It may not seem like much of a concern during a daily suburban commute, but having some “just in case” gear in your car will pay dividends when you get a flat tire on day four of a road trip, or come out of a movie to a dead car battery because you forgot to turn the headlights off. You can tweak it according to your level of handiness — for example, if you know your way around a motor, some good tools would be helpful — but here are some basics that are worth stocking in your trunk.
Spare tire and tools
If you get a flat, rolling up your sleeves and changing tires is a whole lot easier than waiting for a AAA tow and paying for a mechanic to do the job for you. You’re also going to need a tire jack and a tire iron to get the job done, so stock those as well. If you don’t know how, check your car’s manual — you kept that, right? — since there are usually helpful illustrated guides for all kinds of maintenance included.
If there’s another car nearby to give you a jump when you’re stuck with a dead car battery, all you need to do is hook these on the right way and you’ll be back on the road in no time.
They’re cheap, small, and a lot easier than draining your phone battery by trying to make repairs by the light of an illuminated screen if you’re ever stuck fixing or looking for something at night.
The tools packed into one of these have about a million different uses. Pack one in your glove box and you’ll be reaching for it all the time.
If you’re in a snowy climate, you probably already know the importance of these during the winter. When you get into the office and leave to find an inch of ice accumulated on your windshield, you’ll be glad to have stowed one of these in your trunk.
Old cell phone
Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, since even an obsolete, out of service phone can make emergency calls. Charge an old one and keep it in your car just in case you get stranded and don’t have a charge left on your own cell.
Throw these down if you’re wet or muddy to keep your interior (relatively) clean. And If, god forbid, you break down and get stranded in the cold, these can help keep you warm. But most importantly, they’ll come in handy the next time you’re driving past the beach and want to do some impromptu skinny dipping or star gazing.
Helpful for keep from getting run over if you need to change a tire at night.
Morning after kit
If you spend the night at a date’s house or crash at a friend’s place after a night out, this will come in handy for the morning. Pack a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and some cologne and you’ll be good to go.
A key component in anyone’s tool kit, not just Dexter Morgan’s.
In case you need to tip the AAA guy or pay for an unexpected toll but haven’t hit an ATM recently.
Jerky, trail mix, or any other filling snacks are good to have on hand if you’re stranded and hungry.
Being stuck on the side of the road is a bad situation, but being stuck on the side of the road with a dead cell phone is a whole lot worse. Pack a portable charger that can refill your phone so you can call for assistance in an emergency situation.