Wisdom > Car Life

10 must-have items for your car

Never, ever leave your home without these in your vehicle

Going somewhere? You should at least have these items in your car at all times. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Being a longtime car owner, I’ve had numerous misadventures on many out-of-town drives that would beg disbelief at how unlucky I could be, from the car battery dying in the worst possible time to getting a flat in the middle of nowhere, with no phone and mobile data coverage, or a leak in the cooling system in the midday heat (also in the middle of nowhere).

Read up, save yourself some grief, and make sure these small simple items are stored in your car, especially for those out-of-town drives that will be a frequent occurrence this summer.

Perfect for keeping your interior and hands free from dirt after an emergency roadside fix. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Worker’s gloves. A very versatile piece of equipment to have. Gloves help protect your hands from heat and burns, prevent blisters, and give added grip when reaching for difficult things or using tools. They also keep your hands clean and free from dirt and grime.

Aside from being useful to help keep your car clean, these can help keep you spotless as well. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Old towels and rags. Useful when you need to lay down and fix something underneath the car, such as a minor leak, or when kneeling to attach tow straps to your car’s towing points in the underchassis.

Why get dirt on your clothes when old towels and rags can keep you as clean when you need to get down and, well, dirty?

We're sure nobody likes to sit in their cars full of sweat and dirt after an emergency repair. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Extra change of clothes. Bring two shirts ready to change into on long drives: one old but comfortable and loose shirt you will wear in case you need to do repairs on the car on the roadside, and another shirt to change into after you have done what you need to do (in case your original shirt also gets dirty).

If you’re going to a cold place, bring an extra pair of socks to prevent frostbite in case it’s raining or you’ll be working near water and your feet will get wet.

A small torch will not only make repairs easier, but it can also potentially save your life. PHOTO FROM PEXELS

Flashlight. While our phones often have a flashlight built-in, a proper flashlight or torch would be a welcome addition inside the car as these powerful flashlights offer better vision and visibility at night, or when poking for things in the engine bay or on your car’s underside.

It can also be used to help flag down vehicles or alert other motorists of your presence on the road.

Distilled water can help keep you and your car cool. IMAGE FROM ABSOLUTE WATER

Sealed distilled water. Distilled water serves multiple purposes. It gives you clean drinking water, helps wash away dirt and grime (not to mention your sweat after working on the car), and cleans wounds in conjunction with a first-aid kit. It can also be used to top up cooling systems with a small leak after you do remedial repairs. Just make sure it’s sealed fresh and not exposed to direct sunlight when you bring it in your car.

Ever driven through a place with no reception? A map is your next best friend before resorting to asking the locals for directions. PHOTO FROM PEXELS

Road map. Should you lose cellular reception or GPS line-of-sight due to bad weather, or your phone battery dies while you’re trying to navigate through new and difficult terrain, old school is cool. Having a map and knowing how to read it for instructions is the next best thing, and is something you should still have in your car, especially when going on long, out-of-town drives.

Reflective vests make you easier to see at night when stopped over at the side of the road. PHOTO FROM PEXELS

Reflective vests. A reflective vest is cheap insurance when you find yourself needing to work on your car by the roadside. At night, the reflective material allows you to be seen by other motorists and alert them of your presence. During the day, glare can blind most people with harsh light, but neon yellow, green, or orange colors will help other motorists detect your presence.

These reflective vests are often mandatory in other countries or at least highly recommended for safety (precisely for motorists who may need to work on their cars), and especially motorcyclists and cyclists on the road with no street lighting. The vests are cheap, costing just a few hundred pesos at automotive specialty shops and high-end hardware stores.

While cars have USB ports and wireless chargers, it's a no-brainer to have these around at all times. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Power bank and charging cables. Never, ever leave home on a long drive without a power bank and charging cables to ensure your smartphone always has a charge. With emergency contacts on speed dial (i.e. police, ambulance, AAP, towing company, hospital, relatives, close friends), a phone is an important tool that can increase your chances of survival when things get dangerous or, at least, make serious incidents all but a minor inconvenience.

Smaller umbrellas like these usually fit one person, but are significantly less bulkly. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Umbrella. Need we say more? This will help protect you from the elements when you need to get down, work on the car, or walk a few clicks to the nearest gasoline station to get assistance.

You can get rain ponchos like these from convenience stores if umbrellas aren't your thing. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Light hooded rain jacket or poncho. Just like the above, this helps keep you dry but gives more freedom of movement, and also frees up both hands to work on your vehicle.

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.