Travel

30 Essential Things You Should Keep In Your Car

30 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

Some of us keep absolutely nothing in our car boots, while others have enough packed to live in their cars for weeks. Somewhere in between is this list of 30 things we think every car owner should always have on hand.

You can buy packaged emergency safety kits, but the DIY approach is more satisfying, and you probably already have many of these items lying around. It’s not just about emergencies or safety either. Below I’ve separated the checklists by category.

Car Repair and Maintenance

30 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

There’s nothing like breaking down at the side of the road and realising the spare tyre has a flat from the last time it happened. (True story.) To keep you up and running, keep these in your boot:

  • Spare tyre (in good condition), along with a tyre jack and tyre iron, because, without them or someone else to help you, the spare tyre is useless. Here’s how to change a tyre, in case you need a refresher. Also, if your wheels require a special security key, make sure that’s always in your car too.

  • Tyre inflater and sealer, like the Fix-a-Flat, which can plug a leak (and help you avoid using the above tools) just enough to get you to the auto shop.

  • Jumper cables, because dead batteries happen to the best of us. We have a crash course on how to jump-start a car, but you should familiarise yourself with your engine just in case things are a little different. Alternatively, you can pack an emergency battery booster so you don’t have to rely on a Good Samaritan coming along.

  • Your car’s manual, which should be in the glove compartment already.

  • Tyre pressure gauge: As Jalopnik points out: checking tyre pressure on a regular basis can improve handling, increase fuel economy, promote tyre longevity and even save lives.

  • Duct tape and WD-40. Seriously, check out these 10 heroic duct tape car repairs.

  • Car repair information. A business card for your auto repair shop, the number for AAA (if you’re a member) and car insurance claim forms should also be stored in your glove compartment.

Safety and Survival

30 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

You might already have an emergency go bag or kit set up. If you spend a lot of time in your car and it’s always nearby when you’re home, you could just keep that kit in your trunk — or create a second, lighter version.

In any case, your safety supplies should include:

  • First aid kit

  • Torch

  • Multi-tool (here are our five favourites)

  • Matches or other fire starter (Bonus: a candle in a can for winter emergencies)

  • Energy bars or MREs (the instant food that heat up with just water)

  • Water bottles

  • Weather radio

A few car-specific items:

  • Seat belt cutter and window breaker. Keep this in your glove compartment, not in your boot, obviously.

  • Flares or reflective triangle, so you don’t get hit at the side of the road in the dark.

  • Maps. Yes, the paper kind.

Convenience and Comfort

30 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

In addition to the basics above, you might want to keep these things around also:

  • Paper towels or a hand towel

  • Tissues or a roll of toilet paper

  • Pencil and paper

  • Umbrella

  • Spare change/emergency money

  • Recycled shopping bags for those impromptu shopping trips.

  • Blanket, which comes in handy not just for keeping warm in emergencies, but also at the park or at the beach.

  • Change of clothes: also an emergency item, in case you get drenched in rain.

  • USB mobile device charger

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and your needs might vary. While it might sound like a lot, all this stuff doesn’t take up too much space. Jalopnik’s OppositeLock blog shows us your car might have good hiding places to stash all of your just-in-case items.

Photos by Scott & Elaine van der Chijs, State Farm, bradleygee.


Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.