Father's Day Gift Guide

Father's Day can be tough. What do you get “the guy who has everything?" Something cheap that he could probably buy himself? Maybe not, a Father's Day gift should be meaningful. Instead of more tech stuff that'll be jammed in the junk drawer in a few weeks, here are some truly useful gifts to get work done and build memories that will last a lifetime. They're even good enough to make him forgive you about cracking dadbod jokes.

father and son working under the hood

Gifts to buy

We're going to start with the easiest gifts here. Let's say you just want to hand him something he will actually use. It's really hard to beat the price point and everyday usefulness of a jack and jack stand combo. For about the price of two ugly ties that he'll never wear, a jack and jack stand set is the easy way to safely lift and support any vehicle.

Two shopping tips here. First, buy the jack stand appropriate for the vehicle. For example, high-reaching bottle jacks for a lifted Bronco, but a low-profile floor jack for a lowered Corvette. Also before buying, check the weight rating. It's a good idea to err on the side of caution and overbuy capability. For example, for a vehicle that weighs 3,000 lbs, get a set of jack stands that can support at least 2000 lbs each.

You know who needs more tools? Trick question; everyone needs more tools. Hand tool sets offer an immense value over buying each tool individually, and provide enough variety to get the majority of tasks done on a vehicle (or even around the home). Look for sets that have SAE and metric sockets, so you'll be able to work on anything made in the last hundred years. Deep sockets are also handy in specific circumstances, like trying to remove the perimeter valve cover bolts on an SBC 350. No, sorry, 10mm bulk pack of sockets not included (you're definitely going to lose that one).

Dead battery? Jumper cables still work in a pinch, but they're as outdated as your Limp Bizkit CD collection. A jump starter/power pack is a much cooler tool. This two-in-one device fits in your pocket and can jump start a dead battery without requiring assistance from a second vehicle. It's as simple as connecting the positive and negative clamps, and powering on.

It also works as a massive USB power pack, keeping phones, tablets, or a Nintendo Switch charged on a long trip. No more hearing “Are we there yet?" which is a gift in itself.

father and son working under the hood

Projects to do together

Whether it's his pride and joy show car, work truck, or just daily driver, there's a certain amount of pride that comes from a freshly detailed vehicle. While you could drop a few hundred dollars and have a pro do it, detailing is easy, and better when you can do it together. Or, clean it for Dad to make up for all those times you didn't clean your room.

If it's your first time, know that it is entirely possible to get professional results out of even the most affordable cleaning products. Have a look at these 5 easy steps for detailing any vehicle and go get started.

On the other side of the vehicle, it's easy to forget about your brakes, until they make that terrible squeal every time you slow down. Don't let it get that bad, change out the brake pads and rotors if they are due.

Most brake maintenance is a simple enough job for a total beginner. Maybe it's time for a complete brake system overhaul on Dad's ride. We'll show you replacing brake fluid to upgrading calipers, all of which are easier with a relative/helper. It's also not an expensive task, and even the most affordable brake components are better than worn out parts.

a brake caliper and rotor

Source | Lisa Kowite

Bonus: If you're the type that's too socially awkward to say “I love you," you can get the point across with a brake job. Safety shows you care.

Is Dad more into hotrods? From classic muscle to modern performance and even trucks, there's a variety of performance parts to take his ride next level. From basic upgrades like intake and exhaust systems, to the biggest performance upgrades available, there's a how-to for all your high horsepower needs.

Try something new

Along with dad jokes, there's the stereotype of fathers improving things, either themselves, their home, or vehicles. Gym memberships and community college history courses aren't actually fun experiences, so why not help him advance his DIY skills? Find out where he's at (say, novice or intermediate), then kick it up a notch by tackling a project that's slightly harder. Offer your assistance since he raised you and all that, and you'll both learn something while completing a project. Might even have fun.

landscape of Trout Lake in Yellowstone

Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park | Always Shooting/Flickr

Go for an experience

There's a saying that wealthy people give each other experiences, not physical gifts. It's a great idea to make memories that last a lifetime, but you don't have to be wealthy to give an awesome experience.

Odds are you're close to a racetrack of some kind, so give amateur racing a try. Drag racing can be as little as $10 to watch, or $20 to race. If cornering is more his thing, autocross is barely more expensive, with an entire day of participation running approximately $50. Even a high-speed track day on a road course is often around $200.

Yes, you absolutely can bring your daily driver Ford Fusion, or any car in good condition. While he won't win any trophies the first time out, nothing recreates the childhood fun of toy cars like beginner-level racing. Then you can rent Ford vs Ferrari and comment on how much you relate to Carroll Shelby.

If peace and quiet is more his thing, start planning a road trip. This is one of those times where it's “more about the journey than the destination," so plan for an easygoing trip. No idea where to go? Check out our planning guide, and road trip packing checklist. Variations include truck campingtouring Route 66, taking an ATV adventurehitting the mountains, or the best roads in National Parks.

Got any great ideas for Father's Day? Let us know your gift ideas in the comments below.

Last updated May 27, 2020

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