Like the weather, driving is seldom predictable. Too often, drivers find themselves stranded on the side of the road due to an issue that could have easily been prevented or resolved had they the right kit in their car. Whether you’re driving long distances or just to work and back, here are 22 things to keep in your car to ensure you’re kept safe, comfortable and prepared.
1. Car Manual
Keep this in your cubby hole so you can refer to it when you’re not sure what a warning light means or where to find something – like the fuse box.
2. Spare Tyre Kit
Most cars come with a spare tyre and tyre jack, but always check that you have these tools in your car and that the spare is inflated sufficiently before travelling anywhere. If you don’t know how to use the kit or how to change a tyre, ask someone you trust to show you. Be sure to get a spanner tool kit to keep in the car as well.
A tyre repair kit or puncture plugs, as well as a mini air compressor that connects to your car’s 12V adaptor that can inflate your flat tyre quickly, will go a long way if you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere. Keep a tyre pressure gauge with you so that you are able to check if your tyres are at the correct pressure.
3. Jumper Cables
Make sure you have a set of these in your car. Jumper cables are not only helpful if your battery dies, but can also help someone else who might be stuck. If you don’t feel comfortable using jumper cables, you could invest in a portable battery charger which should get you enough charge to get to a replacement centre.
4. Spare Switches For The Fuse Box
If an electrical component of the car stops working, the easiest to check and fix is the fuse box. You will need to know where this box is located and which fuses your car requires.
5. Multipurpose Utility Tool
You can’t keep an entire toolbox in your car, so a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman is a great option.
6. Tow Strap or Tow Rope
If you (or someone else) have broken down and the only way to get to a garage is to be towed, you’ll need a tow rope.
7. First Aid Kit
You can assemble one yourself or buy one already assembled for you. Ensure your kit includes things like latex gloves (if you have to assist in an accident), plasters, adhesive tape, gauze pads, Panado, antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream or ointment, and anything else that’s relevant to your health.
8. Pepper Spray/Taser
It’s a good idea to have something to protect yourself with if you’re stranded alone in a remote area.
9. Traffic Triangle
It’s compulsory to have one of these in your car in South Africa. If you break down, it helps increase your car’s visibility to other motorists.
10. Torch or Flashlight
A torch comes in handy if you need to check an engine’s nooks and crannies or to provide light for other motorists when you’re broken down in the dark.
11. A Pre-paid, Charged and Cheap Cellphone
You should always have your phone on you as well as a phone charger but, for those real emergencies, keep another phone hidden somewhere in your car.
12. R100 Emergency Cash
This will come in handy if you run out of petrol and are nowhere near an ATM, or if you need to pay someone who offers to help you.
13. Reflective Vest
If you break down in the dark or need to help with another accident, it’s important to be visible.
Even if you never drink and drive, you might not realise that even the day after heavy drinking you can be over the limit. Check your alcohol content with a portable breathalyser. The concentration of any alcohol in any specimen of breath exhaled by a person should be less than 0,38mg per 1000ml.
15. Emergency Numbers
Keep emergency numbers in a safe place, especially for insurance companies and emergency services.
16. Water and Non-Perishable Snacks
For comfort or long-distance travel, one litre of water will keep you hydrated if needed and it will fix an overheating car. Snacks will come in handy if you are stuck for a long period of time.
17. Headache, Anti-Nausea and Anti-Diarrhoea Tablets
On a long trip, there’s always a chance that someone will get car sick, so it’s a good idea to keep headache, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhoea tablets nearby – just in case.
18. A Blanket, Raincoat and Other Essentials
If you are stuck in the cold, a blanket will help keep you warm while you’re waiting for help. A raincoat will also come in handy if you’re stuck changing a tyre in the rain. Other important things to keep in your car include tissues and/or paper towel and hand sanitizer.
19. A Spare Bottle of Coolant
In case of overheating, keep an extra bottle of coolant on hand when traveling long distances, especially if you’re not going to be near a petrol station for a while.
20. A Fire Extinguisher
Keep a small fire extinguisher in the car. A fire can happen at any time and you need to be prepared for it.
It may seem old school, but just in case your phone dies or your GPS stops working, you will want to be able to refer to a map.
22. Driver’s Licence
Last but certainly not least, your driver’s licence should be with you at all times when driving. If you are caught without it, you could be fined up to R1 000.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst