Many of us think of “car essentials” as those items we always keep stocked in our center consoles and door pockets, like chapstick, napkins, and phone chargers. But there are a few other items you shouldn’t leave home without, and these will be far more useful if you find yourself by the side of the road.
Here are our top 5 essentials for every car. A few granola bars wouldn’t hurt, either!
First aid kit: Beyond basic adhesive bandages, a good first aid kit also includes individual packets of antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, a roller bandage, aspirin, tweezers, and a pair of non-latex gloves. Store everything in a waterproof or zip-top bag.
Hand-crank LED flashlight: If you run into an issue with your car at night, you’ll be happy to have this with you. Having a hand-crank flashlight eliminates the need to rely on batteries with limited power. To get attention from oncoming traffic, a LED flasher is best for signaling distress.
Tire-changing kit: Your spare or donut tire won't do you much good if you aren't equipped with the tools to get the flat tire off and the new tire on. Make a small kit including a jack, jack stand, and lug nut wrench, and invest time in learning how to use these tools properly before you're faced with a bum tire.
Jumper cables: Don’t rely on others to have jumper cables -- it’s always safest to have your own set. Select a 10-gauge cable that’s at least 8 feet long and has a rating of at least 250 amps.
Blanket: If your car stops running, sometimes the simplest item is what separates a hassle from a full-blown epic out on the road. Wool works well, or opt for mylar, a lightweight plastic that retains 90% of body heat.
Bonus item: A pair of strong work gloves. These will come in handy if you need to jumpstart your car, install tire chains, or perform just about any emergency roadside fix.