Essential Items to Keep in Your Car

Essential Items to Keep in Your Car

Whether you’re embarking on a long journey or simply driving to work, unexpected breakdowns and long delays can occur. While we hope for smooth rides, it’s important to be prepared for unforeseen situations.

Many drivers find themselves ill-equipped to handle emergencies when they arise. To mitigate such challenges, it’s wise to keep your car stocked with essential items.

Although you may never need to use them, having these items readily available provides peace of mind. Below, we will explore the essential items to keep in your car, categorised into emergency items, winter-specific items, and other assorted items.

Emergencies, car repair and maintenance

From unexpected tyre punctures to sudden breakdowns or being stuck on the motorway due to a pile-up, encountering these situations can be stressful.

Warning triangle incase your breakdown

However, being prepared with the right items can help alleviate some of that stress. Here, we will explore the essential items for emergencies, car repairs, and maintenance that you should consider packing in your car.

Details for breakdown service

In the unfortunate event of a breakdown, it can save you the hassle of searching through your phone and using up data by keeping a hard copy of your breakdown service provider’s details in your car.

Alternatively, ensure that you have your provider’s number saved on your phone for quick access when needed. By doing so, you can call for assistance as soon as possible.

Some breakdown service providers offer convenient solutions for their customers. For instance, RAC members are provided with a membership card that includes the RAC’s emergency number and their individual membership ID.

Similarly, the AA offers an app that allows users to easily access their membership card when required.

Should I keep documents in my car?

While it may seem convenient to store important documents such as insurance information or DVLA registration in your car, we strongly advise against it.

Keeping these documents in your car poses a risk, as they could be used by thieves if your vehicle is stolen. It is much safer to store your vehicle documentation in a secure location at home.

In most situations, you are unlikely to encounter an immediate need for these documents. However, if you are stopped by the police, there are specific documents that you must be able to present:

  • Your driving licence
  • A valid insurance certificate
  • A valid MOT certificate (if applicable to your vehicle)

If you do not have these documents with you at the time, you will generally have a period of 7 days to provide them at a local police station. It is important to ensure that you can produce these documents within the specified timeframe to comply with legal requirements.

Car manual

It’s not uncommon for drivers to find themselves at a loss when a warning light suddenly illuminates, even after years of owning the same car. In the event of a breakdown, it’s crucial to be able to diagnose the issue and understand what steps to take next.

Your car’s user manual is a valuable resource that provides comprehensive information on a wide range of topics, from basic tasks like changing bulbs and topping up fluids to more advanced matters like understanding the correct tyre pressure.

Keep your car manual in the car

While it may not be the most thrilling read, taking the time to read your car manual can be incredibly beneficial. Familiarising yourself with the manual will help you develop a deeper understanding of your vehicle and equip you with the knowledge needed to handle various situations that may arise.

So, make it a point to explore your car manual when you have the opportunity—it’s a small investment of time that can yield significant rewards.

Reflective triangles and a high-visibility jacket

In the unfortunate event of a breakdown, it is essential to take measures to alert other road users to your presence. Using reflective triangles is an effective way to achieve this.

Placing them at least 45 metres behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road will provide a clear warning to approaching drivers. It’s important to handle the triangles with care when placing or retrieving them. Please note that reflective triangles should not be used on motorways.

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Reflective triangles and a high-visibility jacket

Equally important is ensuring your own visibility to other road users. Wearing a high-visibility jacket is highly recommended, especially if you need to walk to find an emergency telephone on the hard shoulder.

The Highway Code emphasises the significance of this by stating that you should wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing during daylight hours and switch to reflective clothing during night-time or when visibility is poor.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can greatly enhance your safety and make sure that other drivers can easily spot you in the event of a breakdown.

Spare tyre and car jack

Tyre punctures are a common cause of breakdowns, so it’s wise to be prepared by carrying a spare tyre. Most new cars come equipped with a spare tyre, but if yours doesn’t have one, it’s worth considering purchasing and keeping one in your vehicle.

Spare tyre and car jack

However, simply having a spare tyre won’t be sufficient if you don’t have the necessary tools to change it. Along with the spare tyre, it’s crucial to carry a car jack and a wrench.

These tools are essential for safely lifting your vehicle and removing the damaged tyre. Without them, you won’t be able to complete the tyre replacement process.

By ensuring you have a spare tyre and the accompanying tools, you’ll be well-prepared to handle a tyre puncture and get back on the road with minimal disruption.

Food and water

In any roadside emergency or during prolonged delays, having access to food and water is crucial. That’s why it’s important to keep your car stocked with non-perishable food items such as cereal bars, dried fruit, and crisps. These items will provide sustenance and energy when needed.

Food and water incase you breakdown

If you often have passengers in your car, it’s advisable to pack extra food to cater to their needs as well. Having enough food on hand will not only keep you and your passengers nourished but also help prevent hunger-induced frustration, or “hangry” moments, during extended waits for traffic to clear or while waiting for a recovery vehicle.

In addition to food, it’s essential to carry a sealed bottle of water in your car at all times. Water serves multiple purposes, including keeping you hydrated while on the road. It can also be used to top up your vehicle’s radiator or windscreen washer bottle if needed.

By having food and water readily available in your car, you’ll be better prepared to handle unexpected situations and ensure your well-being during challenging times on the road.

Jump leads/portable battery pack

One of the frequent causes of breakdowns on the road is a flat battery, especially during colder weather when car batteries can be less reliable. To address this issue, it’s a wise decision to have a set of jump leads in your car.

With jump leads, you can connect your battery to another vehicle’s battery and quickly get a jump start, allowing you to continue your journey without further delay.

Jump leads

However, it’s not always easy to find someone willing to help in such situations. To avoid waiting for assistance, it’s highly recommended to carry a portable battery pack in your car.

A portable battery pack serves as a reliable power source and can be used to jump-start your vehicle independently. These compact and portable devices provide a convenient solution to get your car up and running again without relying on the assistance of others.

By keeping jump leads or a portable battery pack in your car, you’ll be well-prepared to handle a flat battery and ensure that you can swiftly resume your journey, regardless of the availability of assistance from others.

Mobile phone charger & torch

Regardless of how frequently you charge your mobile phone, unforeseen circumstances can leave you waiting for an extended period of time for recovery or for traffic to clear.

The last thing you want is to be stranded with a dead phone when you need to call a recovery service or for assistance. To avoid this predicament, it’s essential to keep a portable phone charger in your car at all times.

Having a portable phone charger allows you to recharge your phone’s battery on the go, ensuring that you have a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency or when you need to reach out for assistance.

By keeping your phone charged, you can stay connected and easily contact the necessary services when needed.

Furthermore, it’s advisable to invest in a wind-up torch for your car. If you find yourself needing to check under the hood or handle any other tasks in the dark, having a reliable source of light is crucial.

Mobile phone charger & torch

While your phone may have a built-in torch function, it’s always wise to have a backup option, as you never know when your phone’s battery might drain, especially if you’re unable to recharge it.

A wind-up torch provides a dependable solution, as it doesn’t rely on batteries and can be powered by simply winding it up.

By equipping your car with a mobile phone charger and a wind-up torch, you can ensure that you’re prepared for unexpected situations and have the necessary tools to stay connected and navigate in low-light conditions.

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First aid kit

In the unfortunate event of an accident, having a first aid kit in your car can be invaluable for providing immediate care and minimising harm while waiting for medical professionals to arrive.

It’s essential to be prepared with the necessary supplies to treat minor injuries and ensure the well-being of yourself and others involved.

Your first aid kit should include a range of basic items, such as bandages, plasters (adhesive bandages), antiseptic wipes, pain relief medication, and any other specific items that may be relevant to your needs.

Keep a first aid kit in your car

Additionally, if you have personal medication or prescriptions, it’s wise to include them in your kit to ensure you have them readily available in case of an emergency.

If you’re unsure about how to administer first aid, the Highway Code provides comprehensive information regarding first aid on the road. However, if you’d like to enhance your knowledge and skills, consider taking a first aid course offered by reputable organisations such as the British Red Cross.

These courses provide valuable training on emergency response techniques, enabling you to handle medical situations with confidence and efficiency.

By keeping a well-stocked first aid kit in your car and equipping yourself with the knowledge of basic first aid procedures, you can be better prepared to handle unforeseen incidents on the road and provide immediate assistance when needed.

Remember, prompt and appropriate first aid can make a significant difference in the outcome of an emergency situation.

Extra clothing

When embarking on a long journey, it’s common for drivers to opt for lighter clothing to ensure comfort during the drive. However, if you find yourself stranded in your car for an extended period or standing outside on the hard shoulder, you’ll want to be prepared for adverse weather conditions.

Extra clothing incase you break down

To ensure your well-being and comfort in such situations, it’s advisable to keep extra clothing in your car. Consider including items such as a thick jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, and other warm garments that can provide insulation and protection against the cold. These items can help keep you warm and comfortable during unexpected delays or breakdowns.

Furthermore, it may be worth investing in an emergency survival blanket. These blankets are designed to be windproof, waterproof, and highly insulating, providing an additional layer of protection in emergency situations.

They are compact and lightweight, making them easy to store in your car. An emergency survival blanket can be a valuable asset in helping to retain body heat and protect against extreme weather conditions.

By keeping extra clothing and an emergency survival blanket in your car, you can be prepared for unexpected circumstances and ensure your comfort and well-being during prolonged periods of waiting or exposure to adverse weather conditions. Stay warm, dry, and protected, even in challenging situations.

Empty fuel can

Running out of fuel can be an inconvenience that leaves you stranded on the side of the road. While some individuals may suggest carrying spare fuel to address this issue, it is important to consider the potential risks involved.

Carrying flammable fuel in your vehicle can increase the danger of fire in the event of an accident or unexpected mishap.

Empty fuel can to keep in your car

Instead, we recommend keeping an empty fuel can in your car. Having an empty fuel can provide you with the option to safely venture to the nearest petrol station and fill it up with the required amount of fuel. This allows you to address the situation without compromising your safety.

By carrying an empty fuel can, you can avoid the potential hazards associated with storing flammable fuel in your vehicle. It provides a practical and safer alternative, ensuring that you can quickly and efficiently obtain the necessary fuel to get back on the road.

Remember, always exercise caution when handling fuel and follow proper safety guidelines when refuelling.

Winter essentials to keep in your car

Winter brings about challenging conditions for drivers, including snow, freezing temperatures, and icy roads. To prepare for the worst, it’s crucial to have winter essentials in your car’s emergency kit.

Winter essentials to keep in your car

These items can help you stay safe and cope with adverse weather conditions. Let’s take a look at some essential items to have during the winter season.

  • Extra clothing: In winter, staying warm is essential. Pack extra clothing such as a thick coat, scarf, and gloves to keep yourself comfortable in case of delays or breakdowns.
  • Boots: If you need to exit your vehicle in snowy or icy conditions, make sure you have boots with a good grip. This will provide stability and help prevent slips and falls.
  • A torch: With shorter daylight hours, a torch becomes even more important in winter. Make sure you have a torch with spare batteries to navigate in the dark or during low visibility conditions.
  • Ice scraper and de-icer: It’s essential to clear your windscreen of snow and ice before driving. Keep an ice scraper and de-icer in your car to ensure clear visibility. If you park your vehicle in adverse conditions, carry these tools with you to remove any ice or snow build-up before setting off again.
  • A shovel: If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, a shovel can be a valuable tool. It allows you to clear snow around your vehicle or dig yourself out if you get stuck.
  • Snow chains: In areas with severe winter conditions, using snow chains can provide extra traction on slippery roads. Consider keeping snow chains in your car if you frequently drive in rural or snow-prone areas.
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Remember, the need for these items may vary depending on your local weather conditions. Assess the severity of winter in your area and choose the appropriate items to include in your car’s winter emergency kit.

As the weather improves, you can store these items until the next winter season. Stay prepared and stay safe on the roads during winter!

Other assorted items to keep in your car

In addition to the essential and winter items, there are several other useful items that you might consider packing in your car.

Other assorted items to keep in your car

While not necessary for every situation, having these items on hand can be quite handy in certain circumstances. Let’s take a look at some of these miscellaneous items:

  • Hands-free kit: To comply with driving laws and ensure your safety, consider investing in a hands-free kit for your phone. This will allow you to answer calls or use voice commands without having to handle your phone while driving. Remember to set it up before you start your journey.
  • A-Z map: While GPS navigation systems are prevalent, it’s always wise to have a backup. Keep an A-Z map in your car for those instances when your navigation device might fail or when you’re in an area with poor signal reception. A physical map can be a lifesaver when you need to find your way without relying on technology.
  • Loose change: It’s always helpful to have some spare change in your car. Whether it’s for unexpected tolls, parking meters, or small purchases, having loose change readily available can save you from any hassle or inconvenience.
  • Spare shoes: If you often wear dress shoes or heels, consider keeping a pair of comfortable flats or sneakers in your car. This way, you can switch into more suitable footwear for driving, ensuring comfort and better control over the pedals.
  • Sunglasses: Don’t underestimate the importance of sunglasses during the winter months. The sun’s position in the sky can create glare that impairs visibility while driving. Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car to protect your eyes and enhance your driving safety.
  • A blanket: Unpredictable weather can catch you off guard, leading to unexpected rain showers. Having a blanket in your car can serve multiple purposes. It can keep you warm in case of a breakdown or provide a dry covering for your car seat if you get caught in the rain. Plus, it can be useful for impromptu picnics during road trips.

While not essential, these assorted items can prove useful in various situations. Tailor your car’s contents to suit your needs and preferences, ensuring you’re prepared for any unexpected circumstances that may arise on your journeys.

Final Tips

Now that we’ve covered a wide range of essential items to keep in your car, it’s important to remember a few key points. While it may be tempting to pack your car with everything we’ve mentioned, it’s essential to be realistic and consider the limitations of your vehicle’s storage capacity. Prioritisation is key.

To gain additional insights, it can be helpful to ask experienced drivers about their must-have items. Seek advice from those who have been driving for a longer time, as they are more likely to have encountered breakdowns and delays. Their first-hand experiences will provide valuable insights into which items should be prioritised.

Remember, maintaining a well-stocked and prepared car can greatly contribute to your safety, comfort, and peace of mind on the road. Tailor your selection of items based on your specific needs, local weather conditions, and the type of journeys you frequently undertake. With the right essentials at hand, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected situations that may arise during your travels.