20 Essential Items Every Car Owner Should Keep in Their Vehicle

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By Jonathan Trent

If your idea of essential items in your car is that Starbucks cup that’s been there longer than you can remember, you may want to reevaluate. Our list of 20 essential items every car owner should store in their vehicle will help to keep you prepared on the road.

A First Aid Kit

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While it’s advisable to keep a first aid kit on your person for long journeys, keeping one in your car is a great way to ensure you always have one on the road, too. This should include basic medical supplies, such as bandages and wipes, as well as emergency information.

Jumper Cables

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One of the most essential items for car storage is a pair of jumper cables, as these will be needed in emergencies for your vehicle or someone else’s on the road. These heavy-duty cables should be stored with their safety instructions, and a storage case will help to keep them detangled.

Tire Pressure Gauge

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According to the AAA, if your tire pressure is far too low, it can impact braking distance and make emergency maneuvers much more difficult. Checking your tire pressure regularly is essential for car safety, and having a pressure gauge always in your car makes for stress-free maintenance.

A Spare Tire and Jack

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Most people know that they should have a spare tire, but you also need to make sure you have the jack to go with it. It’s important to ensure that your spare is also fully inflated, and if you’re not sure, keep instructions on how to change a tire in the car with you!

Flashlight and Accessories

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Another essential item is a dependable flashlight, as you don’t want to find yourself broken down on a dark road without one. Using your phone’s flashlight can risk depleting the battery when you might need it for emergencies, so store an LED flashlight and extra batteries in your car with you.

Emergency Flares or Reflective Triangles

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Reflective triangles are essential for keeping you and other drivers safe if you break down, so make sure you have some in your vehicle. Keeping a set of emergency flares will also be extremely helpful in case of issues in remote or dark locations. Better safe than sorry!

Water and Non-Perishable Snacks

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It’s essential to keep water and non-perishable food with you during long journeys in case you become trapped in your vehicle. As Medical News Today explains, a person can survive without water for up to three days, but you don’t want to risk dehydration if you’re trapped.


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It’s also a good idea to keep a versatile multi-tool, including fixtures such as a knife or screwdriver, stored securely in your car. This can help with car maintenance during a breakdown or with personal safety. Choose something compact and easy to use in any situation, and you’ll thank yourself later.

A Warm Blanket

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An additional key item during a vehicle breakdown can be a warm blanket, which you’ll most definitely want to store in case of freezing temperatures! A compact option such as a space blanket means it won’t take up too much room, and you should opt for machine-washable materials so you can reuse them.

Portable Phone Charger

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You should always carry a backup phone charger in your vehicle, whether the charger itself or a power bank, especially if you’re using your phone for navigation. The best option is a charger compatible with all devices, so you have a good all-rounder in your vehicle at all times.

Window Breaker and Seatbelt Cutter

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Another essential item every car owner needs is a window breaker and a seatbelt cutter, which you can often buy as a combined tool to cover both. These should always be kept in an accessible location, such as the glovebox, should you be trapped in your seat or in your vehicle.

Duct Tape

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Heavy-duty duct tape can be a savior for many different requirements, especially for quick car fixes on the road. So, it’s advised to keep a roll or two of this in your vehicle, too; it can be used for quick sealing or even temporarily securing something back onto your car.

Basic Tool Kit

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Often, even a basic tool kit can prevent you from being stranded on the roadside, as Green Flag reminds us, so it’s worth having to avoid costly callouts. This basic tool kit should include your wheel nut keys, a wrench, and anything else you need for common vehicle repairs.

Tow Rope or Strap

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It’s always advised to have a handy tow rope or strap with you, too, along with the correct hooks and shackles, to make sure that you have a tow option in an emergency. This can apply to towing your own vehicle or even with another car that needs a helping hand.

Windshield Wiper Fluid

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Other essential car items include windshield wiper fluid, which is vital for keeping a clear and safe view when driving. It’s recommended to keep an extra bottle instead of just one, as you never know what might cover your windscreen during a long drive—or how much you’ll end up using!

Ice Scraper and Snow Brush

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Even more essential during cold weather is a trusty ice scraper and a snow brush, both with comfortable grips so that you can confidently clear your vehicle. A snow brush will give you that extra reach when you need it, and together, they’ll both ensure easier snow days!

Portable Air Compressor

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We mentioned how important a tire pressure gauge was—and now, a portable air compressor is the next essential step to keeping your tires in their best condition! Carrying a portable compressor with you means you can give your tires a quick top-up whenever there’s unexpected low pressure. That’s super handy!

Fire Extinguisher

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Have you ever considered keeping a fire extinguisher in your vehicle? You should! Halfords recommends that a dry powder category ABC extinguisher is the best and safest choice for cars, and you can easily purchase a small one with a compact mounting bracket to fit in your vehicle.

High-Vis Jacket

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Another great essential item to keep in your car is a high-visibility jacket, which can be extremely helpful if you break down in a difficult place and need to exit your vehicle. This will assist other drivers in seeing you on a busy road or even help rescue vehicles better spot you, especially at night.

Maps and a GPS Device

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Finally, there’s nothing more vital than a trusty map! Having a physical map means you always have a backup when technology fails you, especially during long road trips. Additionally, having a second GPS device means you have yet another item to depend on if you need alternative navigation. Happy driving!

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