What should I keep in my car?

jc0481

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2005
222
0
Hello there and thank you for reading. I live in a place that has regular four seasons. It just snowed yesterday and today I think it's 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
With that in mind what should I keep in my car?

I have heard of different things throughout the years all from different people. I just wanted to post on here so I can get a better idea on what I need to leave in my car.

I was thinking of going to Lowe's, Home Depot, AutoZone etc for a good car kit to leave in my car. I was thinking of getting a binder for my receipts. Basically maintenance receipts for my car. Right now I have a flashlight, blanket and ice scraper along with the usual spare replacement kit. I was looking into a tire inflation kit. Maybe I can just get that from my local Walmart.

I was just wondering if anything else that I need to leave in my car. If you have any good recommendations for a car kit. I'm all ears.

I also know the guideline about having less than 100 pounds in your trunk. If you have more your gas mileage will go down. So I will like to keep this under 100 pounds.

By the way I just do city and freeway driving. No in the woods driving at all. Just church, work, errands and when I go out with my wife and visiting family.
 

iBookG4user

macrumors 604
Jun 27, 2006
6,596
2
Seattle, WA
A digital camera in case of accidents and jumper cables would probably be of use. Other than that I couldn't really help you, as I'm not a car expert.
 

Rampant.A.I.

macrumors 6502a
Sep 25, 2009
579
9
A change of clothes, some water, a jacket, and a pair of shoes wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Plus road flares and a bottle or two of water.
 

OutThere

macrumors 603
Dec 19, 2002
5,730
0
NYC
In the winter you can carry traction pads...useful for getting out of tough spots.

Consider as well: the more random and marginally useful stuff you carry around in your car the worse gas mileage you will get.
 

spillproof

macrumors 68020
Jun 4, 2009
2,028
2
USA
I do a lot of highway driving in the Florida heat so my car kit includes:
- extra cloths (heavy shirt, long jeans, underwear, bathing suit, socks, cheepo flipflops)
- beach towel
- trash bags
- Car emergency kit from Pep Boys (jumper cables, screw driver set, reflector, flares)
- first aid kit
- spare fuses and crank powered flash light in glove box
- sewing kit
-small briefcase sized umbrella,
- fix-a-flat and a cigarette lighter powered tire pump
- water proof matches
- heavy duty duct tape
- bottled water (32 oz)
- and a football and tennis ball.

And it all fits in a Winn-Dixie hand basket.

You would need some deicers for locks and windows, a jacket and gloves, and fold up shovel.
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,543
8,168
Colorado
I keep a window brush/ice scraper and a small shovel in both of my cars. I also don't let my cars get below a quarter tank of gas.
 

nick1516

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2008
564
0
One thing I haven't seen mentioned so far is a cell phone charger, none of that stuff would really help if your in the middle of nowhere and your phone is dead lol.
 

abijnk

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2007
3,286
4
Los Angeles, CA
One thing I haven't seen mentioned so far is a cell phone charger, none of that stuff would really help if your in the middle of nowhere and your phone is dead lol.
While that's a good one, I'd say the chances are probably that if you are stuck in the middle of no where it's because your car is dead. Thus, most of the survival stuff that people would suggest are for staying alive without immediate help.

Personally, I keep an ice scraper, an extra set of clothes, and a car emergency kit that I bought at an Autozone (I think). It has jumper cables, a small first aid kit, a rain poncho, one of those silver thermal blanket things, a decent length of rope, waterproof matches, a can of fix-a-flat, and some other small stuff that escapes my mind right now.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
4
for me
-a good pair of jumper cables. with nice thick wires. Most of those in a car kit are crap. They take for ever to jump a car as the battery has to be charged a little. Compare that to what I have in my car I can start my car or anohter car with a completely dead battery with out having to wait 10-15 min to charge up the other guys battery.

- Flash light.
-Spare tire (and tools to change it)
-Tire pressure gage (simple yet very important)
- A little cash/ coins

In my last car I kept a can of inflate a flat. Great stuff if you get a flat tire. Only reason I do not carry one now is they can not be used on low profile or Z rated tires. My car happens to Low profile Z Rated tires on it.

That is the critical stuff I think is always a good idea to have. For most things it has you covered if you get in trouble around home. Of those items I have used them all at least once but most of them multiple times.

I carry some other things in my car at all time but it is not for safety or if I got in trouble but was because I have used them multiple times with friends for something to do when we are board.
 

mwchris

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2008
155
4
Kentucky
One thing I haven't seen mentioned so far is a cell phone charger, none of that stuff would really help if your in the middle of nowhere and your phone is dead lol.

You read my mind!

I see a lot of good ideas, but I think it has to do with 3 things: The age of your vehicle, where you live/travel, and individual comfort.

1. Age of Vehicle - Let's face it most newer, regularly serviced vehicles break down as frequently as older, or less serviced vehicles. If you take care of your vehicle it will take care of you.

2. Where do you live/ or travel? You mentioned that you are exposed to all four seasons, but you didn't mention where you travel, or what your commute is like. Naturally then you will either have a large kit, or have several kits that you rotate out with each season or for road trips. Switching, refilling, updating, the kit could all be part of your regular maintenance. For the items in the kit - see number 3.

3. How comfortable are you with tools, minor repairs, etc. . . It doesn't do any good to carry a big tool kit if you don't know how to use any of the tools, or make minor repairs to a vehicle. For example I now a lot of people that have jumper cables, but don't have the slightest idea how to use them. (I always have a pair, and I've used them once - and it wasn't for my vehicle.)

So with all of the above in mind the following is what I would/do carry:

1. Cell Phone with car charger. As one poster mentioned it does not good if the vehicle battery is dead, so always charge it when you have the chance, even if it doesn't need it, and see number 3.

2. Depending on where you live/travel - a Portable CB -while some will argue the effectiveness of a CB, every trucker has one, so you are bound to reach someone if your cell phone fails to work, and they are cheap. (You could also consider a HAM radio, but those require a license.)

3. A battery powered jump starter/pump/back-up battery/flashlight. You can pick them up anywhere. They have a built in deep cycle battery that will last from 1 to 6 months between charges. You can get them with a built in air pump, flashlight and a cigg lighter port to charge your phone or power a CB. Jumper cables are useless without another vehicle - and if you have to help someone else why take a chance of running down your own battery?

4. Food/drink - Non perishable food like energy bars and water.

5. Blanket-clothes - Change these with the seasons, pack like you were going for an overnight.
 

spillproof

macrumors 68020
Jun 4, 2009
2,028
2
USA
One thing I haven't seen mentioned so far is a cell phone charger, none of that stuff would really help if your in the middle of nowhere and your phone is dead lol.
I assumed everyone had one already. Thats what I get, making an ass out of you an me.
 

Nugget

macrumors 68000
Nov 24, 2002
1,743
581
Houston Texas USA
In 24 years of driving I've never had an emergency that couldn't be easily solved using a cell phone and a credit card. I'm sure it depends a lot on your climate and how rural your lifestyle is, but I have a difficult time imagining any situation where I'd need much more than that.
 

greygray

macrumors 68000
Oct 22, 2009
1,848
1
A jump start cable, torchlight, a paper map, toilet paper, first aid kit and 1 hot babe.
 

VPrime

macrumors 68000
Dec 19, 2008
1,720
82
London Ontario
Some oil
Coolant
Decent set of tool s(Socket set, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches)
Kitty litter is also great for getting out of snow.
Shovel
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
1,301
9,062
Toronto, Ontario
I would also suggest at least one sand bag in the back, not only does the weight help with maneuvering in the snow you can cut it open and use the sand to get traction. (assuming car isn't completely dead and you are just stuck)
 

VPrime

macrumors 68000
Dec 19, 2008
1,720
82
London Ontario
I would also suggest at least one sand bag in the back, not only does the weight help with maneuvering in the snow you can cut it open and use the sand to get traction. (assuming car isn't completely dead and you are just stuck)
Unless your car is FWD, having a front wheel drive car and putting weight in the back is almost pointless (in the snow)
 

Simgar988

macrumors 65816
Jul 22, 2009
1,081
5
UYBAATC
Keep a good book or two. I was once stranded for five days I my car dying a blizzard and I would have loved a book. It would have made all the diffrence
 

TheSVD

macrumors 6502a
wow, when i get a car, im definitely going to have more in there than i thought :O i hope you dont think any of these are overkill, they are all fantastic ideas! for me it would be:
- Spare clothes, cause you never know
- Entertainment - books, magazines etc
- First aid/survival gear, always good
- Camera for accidents, maybe for something to do sometimes? lol
- Cell phone charger
- Food, drink, a heat source also
- Blanket, something to keep comfy while you sleep etc
- One thing, which is why i read through the whole thread to make sure it wasnt posted already, is one of those hammer things that smash windows instantly if you drive into water! id consider having more than one of these in my car, as it would be quite a fear :|
- sounds stupid, but pens and paper? might need to make a sign if you stranded, never know haha :p
-fire making materials
-can o petrol (or gas, for you americans ;) )

right, now to fit all of this into a two doored hatchback :p haha :)
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
5,811
344
Milwaukee, WI
A shotgun. Loaded, and in the passenger seat.
A jump start cable, torchlight, a paper map, toilet paper, first aid kit and 1 hot babe.
Unfortunately, my wife isn't always riding shotgun with me.

In cold climates, you should also have some kind of gas line antifreeze, like Heet, so it's available when it gets really cold, and perhaps window de-icer to quickly get the windshields clear while the defrosters are warming them up.
 

IntheNet

macrumors regular
Oct 6, 2009
190
0
...a better idea on what I need to leave in my car...
AAA has posted guides of essential items to have in your vehicle at all times; trouble is these items are only recognized as essential if you breakdown and many don't bother with them until they need them and thus too late... A few I like to have...Spare vehicle key hidden in car; Extra Clothes/Boots/Hat/Gloves; Shovel; Basic Toolset; Compass/Matches/Multi-Purpose Knife; Gallon of Water; and a large roll of wire.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
A Krispy Kreme gift certificate to bribe cops with. You could keep the donuts themselves, but I'm not sure how good of a job old, stale donuts do at getting you out of tickets ;)


I can't believe all the stuff you guys recommend having in your car :eek: I have a snow/ice scraper in my trunk, the spare tire and tools for changing it, jack (which came with the car), and that's it. I don't even think I have jumper cables, which is probably stupid on my part, but I have AAA so worst comes to worst, I call them and they send out a truck to jump me.
 

covisio

macrumors 6502
Aug 22, 2007
283
20
UK
I was thinking of getting a binder for my receipts.
If you mean you want to leave a binder with your receipts in, in the car, then don't. Don't leave any documentation in the car in case it gets stolen.

Really good things to have are:
  • Some rope or thick twine
  • A couple of bungees
  • Duct tape
  • Torch
  • Wire
  • Small tool kit containing at least: adjustable wrench, combi-screwdriver, knife of some sort, pliers
  • Latex gloves
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Spare bulbs
  • spare fuses
  • Foot pump (or electric equivalent)

Don't forget your brain. It might help to go on an introductory car maintenance/troubleshooting course. It's very easy to panic and give up when your car refuses to start, but usually it's down to one of a few elementary problems. If you sit back and think it through, very often you can trace the fault and fix it yourself.