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Essential Items to Keep in Your Car

Essential items for your car

When we think of car safety, airbags and seatbelts immediately come to mind. However, we often overlook the small items that go a long way when involved in emergency situations. It doesn't take much money to stock your car with these essential items, so having them on hand makes complete sense for keeping you and your passengers safe on and off the road. Read below to find out which necessities are important to keep in your car at all times.

Essentials for your Car 

1. Owner's Manual 

An owner's manual isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when planning which essential items to keep in your car. However, that manual contains specific information about your car that would be a hassle to find anywhere else. It outlines the oil your car uses, the technical data of its components, and useful tips for achieving the ideal tire pressure – knowledge you'd rather not guess when the time comes!

2. Tire Pressure Gauge

On that note, having a tire pressure gauge can save time and energy when you need an accurate reading on your tire's air pressure. Knowing your tires' current pressure(s) and keeping the pressure close to optimal will help you save gas over time.

Many of today's cars come with a tire pressure monitoring system as part of the vehicle features. Even if that's the case, it's still a good idea to keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle in case of a failure or some other unforeseen circumstance.

3. Napkins / Paper Towels / Tissues 

Given all the eating and drinking we do on the go, there's going to be a spill or two in the car. Whether it's a burrito bowl or a Starbucks coffee, keep napkins, paper towels, and tissues in a compartment to make cleaning up easier and more effective.

4. Large Towel / Blanket 

When paper towels aren't enough to do the job, having a large towel in the trunk can help protect your interior from dirt and grime. A throwaway beach towel is perfect for handling a muddy dog or wet sneakers.

If your car heater were to break, a blanket makes staying warm an absolute priority. This necessary item will keep you nice and toasty in case of an emergency.

5. Granola Bars / Other Snacks

In the event you're stranded behind a major car accident, it's a good idea to keep small snacks readily available in your glove compartment. Nothing's more frustrating than an empty stomach during a traffic jam!

Pro tip: for long car trips, crunchy snacks are a great way to stay alert behind the wheel.

6. Swiss Army Knife 

A Swiss Army Knife is a pocket-sized toolkit that provides you with a vast array of handy gadgets. It comes in useful when fixing small items without access to a tool kit and takes up a small amount of space. Keep this multi-tool in the glovebox and automatically you'll have a miniature screwdriver ready to do the job!

7. Duct Tape / Rope 

Duct tape and rope have about a million uses, and while they can create a mean cat's cradle and impervious wallets, they also tend to help in automotive situations. Duct tape can help you hold your glove box closed if the latch breaks, and rope can be used to strap down a piece of furniture you're transporting across town. These inexpensive items may not save your life, they'll just make life a little bit easier.

8. Updated Registration & Insurance Card

Not a survival item. Useless...right? Useless until you're pulled over for rolling through a stop sign at an intersection. Most states require these documents when a driver gets pulled over. You don't want to get caught on the side of the road without your proof of insurance-- it can worsen bad situations.

Today, many insurance providers have an app available for smartphones that contain your insurance card and registration information. Take a moment and set up your account BEFORE you need it. When you're pulled over for whatever reason by a police officer, you don't want to be fumbling around trying to remember passwords to sign onto your insurance app.

9. Jumper Cables 

A car battery dying is a common event, especially during the winter. This helpful tool serves as a cheaper alternative to a tow truck and can save a lot of time. It's never a bad idea to keep jumper cables in the trunk just in case your battery dies on you and you're crunched for time. Of course, then the problem lies in your ability to flag down a fellow driver… but that's a later issue!

10. Bottled Water 

If an emergency situation were to occur, make sure you have a container of water available in your car. It can be used to prevent dehydration while waiting for help, or to top off the radiator when driving in warmer climates. To ensure the water is safe to drink, make sure the bottle's material can endure both extreme heat and freezing conditions.

11. First Aid Kit 

We keep Band-Aids, antiseptic cream, and a variety of other first-aid items in a cabinet at home. Considering we spend a significant amount of time in our vehicles, it would make sense to keep a first-aid kid in the car as well! It can be used to administer first aid for minor cuts as well as more critical injuries like wounds from a car accident.

12. Hazard Triangle/ Flares 

If you're having car troubles, these are essential safety items to have on hand. Flares and hazard triangles can help direct traffic in the event you're stranded on the side of a busy highway. They increase visibility and notify approaching traffic there's an accident ahead. Given the high number of distracted drivers on the road, this could really increase your road-side safety.

Dog in a green car.
Dog in car.

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This article was written with the help and resources from the non-profit Car Care Council. The "Be Car Care Aware" campaign is a consumer education program about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair, designed to provide knowledge from all segments of the automotive aftermarket industry.  

The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. To view the Car Care Council's consumer education website, visit www.carcare.org

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