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17 Items You Should Always Keep in Your Car

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

Car chargervia

Multi-device charger

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.

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Car jump startervia

Car jump starter

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. Suaoki 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. Don’t miss these driving etiquette rules you might have forgotten since Driver’s Ed.

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Traction matsvia

Tire traction mats

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, both sides of these mats feature cleat-like spikes 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.

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No spill gas canvia

Gas container

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. And find out 15 things you should never keep in your car.

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Windshield wiper fluidvia

Windshield wiper fluid

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.

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AAA safety kitvia

AAA Winter Readiness Kit

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.

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Blind spot mirrorvia

Blind spot mirrors

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.

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Car adaptervia

Connected car adapter

Have you ever wished for a co-pilot when you’re driving alone? This smart driving assistant may be just what you need. By connecting with your vehicle’s computer, the Automatic keeps tabs on your car’s health as you drive and provides solutions. It also alerts 911 of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.

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magnetic pocket flashlightvia

Flexible flashlight

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.

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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. This is why tires are a car’s most important safety feature.


Rubber wheel chockvia

Wheel chocks

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.

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Scissor jackvia


You’ll also need a jack if you’ll be changing that tire. This best-selling model from Torin is compact and at $14.95, very reasonably priced.

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Lug wrenchvia

Lug wrench

You’ll also require one 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. Find out what is the safest seat in your car.

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Emergency multi-toolvia


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. It also doubles as a flashlight.

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Fire extinguishervia

Fire extinguisher

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.

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Portable GPS trackervia

Spy Tec

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.

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First Aid Kitvia

AAA Tune Up First Aid Kit

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. Don’t miss these 74 maintenance tips that will extend the life of your car.

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Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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.