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8 Must-Have Items To Keep In Your Car

Whether you spend a lot of time in your car for your daily work commute or just use it mostly for trips to the store, there are a handful of must-have items that can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

There are plenty of items that you likely already keep in your car, like a first aid kit, spare change, a water bottle, and maybe even some emergency supplies, but you might be missing some things that you never even knew you needed or wanted. If you’ve ever thought, “Man, I really wish I had this in my car right about now,” then this list is for you.

Tool Time: A Good Multitool

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about how convenient it would be to have a pair of scissors or some other small tool in the car with me, but a good multitool can grant you every single one of those wishes, like the Leatherman Wave, which is our top pick for best full-size multitool. It comes with pretty much every tool you’d need while on the go, including pliers, wire cutters, wire stripper, knives, a saw, scissors, ruler, bottle opener, and screwdrivers.

Tidy Up: A Small Garbage Can

Raise your hand if you just toss your refuse into the side door compartment and wait for it to pile up and cause an annoyance before you begrudgingly empty it out? Even if you don’t want to own up to it, it’s something most of us are guilty of. This is where a dedicated small garbage container can be great to keep in your car, like this collapsible and portable one that you can put pretty much anywhere in your car. Not only does this free up room in your door compartments, but it also prevents you from inadvertently making a mess in your car for lack of a proper place to toss your road tripe refuse.

Self Service Part 1: Battery-Powered Car Jump Starter

You probably already have some jumper cables in your trunk, but the downside to those is that you still need the assistance of another vehicle in order to revive a dead battery. That’s not the case with a battery-powered car jump starter. We’ve rounded up several options, but you can expect to pay $70-$100 for a decent model. The $80 Noco Genius Boost Sport is a good option for smaller to medium-sized cars, and it comes with a USB port to charge your mobile devices while on the go.

Self Service Part 2: Tire-Changing Tools

As with jumper cables, you likely already have some tire-changing tools in the compartment underneath the trunk of your car, but when’s the last time you actually checked to make sure? And does it all still work properly? If not, make sure you at least have a lug wrench and a jack. Oh, and when’s the last time you checked the tire pressure on the spare tire? Probably never. The only thing worse than not having the tools to change your tire is not having a tire you can put on in the first place.

For Spills: Shop Towels

Accidental spills happen, but they can be cleaned up quickly and easily with some heavy duty shop towels. Regular paper towels can work too, but shop towels can also be used for all kinds of messes when you’re on the road, including wiping up grease and oil. Once you’re done, you can toss them out in that new small garbage can you also bought as part of your car preparedness overhaul.

To Keep It Together: A Trunk Tote Bag

You never know when you need to have a carrying bag around to haul around a bunch of items, which is why a utility tote bag can come in handy during those random times you need one. It’s big enough to carry a lot of stuff at once, and it’s even collapsible so that you can just slide it under the seat when you’re not using it. Better yet, it’s a perfect place to stash all the goodies on our list to keep them from sliding around your trunk.

Stow Your Cargo: Bungee Cords

I’m always surprised how often I use bungee cords in the car. They’re great to tie down lumber in my truck’s bed, but they’re also great to use in the car to keep things from flying around when I don’t want them to. This variety pack of bungee cords has all the different lengths and styles you would need.

Tool Time, Serious Edition: A Basic Tool Kit

Having a multitool in the car is great, but they only work for smaller and minor fixes. For something that a multitool can’t handle, a cheap and basic tool kit is great to have in your car, like this one from Apollo Tools. You don’t need to know a lot about car repair to have one either, as they can be great for things like loose paneling, making adjustments, or even just changing a light bulb. Further, for those times you need tools for a project away from home (but your full kit is at home in the garage) it’s invaluable to at least have a modest set in the car with you.

Image from Blur Life 1975/Shutterstock

Craig Lloyd Craig Lloyd
Craig Lloyd is a gadget expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, SlashGear, and GottaBeMobile. Read Full Bio »