10 Essential Items To Carry In Your Car

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Every trip in your car – whether it’s popping to the shops or going for a weekend away to The Lake District – can be made or spoilt based on what you do (or don’t) bring with you.

Regardless of the age of your vehicle, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the 10 essential items you should carry in your car on all journeys to ensure premium comfort and entertainment.

10. Phone charger/power pack

Phone charger in car

If you’ve got a car (and mobile) enabled for wireless charging then you can ignore this one. Otherwise, you can’t underestimate the importance of having a phone charger or power pack handy to keep your device’s battery topped up.

Of course, we don’t condone using your phone while driving. But advancements in tech has meant that there can be benefits of (legally) having your mobile while driving. For example, if you don’t have a built-in satnav fitted in your model because it’s older, it can be used for directions. Google or Apple Maps are on most modern smartphones, so all you have to do is prop it in a phone mount on the dashboard, set your destination and away you go. A fully-charged phone is also going to come in handy if you end up breaking down somewhere where there’s no public phones and need to contact the AA.

Car USB chargers can be bought for as little as £4 online and plug directly into the cigarette lighter socket, providing a convenient charging point while you’re on the move. Power packs are a little more expensive (around £19 for a decent one) if you don’t have this socket in your car, but have the benefit of not draining your car’s battery. What’s more is they’re portable, so you can continue to charge your device even when you’ve arrived at your destination.

9. Ice scraper/de-icer

ice scraping

There are a plethora of modern cars which now come with heated windscreens. Most notably Ford‘s Quickclear system gets rid of an iced over windscreen in minutes at the push of a button.

However, a heated front window doesn’t solve the issue of the rest of your passenger windows and rear glass being covered in ice. So, you’ll want to invest in a good ol’ scraper or can of de-icer aerosol to do the job.

Once you’ve cranked up the heating in your car it shouldn’t be too difficult to get the ice off. If you’re concerned about getting your hands cold, there are even scrapers which have mitts attached to them! In terms of de-icers, there are ones which are more eco-friendly than others if you’re concerned about the environmental effects it may have when spraying.

Most supermarkets and auto retailers such as Halfords will sell scrapers and de-icer for usually less than £3 each.

8. First aid kit

First aid in car

Having some form of first aid kit on board your car can be the difference between life and death. Whether you’re involved in an accident and you, your passenger or someone else is injured, or someone takes ill, having the tools available to cope with this emergency is crucial.

For less than £10 you can get hold of an AA-approved first aid kit which is portable and has all you need included, such as:

  • Alcohol-free wipes
  • Plasters
  • Dressing
  • Bandages
  • Gloves
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • First aid blanket

7. Jump leads

Jump leads

Most people have experienced a flat car battery at some point. It’s easily done if you accidentally leave your headlights on, or you may just have a faulty/defective battery that needs to be replaced.

Whatever the reason, you’ll need a jump start (or ‘boost’, as it’s also known) in order to get you back up and running again. And to do this, you’re going to need jump leads.

These are a pair of thick electrical cables that have clips either which connect to the batteries in the car which is flat and another that works.

If you are going to jump start a car yourself, make sure you follow these nine steps:

  1. Position both cars so that both batteries are within easy reach of one another, but making sure the vehicles aren’t touching.
  2. Keep handbrakes on and ignitions off.
  3. Connect the positive terminals (+) of both cars using the red lead.
  4. Use the black lead to connect the negative (-) terminal on the working battery to an earthing point (unpainted metal on the chassis or engine block), making sure the clip and lead is well away from the fuel system and battery.
  5. Start the working car’s engine and wait for one minute.
  6. Start the flat car’s engine and leave both running idle for around 10 minutes.
  7. Turn off both cars’ engines and carefully disconnect the leads in the reverse order to the way they were connected (removing the black lead from the flat car first and finishing with the red lead on the working car).
  8. As you remove the leads, make sure the wires or cars don’t touch one another.
  9. Try starting your car to see if the problem is fixed.

When buying jump leads, the general consensus is that you will need a 10-25mm² cross-section for petrol cars and a 35-50mm² for diesels.

6. Fuel can

fuel can

Probably one of the most useful items to have in your car if you come to a halt after running out of fuel. None of us like to admit that this has happened, but it’s more common than you might think.

Even if you don’t think it could happen to you, there can be times where you need to be somewhere in a hurry and don’t happen to catch a glimpse of the fuel gauge in your dash to get out. As such, it’s worthwhile having an empty fuel can (also known as a ‘Jerry can’) in your boot.

The size of the can you need will depend on the size of your car’s tank. We recommend you get one which tops up your fuel levels by at least a quarter. This way you should have enough to get you to your destination, or at least a station where you can fuel up some more. Usually a five-litre one will do the trick.

5. Warm and high-visibility clothing

Even if you’re not out on a camping trip it’s always worthwhile having an extra set of clothes handy, with some form of high-visibility wear to remain seen.

Should the time come where your car breaks down or you need to pull over on a high-speed road in an emergency, these items will come in handy. If you’re on the hard shoulder waiting for help, for example, it’s advised that you wait outside your vehicle on the other side of the barriers.

Any form of warm and waterproof clothing will serve you well in these moments, especially if the UK weather is doing its typical dreary downpours. The high-vis will ensure that fast-moving vehicles can know where you are at all times.

4. Warning triangle

car warning triangle

The Highway Code should be used regularly by drivers as a guide for motoring law and general driving information. It’s updated at least once a year in line with legislation changes from the Government.

One of the rules (274) recommends that you put a warning triangle at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your vehicle if you break down. Most of the time putting your hazard lights on will be enough to alert other road users if your car is causing an obstruction.

If you’re travelling abroad, especially in Europe, there are certain laws requiring you to carry warning triangles and other similar equipment. Most EU countries require you by law to have at least two of these triangles, a GB sticker (if you don’t have a GB Euro number plate), reflective jackets for each passenger and headlamp beam deflectors.

However, for a few pounds you can get a suitable warning triangle, which will often come with a hi-vis vest too.

Remember: You should never use a warning triangle on a motorway and take great car when placing and retrieving them.

3. Food and drink

Having enough food and drink supplies to keep you going on a long-haul journey on the road can save you time and money. Although we recommend you take regular breaks at service stations (or in nearby town/village shops if you’re not on the motorway), which will have plenty of food and drink options, having a backup option means you won’t be stranded hungry and thirsty in the event of a breakdown.

Keeping portable, long-life items such as bottled water and energy bars in your car will ensure you’re always prepared.

2. Car manual

Each car will come with its own operational manual which will contain useful information about all aspects of your certain model.

A lot of maintenance and service advice is covered in this guide, giving you instructions on what to do if you experience an issue with your motor. This is particularly useful if, for example, an oil warning light appears on your dash, reminding you that it needs topping up. A quick look in the vehicle manual should tell you what oil to use for your model and give you guidance on how to top it up.

Because lease cars are brand new, you will get one of these manuals with your new motor. Within it will be a service handbook too which you will need to get stamped each time the car is serviced.

1. Puncture repair kit

car puncture tyre

There was a time where carrying a spare tyre and jack was a legal requirement. However, manufacturers are increasingly turning to puncture repair kits as a lighter alternative that takes up less space. If your car does come with one of these kits, it should either be under the boot floor or in one of the side panels.

Included within the kit should be sealant, a compressor and a speed limit sticker. This last one is for reminding you to stick to a certain speed so that no further damage is caused.

Under-inflation is the most common cause of a puncture, so be sure to regularly check the pressure and top up all your car’s tyres. Most fuel stations allow you to do this for free, or by paying a small fee.

If you experience a blowout (where the tyre bursts and all air escapes) you will need to pull over safely and contact breakdown recovery. If you have a spare tyre and jack, you may be able to change it yourself. However, be sure to refer to the factory specifications in your car’s manual to ensure it’s the correct size. Not doing this can invalidate your warranty!

Now that you know what essential items you should carry in your car, why not consider a brand-new one for affordable monthly rentals? Start your search now to find deals in no time.

For the latest car reviews and auto news, check out the Moneyshake blog.