“It is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
Such are the words of a wise man, calling for us to be prepared and ready in case of any situation, unexpected event, or emergency.
Like any machine, cars break down over time due to old age, lack of maintenance or both. For some, this may be unavoidable, given their busy schedule — unintentionally delaying preventive maintenance service that could spot these problems. However, if well equipped, one could always minimize the damage done, or better yet, fix it. Being prepared for such occurrences allows us to save both time and money.
There are things you might not know that you need in your car unless you're already in that mess. Of course, all cars come with an early warning device and a toolkit, but sometimes, repairs can't always be mended with these. So to be prepared for these unforseen instances, we jot down 12 things you should have in your car to handle any problem that may come your way.
1. Basic First Aid Kit
Before buying a new audio system or new aftermarket wheels, a first aid kit that covers the basics should be one of a driver's first purchases. While most European cars already have them, the majority of the cars sold in our showrooms do not.
From something as basic as cuts and scrapes or even coughs and fevers, having a first aid kit in your car can prove to be useful and convenient, perhaps even lifesaving. A basic first aid kit should include: bandages, alcohol, antiseptic cream, scissors, and a variety of over-the-counter medicines like antihistamines and cough drops.
2. Jumper Cables
One of the more time-consuming setbacks of motoring is the dead car battery. It's understandable given our busy schedules where we tend to overlook simple battery checks or maintenance.
If you don't have time to have your vehicle's electrical system checked, it's best to have a pair of jumper cables in your trunk. Being able to connect a flat battery to another car (series jump start) will minimize the hassle of getting stuck when you're in a mall parking lot. In situations where a series jump start is not possible, such as country roads, save a shop's number for battery delivery.
3. Duct Tape and zipties
Duct tape and zipties are perhaps the most versatile pieces of kit you can ever have in any tool box. The strength of the adhesive and the robust nature of the tape has found many uses in automobiles, especially when it comes to emergency repairs. As for zipties, the robust clips mean these are great for tightening loose parts.
Bumper fell off? Ziptie it to the fenders. Lose fenders can pose a threat on the road as these may come off and hit pedestrians, motorcyclists and other vehicles. Broken radiator hose? You really should replace the hose, but you can use the tape to get you to the nearest service center.
4. A Big Bottle of Tap Water
Dehydration is dangerous, whether we're talking about people or cars. An empty radiator can quickly result in a very short trip, one that ends with a steaming engine bay or even a destroyed engine. Keep a bottle of water handy to top up a radiator that has sprung a leak to keep it cool enough to get you to a nearby shop or service center.
5. Spare Fuses or Bulbs
Similar to a tire, you need your spare of fuses and bulbs. The fuse acts as a shield for your car's onboard electronics such as the headlights, radio and power windows. Visibility is very important both for you and the people around you.Y ou'll never know when you could blow a fuse or a bulb. Having a spare fuse could come in handy if you blow one. Keep spares for the more essential ones like the radiator fan, lights or other vital vehicle functions. Having spare bulbs for the headlights and tail lights handy could also be a godsend, especially if the incident happens at night. In addition, driving with a busted tail light is also a traffic violation.
Mother Nature will always be unpredictable. Always have an umbrella in your car for those rainy days, unexpected or not.
7. Hydraulic Floor Jack
Yes, all new cars typically come with a free scissor jack to take care of flat tires, but have you realized how hard and time-consuming it is to use? The better option is the hydraulic jack, one that uses fluid to speed up lifting thecar. Whether it's the more common floor-type (the one with wheels, intended for cars) or the bottle-type (intended for taller, heavier vehicles), hydraulic jacks are very much worth the extra expense. Do note that you must always position the jack at the jacking point, as seen in the owner's manual.
8. Old Flat Cardboard
You might be wondering, what's the use of an old flat cardboard in your car? In case you have to work on the car, an old flat cardboard would prove useful as a mat, especially if you have to work on a dusty or even damp road. It will also help prevent your clothes from getting too dirty.
In any type of emergency, a flashlight could be very useful or even essential. This will help you see clearly what you're working on, especially at night or the dark recesses of your vehicle. Some flashlights also have a flashing feature which can be used as another early warning device to warn oncoming vehicles if you break down on a busy road.
Multi-tools, like a Swiss Army Knife or a Leatherman, are very versatile and handy things to have around. Most models contain several tools such as a nail file, a saw, one or two screwdriver tips, tweezers, scissors, and of course several knife blades. In any emergency, one or more of these tools could prove very useful for a number of repairs.
11. Tire Gauge
A gauge is used to measure a tire's air pressure — an essential tool in making sure your tire is properly inflated. This helps you ensure your tires are inflated to the right pressure, or help you monitor if you're steadily losing pressure and in need of vulcanizing. It's also very handy for every day use, especially in gas station with a broken pressure gauge. Over inflating a tire makes it susceptible to bursting while under inflating decreases its lifespan. Moreover, improperly inflated tires (refer to your car's manual) can be very dangerous.
12. Cleaning Cloth
Whether you prefer a chamois or a flannel rag, it's good to have some kind of cloth to wipe up any dirt at any given time. You'll never know when you'll get grease on your hands, the car, or even the seats. These will also come in handy in an overheating situation, allowing you to safely hold the radiator keep, twist it open and release some pressure.
Bonus: A Basic Change of Clothes
Had to change a tire and ended up with dirt on your shirt? A set of fresh clothes will always be handy just in case you need them for a more formal occasion or a meeting.
And there you have it, 12 handy items to make motoring maladies a little more bearable. Do keep in mind that prevention is better than the cure and keeping your car in tip top shape is the best way to avoid such instances. Still, when you do come across troubles, you're better prepared to take on the task.