It is this dad's opinion that one of the greatest inventions of the last five years is a device that eliminates the need for jumper cables. Those cables never seem to be in the car when you need them, and they're kind of a pain to use. It can also be frustrating trying to get another car pulled up beside yours for a jump.

Portable jump starters are the answer. Most are about the size of a smartphone and can fit easily in a glove box or under the seat. When you need a jump, just attach the clamps the same way you would with a set of jumper cables. There are dozens online and in retail stores, a 8,000mAh Fly-Hi powerbank/jump starter can jump off any 4-cylinder engine. It has a USB charging port for smartphones and tablets as well. These are not very expensive, around $50.

For larger engines, the JumpSmart Portable jump starter is something to put in the trunk. It's a powerful flashlight that'll jump off just about anything including 2.0 Diesel engines.

Automotive scan tools can save dad money and help him keep a close eye on the family's vehicles. The OBDLink MX+ scans any car or truck's codes to explain why a check engine light is on. It uses an app that connects to the device over Bluetooth. Just plug the device into the vehicle's OBD port and you can leave it alone. The gadget doesn't use much power so it won't draw heavily on the battery.

There are many of these to choose from. The OBDLink MX+ provides diagnostics, trip logging, and will monitor performance every time you drive. Just plug it in and leave it. If something were to go wrong and the car is far from home, Dad can log in to the app to see what's going on and even clear a check-engine light. OBDII scanners will save money when it clears just one check engine light as many repair shops charge over $100 for that simple job.

If dad has an old TV somewhere with nothing connected to it, a Roku will give him something to watch. Thousands of things in fact, for free. Older model TVs won't connect to some streaming players but the Roku Express+ connects to the TV through HDMI and older RCA plugs. Whether he has a subscription to Netflix or not, the Roku has lots of free channels with movies and TV shows.