Cars offer their drivers a lot of freedom, and in some cases, owning a car is a rite of passage. They serve as a great mode of transportation, certainly. There’s more to it than that, though. A car is what you’ll be inhabiting while you’re out on the open road. Being prepared means keeping your car stocked with whatever you might need, the same as you would your house. With that in mind, here’s a brief guide to things every man should keep in his car.
This one should go without saying, but unfortunately, a number of car owners don’t check to make sure their car has a spare tire. You shouldn’t make that mistake. You should always have a spare tire (so be sure to replace it after you use it), and if your spare is a full-size tire, that’s even better.
It doesn’t do you any good to have a spare tire if you can’t lift the car up to change it. Many cars come with a jack already, but they’re not necessarily top of the line. Make sure your car has a jack, and make sure the jack is a good one.
You’ll want to keep a tire iron around to make use of that spare, but that’s not the only tool you need at your disposal. Keep wrenches, screwdrivers and a hammer to fix some basic problems, and carry duct tape, zip ties and belts to use as stop-gap measures while you make your way to the mechanic.
Whether you left your door open or your lights on, having a drained battery means you’re going nowhere. You’ll usually be able to find a friendly face to help jumpstart your car—everyone can relate—but you can’t count on the other person to have jumper cables. Make sure that you do.
This is a more rarely used tool, but like everything else in this guide, you can never know for sure when you might need it. It could be that you’re helping an unfortunate driver get unstuck, or you could be the one who needs the help. If that unfolds, keeping a tow strap handy will give other drivers the means to pull you out.
In the event that it gets dark and your car breaks down for whatever reason, you’ll want to make sure other drivers can see you. Keeping your hazard lights on is a good idea, but if that’s not possible, you’ll have the reflective triangle to make sure you’re visible and safe.
If your car’s broken down at night, you need to be able to see to work on it. Phones usually have a flashlight, but chances are you’ll want to conserve its battery for other tasks. Keeping a flashlight around ensures you’ll be able to do what needs done to stay on the road any time of day.
You never know when your travels might make you a little thirsty, so it’s not a bad idea to keep a few bottles of water on hand for such an occasion. In addition to this obvious use, water can also serve as coolant for emergencies only. It’s generally acceptable to use water in your radiator as long as you use it to go straight home and then repair any leak immediately.
Your phone helps you stay in touch with people as always, but these days you probably get more use out of it by looking up answers to questions you have, entertaining yourself with music or podcasts or having the GPS guide you through unfamiliar territory. It’s probably the first thing you’ll reach for if you run into a problem, but even in your day-to-day life, it’s important to keep it charged while you’re driving.
Sometimes the GPS on your phone will be a little off. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in areas without cell reception. In those cases, it’s helpful to have an old-fashioned paper map on hand. It hardly takes up any space in your glove box, and it makes for a good back-up plan.
You’ve got a stocked toolbox for the heavy-duty work. A tire gauge serves a more diagnostic purpose. Some cars have a reading of air pressure in tires, but for those that don’t, a tire gauge will you tell you if your tires are low and by how much. Use it to keep your ride smooth and your gas mileage efficient.
The ice scraper is another tool you probably won’t keep in your trunk. There are some areas that will never need an ice scraper, but if you’re in a more temperate climate, it doesn’t hurt to keep one in your car at all times. It’s inexpensive, and it works a lot better than using an old cup or your credit card.
First Aid Kit
This doesn’t have to be a complicated, full-blown medical pack. Just make sure you have some basics, such as bandages, antiseptics and pain relievers. Tailor your kit to your needs (and your family’s needs) and make sure you’re prepared for common cuts and ailments away from home.
In an emergency situation, you may have to temporarily huddle nder a blanket for warmth. Even if that never happens to you, it’s still helpful to have one in case you need to sit on the ground, whether for an impromptu picnic or a concert.
It’s always a good idea to carry change in case you run into toll booths. In addition to this, keeping cash on you can make sure you can pay for repairs if you end up somewhere where cards are not accepted.
There are many other items you can carry in your car depending on where you live, but these basics should get you through most situations. You may never have to use some of these items, but it’s always better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.