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Father's Day gift ideas to rev up your car-loving dad

Father's Day 2019 is just around the corner. Here are eight gift ideas that will please your petroleum-blooded dad.

Manuel Carrillo III Automotive Reviews Editor
A Porsche 911 S brought Manuel Carrillo III home from the hospital after he was born, so it's no surprise his lifelong trajectory has centered on cars, leading him to a robust career creating rich automotive media for publications prior to joining CNET.

The Southern California native briefly lived in Sydney, and is proud to have developed a barely passable Aussie accent. He also serves on the board of directors of the Motor Press Guild. When not reviewing cars or nerding out on OEM premium audio, you can find manual-labor-averse Manuel doing his best to convince his closest friends to fix the very Porsche that delivered him home.
Manuel Carrillo III
6 min read

Father's Day in the United States is Sunday, June 16. It will be here before you know it. Be sure to set those alerts on your phone's calendar, lest you forget and become the underlying cause of sad-dad syndrome. Symptoms include a long face, moping, an uncomfortably silent dinner table and passive-aggressive retaliation such as bad gift-giving when your birthday rolls around. You don't want any of that, right?

Even if you remember Father's Day this year, no one dreams of giving their dad an objectionable present. Have a look at our eight gift ideas below. Rumor has it that the farther down you scroll, the less pre-Father's Day stress you'll feel. Go ahead and try it out.

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Underinflated tires can significantly impact fuel economy, safety and tread life, which ultimately lead to a poorer, sadder father. Even if pop is driving a modern car with tire-pressure sensors, unless his vehicle provides exact readouts, his rubber has to be significantly underinflated for a warning light to appear in the instrument cluster. According to Edmunds, a pressure "warning light isn't required to come on until a tire is 25% below the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure."

Encourage Dad to keep a close eye on his tire pressures with this $11 digital tire gauge from Tekton. The gauge looks pretty cool, and even features a light-up readout and nozzle. Even more thrilling, batteries are included.

Maybe your dad isn't the sort of dude who would shout from the mountaintops that he's car-obsessed. That's OK, because Blipshift's apparel can do the yelling on his behalf.

The company's most interesting items are affordable, limited-edition $15 T-shirts. According to Blipshift's website, "Each shirt is available for only a few days before it is towed off to the crusher, never to be printed again." This lessens the risk of your pop being inadvertent twinsies with some random cars and coffee-goer.

Dad not a T-shirt guy? That's fine, too. Blipshift offers a range of other products, from auto-themed socks and ties to barbecue aprons, wall art and even "brapping paper."

Anyone who's ever worked on cars knows the dilemma of losing a 10mm socket. Don't believe me? Peruse your old man's toolbox. Chances are he's fallen victim to the rogue 10mm. No, this isn't a way the extraterrestrials are messing with us ahead of their 2027-2035 arrival window. As one Reddit user puts it, "You often need [the 10mm], often use it, therefore it's the most often misplaced, and you notice it faster when it's missing."

For $23, you can make dad's life much simpler with a 10mm socket 10-pack from Car Guy Tools. The pack includes five different types of socket, each in a pair for maximum convenience. From personal experience, I can estimate this gift will decrease under-hood foul language usage by 20 to 25 percent.

Did you roll your eyes when your father boasted about finally garage-programming his car's Homelink transceiver? Yeah, I agree: that's so 1998. For just $69, you can bring your pops into the 21st century with the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub.

If you're really nice, you can even install the system for dear ol' Dad, but installation is easy as the system requires no wiring to the garage door opener. The only real work you'll have to do is affix a bracket onto the garage ceiling, but Dad's worth a little manual labor, right? Right?

Once installed, your father will be able to control the garage door from his iPhone, Android smartphone or even via Google Assistant (but Assistant compatibility costs a buck per month -- that's kind of annoying, but unequivocally affordable). The MyQ is also compatible with Amazon in-garage delivery, which is great for those who have encountered front-porch package theft. Can you imagine how proud Pops will be when he can show off his new smart garage superpowers to his golfing pals? Yeah, you'll probably still roll your eyes at his pride.

For fathers who worship at the altar of speed, a pair of petrol-pious Piloti driving shoes may just buy your dad enough milliseconds on the track for him to remember this gift forever. Driving shoes are narrower than standard shoes, which aids in the heel-toe footwork required while matching revs on the racetrack for smooth downshifts. Driving shoes also look pretty slick when worn with a racing suit.

If your dad is a Chevrolet Corvette or Camaro fan, you're in luck. Right now, Piloti is selling Corvette- and Camaro-themed racing shoes for $149. Whether your dad likes to race against the clock or against his buddies, a gift like this will have him hugging the shoebox before he remembers to hug you in gratitude.

If pappy is more reserved about his automotive proclivities, this tasteful, tachometer-inspired RL-73 watch from Rennline will likely match his style. If the face looks familiar, it should. Rennline's website says the timepiece "is based on the evocative, multiple endurance-winning, air-cooled car of the [s]eventies." Read between the lines, and you probably know what timeless racing machine Rennline is talking about.

Let's just say that if Rennline were to come out and say what vehicle inspired this watch, you'd likely have to pay oodles more than its current, sub-$400 asking price.

If you haven't heard of ChargePoint, think of it as the Tesla Supercharger network, but for all electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, from the Chevy Bolt to the Mercedes-Benz GLC350e. If your dad drives anything that can be plugged in, a ChargePoint "gift" card is a thoughtful option.

I have the word "gift" in quotes because ChargePoint doesn't officially sell gift cards. Despite that, you can still use the ChargePoint app to send Pop a prepaid card that will get him up and running will all the electricity you wish to gift him.

Sending someone a ChargePoint card is almost as easy as sending someone Lyft credits. Simply tap the upper-left-corner menu button in the ChargePoint app, select "Account," tap "Manage Cards" and then select "Get Cards." From there, enter Dad's address, and within three to five business days, he'll receive your gifted card. After that, he'll be able to juice up at any one of ChargePoint's 65,000-plus charging spots.

My one criticism is that, unlike Lyft, ChargePoint lacks the ability to send charging credits via email, so unfortunately, this EV gift, with its multiday lag time, can't quite cut it for last-minute Father's Day shoppers. In other words, act now, because we're nearing the land of the last-minute.

Performance driving school

If your dad is car-obsessed, it's a good bet he's hinted that attending a performance driving school would be a dream come true. Well, we've got a gift idea that could make Father's Day 2019 his favorite one ever: The Cadillac V-Performance Academy at Spring Mountain Motor Resort about an hour west of Las Vegas. Roadshow's Emme Hall has tried out the academy herself, and she found it monumentally fun and educational. Prices for the two-day program begin at $2,470.

Now, if money is no object and you really want to give Dad the ultimate in racing school experiences, there's Ferrari's Corso Pilota. Roadshow's Editor-in-Chief Tim Stevens calls the training "a two-day program that put every other educational experience in my life to shame." That makes sense, considering how comprehensive the syllabus is. " training courses run the gamut, starting with basics like when to shift gears, then going all the way up to the finer points of forcing your racing opponent into a mistake," Stevens says.

As you can imagine, Corso Pilota is one-percenter expensive, firmly in the territory of, "If you have to ask, then you can't afford it, pal." Fully aware that I can't afford it, I had no problem asking Tim how expensive the course is. Turns out, Ferrari's program starts at $15,290. Also, Dad has to own a Ferrari already to be eligible for admission. That's a lot of hoops, but still worth it for the well-heeled.

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Originally published May 22, 2019.