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What You MUST Carry in Your Car

Check Your Kit

Be sure to periodically check your kit. I found a cracked tube that had leaked and destroyed some bandages. These needed to be replaced.

Be sure to periodically check your kit. I found a cracked tube that had leaked and destroyed some bandages. These needed to be replaced.

1. First Aid Kit

Your car is equipped with a first aid kit—you need to locate it. Not sure where the manufacturer tucked it away? It's usually in the trunk area, but if you're not sure you can refer to the owner's manual.

Found the kit?

  • Check that everything is actually there. Review the kit's list of items and replace anything that's missing.
  • Review expiration dates—bandages will age and creams expire. Replace any that are questionable.

Do you not have a kit?

  • Pre-assembled kits are available in the outdoor section of your retail store. You can look for a set that is specifically designed for the car or you can pick up a standard set. There should be several models near the camping supplies.
  • There is an option of buying individual parts yourself, though it may be costly. One advantage of this option is that it allows you to buy your favorite brands.

Review your kit:

  • Allergens. Gloves are sometimes latex. You'll want to remove them and add a latex-free pair if it's an issue. Review the cleansers and medications if you are your family are sensitive to any of these. Replace with the appropriate alternative.
  • Make a note in your maintenance log (or planner) to review these items in 6 months. You may note any items that are close to expiration.

Practice!

  • Practice quickly getting to your kit. In an emergency or rush, you don't want to fumble.
  • Is yours in the trunk? Remember that a trunk loaded for a road trip or groceries may block access to the emergency kit. Consider moving the kit to under a seat.

Easily Accessible

This first aid kit is stored just under the window, where it won't be blocked by groceries or cargo.

This first aid kit is stored just under the window, where it won't be blocked by groceries or cargo.

2. "First Aid" for Your Car

If you have it with you, odds are you won't need it.

  • Jumper cables. You can't get a jump (or jump a friend) without them. Choose a quality, heavy pair. You'll only buy these once, and a nicer pair will work better.
  • Extra motor oil. Running low or dry can destroy a car. Keep at least a quart of the motor oil that your car takes.
  • Anti-freeze. Note: DO NOT OPEN THE RADIATOR WHEN HOT — BURN HAZARD.
  • Tool kit. The car should have one. Learn where it is stored and review any specialty tools specific to the car.
  • Check the spare. Is it in the trunk? Under the car? Remember to check the spare tire's condition. If it is dry rotted or damaged it can't be used.
  • Water. Water is always good to carry. It can temporarily refill a windshield washer reservoir or rinse your hands.

Supplies for the car

Check for storage solutions. Tool kit, motor oil, and other items stow neatly in built-in spaces.

Check for storage solutions. Tool kit, motor oil, and other items stow neatly in built-in spaces.

3. Just-in-Case Items for Personal Emergencies

It happens—you spill something on your shirt before a meeting, or a visit becomes a sleepover. Be ready.

1. Slip a little cash somewhere. You never know—maybe one day your credit card is damaged, or card readers are down. Maybe we need some emergency gas funds.

2. Build a "bug out" or overnight bag. Why?

  • maybe we spilled lunch
  • surprise illness or hospital stay
  • late night, staying with a friend when were too tired to drive (or partied a little too hard)

Pretend you're going on an overnight trip. What do you need?

  • an extra t-shirt, or a shirt you can pass off as office casual, or a dress (if applicable)
  • nice pants or jeans
  • extra set of undies, socks, other undergarments
  • emergency sweater for chilly offices
  • light toiletries: toothbrush, hairbrush, face wash, extra deodorant
  • shoes (I recommend sneakers in case of an emergency like a tire change. Since I usually wear sneakers I carry fashionable boots in case I need to look more formal.)

Are you ready?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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