- Jack—Preferably for your particular car. Cars have different points on them where the manufacturer recommends you lift it for changing a tire. Make sure your jack is suitable for this task.
- Flashlight—In your glove compartment is best. You never know when you might need to read a map in the dark, look under the hood, or just search for your keys after they have fallen under your seat.
- Atlas/GPS—This is a must in our house. We are “fancy” enough to own a GPS, but a relatively updated atlas is always in the car with me. That way, on long trips, I don’t have to remember to pack it! This has helped us find new routes to avoid major traffic delays, find scenic routes, find ourselves when we were lost, and honestly provided entertainment for me while Chip drove (read through some of the names of towns in the index…some are hilarious). The time we had a rental car with a GPS on it, we found a totally different scenic route that I never would have mapped out myself!
- Jumper Cables—Maybe they are for other stranded motorists because you are a good Samaritan and are willing to help others. Maybe they are for your car in case you leave your lights on in the parking lot at the mall. Regardless, these are great to have on hand. For an alternative, you can carry chargeable battery packs made to plug into your outlet for a jump start, but these don’t stay charged indefinitely, so you might still find yourself stranded with this one.
- First Aid Kit—You never know when you might need it. For yourself or someone else. Just a good item to have while using a major piece of machinery at high speeds.
- Spare Fuses—Step 1—locate your fuse panel (often on the dashboard side on the passenger side). Step 2—buy fuses for your major components. Or just get a multi-pack. They aren’t expensive and very easy to replace yourself.
- Tire Gauge—Great for knowing if you need to add air (or bleed some out if they are overfilled for some reason. Know your tire manufaturer’s optimum pressure for proper use of this tool
- Fire Extinguisher—Many an auto fire could be quickly doused and major catastrophes avoided if more people had one in their cars. Of course, most people don’t, so if a fire ever starts, there is no way to stop it before a fire department arrives. By that point, you may have lost the entire car. More importantly, you could save someone’s life.
Also noteworthy—your owner’s manual. In the glovebox. At all times. So many questions could be quickly answered just by referencing this tool that your car’s manufacturer provided for you.