Top 20 Things You Should Keep In Your Car – A Car Essentials Kit

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As the saying goes – fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Although you can hope that everything will always be fine when you are out and about, you never know when something might happen. Whether it be an accident, your car breaking down, or someone becoming unwell, you need to know that you are prepared to deal with the situation. This is even more important if you are travelling on a UK or even European holiday in your car and you need to be able to rely on it even more to get you from A to B safely! With staycations increasing by over 300% in recent years – our cars are getting more and more use – so make sure that you are prepared. 

This article includes the top 20 things that you should keep in your car at all times, giving you no excuse but to get stocked up so that you can keep yourself, your loved ones and others safe when you are out! 

Car Safety Kit 

It is worth mentioning, to start off, that there are some car safety kits that you can purchase that will come with a number of different tools and essentials that you should keep in your car. These are a great way to start off your essentials kit if you currently have nothing, as they will save you money and the hassle of purchasing everything individually. You will also normally find that they come with a carry kit so that everything can be nice and organised whilst it is in your car! However, it is really important to check what these kits come with before you commit to buying so that you can be sure they actually have everything that you need. If you do decide to purchase a kit, make sure to read the Top 20 Things You Should Keep In Your Car first so that you can check these are all included as a minimum. 

Some car safety kits will be generic models with a range of tools and safety items, whereas others are more specific – these include winter kits, summer kits, car kits and first aid kits, so that you can find one more specific to exactly what you need. 

TOP TIP: We wouldn’t necessarily recommend opting for the cheapest car safety kit – some of these models come with quite poor quality tools that aren’t made to last and can’t necessarily be relied on in the case of an emergency! 

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Things For Your Car

We will start off by looking at all the things that you need for your car to keep it safe and functional when you are out and about. 

  1. Documents – Thankfully this one isn’t going to cost you any money, but it is really important. Make sure that you have your car manual plus any breakdown cover and insurance documents to hand in case you should need them! 
  2. Reflective triangle (and a hi-viz jacket for you) – If you break down then you need a way to alert other road users to the fact that you are there. Reflective triangles are cheap and easy to store in your car and so is a high-visibility jacket to keep you safe too. The highway code suggests that a reflective triangle should be placed at least 45 metres behind a broken down car. There are now “Road Flares” that you can position around your car too for extra visibility! 
  3. Car jack – Did you know that flat tyres are the main cause of breakdown cover callouts in the UK? Save yourself time and money by making sure that you have a good quality car jack and a spare tyre in your car so that you can replace the tyre yourself should you need to. It is always worth checking that the car jack is actually going to be compatible with your car as all models vary! 
  4. Jump leads – No one wants to be stranded with a flat battery, but thankfully this is a problem that can be easily rectified. Always make sure that you have a set of jump leads in your car so that you can ask someone nearby to give you a jump start. Yes, it may not completely fix the problem but it will allow you to get home safely (or to the nearest garage). If you are worried about having to rely on someone to be around to help you jump start the car then why not purchase a portable battery pack, they are going to be more expensive but it means that you will be able to start your car independently without any fuss!
  5. Tyre pressure gauge and pump – It is really easy to get a slow puncture when driving, particularly with the ever increasing debris that is on the roads. The best way to avoid this causing you a problem is to purchase a tyre pressure gauge and a portable pump too. Not only will this allow you to check your tyre pressure before long journeys but also you can pump your tyres back up independently should you need to. These pumps will plug into the cigarette lighter in your car and will be powerful to pump up almost all car tyres. 
  6. Toolkit – We don’t mean a big, massive toolkit like the one that you probably have in your shed at home. You should, however, always have at least some type of toolkit in your car. At least make sure that this has some basic screwdrivers, a hammer and a wrench for if you need to complete some emergency car repairs! 
  7. Ice scraper or de-icer – During winter months, it can feel like all you actually do is de-ice your car. It isn’t good enough just to have these things at home ready for when you need them, as often your car can ice up again during the day when you are at work or out and about! Make sure to have some in your car so you can ensure you have full visibility before you set off! 
  8. Pocket Knife/Multi-Tool – A pocket knife or a pocket multi-tool is something that everyone should carry with them regardless. 
  9. Duct Tape – We’ve of the opinion that duct tape can fix pretty much anything. Perfect for a smashed window, a broken mirror or a loose light. Yes it is a VERY temporary fix but could be the only way to get you to somewhere with a more permanent fix! 
  10. WD-40 – This really is the miracle oil! It’s amazing how much can be fixed, even if it is only temporarily, with a little WD-40! Perfect for jammed locks or wheel clamps, boots that are sticking or anything outside of your car that might need it! 
  11. Car Escape Tool – These are a relatively new idea to have in your car but as far as we are concerned they should be essential. Such a small tool but should you become trapped in your car for any reason they can be used to smash the window glass so that you can get yourself and your family to safety! 
  12. Tyre Inflator Seal – If you don’t have space for a spare tyre in your car (or potentially even if you do) then the next best thing is going to be a tyre inflator seal kit. These can be sprayed into the tyre if you have a small puncture and will fill the hole and re-inflate the tyre until you can get to a garage. They aren’t a permanent fix but can get you from the side of the road to somewhere safer! 
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Things For You (Or Others!)

If you end up broken down in the middle of nowhere or get stuck in standstill traffic that isn’t going to be moving any time soon, then here are some of the things that you should be keeping in your car. They are also perfect for in the case of an emergency or accident! 

  1. Water – It is so important to stay hydrated! When some standstill traffic can remain that way for over an hour, and recovery truck time ranges from half an hour to four hours, you should always keep some bottled water in your car ready for if you need it. 
  2. Food – Especially if you are going on a long journey, we would always recommend packing food in the car that you know isn’t going to go off any time soon, such as crisps and cereal bars. That way if you do get stuck in a big traffic jam or break down you will have something to keep you going! 
  3. First Aid Kit – We’re not saying that you need to have a full doctors kit in your car, but at the very least you should have some plasters, painkillers, antiseptic cream and bandages. That way you will be ready to help yourself or your loved ones should you need it. 
  4. Jacket – You should always make sure that you have a jacket in your car, or just keep a spare one in there should you need it. This is even more important during winter months. If you are in an accident or break down then chances are you may have to walk a fair way to get help – particularly if you are in the middle of the countryside, so that jacket is going to be a lifesaver! 
  5. Foil blanket – If you break down at the side of the motorway then you are going to have to get out of the car and wait on the verge at the side. This can be more than just an inconvenience, particularly if you have to wait there for a while. A foil blanket is going to help to keep you warm whilst you wait. They are also great for anyone that is in shock after a car crash – for example. 
  6. Map – As amazing as SatNavs and phones are, they are going to be no use to you if the battery runs out or they stop working. It is always good to have a paper atlas in your car so that in the worst case scenario you still have a way of getting home. 
  7. Sunglasses – Not just because we want you to look exceptionally cool when you are driving around! Sunglasses are essential for when the sun is low in the sky as it really can make it impossible to see what is in front of you! Make sure to always keep a pair to hand just in case! 
  8. Torch – If you are out driving in the evening or through the night then you should always take a torch with you. This can be handy for loads of situations away from your car but also for if you need to light up your tyres or your engine to try and get to the bottom of a problem. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What should you do if you break down on the motorway? 

If you break down on the motorway the most important thing to do is to pull onto the hard shoulder (where possible) and get out of the car – on the passenger side. Yes, this will mean climbing over the seat but that’s a much better option than risking being hit by a car in the process! You then need to use either your phone or one of the phones on the motorway to phone for a breakdown repair. IF it is safe to do so, placing your reflective triangle 45m away is a good way to try and keep both yourself and your car safe. 

Can I replace a spare tyre myself? 

Technically, there is no reason why you cannot replace a spare tyre yourself if you have a good quality jack and the right tools. However, it is going to be much safer (and easier) with two people so that you can make sure to lift the wheel carefully and line it up properly. If you do need to replace a tyre yourself then make sure to double check that the jack is in the right position and secure in place before you start working.

About Thomas Paxton 368 Articles
Hey there, I'm Thomas Paxton, your Tool Guru with a Twist! I've been knee-deep in the world of tools since I was a little tinkerer in my dad's shed. Now, I'm running my own website where I share my passion for tools and gardening products through buyers guides and insightful tips. I've got the knowledge and experience to break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand language. I purchased Tools Review from Mike Jones at the start of 2023, he has done a sterling job of building the site and I hope I can continue in his success! When I'm not writing guides, you'll find me in my garden or garage, putting my skills to work and pushing the boundaries of creativity. So, whether you're a pro or just starting out, join me on this adventure, and let's conquer DIY projects together!

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