No one can predict when and where their car's going to break down. It's usually a very sudden malfunction that can leave you miles away from help (and sometimes even out of cell phone range). That said, there's a bunch of stuff you should be keeping in your truck at all times—with no exceptions—that could quickly get you back on the road, and maybe even save your life.
1. Jumper cables
Because dead batteries are a fact of life.
2. First aid kit
For minor wounds and for minimizing damage until EMTs can arrive, you need a first aid kit. It’s actually mandated by law in most countries.
3. Kitty litter
Whether you need it for gaining traction on slippery surfaces, mopping up oil spills, or simply for getting rid of the smell of that cheese you inadvertently left in your trunk, kitty litter’s significantly better than the sand your dad used to use.
4. Spare tire and/or Slime
Adventures in Babysitting is a cheesy, albeit classic, ‘80s flick wherein teenage babysitter Elisabeth Shue has a blowout. In the events that follow, the cast is shot at, kidnapped, dangled out of skyscrapers, and sings with B.B. King. This is about the only situation where not having a spare tire actually resulted in something awesome.
If your car doesn’t come with a spare (or even room for one), a full can of Slime is vital.
5. Jack and lug wrench
So you've got yourself a spare tire and it’s properly aired up. Great! However, it’s not going to do you much good if you don’t have a means of jacking the car up or removing the lug nuts.
6. Air pump
Again, you should always have a spare tire and jack in your car... but if you're close to town and can get to a shop quickly, an air pump will save you a ton of time and effort.
7. Tire pressure gauge
They're small, affordable, and can give you peace of mind when journeying out on a long drive (at least as far as your tires are concerned).
8. A durable multitool
Fact: a good multitool is the second most useful thing on this list. Even if you don't own a car, this is a must-have.
9. Hazard triangle/flares
If you have any sort of problems on the road at night, you want to be as visible as possible, period. Like the first aid kit, this is mandatory in many countries.
10. Safety vest
Many roads aren't lit that well, and some aren't lit at all. If you need to pull over in the middle of the night, you'll absolutely need to stand out to other tired, late-night motorists.
Ah, the blanket. It'll keep you warm in the winter if you break down and it'll keep you and your tools clean if you have to change out a tire, or get a look under your car. Have leather seats and need to pop open the hood in a rainstorm? The blanket is a perfect makeshift seat cover when you jump back in.
12. Fire extinguisher
The chances you’ll actually need a fire extinguisher are thankfully slim. There’s no middle ground, though, because when you need one, you absolutely need one.
13. Tow strap
Why would you need a tow strap? For starters, getting your car a relatively safe distance off the road until a tow truck can get there is extremely important.
14. Duct Tape
This should seem obvious. Duct tape can temporarily fix almost anything.
15. Battery Pack Jumper cables are still vital, but without a friendly stranger there to let you hook your car to theirs, they’re pretty pointless.
16. Flashlight You'll definitely need this for changing a tire at night, but it'll also illuminate your work space and allow other drivers to easily spot you from a distance.
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