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16 Items You Should Always Keep in Your Car

From basic to high-tech, these tools will help keep you safe on the road.

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Car toolsvia amazon.com (3)

Equip your ride

It’s tempting to leave various odds and ends in your car so that you have access to them whenever you go anywhere (face masks, anyone?). And while there are lots of things that you shouldn’t be leaving in your car, there are other gadgets you should have on hand that can seriously help you out if you were ever to get in a jam on the road. Plus, find out the things you must do to get your car ready for winter.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

Multi-device chargervia amazon.com

Multi-device charger

$9.99

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The best-selling Maxboot charger can be used to juice up your phone, iPad, camera, and other electronic devices while you’re in the car. It features two USB ports and is designed to protect against overcharging and overheating. Most importantly, with a charged phone, you’ll be able to call for help in case of an emergency. Don’t miss these driving etiquette rules you might have forgotten since Driver’s Ed.

Car Jumpstartervia amazon.com

Car jump starter

$66.99

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It’s no fun when you’re in the middle of nowhere on a cold day and try to turn your car on, only to discover that your battery’s dead. FCONEGY to the rescue! This portable device enables you to jump-start your car without the hassle of jumper cables. It also features a USB port so you can charge your phone. And in a pinch, it can also act as a flashlight. Check out this tip for doubling the life of your car battery, too.

Tire traction matsvia amazon.com

Tire traction mats

$18.99

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Stuck in the snow? You’ll be glad that you have one of these tire traction mats in the car. Much more convenient than chains, these mats feature honeycomb shapes that grip both your tire and the snow to give you traction. And once you’re out of the snow, they fold up for easy storage. Watch out for the 10 things you should never do to your car.

No spill gas canvia amazon.com

Gas container

$24.95

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An unexpected storm could leave you deadlocked in traffic, far from civilization. Should you run out of fuel, having a gas container on hand will help you get to the nearest service station and back to your vehicle. This two-gallon, no-spill version is an Amazon pick. Learn what happens if you accidentally put diesel in a gas car.

Windshield wiper fluidvia amazon.com

Windshield wiper fluid

$19.95

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Between salt in the colder months and pollen in the warmer months, plus everyday dust and grime, you probably go through plenty of windshield wiper fluid. What you don’t want is to be caught without it, so keep an extra gallon in your vehicle. This Prestone wiper fluid works year-round. Watch out for the worst car care tips mechanics have ever heard.

AAA Winter Readiness Kitvia amazon.com

AAA Winter Readiness Kit

$49.97

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This handy kit for severe winter weather contains all you might need should you get stranded in your vehicle during the cold weather: a folding shovel, ice scraper, blanket, fire starter, and more. Not looking to buy a whole kit? Make sure to add the components you want to your trunk. Don’t miss these 8 winter car care tips to keep your car safe.

Blind spot mirrorvia amazon.com

Blind spot mirrors

$7.97

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Whether you’re on a busy highway or driving through a school zone, it’s always good to check your blind spots. These tiny, inexpensive mirrors make it easy. Self-adhesive, with the ability to rotate 360 degrees, you can attach them to your mirrors for even greater safety on the road. Beware of these things you’re doing in your car—but shouldn’t be.

magnetic pocket flashlightvia amazon.com

Flexible flashlight

$19

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This lightweight flashlight has a flexible neck that allows you to twist and wrap it. With six ultra-bright lights, it’s also handy when you need to peek under the hood on the side of the road on a dark night. Learn 16 safety features no vehicle should be without.

Spare tireKris Petkong/Shutterstock

Spare tire

A spare tire in the trunk used to be a standard feature. But nearly a third of car manufacturers no longer include spares with new cars. So before you head out, make sure you get one that’s right for your car from the manufacturer in case of a flat. And find out how long you can drive on a spare tire.

Wheel chocksvia amazon.com

Wheel chocks

$17.99

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Should you get a flat, having these heavy-duty wheel chocks on hand will help keep your tires in place while you change your tire.

Jackvia amazon.com

Jack

$40.81

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You’ll also need a jack if you’ll be changing that tire. This best-selling model from Torin is compact and has an extra-wide base for stability. Learn why you really shouldn’t use your car’s air conditioner.

Lug wrenchvia amazon.com

Lug wrench

$11.86

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You’ll also require one of these wrenches in case of a flat to unloosen the lugs on the tire. This heavy-duty universal lug wrench has four socket heads and works for a range of sizes.

Car Safety Hammervia amazon.com

Car Safety Hammer

$10.99

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While no one likes to think about it, it’s good to be prepared for the worst. The multi-purpose AutoXscape allows you to slice through seat belts and can also act as a hammer to smash through a car window. If your car starts sinking underwater, here’s how to save yourself.

Fire extinguishervia amazon.com

Fire extinguisher

$16.99

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Another item you hope you’ll never have to use, but it’s good to have an extinguisher on hand in your vehicle in case of a fire. This one works against both flames sparked by flammable liquids like gasoline and oil and for electrical fires. Plus, it’s lightweight and won’t take up too much room. Find out how to handle 11 scary driving scenarios.

Spy Tecvia amazon.com

Spy Tec

$39.95

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If car theft is common where you live, you might want to invest in a Spy Tec. A device the size of a matchbox, the Spy Tec allows you to keep tabs on your vehicle at all times from a computer.

First Aid Kitvia amazon.com

AAA Tune Up First Aid Kit

$18.91

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If you get a scrape along your travels, you’ll be happy to have this kit on hand in the car. Though lightweight, it’s got plenty of Bandaids and gauze in addition to tools like scissors and tweezers for those tiny mishaps.

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Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.