The question isn’t whether or not you’ll run into car trouble, but when. We recommend being prepared so minor trouble doesn’t become major trouble. If the only thing in your glove box is your car’s paperwork and the only thing in your trunk is an empty cooler and some trash, it’s time to make some changes. By stashing these eight items in your car you’ll be ready to tackle a multitude of challenges.
Backup phone battery
It’s 2017. The chances you’ll get completely stranded are slim—well, if your phone isn’t dead. Your smartphone is your most powerful sidekick in an emergency. Call a friend. Look up the closest gas station. Pull up a map. Your phone can handle a lot, and it can get you out of most sticky situations. That said, if your phone battery is shot, you’re just carrying around a 6 oz. slab of glass and plastic. A backup phone battery ensures this won’t be the case. Keep a charged backup battery in your glove box and you’ll always have some juice for your phone. Heck, now you can even scroll through Twitter while you wait for AAA. Each of the following three options gets our stamp of approval, and each delivers at least one full charge.
You’ve been there. You’re driving down the highway and you see a car with its bumper attached by a few strands of duct tape. You think to yourself, Get it together, dude. We get it, but there’s a chance that guy is pretty wise. Lose a piece of your car’s body on a divider, curb, or something that pops out of nowhere, and duct tape will be your best friend. You’re not trying to rack up beauty points, and that duct tape will help you get your ride to a service center without any outside help. Which is worse: leaving your bumper on the side of the road and having to pay for a new one, or having your car look goofy for an afternoon? Buy the duct tape.
It seems almost cliché to include jumper cables on this list, but clichés exist for a reason, and there’s no way you should be without a pair of cables. At some point in time your battery will die. Instead of being the guy who asks every passerby whether they have jumper cables, be the guy who simply needs one minute of their time for a jump. Trust us, you’ll have a far easier time getting help if you’re the second guy, as fewer and fewer people, it seems, keep jumper cables in their car. And if you’re not sure how to use cables, well, first of all you have the internet in your pocket, and second, it’s painfully easy.
Shockingly, car problems don’t just happen when the sun’s out. For the times when you need to change a flat, check your engine, or take a look at your car’s exterior at night, make sure you’ve got a trusty flashlight in your trunk. You don’t need to go as crazy as one of these, but reliability is key, as you’ll be cursing yourself down the line if you go the cheap route and that garbage flashlight fails you. Even better than a standard flashlight is a flashlight with a lantern component, as it helps when you need to lift the hood and use your hands.
Have an issue in the dead of winter or some place far from tropical and a heavy blanket will be more than needed. Maybe you don’t want to start the car to conserve gas and power. Maybe you can’t start the car. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want a blanket that is more than the one you roll out for picnics. Think thermal, wool, or a build you know won’t let the winter air nip at your skin. The best part, unlike other items on this list, a blanket can come in handy in a variety of situations that aren’t dire.
The toughest part here is not eating said snacks when you get some hunger pangs on a long road trip. Say trouble strikes as you’re on a journey along some desolate stretch. Yes, you need to find help, but you also need to have the energy for that quest. You can go MREs or some filling items that will last, anything like that works. That means, yes, don’t throw a bag of apples in your trunk, but it also means be aware of temps in your area and how certain foods might be affected by that. Even if you’re just hungry waiting for a tow, you’ll be glad you don’t have to track down a local fast food joint.
Yes, a glass breaker is something you’ll toss in your car and probably never need. Well, at least let’s hope so, because if you do and you neglected to buy one, you’re gonna be in serious trouble. If your car ends up in a body of water, your life could depend on having one in your glove box (yeah, don’t put this guy in your trunk, for obvious reasons). Many glass breakers designed for your car will come with a seatbelt cutter as well, so if you go that route you’re really checking off two boxes with one device. For one of our picks, we tossed in a keychain device, as a glass breaker can assist in situations that have nothing to do with being trapped in a car. That said, any of the following will do the trick.
When you have car trouble, chances are you’ll be in one car on a road of many. This means your auto issues may be the least of your worries. Keep yourself safe when you step out of the car to check on the issues with some flares. From narrow shoulders to distracted drivers, the side of the road isn’t the safest place to be. Since you’ll have no choice, a set of flares is needed. While we’re fans of flares for their late-night visibility, you can also roll with a reflective triangle or some large glow sticks. Here are a few solid options to consider.