As we’ve mentioned in previous posts here at iseecars.com, there is no such thing as a 100% reliable vehicle. All vehicles are mechanical, and all mechanical things will eventually break. It’s when they’ll break that’s the hard part. There’s no telling. Some vehicles have gone tens of thousands of miles with nary a problem; others haven’t even reached the 100-mile mark before experiencing some major issues. The big inconvenience is when the breakdown happens on the road…at night…in an unfamiliar area…with the whole family in the car. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. Most breakdowns consist of pulling off to the side of the road and calling a tow truck in the middle of the day; but that’s not saying that it can’t happen the other way. And, since it’s better to be safe than sorry, we’ve compiled a list of seven things you should always keep in your car, just in case of unfortunate incidents like a breakdown…on the road…at night…in an unfamiliar…well, you get the picture.
1. Registration/Insurance Card
We’ll start with the obvious ones here. These you’ll need even if your vehicle doesn’t break down. There’s always that off chance that you’ll be going a tad over the speed limit (which we’re sure none of you law-abiding citizens do), and a police officer will just happen to be watching. More importantly, however, is the off chance that you’re in an accident. Your registration and insurance card will be necessities in this instance as well.
2. Spare Tire/Tire Jack
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of the roads, waiting to take a nice big chunk out of one of your tires, or poke something really sharp through one. Unless your vehicle is equipped with run-flat tires, these occurrences can put an end to your trip in a big hurry. So, unless you want to pay a tow truck to come and haul your vehicle to the nearest service station, you’ll want to make sure that your spare tire is always properly inflated (something you can ask any shop to do whenever your vehicle is in for any kind of service), and your tire jack is in proper working order.
3. Jumper Cables/Emergency Road Kit
Jumper cables are a necessity; the full emergency road kit is a high recommendation. Most emergency kits will come with a small array of tools, such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers, as well as road flares, a fluorescent road marker, hose tape, and those jumper cables. The jumper cables will come in extremely handy if you have a habit of leaving your lights on (and don’t have a working warning buzzer), or you accidentally leave your door cracked the slightest bit when you close it, and the dome light stays on. Either thing can drain the life from your battery in as little as a few hours depending on the age and strength of your vehicle’s battery.
This may seem like a dumb thing to have in your car if you live in places like Florida, Texas, or Southern California; but blankets are good for much more than just keeping you warm. Say you break down on a road that’s covered in dirt, gravel, mud, grime, or some sticky substance you dare not guess about. Laying a blanket down to get on the ground and see what’s wrong, or simply to change a tire, can save your clothes, knees, and back a whole lot of trouble. Of course, there’s always the keeping warm thing, too, if you live in an area where it gets cold.
5. Washer Fluid
Some of us hardly ever use the washer fluid in our vehicles. We simply drive looking through the two-inch clean spot we’ve wiped in the center of the windshield until we get to the gas station and wash the windows. Since that’s never a good idea, we suggest keeping a gallon of washer fluid in the trunk. Chances are you’ll never need it, until that one time when a semi throws three inches of mud and muck on your windshield and you hit the washer button only to hear that familiar buzz…and get nothing. Pulling over and grabbing the washer fluid from the trunk is much easier than dumping whatever drink you have in the cup holder on your windshield and trying to scrub it clean with your shirt.
Some of those emergency road kits we talked about earlier do come with a flashlight; however, most don’t. A flash light will not only come in handy if you happen to break down at night and need to see under your hood or around your car, but it’s also very handy for keeping oncoming traffic away from your vehicle if you don’t happen to have road flares or markers. A flashlight can also come in extremely handy if a passenger needs to find something in the vehicle at night while you’re driving. Driving with the dome light on is still illegal in most states. Just make sure you check the batteries in it often.
7. First Aid Kit
In times of crisis, a first aid kit can literally be a lifesaver. This one should need no explanation whatsoever. If you’re bleeding, a spare tire isn’t going to do much for you.