Gifts on wheels
Forget ties. Put away the golf balls. If you really want to make Dad smile this Father’s Day, look toward the garage for inspiration. Automotive gift ideas abound, and we’ve found eight that can put a technological twist on dad’s big day. From power supplies to accessories that help connect your car and your smartphone, consider these options for last-minute Father’s Day gifts.
For dads who need more power
Cobra’s $150 portable Cobra JumPack powerpack can jump start most cars as easily as it can power up your smartphone. The 7500 mAh Li-Cobalt Battery can charge multiple devices and includes jumper cables and two different charging methods—a wall charger for home, and a 12V charger for when you’re on the go.
For dads with iPhones
Pioneer’s Networked Experience eXperience (NEX) in-dash receivers offer everything from navigation to multimedia features, with systems ranging in price from $750 to $1400 depending on the features. And this is the gift that keeps on giving: A software update later this year will add compatibility with Apple’s CarPlay infotainment system, allowing you to plug in your phone and have Siri run the show for you.
For dads who want to beat (or increase) the heat
Heated and cooled car seats are usually only available on higher-end cars sporting sticker prices to match. The Viotek Tru-Comfort Heating and Cooling Auto Cushion plugs into a car’s 12-volt port to keep dad warm in winter and offer ventilated cooling in the summer. Viotek offers cushions in black, tan, gray, and brown, so dad’s new seat is unlikely to clash with the car’s interior. At $169 for cushions that heat and cool or $139 for cooling only, this may soon rival the easy chair for your father’s favorite place to sit.
For dads under (tire) pressure
Keeping your tires properly inflated is critical for a safe, smooth ride. Instead of relying on the air pumps at gas stations—and the quarters they demand—why not keep your own pump close by? The VIAIR 85P portable tire inflator is a small portable compressor with a built-in LED work light, capable of inflating up to 31-inch tires by simply plugging into your cigarette lighter power port. A gauge on the $50 unit makes it easy to stay on top tire pressure.
For dads who need some parking help
Technology has advanced beyond hanging up a tennis ball on a string to let you know when your front bumper’s about to make contact with the garage wall. The $25 Striker Garage Parking Sensor uses lights to remove the guess work out of parking the car in a compact garage. A base unit mounts on the wall in front of the car at bumper level with a signal light visible to the driver; a green lights tells you when it’s safe to roll forward, while yellow and red lights can warn you when its time to slow down or stop. If you can obey basic traffic signals, you can live a lifetime free of dented garage walls.
For dads who ride shotgun with Android
Dads who tote around Android phones can let their smartphones be their co-pilot with the help of a connected car dock from iBolt. Ranging in price from $25 to $40 depending on the model, the dock pairs with iBolt’s Dock’n Drive app that features large shortcut buttons, a GPS-enabled speedometer, compass, access to your favorite GPS navigation apps, and a media control for streaming music. You can also add shortcuts for direct dialing contacts or for launching favorite apps. But keep your eyes on the road.
For dads who open doors
Make this the Father’s Day you put an end to fumbling for keys. Viper SmartKey offers hands-free keyless entry and exit from a car using Bluetooth. The $150 Viper SmartKey creates a wireless perimeter around a car that responds to a paired smartphone with the Viper SmartStart app installed. It’s currently only available for iOS, but an Android version is on its way.
For dads who need more ports
With everyone in the family carrying around a gadget of their own, that 12-volt port can be in heavy demand. The $17 Bell Power Station fits snuggly in a cup holder and comes with a storage compartment for mobile devices. It adds an extra 12-volt port plus a pair of USB ports to keep things charging even when you’re miles from the nearest outlet.