30 Things That Should Be Kept in Your Vehicle

Some people keep absolutely nothing in our car trunks, while others have enough packed to live in their cars for weeks. Somewhere in between is this list of thirty things we think every car owner should always have on hand.

You can buy packaged emergency safety kits that includes a booster cable, flashlight, first aid kit, and many other items, but the DIY approach is more satisfying and you probably already have many of these items lying around. It's not just about emergencies or safety, either. Below I've separated the checklists by category.

There's nothing like breaking down at the side of the road and realizing the spare tire in your trunk has a flat from the last time it happened. To keep you up and running, keep these in your trunk:

Car repair basics

  • Spare tire (in good condition), along with a tire jack and tire iron, because without them or someone else to help you, the spare tire is useless. Also, if your wheels require a special security key or wheel lock, make sure that's always in your car too.
  • Tire inflater and sealer, like the VFix-A-Flat, which can plug a leak (and help you avoid using the above tools) just enough to get you to the auto shop.
  • Jumper cables, because dead batteries happen to the best of us. Alternatively, you can pack an emergency battery booster so you don't have to rely on a Good Samaritan coming along.
  • Your car's manual, which should be in the glove compartment already.
  • Tire pressure gauge: checking tire pressure on a regular basis can improve handling, increase fuel economy, promote tire longevity, and even save lives.
  • Duct tape and WD-40.
  • Car repair information. A business card for your auto repair shop, the number for AAA (if you're a member), and car insurance claim forms should also be stored in your glove compartment.

You might already have an emeergency go bag or kit set up. If you spend a lot of time in your car and it's always nearby when you're home, you could just keep that kit in your trunk—or create a second, perhaps lighter version:

Safety Supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Multi-tool
  • Matches or other fire starter (Bonus: a candle in a can for winter emergencies)
  • Energy bars or MREs (the instant food that heat up with just water)
  • Water bottles
  • Weather radio

Car-specific items:

  • Seat belt cutter and window breaker. Keep this in your glove compartment, not in your trunk, obviously.
  • Flares or reflective triangle, so you don't get hit at the side of the road in the dark.
  • Maps. Yes, the paper kind.

For Winter/Snow Emergencies

  • Ice scraper
  • Mylar space blanket to keep you warm during a blizzard.
  • Cardboard or carpet remnant you can place under tires for traction in the snow.

In addition to the basics above, you might want to keep these things around also:

Safety & Comfort

  • Paper towels or a hand towel
  • Tissues or a roll of toilet paper
  • Pencil and paper
  • Umbrella
  • Spare change/emergency money
  • Recycled shopping bags for those impromptu shopping trips.
  • Blanket, which comes in handy not just for keeping warm in emergencies, but also at the park, baseball stadium, etc.
  • Change of clothes: also an emergency item, because if you get drenched in rain or snow, it's no good to sit around like that.
  • USB mobile charging device

This isn't an exhaustive list, and your needs might vary. While it might sound like a lot, all this stuff doesn't take up too much space & it can help you tremendously in the event of a raodside breakdown this winter travel season. 

Happy Holidays and may all your travels be safe!