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Nine automotive gift ideas for your graduate

About to send a loved one off into the real world? Here are nine gifts that will keep your grad happy and safe on- or off-road.

DirtFish Rally School

Graduation season is here. You've cleared your schedule to attend the ceremony and perhaps the related party, but what about the gift? If you're coming up dry for ideas, we've got your salvation below.

Whether your grad is planning an epic post-college road adventure, or simply wants to stay home and spend a few weeks forgetting everything he or she studied for that last round of finals, we've got thoughtful gift ideas that are sure to please your loved one.

DirtFish rally school

Education is the gift that lasts a lifetime. In this case, DirtFish rally school may even be able to extend a lifetime. There's no such thing as being too skilled behind the wheel, especially when you remind yourself that a motor vehicle is a flammable, fuel-powered, 4,000-pound weapon. With great power comes great responsibility. Advanced driver training is a fun way to learn how to be more responsible behind the wheel. In addition, your graduate will probably appreciate being able to add rally training to his or her humble-brag armamentarium.

DirtFish rally school is located in Snoqualmie, Washington, with two-hour courses starting at $499, but the school also offers five-day programs and even private instruction. Consequently, finishing rally training would make your loved one a double-grad, likely necessitating another present, but we've got plenty more gift ideas remaining.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto head unit

The XAV-AX5000 is a solid grad gift.


Let's face it: buying a new car is a well-off person's game. College and high-school graduates are typically cash-strapped, which means they're likely driving older vehicles sporting outdated technology. But you can get your grad in step with the times by hooking them up with an aftermarket head unit that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 6.95-inch Sony XAV-AX5000 at $400 is a solid, low- to midpriced choice, but if you really feel like splurging, Alpine's 7-inch iLX-107 is sweet. At that price point, the system offers wireless Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto). Very few brand-new cars come with wireless smartphone-mirroring tech, so this system would actually put your grad ahead of the curve.

Anker Roav Bolt

Is your graduate is a fan of Google Assistant? Do they constantly use a Google Home Mini in their dorm or apartment? What if your loved one were able to bring the power of Google Assistant into his or her older ride? Well, now they can with the Anker Roav Bolt.

At $50, the Roav Bolt is a much cheaper way to get modern tech smarts into an older vehicle. Simply plug the Bolt into a cigarette lighter, then connect the device to an AUX jack. Once the Bolt pairs with the driver's smartphone, your grad can then make phone calls, send text messages, request driving directions or even switch off a light back home, all hands-free.

Roadside emergency kit

Think of the Blikzone roadside emergency kit as peace of mind in a briefcase.


While roadside emergencies aren't the happiest things to think about, being prepared for them is a good step toward mitigating the risks a young person may encounter on the road.

For less than $80, the 81-piece Blikzone roadside emergency kit will provide your grad with most everything he or she needs to keep safe while stranded. The kit includes items such as jumper cables, an air compressor, tire repair kit, tow strap, a flashlight, mylar blanket and rain poncho. In the event your grad gets trapped, the kit also includes a seat belt-cutter and a safety hammer to break windows. Altogether, the kit weighs less than 9 pounds and fits inside a briefcase-size bag for easy trunk storage. (Note: the hammer and cutter should be stored within the driver's reach, perhaps in the glovebox.)

AAA membership

Peace of mind in a card.


One limitation of a roadside emergency kit is that it can't tow your grad's broken-down car, but a AAA (American Automobile Association) membership can. The auto club's roadside assistance program can also splash up your grad's gas tank in the event they run out of fuel, render assistance if they lock their car with the keys inside, change a tire and even change a battery.

On top of that, at around $50 per year, a AAA membership unlocks access to rental car discounts, reduced hotel rates and even cheaper movie tickets, among myriad other perks. In certain regions, if you're already a AAA member, buying a gift membership could mean a reduced renewal fee for your own membership or a complimentary upgrade to a higher-tier membership with even more benefits. Sometimes it pays to give.

Bluetooth OBD-II Scanner

A device like this can save a lot of headaches.


One way to decrease the likelihood your grad will need to use the aforementioned roadside emergency kit or AAA membership is by arming them with an OBD-II diagnostic scanner. The Autophix 3210 is a $45 Bluetooth gadget with an associated app (for both iOS and Android devices) that not only gives the user vehicle component fault codes, it also gives detailed lists of what specific issues could be causing those codes to pop up.

This is definitely the OBD-II scanner to buy if your grad lacks knowledge in automotive matters.

Lyft gift card

Perhaps your graduate is without wheels, but in this day and age of rideshare services, that's no longer as painful of an issue as it was a decade ago. It's also easy as heck to give the gift of a Lyft ride. You don't even need to set foot in a store or even hand your grad a card.

All you need to do is open your Lyft app, hit the menu button in the upper-left-hand corner, tap "Promos" and select "Gift Lyft to friends." From there, you can select your gift amount, enter your grad's information, and boom! In a matter of seconds, you've boosted your stock with your just-graduated loved one. (You can also just as easily send Lyft credits via

Fuel gift card

Gas up your grad's road trip.

RunPhoto/Getty Images

If your grad is planning a post-college, cross-country road trip, a gas card goes a long way, pardon the pun. According to fuel retailing industry publication CSP, at 14,000-plus gas stations across America, Shell currently holds more than a 12 percent market share. A gas card from that brand would mean less time spent searching for the nearest Shell station, and ultimately, a happier graduate.The Big Oil brand's next-strongest competitor, ExxonMobil, is 3,000 stores shy of Shell's site count.

If you're not keen about giving money to Big Oil, similarly to how you can gift Lyft credits, you can also send your grad a ChargePoint gift card to juice up at any of the electric vehicle charging network's 64,000-plus locations.

Racing wheel

Rather than a road trip, your grad may just want to veg out for a few weeks (or the entire summer) playing video games. If you want to indulge them, have we got the gift idea for you: the CSL Elite racing wheel for Xbox One and PC.

Coming in at under $400, the CSL wheel is a neat piece of kit featuring a multicolor-LED center stripe atop an integrated rpm readout. The wheel also offers myriad adjustability and feedback torque of up to 4.4 pound-feet.