Sometimes the gift that's valued most is the one someone can reach for in an emergency such as a flashlight for the glove compartment.
A couple of others that can come in handy:
A prepaid phone card. "It's the kind of thing that's only $10, but you stick it in the visor of your car," Lowell says. "If you run out of minutes, you know there's always an emergency amount of 10 to 15 minutes on that card."
A gas gift card. The tank is nudging toward "E" and so is your wallet. Having an emergency gas card might not get you a full tank, but it will buy "enough to get you to where you need to be," Lowell says.