Cars are pretty reliable these days, and cell phones and mobile internet have made it pretty easy to summon help if you have a problem on the road.
Nonetheless, it's nice to get yourself out of a jam, to be autonomous and prepared, and to know that even if you can't get a signal or don't want to wait for help, you can handle a problem yourself.
Well, there are a few items you'll need to have on hand if you want that kind of peace of mind. Here are seven of them:
This is first on any list like this. Frankly, we're amazed how many people drive around every day without a pair of jumper cables in their trunks. They cost about $15, they're easy to use, don't take up much space, and last pretty much forever. And in that moment when you left your lights on while you had dinner, you'll be really glad you had them.
A Small Tool Kit
You probably don't need to bring a whole set, but a pair of vice grips, a couple screwdrivers (Phillips and flat-head), and a basic wrench set could come in awfully handy in a pinch.
Keep a quart of oil in the trunk, just in case. If your oil light comes on when you're on a long road trip, it will be nice to be able to just grab a quart from the trunk and save the day.
In the event you have to use those tools or that quart of oil, you'll probably wind up needing to wipe your hands. Some shop rags or paper towels will serve this need well, but you should also consider bringing a regular bath towel too. Rainy days, big spills, a muddy dog -- you can imagine an endless number of scenarios in which a bath towel could come handy.
In the event your car begins to overheat, the only thing you can do about it is shut off the engine, let it cool, and add some water or coolant. If you don't have that, your car is going to be overheating again as soon as you start it up. If you do, you at least have a fighting chance of getting where you need to go. Now, the choice is up to you, here: You can go with coolant, because a 50-50 mixture of water and coolant is the proper thing to have running through your radiator, but you could also go with water, because it will work just as well in the short term, and humans can't drink coolant, but they can drink water, and potable water is not a bad thing to keep around for emergencies.
Think about it. You're on the way to work or an event, and you spill something on your shirt, or you have to change a tire and you get road grim on it, or whatever. You'll really wish you had a different shirt to put on. Make it something in a neutral color, like a blue or white Oxford or, if you're not a button-down kind of person, a neutral polo or t-shirt.
A Spare Tire (With Air In It)
You'd be surprised how many people are driving around with spare tires that don't have any air in them. We wouldn't say it's common, necessarily, but this sort of thing does happen if the spare hasn't been touched for a while. Give it a quick check every now and then to make sure it's holding air. Obviously, this is even more important if you have used the spare, because there's a chance it picked up something from the road to give it a leak.
And in the event you have car trouble, make sure to bring it in to our service department for speedy repairs with top-shelf parts at fair, honest prices.