The 10 Things You Should Always Have in Your Car

Posted by: Dan on 19/08/2015

Category: Maintenance

We exist in a world now where even the most instrumental and fundamental things within a car are changing.

While it was once a revelation to be able to listen to the radio within your car, today a customised playlist for the long car trip via your smartphone is the norm. Whereas car phones had their brief appearance (and quick disappearance, due to safety concerns), today - with Bluetooth and hands-free - you’re able to answer and attend to a call during your drive with the same comfort and ease as if you were sitting on your living room couch.

Yet, while time may bring about a range of changes and modifications to what your daily drive looks like, when it comes to the essentials, the following items may be seen as truly timeless:


For all the modern convenience and accessibility of things at our very fingertips, now and then you can still get caught without the most basic of needs out of reach. Water is a shining example of this. Unless you're in the desert, you're unlikely to be too far from a source of water the next time you car breaks down. But what if you're waiting for a tow truck and the nearest gas station is 3kms up the road? You’d have to either leave the car or go thirsty while you wait.

Always bring water.

Blankets and Warm Clothing

Just like water, ensuring you’ve got a blanket and some warm clothing in your car may seem needless - until something goes wrong. This is why ensuring you’ve a good 100% wool blanket in your car, alongside some warm clothing, is essential.

Whether it is your favourite heavy sweater from high school, a cardigan your auntie knitted you or anything else that’ll keep you warm - just ensure you have something to keep you from the cold in case you encounter trouble on the road. As with water, while it's unlikely you’ll ever be too far or remote from help nearby if need arises (if you live in a city), it’s the small things that make having something warm essential.

Air conditioner fails on a chilly drive to work? Put on that sweater. Spilled your lunchtime curry on the passenger seat and need to clean it up before giving a friend a lift? Use that blanket.

A Spare Mobile Phone and Battery-Powered Portable Charger

You may have the latest and greatest smartphone, but even your trusted tech-wonder may experience technical difficulties - from a network error, to a battery failure, to getting soaked in the rain and leaving its microphone or speaker damaged.

This is why it's always a good idea to keep a spare mobile phone in your care. Nowadays, you can buy a cheap mobile for as little as $15. Get one, load it up with some prepaid credit, ensure it’s charged, and then put it in the glove box. In an emergency, it could be all important (just be sure to check the battery now and then to see that it’s retained its charge).

Your Car Manual and a Mechanic’s Guide

You can drive your car for years, but every so often, you’ll still need consult the manual. This is why keeping it on hand is a wise idea. What’s more, while you may well know the ins and outs of your car expertly - and may even have a mechanic’s guide on your phone - it's always good to have a print copy in the car with you. If your smartphone battery is dead, you’ll be able to check this reference to see what the problem might be.

Alongside being helpful to explain to the tow truck or mechanic what’s going on when they arrive on scene, it may also give you a way to solve the problem yourself with a bit of quick and easy maintenance.

Your Insurance Information and Driver's License

Just like your car manual and a mechanic’s guide, having your insurance information and driver's license with you is important. While insurance information isn't always essential, it can be handy in that rare circumstance when you need it to not have to try to track it down remotely.


At the same time, it's a requirement in Australia to always carry your driver's licence when operating a vehicle or overseeing a learner driver. Authorities such as traffic police can request to see your licence as part of any normal traffic stop, and failure to produce it will result in a traffic violation and a fine. 

A Card with Emergency Contact Info

While most drivers will get into a crash over the course of their lives at some point, most people walk away safely with little more than some jittery nerves and a bumper bar dented. Yet, it’s also prudent to prepare just in case you’re ever involved in a bad crash and are left unable to communicate with emergency personnel or your family.

This means having a contact info card either on your person or in your glovebox. It need not be fancy or deeply detailed; rather, it should just list your blood type, any known allergies, the contact information of your next of kin, and finally, your religion (as applicable). Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this card, but if problems arise, it’s better for you, the emergency services and your family members that everyone is in touch and able to attend to you faster.

A Flashlight

Simple, essential - but easy to overlook. A flashlight will be there for you - not only when it's dark, but when it’s day-time and you need look in your boot or under your car. And lest it be said ‘Oh, but I’ve got my smartphone with a torch app on it,’ know that a true torch will be far easier to hold and far more sturdy, should you drop it.

So, buy a flashlight, and - just to ensure it doesn't get lonely - a spare pair of batteries to keep it company as well.

A Disposable Breathalyzer

As opposed to a lonely flashlight, for non-drinkers this may seem a contentious - even scandalous - inclusion. Yet, while it's true there is zero excuse for drink-driving, it’s also a reality that it is hard, at times, for drivers to gauge their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level.

As opposed to a breathalyzer giving a driver license to drink more, it is a valuable thing to have if your car if you have had a drink and are now uncertain your BAC is low enough for you to safely drive. Simply put, if a driver knows they’ve had too much to drink, they should not be driving.

Rather, this tool exists for someone who feels safe and alert enough to drive, but - perhaps because they had their last drink an hour ago, as opposed to three hours ago - wishes to confirm for legal certain. Some may feel this tool trivial, but using it to find out you remain just over the legal limit will give you the chance to take a taxi home, as opposed to being pulled over and charged by police for being just over.

Baby Wipes

When it comes to driving - especially if you’ve got kids in the car - you know all manner of spills can and will pop up. Short of using your favourite shirt or that beach towel you love to wipe up a mess that arises, keeping some baby wipes will allow you to attend to spills (read: that jumbo latte you got without a properly secured cover) quickly and easily in your car.

Alongside being useful in your car’s interior, having baby wipes also makes it an easy fix to clean your windscreen and surrounding windows should mud, dirt or even bugs full into it.

Some Good Music

You now have a fully equipped and well-stocked car, ready to handle anything that could come up and challenge your daily drive. Now, whether via a smartphone linkup or a couple of CDs in the glovebox: make sure your friends enjoy being in your car by getting some great songs playing!

Got another item you feel is essential for maintaining a well-stocked car? Share your recommendations by leaving a comment below:

Image: Wikimedia Commons