Car troubles are often unexpected, but many potential problems can be prevented with regular maintenance and checkups.
5 things to keep in your car
1. Spare tire
Most cars come equipped with a spare tire, or a donut. Donuts are smaller than normal tires and are only designed to be driven on for a short period of time, about 50 miles. When not used, these tires have a longer shelf life–typically 8-10 years. The consistent heat from inside the car, as well as the passage of time, causes the rubber to dry out. This results in worse traction for an already inferior tire. If you haven’t replaced the spare that sits in your trunk in a decade, it’s time to do so now. If you ever use your spare tire to swap out for a flat, make sure you replace it as soon as possible. Spare tires should not be reused because of their very short mileage lifespan.
2. Tire pressure gauge
Proper tire pressure is an important but often forgotten aspect of car maintenance. Low tire pressure can cause any number of issues, from low gas mileage to a potential tire blowout. Checking your air pressure regularly can prevent these problems from occurring. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your car for quick and easy access and use it often. Your car’s owner manual should have a recommended PSI level for your vehicle.
3. Jumper cables
A dead car battery is a great inconvenience, but by already having jumper cables, you’ve won half the battle. Using jumper cables and a friendly person’s car to recharge your battery is much cheaper and usually faster than calling a tow truck or a roadside assistance company like AAA. You can also use your jumper cables to help out someone else in a jam, saving them time and money as well.
4. Windshield washer fluid
While you may not need to refill it often, it’s crucial to have windshield washer fluid on hand. The reservoir can seem to last forever, making it easy to forget to refill it. Running out of washer fluid is dangerous because you’re unable to wash away anything on your windshield, so your visibility while driving can be greatly reduced. Keep the tank topped off so you never come close to empty.
5. Pen and paper
Keeping a pen and paper on hand comes in handy for many situations, but it’s especially important to keep in the car. If you ever hit a parked car without the owner in sight, you’ll have to leave a note, and there’s no other way to do so than by tucking a piece of paper under the windshield wiper blades.
These 5 items may not be needed for everyday purposes, but they’re invaluable to keep on hand. In case of an emergency, you’ll be glad you prepared. Some of these tools will keep an emergency from happening in the first place. When there’s a possibility of breaking down on the side of the road or being unable to drive safely, it’s better to be safe than sorry.