Recently my truck broke down on the highway. That stuff happens - cars have issues. The bad part was that I was not prepared for the break down. I didn't have any jumper cables (which I needed because the kids had the radio on the whole time I was working on the engine) and I didn't have any tools.

Usually I have a small tool box in the truck - it's a truck and that is just something that all trucks seem to have. I had taken out the tools to do some work on my car and left them at home! So we waited for almost 2 hours for a friend to bring the right tools and then go back and get cables. It was not fun!

So you don't get stuck in a situation unprepared here's a list of 10 things you should always have in your car. Especially if you are traveling a long distance.


  • 1

    Jumper Cables

    Like I mentioned with the kids burning out the battery. Having your flashers on for a long time and any number of other reasons could cause you to need a jump.

    I recently heard a comment that on new cars it isn't needed and is actually bad for your car to jump it. Not true. While battery sizes and crank amps do differ between vehicles, if your car is dead on the road - jump it!

  • 2

    Tool Set

    The tools you may need will vary - that's why I have a socket set just for carrying around in the car. But you can often get by with just a few tools like a screwdriver and pliers or a wrench. Obviously if you have the room and want to be extra safe, the more tools you have the better off you'll be.

  • 3


    You need you be able to see and you may also need to use your flashlight to flag down drivers.

    You can get battery powered or wind up lights. Road flares are also a good idea.

  • 4

    Blanket or Jacket

    A blanket or a jacket (even a full change of clothes) will be great if you are traveling in cold weather but they will also come in handy if you have to get underneath your vehicle for any repairs.

  • 5

    Duct Tape and WD-40

    They have to be on the list. Everything the internet tells you is that if it is supposed to move and doesn't spray it and it if moves and shouldn't then tape it.

    Really though if you have a stubborn bolt (maybe taking a tire off for repair or engine bolts are notorious for being stuck) a lubricant spray will be a time and energy saver.

    I've also used duct tape to repair (temporarily) engine hoses and to hold engine wires in place until a real fix can be done.

  • 6

    Spare Tire

    Make sure you have one and know how to get it out and on. Some are held under the vehicle by a cable or bolts and some are inside the trunk.

  • 7

    First Aid Kit

    You never know when you'll get hurt or how, so having a medical kit is essential. even if you just get cut fixing something get out a band-aid and Neosporin to prevent infection and so you don't get blood on the rest of your car.

  • 8

    Nonperishable Food and Water

    Since a car problem can happen at any point in time - having food and water is important.

    Food is easier to store in a car and find in non-perishable form but water is tough. You shouldn't keep plastic bottles in your car for too long in hot temperatures...but also if it is cold they may freeze and explode.

  • 9

    Your Old Cell Phone (and charger)

    While your old phone does make a great kids toy it also is a great emergency device. When charged you can still make emergency phone calls to 911.

  • 10

    Battery or Wind Up Powered Radio

    Not just useful for listening to us and getting your fix of music but also useful for weather, traffic, and other emergency updates.

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