Car essentials – 25 things to keep in your car
Most of us use our cars every day, with little thought to the potential risks we might encounter while on the road.
Whether you suffer an unexpected breakdown or an unfortunate car accident, there are a number of things you should always have in your car that could potentially get you out of a sticky situation.
1. An empty fuel can
If your fuel gauge is inaccurate or you end up driving on a long stretch of road with nowhere to fill up, it is handy to have an empty petrol can on board. It could save you money on potential callout charges from a breakdown recovery service.
We highly recommend that, while travelling, the can is always left empty – having a petrol can full of fuel in your car is an unnecessary fire risk.
2. Jump leads
Jump leads are great to have in your car, both for selfish and unselfish reasons. Whether it is your battery that runs flat or somebody else’s, you can use jump leads to get either vehicle back on the road again in no time.
If you’re not sure how to use jump leads, find out in Bobatoo’s step-by-step guide: How to jump-start a car.
3. A portable car battery charger
A portable car battery charger will come in handy if your battery goes flat when there’s nobody around – or nobody around who’s willing to help, at least. Some chargers come with built-in jump leads, and also allow you to charge your other on-board gadgets like your mobile phone.
4. A spare tyre
According to AutoExpress, a flat tyre is the number one cause of breakdowns in the UK. Having a healthy spare tyre in your boot will almost certainly come in handy if you hit a pot hole, run over a nail or simply have an old, worn tyre.
Remember, a spare tyre is useless without a tyre jack and your locking wheel nut.
5. A tyre inflator and sealer
Many modern cars are sold without room for a spare tyre and, instead, come with a puncture repair kit, consisting of a compressor, bottle of sealant and a speed limit sticker. Buy your own tyre inflator and sealer, which will allow you to get your car to the nearest garage.
Remember, this is not a permanent fix and your tyre will still need changing ASAP.
6. Duct tape
Because duct tape can fix just about anything – temporarily, at least. Smashed window? Stick on some duct tape. Broken door handle? Stick on some duct tape. Boot won’t close? You guessed it, stick on some duct tape – and you can get a roll for just £3.
7. An emergency glass hammer
One of the most important car necessities on our list, an emergency glass hammer from the AA can be mounted to the floor of your vehicle (within easy reach) and can easily smash through your car’s glass window or windscreen in the case of emergency. This hammer also works as a seatbelt cutter, which you can use to easily slice through your seatbelt in seconds.
Every UK motorist should keep a pair of sunglasses in their car – and not just in the summer months. In fact, it is during the months of spring and winter that the sun is at its most dangerous to drivers, as the sun is often low in the sky during popular commuting times, reflecting off wet surfaces and creating a bright glare.
Cheap sunglasses will often not suffice when looking for protection while driving. Spend a little more money to get polarised lenses to maximise the benefits of sunglasses.
9. Sturdy footwear
If you break down in the middle of nowhere without phone signal, you may find yourself walking to the nearest garage – and you don’t want to be doing that in your flip-flops. By keeping a pair of sturdy, waterproof boots in your boot, you’ll be covered for all eventualities. The best case scenario is that you’ll never need them, so a cheaper pair of boots is ideal.
10. A hi-vis vest
Your visibility should be your utmost priority if you find yourself stranded on a dark road. The best way to be seen by other motorists is by wearing a hi-vis jacket.
If you’re planning on driving abroad, some countries require you to have a hi-vis vest in your car by law.
11. A first aid kit
We hope that you’ll never need it, but it is always handy to keep a first aid kit in your car in case of minor injuries. They come with some essentials like plasters, dressings, bandages and an emergency foil blanket.
12. A warning triangle
Place a warning triangle a minimum of 45 metres away from your car when you break down to warn other motorists.
Remember, though, that these should not be used if you break down on the motorway as it will only cause further obstruction.
When planning a long journey, be sure to have a sealed bottle of water on you to prevent dehydration. If it comes to it, you could also use the water to top up your car’s radiator.
Avoid foods that are likely to go off quickly like fruit and instead opt for non-perishable goods like cereal or energy bars. At busy times of day, there’s no telling how long you could be waiting to be recovered by your recovery service, so make sure you won’t go hungry.
In the cold winter months, it doesn’t take much for a car’s windscreen to freeze over – a short trip to the shops can sometimes leave enough time for ice to reappear on the glass. Keeping a bottle of de-icer is a no-brainer.
16. A torch
If you need to complete some basic car maintenance at the side of the road, you may require a torch to be able to see in the dark. You can buy a small torch, which can be tucked away neatly in your glove compartment.
17. A blanket
One of the most versatile car must-haves you can wish for, a blanket can be useful in multiple scenarios. You can wrap it around you to keep you warm, keep your knees clean when changing a tyre or prevent scratches on your upholstery when travelling with a pet.
18. A tyre pressure gauge
Many modern cars come fitted with electronic tyre pressure gauges, but if yours doesn’t, it is definitely a worthwhile investment. You should check your tyre pressure before taking your car in for its MOT, or before heading off on a long trip.
Necessary in both sun and snow, screenwash helps to keep your windscreen free of smears and smudges. A dirty windscreen in the sun can lead to sudden poor visibility and can be extremely dangerous, while the gritty surfaces of winter can make for a very dirty windscreen.
20. A Swiss army knife
Get a cheap Swiss Army knife and you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck with its multi-function tools. Whether you need to open a can or tighten a screw, a Swiss army knife should be in everybody’s car tool kit.
21. Travel games
If you’re travelling with children or friends, you should consider some fun things to keep in your car. Whether it’s a game of travel Monopoly or a standard game of cards, you’ll need something to keep spirits high if you’ve broken down.
22. An umbrella
Because we live in the UK, where you risk the chance of rain all-year-round. You may need to walk 3 miles to your nearest garage or 100 metres to your office door, either way, you won’t get wet with a compact, lightweight umbrella.
23. Your breakdown cover details
Hopefully, you’ve got a breakdown cover policy which will cover you if you are unable to continue your journey. When you contact your provider, they’ll ask you for your membership number, so make sure you have it written down somewhere!
Read more: A complete guide to breakdown cover
24. Spare change
It may seem a bit old school in the days of contactless payment, but it is always a good idea to keep some spare change in your car.
You may be sent on a diversion over a toll bridge or need a pound coin for a trolley at your local supermarket – or perhaps you just want to treat yourself to that packet of crisps from the office vending machine.
25. Your car’s vehicle handbook
Your vehicle user manual will have instructions on everything from changing the time on your clock to changing your tyre. When you first buy your car, this will probably already be in your glove compartment, so it’s best that you keep it there just in case.
So, there you have it, 25 things you should always have in your car! For more useful tips, follow us on social media, where you’ll find all of the latest news, views and money-saving tips.