15 Things You Should Always Keep in Your Car

Collectively, we spend a lot of time in our cars. With these 15 items in your vehicle, you can rest easy knowing that you’re pretty much prepared for any eventuality that you might run into on the road!

1. Spare Tire & Jack

This is an easy one. If you get a flat tire, you basically can do one of three things: replace the tire yourself, call a tow truck driver to do it for you (assuming your phone is charged and you have coverage), or sit on the side of the road until you can flag down a police officer for assistance. Which option would you prefer? Us too. Keep an inflated spare in your trunk at all times, and learn how to use the jack and lug wrench if you don’t already know how to.

2. Jumper Cables

As with a spare tire and jack, jumper cables are one of those items that you hope you’ll never have to use, but will be happy that you have when you need them. Just make sure you know how to use jumper cables properly. Even “car guys” (and gals) can forget if they haven’t used jumper cables in a while. Remember, your red to their red, their black to your ground (meaning an electric ground, like your car’s metal frame).

3. Ice Scraper

If you live in Phoenix or Malibu, this number might not apply to you. But for millions of people across the country and the world, an ice scraper is an essential item to keep in the car at all times (or at least for five or six months out of the year). When you need it, you’ll be glad that you have it!

4. First-aid Kit

Hopefully you will never require a first-aid kit while on the road, but it’s a good idea to keep one in your car at all times just in case. If you are involved in a car accident, witness an accident, or have an accident near your car (tripping in the parking lot, for example), a first-aid kit can be incredibly helpful.

5. Sunglasses

There are a whole host of reasons why you might want to consider keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car. The first and most obvious reason is that sunglasses can help daytime visibility, particularly when the sun is low on the horizon or in your eyes. A spare set of sunglasses can also prove helpful should you lose a pair (which has happened to most of us at one time or another).

6. Change of Clothes

Whether you enjoy multi-day backpacking trips or frequent your town’s bars and nightclubs on Friday night, a spare set of clothes can help you feel fresh and rested should you ever find yourself sleeping in your car. It also doesn’t hurt if you are running to an event directly from work and don’t want to show up in your work clothes. Just remember to pack layers so you’re prepared for any situation.

7. Cell-phone Charger

With smartphones now acting as do-everything, all-in-one wonder devices, it makes sense to keep a spare phone charger in your glove box at all times. You never know when your phone battery might die far from home. Lose your smartphone and you lose pretty much everything. Don’t let that happen.

8. Pen & Paper

Speaking of phones running out of batteries, a dead phone doesn’t make a very good notepad. Additionally, if you are in a car accident, there’s no saying whether or not your phone will still be working. There is no more reliable way to take down information than pen and paper!

9. List of Emergency Contacts

In the event your phone isn’t on you, your phone is low on power, or your phone is broken, and you find yourself in an emergency, a list of emergency contacts can prove to be invaluable. Plus, keeping a list of emergency contacts in your car requires little space, so there’s no reason not to do it.

10. License & Registration

This one is somewhat self-evident, but you would be surprised how many people forget to include it in their car. Keep your driver’s license on you, of course, and your registration (and car insurance information) inside your vehicle at all times. You don’t want to be pulled over without it!

11. Blankets

Whether you choose a mylar emergency blanket or a good old-fashioned Pendleton, it doesn’t hurt to have a blanket or two in your car. Not only are they useful for picnics (well, wool blankets anyway), but they can help you survive an unexpected night in the cold. Even in desert climates, getting caught out at night without proper protection can be extremely dangerous.

12. Non-perishable Snacks

Dried fruits, snack bars, granola bars, nuts and other non-perishable items are great to have on hand. If you break down, they can satisfy your hunger until the tow truck arrives, and on long trips, they can hold you over until you arrive at your destination.

13. Water

An engine that overheats can be the death knell of a car. Having an ample supply of water in your trunk can be the difference between a car that dies on the side of the road, and one that makes it to the mechanic’s shop. It’s also worth noting that if your car breaks down on a cloudless, summer day, you’ll be glad that you have water to drink, too!

14. Window Hammer

Modern car windows are surprisingly hard to break. Thankfully, window hammers – small, portable tools that are easily stowed in a glove box – are designed specifically to do this very thing. If you ever become trapped in your car (or see a pet, child, or injured adult trapped in a car), a window hammer can help ensure escape.

15. Self-defense Tools

Everyone has the right to defend him or herself against attack. However, before deciding on a self-defense tool, research local, state, and federal regulations to ensure that you are breaking no laws. Laws vary state to state on what types of weapons and self-defense tools are allowed to be carried, both on your body and in your vehicle.

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