You know you have to keep your license, insurance, and registration in your car at all times. But what else do you need for those unexpected and often inconvenient moments? We've compiled a list of things that should always be in your vehicle come rain or shine, many of which you'll hopefully never have to use.
From jumper cables to escape tools, be your own lifesaver with these proactive purchases and skills to get you out of sticky situations.
This glovebox essential often includes over a dozen valuable attachments, such as a knife, a pair of pliers, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver, and a wire cutter. The good news is, you don't need to be in dire straits for this item to be worth the cost—it's likely to come in handy regularly.
This crucial tome should be firmly nestled in your front seat compartment. The only time you should remove it from your vehicle is if you've just bought a car and you want to do some light studying before bed.
If your car ever has an issue, the area in front of your wheel will flash a relevant light, and you need the manual to decipher the meaning and get it sorted, pronto. You can search online for a digital version, but the book feels more user-friendly, especially with all those small pictures that will be minuscule on your phone.
During the colder months, car batteries can act up. The idea of a passerby stopping to assist may make you feel vulnerable, and even if you're fine with it, you can't assume someone will give you a hand with a jumpstart. Roadside assistance can take a while too, which isn't ideal if you're in a precarious position or you have a flight to catch.
Jumper cables and a battery booster will help you navigate this problem, and jump starter kits can keep your USB devices charged too.
Your car should have these essentials, but do you know how to use them in an emergency? If you're heading out of the city where help might be less accessible, make a point to ask your car dealership or mechanic to show you where this equipment is located and how to use it.
Before hitting the road, it's worth making sure the spare is pumped up.
No, this is not a Jasmine Sullivan situation where you break into someone else's car to enact vengeance or save their confined pet. This is an "I've gotta get out of this death trap" set of circumstances. An escape tool can help you cut your seatbelt, break the window, and clamber out on shaky legs.
Thinking about it may be upsetting, but preparation can make a huge difference when the going gets tough.
After the sun sets, the world takes on a slightly perilous edge. Limit the jump scares with a bright flashlight to illuminate the scene. Without light, you can't check your engine or change a tire, which is bad news if you're stranded somewhere in the middle of the night.
Keep a set of spare batteries in the glove box so the light doesn't flicker or die.
Reflective clothing is great, but it isn't required like a reflective warning triangle or set of triangles might be in your area. These lightweight cones let other drivers know there's an accident site and encourage them to slow down. The reflective material catches headlights in the dark; lay the triangles around your vehicle to alert folks to your presence and prevent collisions.
Hop online to see how best to lay these out if you ever need to. They should not obstruct traffic.
You never know what can happen on the road. In the event of an accident or emergency, it's always worth having a first aid kit on hand. It can treat burns, clean up scrapes, and give you a sense of control after a close call.
You don't have to buy a big, fully-loaded kit—you can assemble your own.
You've got to place those granola bars in the trunk where they're relatively inaccessible, or they won't last long enough to assist you during an emergency. If you do eat your stashed snack, be disciplined about replacing it ASAP.
Emergency puncture-resistant water pouches filled with four ounces of H2O last up to five years, and you're less likely to bust one open than that spare Gatorade you've set aside for unusual and urgent circumstances. Invest in a pack—hydration can save your life, and toilet paper can save face.
Depending on the climate in your region and whether you have a pet or kids, what you consider a car essential (snow brush and ice scraper, anyone?) differs from the next person. Still, a digital tire pressure gauge, a wool blanket, a waterproof poncho, and all-weather duct tape cover more bases wherever you live and whatever your lifestyle.