You’ll never know what will hit you out in the road: especially when you are traveling in the dead of night in freezing weather. But pray it will not happen; when suddenly accident strikes in a place far away from home. Well, we have asked some traveling experts on what are the things that you should keep in your car that you could use during emergencies or in other circumstances you won’t expect to happen while you travel.
25 Important Things You Should Always Keep in Your Car
1. Jumper cables
A drained or dead car battery is inevitable especially in freezing weather so you better have a pair of jumper cables on hand. These cables, though, require another vehicle to connect to its functioning battery to power your dead battery.
2. First-aid kit
A first aid kit should never be out of hand in your car. You never know when will accidents happen so you better pack this thing up and make sure it is easily reachable inside your car.
The common content of a first aid kit includes adhesive bandages, gauze and disinfectant, and regular strength pain medication. But you can customize some contents, especially when you or your passengers have medical conditions; maybe you could bring a face mask, etc.
3. Spare spark plugs
Spark plugs are used in gasoline engine vehicles. If your car is quite old and always have a problem with the ignition, you should know how many plugs are needed in your car. Spark plugs are dirt cheap so it’s not too much to have them at all times.
A flashlight could save your day from changing a flat tire in the dark and even losing your engagement ring under the seat. Any rechargeable or battery-operated flashlight will do. You can also bring extra batteries for your flashlight.
Don’t forget the charger if you have a rechargeable flashlight. Most rechargeable flashlights could be charged on your car’s lighter charger or the vehicular outlet.
5. Fire extinguisher
A small fire extinguisher (like a 5-pounder) is ideal to bring inside your car. A fire extinguisher can stop a small fire that may result in a more serious disaster.
Automobile manufacturers recommend bringing a dry powder fire extinguisher as this could be used on flammable fluids (like gasoline and diesel fuels) and combustible solids; like the car’s textiles and plastic interiors.
6. A utility shovel
A small foldable shovel will fit perfectly into your car’s trunk. A utility shovel can dig your vehicle out of trouble. It is handy enough to clear pathways, chop small branches (some utility shovels have a tempered blade lined with sharp teeth), or dig your way out of snow or dirt.
This kind of shovel is far different from your grandma’s garden tool. For a change, this will dig you out of a ditch.
7. Pair of working gloves
Working on a flat tire, your hands should be protected from sharp objects and even against frostbite if the weather is cold. The gloves will also protect you from hot engine parts when you are going to take a look at the engine compartment. You can bring multiple gloves if you have passengers.
8. Prepared food or MREs
You’ll never know when if you will be stocked in a traffic gridlock forever or lost in a remote place where you’re struggling the way out. It’s a great idea that you pack energy bars, nuts, chocolate bars, high-energy snacks, or MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat).
MRE is a self-contained prepared food that is poured with water in a pouch and it self-warm and ready to eat. But you must consume MREs before they expire and replaced them with a new one. These are available in online stores, if you don’t know.
9. A petrol/diesel fuel container
Sometimes you forgot to take notice that your tank is almost empty. If so happens you run out of gas, you can walk to the nearest gas station a gas container in hand and back to tour car to refuel.
Just bring a fuel can (plastic material is preferred) enough to drive you to the next gas station. A 5-gallon poly gas can is recommended. But don’t bring a loaded fuel container as this is dangerous.
10. Spare serpentine belt
If you are planning for a long-distance trip, it is better that you check the engine drive belt (known as a serpentine belt). If you find it worn out, replaced it with a new one.
11. Tire repair kit
A tire changing kit may include a pair of jack stands, a tire jack, lug wrench, tire iron, WD-40 (as a lubricant or rust remover), and a spare tire. This collection of items may vary depending on your needs but these articles are the most common tools/equipment car drivers bring with them.
You can add a tire bead jack if you have tight tires or a scissor jack if you have a small car (instead of a bigger tire jack).
If you don’t have jumper cables, you can bring a portable jump starter, which is more reliable and doesn’t need another vehicle to power a dead car battery. A jump starter (also known as ‘power booster’) works similar to jump cables only that it has a restored power of its own enough to run a dead battery as long as it is in running condition.
13. Road flares
Also known as ‘highway flares’, ‘fusee’ or ‘ground flares’, road flares are primarily used to warn passing vehicles of obstacles or advise caution on roadways at night. You can light up a flare at night so that other vehicle drivers can see you while changing a tire or do similar things.
14. Windshield wiper fluid
Also called wiper fluid or screen wash, is a liquid that is used for automobiles’ windshield cleaning with the windshield wiper while the vehicle is being driven. This fluid is mostly made from ethylene glycol or with a small amount of ethanol, called anti-freeze. This fluid is ideal to use during cold weather as it doesn’t freeze during the winter months.
15. A car scanner
Most modern cars have a built-in OBD (Onboard Diagnostics) on which codes can be read by a car scanner. It is just proper that you bring along a car scan tool that will tell you what’s wrong with your car when it gives signs while you are driving.
The car scanner is not an instant fix for your car’s troubles but it could give info on what state your car is into.
16. Extra clothes
When you are changing tires under heavy snowfall or rain, your clothes will get soaked and sitting inside your car wet and chilling is not a good idea.
17. Bottled drinking water
As important as energy snacks or MREs, drinking water must also be a primary concern when going out on a trip or any ordinary drive. A bottle or two of about 500ml each of bottled water might be enough but make sure that the container can withstand extreme heat or freezing conditions.
18. Duct tape
Duct tape is a good temporary fix for a falling muffler and roadside first aid. Honestly, there are more than a hundred ways you could use duct tape in various temporary applications. Once you get home or in a repair shop, you can let the mechanics fix the problem with a permanent solution.
19. Owner’s manual
Most car owners don’t bring with them their vehicle’s owner’s manual. A big mistake! Keep the manual in your compartment; you may never know when you are going to use it. If you lost your copy, most are available on the manufacturers’ websites for free.
20. Blankets/ Umbrellas
Whether it’s raining or not outside, you should bring with you an umbrella whenever you are out just driving or on trips. You wouldn’t want to change a tire or go out of the car to ask directions while the rain pounces on you or the searing sun may burn your skin.
On the other hand, having a light but thick blanket could provide you warm and comfortable feel sleeping if you are made to spend night-time hours in your car.
21. A carpet leftover/ remnant
Do you have an old carpet remnant? Bring a small piece of it with you; it will help you get out of mud, snow, or ice. You can wedge it in one of the driving tires and then drive into the direction of the carpet. It’s a sure thing!
22. Car safety triangle warning kit
This reflective road warning triangle will provide crucial caution to other drivers while you are parked in a shoulder changing tires or other emergencies (night or day).
23. Extra money, small bills
Carrying an extra amount of cash or rolls of quarters is a better idea for tipping tow truck people, for unexpected tolls, parking meter payment, and other unexpected small expenses on the road.
24. Printed maps
You can’t always rely on your GPS navigation system. It is better that you have a copy of the map (yes, on paper!) of the place you’re visiting or a current atlas if you still have space.
If your map says there is a car repair shop on your next stop, it is probably better to use a Fix-a-Flat for your deflating tire. Fix-a-Flat is a convenient option for plugging the hole in your tire once you pinpointed its location. This will allow you to drive your car safely to the nearest repair shop and have the tire fix properly.
We didn’t include your mobile phone and its charger because these are common things owned by people and we are sure that you always bring them with you wherever you go. This list may vary depending on your needs.