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Top Gear Philippines

Welcome to the height of the Christmas season, where traffic jams, frayed nerves and lousy fuel efficiency are the norm for several days. You're probably still beating deadlines, making lists, and trying to figure out how to fit in all the parties and get-togethers that relatives, friends and co-workers inevitably want to hold. Hey, it's the season of giving! Give a little more of your patience, channel inner peace, and you'll survive the next few days.

Gift-giving is a time-honored tradition of showing that you care, and personally, the hardest gifts to think about are for your loved ones. What little (or big) item can the spouse or significant other possibly appreciate? Beyond the price tag, it's really the thought that counts. Conversely, it's relatively easy to think about something for the car. The car is an inanimate object, yes, but if you love to drive, then a car is more than just a car. It's a faithful companion, an extension of your personality, and it's fully deserving of a little love every now and then.

When you're done making your lists and paying for everything, here are some gift ideas for the car that will brighten up its day and yours. After all, a gift for your car is actually a gift for yourself. It's been a hard, tough year for everyone. Reward yourself even just a little bit. Or let your significant other read this for some clue on what might make you stupendously happy.

Regardless of what ends up on your car, let's remember to be thankful for another year of riding and driving the cars that are a part of our lives.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

1. Professional detailing. From P3,000 to 5,000 depending on the size of your car at a shop like Big Bert's, a proper detailing is the equivalent of a full-body scrub and mani-pedi for the ladies. Car jocks probably don't care too much for their nails, but they all love a squeaky clean, shining-and-smelling-like-new car.

2. New wiper blades, seat covers, floor mats or tint. Tired of streaks on your windshield? Ratty floormats? Frayed seat covers? Go to a hardware store like ACE for new blades, go to the car dealership for model-specific seat covers, or go to a specialist store to replace your tint if there are bubbles already or it has faded.

3. Audio upgrade. As more and more people buy cars, expect traffic to get worse in 2014. This means you'll be spending more time in traffic, which means your only friend will be your stereo. If the sound quality is lacking, you can upgrade your speakers for under P10,000. Or if your head unit is getting tired, you can go low for around P5,000 to as much as $500 for a bitching unit like the Pioneer AVH series. (Do note that it's best to go to a car audio specialist if you want to go whole hog on your sound system.)

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Gift idea for car nuts

4. An organizer for the trunk or backseat. If your stuff perennially clutters your backseat or trunk, it's high time you got a collapsible organizer from a store like My Home. With a price range from P1,000 to P2,000, these organizers come in a variety of sizes, and most are collapsible, too.

5. An "alligator" jack. If you've ever had to change a tire, then you know how much of a pain in the ass it is to get the little jack that came with your car to raise it. There's this little bar you hook into the jack, which you then twirl dozens of times. For around P1,000 to P5,000, a gator jack lets you make like a NASCAR crew. Slip it under the car, pump the jack several times, and the car is raised in just a few seconds! Granted, this takes up a bit of trunk space and is quite heavy, so just get the light-duty spec. No need to lift three tons, right? Especially ideal for 4x4 owners who don't relish the thought of changing a tire in the boondocks.

10 gift ideas for your car

6. New suspension bits. A simple bolt-on item like a P6,000 to 8,000 strut bar will firm up the front end, making the car handle more "tightly." A little bit harder to find is a bar for the back end, but you'd be surprised how many goodies are available online if you just google it. Looking for a better ride than stock? AEmotion coilover kit will set you back a little under P50,000 at our friends from Speedlab. Truck owners looking for a more supple ride can try out Fox suspension bits, which start at around P8,000 per piece.

7. New shoes. If your tires are getting worn, perhaps it's time to put some new rubber for your own safety. Depending on your tire size, a new set will be in the range of P6,000 to as much as P24,000. Of course, if you want to substantially change the look of your car, then you'll need a new wheel-and-tire package. A complete 18-inch, 45-series set of Nitto tires on a quality value brand like Concept One will set you back around P100,000.

Nitto tire

8. Bolt-on engine upgrades. If you're leery of opening up your engine but still want to get a little more power by just better breathing and a little electrickery, a power package like those offered by Speedlab will add anywhere from 15-30 wheel horsepower depending on your baseline figures. For around P50,000 or higher, depending on the make and model, a power package adds a model-specific K&N air intake, Hotpipes headers, a Unichip that piggybacks on your stock ECU, and dyno testing. (My car has had one for more than a year now, and I have no regrets!)

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9. Let there be light! If your car is over five years old, chances are one or more lamps may already have condensation inside. In my experience, having it cleaned is only a stopgap solution as the gasket is already porous. So, just order online for a new set of head- or taillamps for around $130 to $200 a pair depending on the model (try everythingcarparts.com to start). If you want to follow the trend into HID conversion, don't be cheap. Unless you want to risk burning your car to a crisp or blinding fellow motorists even on low-beam, go to a professional shop like HIDRetrofit.net so they can properly install the conversion kit.

10. New paint. Clean, sparkling paint can make even a 12-year-old car look fresh once again. A basic washover is in the area of P40,000 to P50,000 for smaller cars. If you want to be adventurous and want to try that removable matte look, you can Plasti-Wrap your car for around P50,000 to P60,000. Aside from preserving your car's original paint underneath, scratches are easily touched up with just a little spray-on work.

Andy Leuterio
Columnist
Andy has been writing about cars since the time everybody thought "16 valves" was cool. His idea of a brain cruncher is figuring out the firing order of an ancient V8, and he thinks automatics are the work of the devil.
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