What extras should all drivers keep in their cars?
Hi everyone, it’s Kate again – your newbie driver with the new research. My first winter as a driver has just begun and I’ve decided it’s time to get my car properly kitted out, just in case. I looked all over online for what you need in a car kit, and there were so many out there I didn’t know where to start. So, to save you time, here’s my list of the most important extras that you should be keeping in your car, to help you stay safe and be ready for anything.
Car maintenance and repair
Tyre maintenance and changing equipment
A flat tyre is one of the most common causes of emergency breakdown callouts. The basics required to change a tyre are a tyre jack, toolkit and (of course) the spare tyre itself, which should be checked regularly.
I keep a tyre pressure gauge in my glove box so that I can keep tabs on tyre quality and avoid unexpected incidents. I’ve also picked up a tyre inflator and sealer kit, as it requires less technical know-how but might just get me to the next service station in an emergency.
Watch your battery
Winter is the prime season for dead batteries. Driving the car slowly in dangerous conditions, running the heater at full-blast and keeping the headlights on for longer are a perfect storm for draining battery life.
To avoid finding yourself stuck on an icy driveway, you can get the low-down on how to recharge your car battery with Perrys’ brilliant advice video – it covers everything you need to know, and really helped me feel prepared!
Quick bodywork, engine and light maintenance
My dad wanted me to pick up the basics of engine maintenance before I headed out on the road. He took me out to the garage and I was amazed what you could accomplish with just two products – duct tape and WD-40. Anything from a noisy bearing to a stuck dial can be improved by WD-40, while duct tape is the best way to patch up a bodywork mishap (or, hide it from your parents) and has a thousand other uses.
You might also want to carry spare bulbs for your headlights. This could save you a cold and dark callout to the breakdown crew.
Survival and personal safety
First aid kit
I’m definitely accident prone, which is why I find it a good idea to carry a fully stocked first aid kit when I’m driving away from home. Mine’s got:
- Safety pins
- Triangular bandages
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Sterile dressings
- Disposable gloves
- Pain relief tablets
You might also want to pack antihistamines (especially for summer driving) and any other personal medications.
Making yourself visible
If you break down in the dark, you need to make sure that you can be seen. A wind-up torch means you’ll always have charge (and can be combined with radios/USB chargers), while a reflective triangle should be placed well behind your car to warn oncoming traffic. A reflective jacket isn’t a legal requirement but my dad insisted I have one to add that extra visibility – and he’s not wrong, you really can be seen a lot better.
It’s not often that you find yourself in a survival situation on UK roads, but you never know. If it happens, you’ll be glad to have these in the boot of your car:
- Bottled water and energy bars
- Paper atlas
- Spare fuel
Winter survival pack
And, if you get seriously held up in winter, you’ll be even more pleased if you’ve brought these:
- Ice scraper
If you end up stuck in a snow-drift, my dad says you can free yourself by putting carpet under the wheels for extra traction, or sprinkle sand or salt on the surface to help melt the snow.
Comfort and convenience
Some of the things you’ll keep in your car won’t be essential, but will help you chill out and enjoy the drive, especially on lengthy journeys. These are my recommendations:
- USB device charger
- Paper towels and wet wipes
- Writing equipment
- Spare change
All this might sound like overkill, but once you’ve spread it across your car’s storage, you’ll barely even notice. Freedom was one of the biggest reasons I learnt to drive, but this freedom comes with some risks, which is why I’ve tried to make sure that I’m ready for any eventuality. Follow this list, and you can be too.