Driving a car comes with the convenience of easy, flexible transport, but the same car can be a cause of many troubles in the form of damage or accidents on the road. Any good driver should prepare for the worst by keeping the basic car recovery tools in the trunk.
Having an empty gas can in the trunk will come in handy when you run out of gas and you have no tank around you to siphon. However, it is not advisable to keep gas in it. A full gas can in your trunk could potentially result in a nasty fire explosion in a bad accident.
If your car breaks down, chances are you'll have to loosen and tighten some screws so you can fix it. Keeping an adjustable wrench or screwdriver in your car will allow you to work on all the different sizes and shapes of nuts and screws that hold your car together.
Your car battery may run out at some point in your travels. Carrying jumper cables can be a lifesaver in that situation, and it will also enable you to help other stuck drivers in need, should you encounter them. A portable battery charger is also a possibility, and potentially even more convenient since you wouldn't need a second car to power up your ignition.
It may seem pretty obvious and basic, but a flashlight can be a clutch thing to have around, especially when you have to fix something at night or if you need to work on something under your car. A flashlight may well be the difference between spending your night in the car and fixing it so you can drive home to your family. Look for one you can power by twisting or shaking, so you never need to worry about it running out of juice.
Road Flares and Reflective Triangles
Since most car breakdowns happen on the road, car drivers should have flares with them to alert other road users, especially at night, and prevent an already bad situation from becoming even worse. If you don't have flares, reflective triangles will work just as well and may prompt a good Samaritan to stop and lend a hand.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Monitoring tire pressure levels is something every driver should do regularly. Proper pressure levels on tires increase stability and safety, and can even save you fuel costs by making your car move more efficiently. A tire pressure gauge will allow you to measure which tires need to be inflated or deflated, and by how much.
In case you get a flat or otherwise damaged tire. It is best to change it immediately with a spare. Check up on yours from time to time, and make sure you have a tire jack and iron to help you swap it in when you need to. Some tires may require additional keys to access—these keys should never leave your car. If the tire changing process is too hectic for you, there are alternatives such as Fix-a-Flat, a popular tire inflator and sealer that plugs any leaks and at least enables you to reach the next auto shop.
Window Breaker and Seat Belt Cutter
In case of an accident, you may have to get yourself unstuck from your car. Since a seat-belt is designed not to open in an accident for obvious reasons, you should have both these items in your glove compartment and not in your trunk so you can easily access them.
You may need to clean up a mess, or wash off dirt from your windscreen. You can also use water as an emergency coolant if your engine’s cooling system overheats.
First Aid Kit
This is the one item that should never leave your car. When an accident happens, the most important thing in the car is your emergency preparation kit. A proper first aid kit should at least have plasters of different shapes and sizes, at least a couple sterile eye dressings, disposable gloves, safety pins, tweezers, painkillers and cleansing wipes. A first aid manual would be better.
If you see any part of your car moving when it shouldn’t be and you have no idea how to fix it, your best bet for a short fix might be to duct tape it until you can get someone to check it out for you. You can also use this to hold bandages and plasters in place in the case of an emergency injury.
Without working gloves, performing an auto maintenance task might expose your skin to bruises and blisters. Car parts may also be oily or dirty—gloves can keep your hands clean while you apply some elbow grease.
If you often drive in snowy or muddy areas, having a shovel on hand to dig your way out of a jam can save you the time and expense of getting a tow.
You may want to tuck away some maps in case you get lost without a mobile connection. It's also not a bad idea to have a blanket, space permitting, in case you ever have to spend the night on the road, and a change of clothes in case you get suddenly rained on. Some people keep a stash of cash in the car. You never know when it might come in handy, and it doesn't hurt to be prepared.