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This Is What Real Grownups Keep in Their Cars

Young woman standing beside her car holding a first aid kit

You probably spend a lot of time in your car, so it’s smart to be prepared for emergencies. Here are the most important things that every adult should keep in their vehicle.

Owner’s Manual

This is a goldmine of information about your car. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to look everything up online. The manual should live in your glove compartment.

License, Insurance, and Registration

If you get pulled over or are involved in a car crash, you’ll need all this information. Keep it in the glove compartment with your manual.

Jumper Cables

A bad battery could strike at any time. Not only will it be easier for you to get help from a good Samaritan, but you will also be able to help others if you have your own set of cables. Make sure you know how to use them, too.

Ice Scraper

Unless you live someplace where it never, ever gets below freezing, you need this tool in your trunk. Keep a pair of inexpensive, water-resistant gloves in the same place.

Tire Pressure Gauge

This little device works wonders. You’ll be able to check the pressure and top up the air as needed without asking anyone else for help.

Spare Tire and Jack

If your tire does go flat, a spare and a jack will save you needing to call a tow truck. Practice taking the tire off in a non-emergency situation.

Duct Tape and WD-40

Is there anything that can’t be fixed with some combo of duct tape and WD-40? These supplies don’t take up much room, and they’re great for quick fixes.

Flashlight and Batteries

Keep a flashlight and spare batteries that fit it in your glove compartment. It’s a good idea to have a second set in your trunk, too.

First Aid Kit

A basic, up-to-date first aid kit should be mandatory in every vehicle. You can buy one pre-assembled or put together your own kits from bulk supplies.

Emergency Radio

If you lose power and cell reception, a hand-crank or battery-operated weather radio is your best friend. Use it to track natural disaster and get important updates from government agencies.

Food and Water

It’s smart to carry a couple of gallons of water and some non-perishable food in your trunk. If you end up stranded in an emergency, you’ll be glad you’ve got these supplies.

Blanket and Towel

Fold up a warm blanket and leave it in the backseat or trunk. If you become stuck in cold weather, you’ll be glad you have it. An old towel is also a must.


A multi-tool, such as a Leatherman, is always handy. You never know when you might need a knife or screwdriver.

Escape Tool

A combination window breaker and seatbelt cutter is a must. Keep it in the glove compartment where you can easily reach it in an emergency. If you become trapped–especially in water–this tool is literally a lifesaver.


While you shouldn’t keep large amounts of money in your car, a couple of dollars in spare change is great for parking meters and tolls. Make sure to put it in a closed compartment rather than leaving it out where anyone can see it.

Cleaning Wipes

Accidents happen. Cleaning wipes are a must for unexpected spills and other messes.

Pen and Paper

If you need to take down someone’s information after a wreck or jot down directions, a pen and a small pad of paper is a must. Don’t assume you’ll be able to use your phone.

Rain Poncho or Tarp

A little rain protection is smart and won’t take up too much space in your trunk. If you get a flat in bad weather, you’ll be very glad you packed it.

Microfiber Cloths

Finally, stash a couple of microfiber cloths in your car. These can clean windows and take care of any messes that your wipes can’t handle.


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