While this list shouldn’t turn you into a hoarder, there are many things to keep in your car for safety, comfort, and convenience. 

If you’re just learning to drive or have been cruising these roads for years, hopefully, you’ve heard a thing or two about the things to keep in your car. You don’t want to be caught up a creek without a paddle, or in this instance, down the road without a tire. So, in order to keep you safe, we’ve put quite a few items on this list to help you repair whatever you need. But, there are other things to keep in your car for shopping excursions and impromptu day trips. So, start checking off the items that you already have and making a list of the ones you still need. By the end, you’ll be all set with the most important things to keep in your car.

1. Kitty Litter

things to keep in your car - Kitty Litter

This first item may sound strange at first, but give us the benefit of the doubt. Kitty litter is incredibly absorbent and can also provide quite a bit of traction. So, if you find yourself stuck in an icy situation, spread some of this around for a little extra grip with your wheels. You can also use it to soak up an oil spill. If you were unfortunate enough to have someone lose their lunch in your car, this can also keep the odor down and spill contained until you can get it clean cleaned thoroughly. Kitty litter is the most versatile option for gaining traction, but you can also by an expensive tire traction mat or try and roll with some old cardboard. Whatever you choose, make sure you have something if you know you’ll be around snow, mud, or ice at any point on your drive.

2. Extra Oil

things to keep in your car - Extra Oil

Many older cars burn through oil quickly or simply leak it out over time. Even newer cars can use oil if you take them on a long road trip. So, it’s always good to have a quart of oil in your car in case you are running low. On this note, make sure you know how to check your oil using the dipstick. In addition, have your owner’s manual on hand to make sure you’re using the right oil for your car. This is an often overlooked item when it comes to things to keep in your car. 

3. Spare Tire & Jack

things to keep in your car - Spare Tire & Jack

I wasn’t allowed to drive on my own until I knew how to change my oil and switch out blown tire. Even if you haven’t been instilled with this knowledge, it’s not too late. Feel free to even print out an article of how to change a spare tire and store it right next to it. When your tire does catch a nail or wear thin, you’ll be glad you had a spare tire and jack in your trunk.

4. Air Pump & Tire Pressure Gauge

Air Pump & Tire Pressure Gauge

Sometimes you can get by without doing the whole spare tire switch. If you’re able to simply pump up a leaky tire to get home or to a car repair spot, it will be much easier. So, having a portable air pump that plugs into your car can be super handy. Remember to have a tire pressure gauge as well to make sure to not over or under inflate your tires.

5. Hazard Triangle or Flare

Hazard Triangle or Flare

As the evening sets, the last thing you want is to have to work on your car on the side of the road without light to warn oncoming traffic that you’re there. If you live in a wet climate, roadside flares are the perfect thing. They light up nice and easy and can keep burn for quite some time. If needed, they can also be an emergency fire starter. However, if you live somewhere prone to fires, don’t use a flare! There are LED hazard triangles and other reflectors you can buy that will warn oncoming cars just as well. Either way, to keep you safe, make sure to have some form of warming up on the road.

6. Duct Tape

things to keep in your car - Duct Tape

This is a no-brainer on our list of things to keep in your car. Duct tape fixes everything. Why would you not want it in there?

7. Jumper Cables & Battery Pack

Jumper Cables & Battery Pack

Again, this is one of those things to keep in your car that you also should have the knowledge to use. When you accidentally leave those headlights on or the trunk light when you were looking for your lost earring, you will drain your battery. The next time you go to start, “click click click” is all you will hear. This can also easily happen on very cold days. Either way, you will want a pair of jumper cables around so any friendly spectator can give you a boost. If you know you’re going somewhere remote, grab a battery pack. When fully charged, they can give your car battery the boost it needs to get going again. Remember, you’ll need to run your car for quite some time after the start to recharge your battery.

8. Food & Water

things to keep in your car - Food & Water

How much effort does it take to have a gallon of water and a pack of energy bars under the back seat? Not much. But, having these things to keep in your car can help immensely in an emergency. Calories will help you stay warm, and water is essential to life. You don’t want to risk drinking from a stream or something else if you could have avoided it. On a less intense note, sometimes we all get hangry and you need to snack on a little something before heading into a class or that meeting. Having a snack on hand can help keep those relationships in your life in a healthy spot.

9. Maps (& the Ability to Read Them)

things to keep in your car - Maps

Believe it or not, some of the most beautiful places in this world don’t have cell service. So, if you were lucky enough to remember to put your phone on airplane mode and download an offline map, more power to you. However, there may come a time when you can’t rely on electronic, internet-based maps. So, stop by that next welcome center and grab a paper map of your surroundings. If you never learned, take a few minutes to orient yourself to how a map works. Where are you now, and where are you going? Where does this road lead? If you find yourself needing a little spontaneity in your life, drop your finger anywhere on the map and go that way! Maps can lead you to places you never knew existed. 

10. Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable Shopping Bags

Of all the things to keep in your car, reusable shopping bags are probably the newest craze. If you live in a state where they charge you for plastic shopping bags, you most likely already have these in your back seat. The trick is remembering to bring them into the store when you go. But, reusable shopping bags save our planet from excessive trash and our ocean from an abundance of pollution. So, go grab one today to carry all the things around. You’ll be glad you did.

11. Sleeping Bag or Blanket

Sleeping Bag or Blanket

You know yourself best. So, you know which of these two things to keep in your car will work for you. But, nights get cold, and if you find yourself stranded, you’re going to be glad you have one of these things. If you live in the north, we would recommend having a large, warm, fluffy sleeping bag to snuggle up in. But, if you don’t live somewhere where it gets below freezing, you could go for just a blanket. Then, if you ever need to throw an impromptu picnic or sit somewhere wet, you can just throw it down. So, choose one of these two things to keep in your car to keep you comfortable in every situation.

12. Flashlight

things to keep in your car - Flashlight

Again, an incredibly handy tool for just about any situation. Of all the things to keep in your car, we hope you have one of these in there already. We’re not talking about the flashlight on your phone, either. You’ll want to save your phone battery, especially if you’re stuck. But, whether you have to change a tire at night or ended up on an impromptu hike, a flashlight will light your way. It gives you eyes you wouldn’t normally have in what could be a stressful situation.

There are a variety of things to keep in your car to keep you safe as well as to jumpstart great adventures. 

We tended towards more safety things, but if you’re anything like me, you might want to toss in a pair of hiking sandals and a journal. You never know where you’ll want to go when you’re driving about, or what you’ll start thinking about when you get there. There’s also some of us who need to keep a small notebook around because our best ideas come when we’re driving – or sitting in traffic. So, what other things to keep in your car would you add? 

Related Article: The Best Car Camping Tent You Need for Your Next Adventure

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