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The Top 12 Things You Should Always Keep in Your Car

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Wondering what to keep in your car for an emergency? Having a few essentials on hand equips you for any eventuality, big or small. Here’s a quick list to get you started on a collection of emergency car accessories.

12 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

1. Flashlight

A crank-powered flashlight is always ready to go—no need to worry about battery life or safety in extremes of temperature. Use it for extra light when changing a tire, to alert passers-by if you need help or to finally find those Cheerios your kids keep dropping under the seats.

2. Jumper Cables

You never know when you or someone else might need a jump start. Whether or not your car has a habit of dying on you, learn how to use jumper cables just in case. Keep a set in your trunk for emergencies or so that you can be the Good Samaritan to a fellow driver whose car let them down.

3. Disinfectant Wipes or Spray

How many things do you touch before you get in the car – and what might be on the car’s interior surfaces? It can be kind of gross to think about, which is why it’s a good idea to have something on hand to kill the germs that inevitably make their way into the vehicle.

Grab some sanitizing wipes or spay, and disinfect your:

· Steering wheel

· Gear shifter

· Door handles

· Window and door lock controls

· Radio and GPS controls

· Seat belts and buckles

· Cup holders

Repeat the process any time you or your kids are sick or have been around others who were feeling under the weather.


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4. Paper Towels

For those spills and messes that don’t require obsessive germ killing, a roll of paper towels will do. These can also double as tissues; just make sure you have a garbage bag to hold the used ones until you get home.

5. Bottled Water

You never know when you might need extra water to clean up a mess, perform first aid or simply stay hydrated. Store bottled water in a cooler in your trunk to keep it insulated against extremes of temperature. Alternatively, you can fill non-plastic, BPA-free containers with filtered water or invest in an emergency canned water stash.

6. First Aid Kit

Grab a fully-equipped first-aid kit from Amazon, Walmart or a medical supply store to put everything you need in an emergency at your fingertips. The more comprehensive, the better!

7. Tire Maintenance Tools

Repairing or changing a tire is easier when you can just pop your trunk and grab the necessary tools. Check you spare to make sure it’s in good condition, and pack your trunk with a pressure gauge, tire sealant, a lug wrench, a car jack and a portable tire pump.

8. Blanket

It’s essential to have a blanket on hand when traveling during cold weather. It works as a lap warmer if you get chilly while waiting for the heat to kick in and can keep you toasty if you break down in the snow. During the summer, blankets make perfect window shades any time you have to park in direct sunlight.

9. Duct Tape

The temporary fix for just about everything, duct tape is truly a multi-purpose must-have on the list of emergency items to keep in your car. A little WD-40 will get the sticky residue off when the time comes for permanent repairs.

10. Phone Charger

A solar charger ensures your phone is never without power, even if your car dies. It also comes in handy when you’re camping or hiking!

11. Emergency Tools

Carrying a multi-tool in your car may not give you MacGyver-like super skills, but it will equip you to handle unexpected repairs. These tools pack a screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, a knife, a file and more into one compact package you can easily store in the glove compartment.

Along with your multi-tool, it’s a good idea to have a two-in-one seatbelt cutter and window puncher to allow for a quick escape in an emergency.

12. Extra Fluids

Keep spare bottles of fluid for brakes, transmission, power steering and windshield washing in the trunk at all times. Coolant is another car necessity. With these on hand, you should be all set if something goes wrong that requires immediate attention.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of essential things you should keep in your car, but it’s a good start! Gathering your essentials now means you can tackle everything from your daily commute to a summer road trip knowing you’ll always have what you need in case of an emergency.


About the Author Theresa “Sam” Houghton is a writer, speaker and health coach from Troy, NY. She’s a regular contributor to, and her work has appeared in the Honest Weight Food Co-Op Coop Scoop, Natural Awakenings Magazine and the 2017 Daily Dozen calendar. She has been a featured guest on Focus on Albany, WMAC’s Food Friday and the Just Ask David podcast. When she's not writing or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, cook tasty plant-based food and knit socks. You can find out more about Sam at


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