As we head toward the end of the year, it’s worth thinking about the items you keep in your car. Whether you regularly find yourself on the road for hours at a time or drive more recreationally, having the right new car must-haves on-hand can make your life easier. Recently, we covered some items you should keep in your car during winter (read the blog here to discover why kitty litter made it on that list). Today, we’re giving a more general run-down of ten (plus) things you should always keep in your car – come rain, sleet, snow, or sunny weather.
1: Jumper Cables ($10-25) & a First-Aid Kit ($35-75)
Yeah, it’s technically two items, but they’re equally important, so they share the number one spot. A set of jumper cables allows you to bring a dead battery back to life – whether it’s your own or someone else’s. While a first-aid kit may not have similar powers of resurrection, it can certainly save a life and give you peace of mind.
It’s also worth watching a video or two on how to use these items and keeping instructions on hand. Jumper cables won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them; the same goes for a tourniquet.
Level up your car care: Invest in a portable battery charger ($60-250). A portable battery charger takes care of the major shortcoming of jumper cables – namely, the need for another (working) car battery. With a portable charger, you have a way to jump your car even if nobody’s around to help.
2: A Tire Pressure Gauge ($10-25)
Tire pressure can fluctuate throughout the year as the seasons change (typically falling as temperatures get colder). Properly inflated tires reduce wear and tear on your car and make it safer to drive.
Most manufacturers print tire inflation recommendations on a sticker inside the door. If you don’t find any there, check your owner’s manual. Coupled with that knowledge, a tire pressure gauge lets you determine whether a trip to the nearest air machine is in order.
Level up your car care: Get a digital tire inflator ($40-100). A digital tire inflator can automatically read and fill your tires – no manual pressure gauge or inflation station necessary.
You’ve probably seen safety tools before, you know, the ones in cool videos of people heroically breaking car windows to save hot dogs and/or babies? Many safety escape tools have other features – seat belt cutters, flat-head hammers, etc.
A safety escape tool can help you get out of your car in a pinch, but they’re also great to have on hand for helping others. They tend to be pretty budget-friendly, making them a superb purchase for any car owner.
4: A Flashlight You Like ($30-150)
All the portable battery chargers and digital tire inflators in the world won’t help if you break down at night and can’t see well enough to use them. Don’t rely on having your phone flashlight at all times – instead, keep a good flashlight and a change of batteries in your car.
Whether you want something sleek (and maybe even monogrammed) or just a budget-friendly, reliable light stick, a good flashlight is high on the list of car accessory must-haves.
Keeping your car clean doesn’t just help you feel better about having guests in it – it also makes driving safer. For example, a portable windshield and window cleaner kit can help keep your windows and windshield clear – especially the interiors that may not get as much attention at a car wash. Similarly, a portable vacuum cleaner makes cleaning up dust and debris easy.
6: A Military Wool Blanket ($25-50)
In our guide to winterizing your ride, we wrote about the importance of keeping a set of spare clothes in the car. That advice stands, but a large, warm military wool blanket is a great stand-in if you don’t want to spring for a car coat.
A good wool blanket can do more than keep you or a passenger warm. Impromptu picnic? Go ahead and spread it out. Messy pet coming along for a read? You’ve got a makeshift seat cover on hand. The versatility of a good blanket makes it one of the things you should keep in your car at all times.
7: Good Ol’ Fashioned Duct Tape ($6-15)
We’re not saying you should attempt to repair your car with duct tape. But, worse comes to worst, and you find yourself dealing with a rear-view mirror on its last legs – well, you’ll be glad to have some duct tape with you.
8: A Portable Solar Phone Charger ($25-200)
Plenty of newer cars come with USB ports and phone chargers, but you won’t always want to rely on your car’s electricity to keep your phone going. To that end, a portable solar phone charger is a new car must-have.
If you want a little more flexibility, some portable solar chargers come equipped with USB ports and can even double as a lantern if necessary, making them an excellent investment.
9: A Waterproof Raincoat or Poncho ($25-200) & Umbrella ($9-30)
A good coat or blanket will do a lot, but not to protect you from the rain – which is where a good poncho or raincoat comes in. Doubling down on rain protection with a sturdy umbrella is also a good idea. Whether you want to keep yourself away from the elements or need to help a friend stay dry, having both allows you to cover all your bases.
10: A Pair of Good Driving Gloves ($30-140)
If “driving gloves” aren’t what you expected to see on a list of new car must-haves or things, you’re probably not alone. But, some solid driving gloves are absolutely one of the things you should keep in your car.
Other than being wildly fashionable, driving gloves pull double duty, keeping your hands insulated from hot steering wheels in the summer and a cold car interior in the winter. Find some you like, and they’ll probably see more use than you think.
There you have it! Ten things you should keep in your car at all times. Want car care tips and tricks, news, and updates on all things Carvana? Stay tuned!