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Six gift ideas for dads who drive

June 16, 2009 |  3:02 pm

Sure, ties are great, and fathers are genetically conditioned to appear cheerful and surprised when they unwrap this year's Father's Day tie. But if you'd like to supplement, or even replace, this year's tie with another present, might we suggest something automotive-related?

Here are six products that fathers - or anyone else who likes cars - might find of interest.

RightWaySpotterGPS3-500 --Spotter GPS Navigator, Dale Jr. Edition: RightWay, a manufacturer of portable Global Positioning System (GPS) units, is offering the Dale Jr. Edition, which actually uses the voice of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. to guide you to your destination.

Well, mostly: Dale's voice does not speak street names, but he'll give you generic "turn here" advice, as well as down-home-isms, such as, when you turn the unit on, he says, "You drive, I'll ride shotgun!" As you might suspect, multiple NASCAR-related destinations are already programmed in, as well as Dale Jr.'s shop and his favorite pizza restaurant in North Carolina. At a suggested price of $229 (rightwayGPS.com), it could be just the thing to lead you to the July 4 weekend races at Daytona International Speedway.

 --Tickets for Daytona: And speaking of the races, the economy has hit NASCAR as hard as everyone else, and the Speedway is discounting seat prices to help fill the grandstands. Tickets are available for as little as $40 for the July 4 Coke Zero 400, which is the cheapest the track has offered since 1998. And there are other ticket packages available, such as an $85 ticket that also gets you admission to the air-conditioned "Beers Across America" pavilion, which features, well, beers from across America. Log onto DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.


Bar-500  --Super Bumper: Jeff Mohr began his Minnesota-based company in 2001 after his wife was involved in a rear-end crash. She wasn't injured, but Mohr began wondering how he could minimize the damage caused when a vehicle is rear-ended, and he came up with the Super Bumper, designed as an add-on for trucks, SUVs and cars that have a towing hitch receiver. The Super Bumper, a tubular steel bumper beam, plugs in where the trailer hitch goes, and - thanks to hard rubber doughnuts that separate it from the vehicle - it acts as a shock absorber when the vehicle is hit from the rear. It also serves as a step to help you reach inside a truck bed. You can install it or remove it in less than a minute. Prices start at $89.95 at SuperBumper.com.

 --Battery Tender: You want something a little more practical? Yeah, we've got that, too. The Battery Tender is made by the Deltron Corp., and it is basically a battery trickle charger with a brain: Trickle chargers are used for vehicles that aren't driven daily -- motorcycles, boats, classic cars, lawn tractors -- to keep the battery fully charged at all times. But some trickle chargers don't know when to stop and can overcharge the battery. The Battery Tender products, starting with the little $39.95 Battery Tender Junior model, turns itself on and off to maintain the proper level of charging. Check it out at BatteryTender.com.

--LiquiVac Oil Changing System: Many of us put off changing the oil in our lawn mowers, lawn tractors orOil-500 other small engines because it's typically a time-consuming mess. Michigan-based LiquiVac has developed an ingenious system that makes draining oil clean, easy and quick. The small-engine LiquiVac ($34.99) holds three quarts of used oil, and the larger one ($45.99) holds eight quarts. Here's how it works: The LiquiVac is a plastic tank with a plunger-type pump at the end. Pump it up with 15 or 20 strokes, and it develops a vacuum inside. Then run the clear plastic hose to the oil tank on the small engine, insert it through the dipstick hole, and release the pressure: The LiquiVac sucks out the old oil and stores it inside the tank, awaiting proper disposal. Then refill the tank through the filler hole. If your small engine has an oil filter, you'll still need to change that, but it makes less of a mess to already have the oil removed from the engine. The website is LiquiVac.com.

---The Flashlighter: It looks like a slightly larger version of a conventional cigar lighter in your car, but the plug-in Flashlighter is a tiny flashlight with three LEDs that stays charged constantly. But unlike similar products, the Flashlight-er also has a cord with a USB plug-in at the end, so you can also charge a cellphone, PDA, Blackberry or any other device that charges through the USB port. The website is TheFlashlighter.com, and the price is $29.95.

--BuyYourTies.com: OK, fine: For your traditionalists, this website is a good source for ties, and at least has red, white and blue bow ties, 37 different ascots, and a line of Jerry Garcia floral ties ($29.95) for fans of the Grateful Dead.

-- Steve C. Smith

Photo of Spotter GPS Navigator from RightWay, Superbumper photo from Mohr Manufacturing Inc., LiquiVac oil changing system from LiquiVac.

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