convenient and appropriate location is always achieved.

The Bracketeer bracket is compatible with H3R HG250, Amerex B417T or B385TS, Kidde* 408-466727, FA110 or FA5G, or any 2 to 2.5-pound extinguishers with a supplied cradle having a hole spacing of 4 1/4-, 4 5/8- or 5-inch (center-to-center).

If you have a car guy or gal on your Christmas list, or would like to give someone a hint about what to get you this year (instead of a tie), hopefully these items will be just the ticket. They say it’s the thought that counts, and if you think about it, they’ll be thinking of you when one of these items saves them on the side of the road!

*Prices at time of article writing.