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Christmas is the season for giving and receiving gifts. And as much as we love receiving gifts we’ve dreamed about all year, harsh reality sets in and there’s bound to be some duds along the way; especially when the giver buys the intended gift at the last minute. So, to all gift givers out there, before you head over to the automotive section of your neighborhood department store, read this carefully. Here are just some stocking stuffers you should probably avoid giving to your special someone as he or she probably won’t appreciate the five minutes of effort you put into it.
1. Go-Fast Stickers
Go-fast stickers which taut favorite tuner brands like ‘Ralliart’ or ‘Brembo’ are dime-a-dozen these days. And that’s exactly why you should stay away from them. Typically, they’re impulse purchases located at the front of every automotive section. However, aside from just utter window (or bumper) clutter, a true car enthusiast will tell you: “don’t flaunt what you don’t rock.” In short, if the person you’re giving the sticker to doesn’t have Brembo brakes, don’t give him Brembo stickers. Besides, a true performance car is typically of a sleeper variety, meaning it won’t sport flashy or loud stickers. It will probably just have a subtle badge or two.
By the same token, please stay away from those stick figure family stickers too. Aside from being a real security concern (the entire world will know the names of your three kids and two dogs), they simply look iffy and out-of-place in a good-looking car. Save yourself a couple of hundred pesos and get your car guy or gal a fuel or gas card. With the record-high fuel prices these days, this gesture will be greatly appreciated.
2. The Shoshinsha or Wakaba Mark
In the late 1980’s, it was Garfield the Cat. In the 1990’s, it’s Snow White and the 7 Dwarves. Today, it’s the Shoshinsha or Wakaba mark. If you don’t know what it means, then there’s absolutely no reason for you to give out these rear window stick-ons. In case you still don’t know what it is, you’ve probably seen them already on guys trying to rock the JDM or Japanese Domestic Market look.
The Shoshinsha mark is a v-shaped yellow-and-green symbol typically attached to the back glass of a car. Though it may look cool, it actually means ‘beginner driver’. A mandatory requirement for newly licensed Japanese drivers, the Shoshinsha mark connotes inexperience or unskilled behind the wheel. Unless you’re trying to communicate to the person you’re giving it to that he needs more driving lessons, stay away.
3. LED Bar Lights
Audi has made them cool and standard on their cars, and now everyone wants to have LED driving lights. If the headlight cluster was designed from day one to accommodate these light emitting diodes, it would be entirely acceptable (Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Kia—you’re off the hook), but other than that, it’s completely hideous and a waste of money.
Those aftermarket LED lights (usually bought as long, straight bars) can be hazardous to other drivers, since they don’t know what sort of road signal a car blinking like a Christmas tree or disco signifies. In addition, the really cheap variety can cause your electrical system to act up and you wouldn’t want to spend the Christmas evening stuck at your father-in-law’s house, would you? The giver may think it’s a salute to individuality, but it’s individuality in the worst possible sense.
4. Euro Plates
Where is your gift recipient’s car located? Which country are you in right now? Unless you’re going to answer “Europe”, there’s absolutely no reason why you should even consider giving away European plates. Let’s face it, they look cool; but it looks cool because they’re attached to equally cool cars—A Porsche 911 with an ‘S’ (Stuttgart) or a BMW M5 with an ‘M’ (Munich) plate look cool simply because they’re icy cool cars.
No matter how many layers of plate numbers you attach to your friend’s Honda Civic, it will still be registered at East Avenue. Just like go-fast stickers, attaching a European plate on your Japanese or Korean car is probably good for an additional one or two horsepower. Sarcasm aside, if you really want to get that special someone something for his plate number, why don’t you get him a plate protector instead.
5. Fuel-Saving Devices
Perhaps easily the most expensive stocking stuffer in this list, it’s also pretty much the most useless. You’ve seen them in many different shapes and forms from cigarette lighter plug-ins to magnets that attach to your fuel line. Whatever it maybe, they all promise one thing: to save you fuel. Utter rubbish.
The heyday of the Khaos may have already passed (believe it or not, it’s still being sold), but gas saving devices are still around—lurking and waiting for the next chump to unsuspectingly pick one up and give as a gift. They’re not cheap, costing typically in the thousands of pesos. It’s a real monetary investment so before you pick one up, it should have made you think by now: why didn’t car manufacturers put these devices into their cars in the first place? In case you still don’t know the answer, here’s a hint: snake oil. If you’re willing to spend a couple thousand pesos, why don’t you gift your officemate’s car with a good detailing job or perhaps a nice pair of driving sunglasses
6. Fake Motorsports Apparel
Giving fake motorsports apparel is wrong on so many levels. First, it’s intellectual piracy. If your car guy friend is really supporting a certain Formula One team or car manufacturer, he won’t like the fact that his new duds are fake. Second, it calls into question what your car guy friend really knows about motorsports and even cars in general, especially if he receives and wears a misspelled ‘Micheal Schumacher’ [sic] Ferrari jacket. Before heading off to the bazaars, it might be a good idea to try the big malls first. You’ll be surprised that there’s a good selection of motorsports-related clothing from brands such as Puma, DC Shoes—and they’re all legit! You can also try some car dealerships such as BMW or even more mainstream ones like Subaru, they carry brand or team wear. And when in doubt, you can always shop online. Typically, official team wear goes on sale at the end of each year so it’s not that expensive.