20 Things You Should Always Keep In Your Car

20 Things You Should Always Keep In Your Car
Image: iStock

Some people keep nothing in their cars. Others look like a dumping ground that they’re squatting in.

It’s important to keep the right things in there so you’re prepared for a breakdown or emergency. Here’s 20 things to replace the old McDonald’s wrappers with.


20 Things You Should Always Keep In Your CarImage: iStock

We can’t always prevent breakdowns or accidents, but we can keep ourselves as safe as possible when the unexpected happens. Having these things on hand will help.

  • All Of Your Information – License, registration, insurance papers, car manual and roadside assistance information. You should always have these on you just in case.
  • Dash Mount — Preferably just pull over when you need to use your phone. But if you really need to, use hands free. Don’t be that person who breaks the law and endangers people for a text.
  • Multi-Tool — Everyone should have one of these. You never know when you might need a screwdriver, pliers or scissors. Not sure what to look for? We got you covered.
  • First Aid Kit — For minor injuries and accidents.
  • LED Flares and Reflective Triangles – For those night time break downs. It’s important that other motorists can see you on the road. These could save your life.
  • Torch — You can’t always rely on your phone. Don’t forget the spare batteries too!
  • Map — You can’t always rely on technology either. Keep a comprehensive road or travel map of Australia in your glove box just in case. This is really helpful if you’re going on a road trip.
  • Food and Water — Opt for things that travel well and last awhile like nuts, muesli bars, jerky and dried fruit. Alternatively, you could take it to survivalist levels. Also, be really careful not to get distracted while eating in a car.
  • Phone Charger and Power Bank – Always keep a spare or two of each.


20 Things You Should Always Keep In Your CarImage: iStock

Car trouble is awful. Nobody likes being stranded on the side of the road. Here are some items that will help get you back on track quicker.

  • Spare Tyre that’s in good condition with enough tread and pressure. Also keep a tyre changing kit on hand and learn how to change a tyre. Tyre inflaters and sealers are also a good idea to help temporarily patch up flats.
  • Jumper Cables because most of us will need to deal with a flat battery at some point. Leads can help you get back on the road faster, just make sure that you know what you’re doing. No other cars handy, you can jump start cars with a self-starting battery.
  • Car Tool Kit – Similar to your home tool kit, but specifically for cars. Super, super handy.
  • Coolant – You should always make sure that your fluids (engine oil, water, transmission, coolants, brakes, power steering) are topped up. But it’s also worth keeping coolant and water on hand in case your engine ever overheats.

There are also plenty of other things you should also do to maintain your car and prevent mishaps from occurring.


20 Things You Should Always Keep In Your Car

You don’t have to just prep your car for the worst. Some things and worth keeping on hand because they’ll simply make your life easier.

  • Umbrella – Getting caught without an umbrella is awful. Always keep one in the car, and make sure it’s good quality.
  • Spare Clothes — Perfect for when you’ve gotten drenched or an unexpected but necessary wardrobe change. Also, always keep a jacket in the back seat.
  • Refillable Water Bottle – Even when you’re not in an emergency situation it’s always good to stay hydrated.
  • Toilet Paper – You never know. Road side bathrooms can’t be trusted.
  • Towel – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was right when it said that a towel “…is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly because it has great practical value.” Between impromptu beach trips, unexpected rain, spillages or even car trouble — a towel will always come in handy.
  • Pillow and Blanket – Whether you’re waiting for roadside assistance or having a post party power nap, these are always a good idea. You might even want to opt for this travel pillow alternative for remaining upright.
  • Cash — No everywhere takes card and cardless withdrawals aren’t always an option. It can help to have some cold hard cash on hand, especially for those nightmare moments when your credit card gets lost or stops working.


For any parents out there, spare batteries (or maybe even more USB cables) for in-car gadgets can be a sanity saver. As can a secret stash of disposable nappies. If you have fur-babies, it’s always handy to have a portable water bowl on hand too.

This story was originally published on January 27, 2017.


  • I drive a Holden [Barina] Spark (Yes, they do sell those to men). If I kept all those things in my car there’d be no more room left for me to sit and drive it. 😛

    • Hahaha I can relate to that as I drive a Nissan micra. The tip so depends where you are going. I only carry two extra items at all times in the car. One is a window breaking tool with sharp knife for cutting set belts. The reason for this is everything is electric have a prang battery smashed you can’t get out the car. The other is a reflective vest handy day and night. As for my mobile, flight mode when driving. No call is worth my life. The rest NRMA road assistant and never have proof of ownership of the vehicle in the vehicle. To good for car thieves. In Australia by law you have to carry a current license if you have a license that is.

      • I had heard somewhere that your headrest (if its removable) is perfect for smashing the windows and as for cutting the seatbelt wouldnt the above mentioned multitool do that?

  • Would also add fuel can & funnel. I do not keep fuel in the can but it is always there ready to go if I ever run out of fuel.

    A throwing object always lives in the boot of my car ready for group fun at a picnic. Frisbee, ball or football it’s always there and I don’t have to remember to pack it. Even if I don’t engage myself I can always bring it out when a friends kids get bored.

    Maybe it’s the Boy Scout in me but a coil of rope or bailing twine never seems to go astray. Lashing things together or tying down a loose tarp are the most obvious uses. Double or triple it over and eventually I can turn a light rope into an effective tow rope also.

  • Most of this list I would agree for long trips / journeys but not required for regular town driving, its far too much for day to day driving that would just take up space or get in the way.

    Since I tinker with my car as a hobby and broken down a few times because of that, zip ties, gaffa tape a leatherman has been all iv needed thus far. Just an FYI, a towel can double as a blanket or a pillow if your desperate 😉

    • I was thinking much the same. I wouldn’t be storing food in my car *every* day. Nor would I worry about a complete map of Australia, just a refedex for the city you’re in is fine. And I wouldn’t worry about a power bank, though I do have a phone charger in the car. I’d also be a bit reluctant about storing stuff like coolant and other fluids (oil/fuel/power steering etc) in the car since they’re a safety risk and are a pain in the arse if spilled.

      I’d also say, you shouldn’t store money in the car. Especially visibly. It’s something that’s recommended against by the police and most motoring bodies. That said, I’d normally have somewhere between 2-5 dollars in coins. At least that way I can make a phone call.

      One thing not on the list I always have are a couple plastic bowls and a bottle of water. That’s because I have dogs and it’s always handy to be able to stop and give them a drink when travelling.

      One thing I’m surprised wasn’t on the list is a simple one – matches, or a working lighter. Handy when you rock up to a picnic area to bbq and realise no one packed the lighter, or camping or beach bonfires etc.

  • I keep pretty much all of this list in my car save for a few items. The best tip I can give you is the following:
    Go look at your spare tyre, and the tools that go with it. Usually there is a fair bit of spare space in and around the spare tyre and tool kit. Around that you should be able to fit a few bits and bobs, whilst keeping your boot looking clean and empty. Underneath my boot tray i keep: Air compressor, multitool, socket set, towing shackles, rope, cargo netting for a trailer, 2x ratcheting tie downs, rope, garbage bags (impromptu poncho, wet clothes, etc), gloves, gaffa tape, first aid kit. The majority of that fits in my spare wheel well or around the edges of that.

  • You can top up your coolant with distilled water from the supermarket or servo.
    Never mix the red coolant with the blue stuff, and distilled water is better than tap water.

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