5 Essential Items to Keep In Your Car

If you’ve got any road trips this summer, it’s a good idea to make sure your car is well-equipped. Take a look at this list of five essential items to keep in your car, compiled by Toby Schultz, Senior Automotive Editor at YourMechanic.

Toby Schultz
3-minute read

We’re coming up on summer now, which means road trip season is just around the corner. Road tripping is one of the best and most affordable ways to see the country. While it’s true you can fly pretty much anywhere, airline fares can be astronomically expensive and they keep cramming us into smaller and smaller seats. Plus, when you’re soaring at nearly 40,000 feet above the ground, you miss seeing everything along the way, which is half the fun! Road tripping in your own car alleviates many of those problems, while allowing you to bring every member of your family—furry four-legged ones included. There are of course things to worry about with road tripping, such as breakdowns or dead batteries. So I have compiled a list of what I feel are the five most important things to keep in your car to avoid putting the brakes on your road trip.

1.) A comprehensive first aid kit with a basic first aid guide: I can’t stress this one enough. Got a cut on your hand or a blister on your foot? Having a first aid kit in your car at all times helps with little situations like this, providing you with antiseptic wipes, bandages and sterile pads to treat any wounds, as well as much more that might just come in handy.

2.) Jumper cables or a compact battery jumper pack: This one is also crucially important. One of the worst things that can happen on a road trip is a dead battery. It can make you lose precious time waiting for somebody to to help you start the car. When someone does offer to help you, it’s better for you to have jumper cables than to find out that they don’t have any either. A compact battery jump starter is even better, because then you don’t need to wait for help from anyone, and you will be on your way again in no time.

3.) A small tool kit: Most vehicle manufacturers provide a small, rudimentary tool kit in the back of your vehicle. It’s usually just enough to change the tire, and maybe it includes a screwdriver. Go to a local auto parts or hardware store, and buy a basic automotive tool kit. They are relatively inexpensive, and can really help out in a pinch. Even if you don’t know how to use everything in it, maybe somebody offering to help will know.

4.) Clean, empty gas can: I know it sounds funny to suggest keeping an empty gas can in your vehicle, but an empty gas can has no risk of leaking fuel inside your car or filling it with noxious fumes. If it’s been used before, make sure it’s cleaned out thoroughly to avoid getting the smell of fuel in your car. In the event you run out of fuel, you may be able to hitch a ride or walk to the nearest fuel station, where they would otherwise make you buy a gas can for a premium price.

​​​5.) A bright flashlight with good batteries: A flashlight is one of the most important things to be in any car, road trip or not. Beyond just using them to see in the dark, flashlights allow you to be seen if it’s dark out and you’re by the roadside, or to signal for help from passing cars.

While it’s nearly impossible to keep everything in your car that you might need in case of a breakdown, carrying these particular things will leave you far better prepared should something happen. All these are listed in addition to a few other items that should be with you all the time, specifically drinking water, some amount of cash, a major credit card for emergencies, and a cell phone with a fully charged battery. Even when you have no service on your phone, you can still often connect a call to 911 because emergency calls go through on any available network, even if it’s not yours. Hopefully with this advice, your road trip this summer will be a great one. If you want even more peace of mind, you can have the pros with YourMechanic come to your home or office and perform a full vehicle inspection to make sure your car doesn’t have any issues to be concerned about.

Toby Schultz is the senior automotive editor at YourMechanic.com. YourMechanic delivers mobile car repair by certified mechanics in over 700 U.S. cities. Their top-rated technicians can perform over 600 services at your home or office and will even answer your questions online.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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