Having the right items in your car is a big deal. Sometimes, it’s as important as having wheels on your car. We put together a list of what everybody should carry in their car. You’ll see the importance as the list continues. Who knows – one of these items could wind up saving your life.
Why Does it Matter What’s in Your Car?
The contents of your car can be the difference between life or death in some cases. In less dramatic cases, the items in your car can save you time and money.
The overall theme of this list is to help you when your car breaks down. This could be due to a battery, engine, or tire issue that you’re having.
Some of the items are designed to save your life in an emergency.
Having the right tools in your car can make your life a lot easier.
Who is This Guide Right For?
This guide is built for the everyday driver. If you operate a vehicle, then you made it to the right place.
You don’t need to have a certain car, lifestyle, or driving frequency to find something worth your time on this list. We built it with your situation in mind, so you’ll find some value as you read through the list.
For each item, we provide a quick breakdown of why the part is so important to have in your car. If you read something that resonates with you, then you might as well grab the item.
It’s also worth mentioning that nothing on this list is super expensive. You can find any of the items for less than a hundred bucks, and there are some that are less than $5. That means that these parts are cheap enough to grab and keep in your car.
Additionally, all of these parts are compact enough to store in your car. We know that cars have limited space available, and you should have no problem finding a home for these items in your trunk, glove box, back seat, or center console.
Items that Everybody Should Carry in Their Car
Now we’ll highlight some items that you should always have in your car. Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list, and these items aren’t legally required. We have heard enough horror stories to know what items can help you avoid disaster. Let’s get started.
You shouldn’t drive anywhere without a good jack in your car. Your car probably has a jack near the spare tire, but oftentimes this is a low-quality option.
If you weren’t aware, a jack is a mechanism that you use to lift your car when you’re doing repairs or changing a tire.
The jack that comes with your car is pretty flimsy, to say the least. After all, the car manufacturer was more concerned about making a good car, not giving you a high-quality jack.
The best solution is to pick up a sturdy jack from your local auto shop or online. A flimsy jack can fail or collapse and leave you pinned under a car. Avoid that issue by always having the right jack in your car. You can keep it in your trunk and out of the way.
A jack is nothing without a high-quality handle. Just like the jack that comes with your car, the handle found near the spare tire is borderline useless.
You’ll spend more time fiddling around with the handle than is necessary. Most jacks come with a good handle, but just make sure you have the right handle for the job.
Pro tip: when your car is jacked up, take the handle out. That way, you avoid bumping into the handle and moving the jack, causing your car to fall down.
A jack stand is not the same thing as a jack – in fact, it is a completely different item. You can find a good jack stand that doesn’t have any jacking mechanism inside of it, just an arm that goes up and down manually.
The jack stand’s job is to hold your car. After jacking up your car, slide under a few jack stands and you can remove the jack altogether.
This is good because there is always room for error when you have your car resting on a jack. Jacks have wheels and are known to twist and move around. The result? Your car can fall on you or the jack can slip and damage the undercarriage of your car.
Jack stands are sturdy pieces of metal with no wheels. They will support your car while you work on it and provide you a reliable base. The only thing that can go wrong with a stand is if it gets hit on the side hard enough and kicks out of position.
As you’re doing repairs on the side of the road, the last thing you want is a jack to collapse and damage your car further. For that reason, you should always have a pair of jack stands ready to use.
Tire Pressure Gauge
When it comes to checking the health of your tires, a tire pressure gauge is a must-have. You can use this gauge to see how much pressure is in your tires at any given time.
Some tire pressure gauges come with a hard plastic carrying case to keep them safe. You can throw it in your trunk or glove box and leave it there.
To use the gauge, take the cap off of your tire’s valve stem. Push the tire pressure gauge firmly over the valve then remove it.
If you have a manual gauge, there will be a little rod that pokes out of the bottom of the gauge. It has numbers on it that correspond to the PSI in your tire.
Not sure what PSI your car’s tires should be? Take a look inside your driver’s side door jamb. There should be a sticker somewhere that tells you the recommended PSI for each tire. If your tires are low, go to a nearby gas station and use their air pump, or use an air compressor at home.
Battery Jump Starter
Did you know that you don’t need to use a buddy’s car to jump yours? You can find a portable battery jump starter that is designed to give your car the juice it needs.
These packs are small enough to put in your trunk without a problem.
If you don’t want to bring a battery jump starter with you, you can just carry around jumper cables. This is the less expensive and smaller solution to a dying battery.
You probably already know this, but jumper cables are used to give your battery a jump start. If your battery is on the fritz, a quick jump using another car’s battery and jumper cables will bring your car temporarily back to life.
Small Universal Toolbox
There are a few tools you’ll regularly use for roadside repairs. All of these tools can be found in a small universal toolbox.
For less than $30 you can get a toolbox with ratchets, a bunch of sockets, and a driver with interchangeable heads.
These tools don’t have to be high-quality, name-brand tools. They are just there to serve a simple purpose in the case of an emergency.
Roadside Emergency Kit
If you break down on the side of the road, you’ll need a roadside emergency kit. It’s equally useful for a busy main road or a quiet backroad.
A good kit should have some first aid, reflector cones, flare, flashlight, and a vest.
The idea is that this kit has everything you’ll need to be seen and stay safe while you do your repairs or wait for help. If your car dies at night, you’ll be really hard to see. This opens the door for people to accidentally hit you and make things much worse.
Warm Jacket and Blanket
If you live in an area that gets cold during the winter, you should have some clothes and a blanket to keep you warm.
There have been a lot of stories about people freezing to death in their cars. If your car dies at night during an especially cold winter day, you’ll be thankful that you have a jacket and blanket to keep you warm.
Remember, your car’s heater won’t work if it’s dead.
Food and Water
Along the same line of thinking, it’s a good idea to have some simple food and water in your car. This could be as easy as a few protein bars and a bottle of water.
You don’t know how long you’ll be waiting for someone to come help you after a breakdown. Food and water will help you feel comfortable while you wait, and it might even save your life.
It’s a simple enough addition to your car that can make a big impact.
Window Hammer Emergency Tool
There is a universal tool that will help you in a lot of emergencies. It’s a window hammer emergency tool.
This tool has a few functions built into it, depending on the model that you go with.
A common combination is a window-breaking hammer and a seatbelt-cutting blade.
This tool is useful if your car flips, catches on fire, starts sinking in water, or you were in a crash. It should be stored in the center console or the glove box – somewhere you can easily get to it.
The tool is an inexpensive way to save you during an emergency. Of course, you never imagine getting into such a scary situation. However, a simple tool like this can save your life.
Your car’s windows are really hard to break. In the movies, people easily punch through a window, but that’s far from reality. This specialized hammer is made of a hardened metal that comes to a fine point.
This hammer uses physics to shatter the windows in your car so you can escape. The blade is straightforward and can be used to cut your seatbelt off if it’s stuck or you’re lodged in place.
A reflective vest is an important addition to your trunk. This goes back to the idea of breaking down on the side of the road and looking to avoid getting hit.
A reflective vest has fabric that’s brightly colored and tape that reflects incoming light. Even faint headlights approaching will catch the tape and scatter the light around, making you more visible. It helps drivers to see you, even at night.
Tire Patch Kit
If you get a nail stuck in your tire and want to quickly patch it before going on your way, a tire patch kit would work perfectly.
If the hole is in the right place, using this kit is a preferred alternative to putting on your spare tire.
The patch kit uses a piece of rubber that goes into the puncture and makes a reliable seal. After patching a tire, your car will run well as new (again, as long as the hole is in the right place and small enough).
More importantly, patching a tire is a quick process. You can probably patch your tire just as fast as you can put on a spare one.
Where Can You Find These Items?
Most of the items on this list can be found at your local auto shop. Additionally, you can check places like Walmart or Amazon for a lot of these things.
The big thing to focus on is the quality of the piece that you’re getting. You don’t want to pick up an item that’s designed for emergency use, but it breaks when you try to use it.
Having the right items in your car can help you avoid a disaster and deal with breakdowns better. Picking up a few or all of the items on this list can really benefit you in the future. We all hope that nothing bad happens to your car while you drive, but it’s better to be prepared for the worst.