We all have our own must-haves when traveling anywhere, but there are some essential things that every driver shouldn’t miss bringing while on the road. These items range from important documentation, tools for repair and maintenance, necessities for safety and survival, and must-bring for winter and snow emergencies to items for convenience and comfort.
Having all these will help you ensure your efficiency, safety, and enjoyment in any journey whether it’s your daily commute to work or a long road trip to meet your friends and family. To guarantee you won’t miss any, here’s our rundown of the must-have items for every car.
While you may already have these essential paperworks inside your glove compartment, it’s better to re-check them before you drive off your garage. After all, these documents are what most people overlook, not knowing how crucial they can be to avoid registration penalties, accident fines, and car insurance fraud charges.
- License, Registration, and Insurance: It may seem obvious, but you should always bring your license, registration, and insurance. These documents allow law enforcement officials and other drivers to contact you should any accident happen. Without proper documentation, penalties can be hefty. So, always make sure to keep your paperwork up-to-date. Don’t wait for months before tossing your new insurance card to your glove compartment after you’ve received them in the mail.
- Owner’s Manual: Check your glove box if your owner’s manual is already there. Chances are you haven’t even opened it ever, but you’d be thankful to have it in your car should any issue arise. Your owner’s manual contains all the necessary information you need to know about your vehicle, such as the recommended PSI and fuel levels, correct tire pressure, and troubleshooting advice. While it’s a boring read, it’ll be helpful in knowing more about your car.
- Vehicle Repair History, AAA card, and Insurance Claim Forms: It’s also ideal to keep your vehicle repair history, AAA information, and insurance claim forms along with your important car documents. Your vehicle repair record is useful when repairing your car or when selling it, while your AAA card ensures you get immediate emergency roadside assistance. Of course, you need the forms to process your claim with your insurance company.
Car Repair and Maintenance
A car breakdown is an inconvenient situation to be in, especially if you don’t have the proper tools to quickly repair your vehicle or have a temporary fix until you get to the next service station. Make your life easier and your car always up and running by keeping these necessary items for repair and maintenance.
- Spare Tire: No vehicle should be without a spare tire. Tires don’t last forever and they may tear, burst, or deflate. You’re lucky if you have the luxury to roll your car into a nearby gas station, but imagine if you got a flat tire in the middle of a remote location. Avoid such a scenario and keep a spare tire (in good condition) in your car – it could be your lifesaver.
- Tire Jack and Lug Wrench: Your spare tire will be useless if you don’t have the right tire changing supplies. Unless you have superpowers, you need mechanical assistance to replace your tires. With that, you should also bring a tire jack and a lug wrench. If you got them on hand, you’d be able to get back on the road again in a breeze.
- Tire Pump and Sealant: There are instances when you don’t actually need to replace the entire tire. If it’s only a minor puncture, you can simply use a sealant to patch the leak. Afterward, just inject some air using a tire pump and you’d be able to bring your car to the next auto shop.
- Tire Pressure Gauge: So, you need to pump air, but how’d you know if it’s over or enough? Remember, over- and under-inflating your car can result in increased wear and tear and reduced traction and performance. Thus, putting you and other motorists’ safety in immense peril. To avoid that, get yourself a high-quality tire pressure gauge for accurate tire pressure. If it’s always on point, expect to have better handling and safety, a longer lifespan for your tire, and improved fuel economy.
- Jumper Cables or Portable Jump Starter: Tires aren’t the only culprits of usual breakdowns. Dead batteries happen to many of us, too. When that happens, you can simply wait for a willing helper to lend his battery and use jumper cables to get your engine revved up again. If you don’t want to wait for a Good Samaritan or you’re traveling in a remote area where you think one won’t pass by, bring a portable jump starter to give your car its much-needed kick in the pants. Most compact jump starter kits now also have USB connections where you can recharge your devices. That’s why it’s a perfect item to have in the car or a surefire hit gift idea for any car owner.
- WD-40: WD-40 is a multipurpose tool that you can use for a wide array of problems, whether it’s unsticking car locks, removing rust and grease, loosening a bolt or nut, silencing a door, and so much more. Apart from automotive uses, you can also find WD-40 helpful in many ways inside your house – you won’t regret having one.
- Duct Tape: Duct tape is one of the most ingenious inventions ever made and you can use it for everything from roadside first aid to temporary car repairs. It’s the perfect DIY tool to seal up any leaking pipe, tighten loose parts, patch broken window frames, and other endless ways. It’s an absolute must-have item for every car owner.
Safety and Survival
Emergencies can strike anytime, anywhere in or near your car and even on your shortest trips. With that, it’s vital to be prepared for any mishap that you may encounter along the way. Here are the crucial items for safety and survival when you’re on the road.
- First Aid Kit: If you got into an accident, a first aid kit can help you treat minor scrapes and wounds while awaiting medical assistance. Should you witness an accident instead, it will also allow you to help other individuals. Your kit should include bandages, gauze pads, scissors, gloves, antiseptic spray and cream, painkillers, allergy medications, tweezers, and disposable sterile gloves. If you want to save or skip searching for them individually, you can simply purchase car-friendly first aid kits online.
- Flashlight: Have a strong tactical flashlight in your vehicle, so you’ll have no issues changing a tire or doing minor repairs even in the darkest moments. It will also be handy should you need to walk at night to ask for help, or when simply looking for your wedding ring under the seats.
- Multi-tool: Multi-tools are one of the most compact and efficient tools you can have. They are a solution to everyday problems you may experience while on the road, such as emergencies, quick repairs, and maintenance. Or, even when you just simply want to pry off the crown of a soda bottle.
- Non-Perishable Food: Whether you’re stuck in the middle of heavy traffic, waiting for help to arrive, or in an emergency on the road, food is vital to provide that much-needed energy. Keep your vehicle stocked with high-calorie, protein-rich, non-perishable foods like energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, meat jerky, and veggie chips. If you’re traveling with your family and friends, make sure to pack some extra to accommodate everyone.
- Water Bottles: Similarly, you also need sealed water bottles to keep you hydrated, especially when the going gets rough. Just replace them regularly to ensure freshness. Plus, they can also be useful should you need to wash wounds or refill your car’s radiator or windscreen-washer bottle.
- Reflective Triangle: Not all the time would you be able to pull your car safely to the side of the road during a sudden breakdown. Moving your vehicle afterward may not also be possible depending on the underlying issue. As such, you must always bring a reflective triangle for your and others’ safety. It offers improved visibility for approaching traffic, warning and allowing them to avoid your car and prevent causing any harm. If you’re fortunate enough, someone may even be willing to lend a hand.
- Printed Map: Though it may seem old-fashioned, but, yes, you still need the printed map. Technology isn’t perfect and may go out at a time you most need them. So, it’s better to have a reliable backup for your failing phone GPS to help you get to your destination.
- Escape Tool: An escape tool can save your life! You’ll need it for ripping away the seatbelt and breaking a car window in the event of an emergency, such as during a fire or driving off the road and ending up being submerged in a body of water. It will also be helpful should you need to help a child or a pet locked inside a vehicle.
- Fire Extinguisher: If any disastrous malfunction occurs, you may be dealing with a vehicle fire. In most cases, particularly in electrical or oil and gas fires, water won’t help and may just cause the fire to spread. To quickly stop the fiery situation, you need a fire extinguisher. No worries, as you won’t be carrying one as big as you see in your school or office. You can find many portable fire extinguishers as small as bug sprays that you can easily keep in your car.
Driving in winter poses a greater risk for your and your vehicle. Hazy vision, icy and slippery roads, car breakdowns, and accidents can be difficult to manage, especially when you’re in the freezing cold. With that, it’s also essential to carry the following items to keep you safe on winter roads.
- Windshield Wiper Fluid: Windshield wiper fluid will keep your vision clear by combating winter splash-back and road slush and sludge that goes into your window, making it a crucial item during the winter months.
- Ice Scraper and Snowbrush: Laws require that your front and rear windshields are clear before you start driving. If you have snow over your windshield, you shouldn’t be going anywhere. Luckily, all you need on hand is an ice scraper to get the snow off your car’s windscreens. Then, add in a snowbrush to remove all the snow on the roof and prevent it from flying off to the vehicles behind you.
- Winter Gear: Winter season is unpredictable. You may leave your garage with only a jacket on, but get surprised at the end of your shift by a strong snowstorm. To make sure that you’re always comfortable, always have your winter gear (beanie, gloves, scarf, socks, and extra layers of clothing) in your car. That way, you can always stay warm while on the roadway.
Convenience and Comfort
Apart from the basics above, you also need these must-have items to make your driving feel more stress-free and comfortable.
- Car Phone Charger: We depend heavily on our phones today to do many things like shopping, paying bills, contacting family and friends, searching nearby hotels and restaurants, and navigating through GPS to get to our preferred destination. Bring a car phone charger to ensure that the battery is always sufficiently charged, enabling you to do many of the things that it allows you to do.
- Blanket: Apart from keeping you warm, a blanket can is great for picnics, getting underneath your car, and preventing messes on your sears.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are only meant to make you look cool behind the wheel. It’s vital for protecting your eyes against the glare from the low-setting sun, reflection on the road, and other blinding lights. Thus, ensuring a clearer view and keeping you safe whilst driving.
- Change of Clothes: Be sure to stock extra clothing in your car to keep yourself fresh and comfortable during extended hours of driving, sudden rain or snow, or long hours of waiting during emergency situations.
- Cash: For parking, paying tolls, emergencies, or unexpected purchases – spare change or money can help save your day down the road.
- Pen and paper: Often overlooked, but pen and paper are handy for jotting down essential information like details of the accident, other insurance info, or the name of the BBQ joint where you’ve eaten dinner. If your passengers are bored, they can even use it to play Pictionary, Hangman, or tic tac toe.
- Cleaning supplies: Dirt, dust, mud, spilled drinks, and food debris accumulating inside your car spells disaster and frustration. Make sure to clean your car regularly to maintain its appearance and keep it in tip-top condition. After all, it always feels good to drive a clean, clutter-free car. Keep cleaning supplies like paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, alcohol, and a car vacuum in your vehicle for a cleaner, easier, and happier journey.
That sums up the must-have items for every car. With these important paperworks, and essential things for repair and maintenance, for safety and survival, during the winter season, and for convenience and added comfort, you’ll have an easier time and better peace of mind behind the wheel. Happy driving!