Car Kit

November 9, 2010

I talked about our Tool Kit remake yesterday, and today I’m going to cover our Car Kit. I’m a big car kit fan. I like to know I’m prepared for an emergency. In our old Eurovan we had an enormous trunk and I used the space to store a mid-size rubbermade bin with everything I could possibly need in a car kit. But these days, our trunk is tiny and I’ve had to pare it down to the bare minimum.

If you’re interested in putting together a car kit, here is what has worked for our family — based on our own experience and advice from my local True Value experts. (I’m not including tire changing tools because they typically come with the car.)

For a Bare Minimum kit, we like to have:
- jumper cables
- first aid kit
- headlamp — I much prefer a headlamp to a flashlight in our car kit, because if there’s a scenario where I’m going to need a flashlight, I’m probably also going to need my hands free
- water bottle and a couple of granola bars
- windshield wiper fluid — this often comes in a huge bottle, so you might want to decant a portion into something smaller
- can of oil
- windshield scraper (in winter)

If more space is available, we like to add:
- flares
- small tool kit
- blanket — good for last minute picnics at the park or for keeping warm on a cold day
- tow strap
- window sun shields — for blocking sun from your child’s face
- Armorall wipes
- hand wisk broom

For an Ultimate Car Kit, I would also add:
- all-in-one jumper cable set — so you don’t have to ask someone for a jump
- emergency cellphone
- Dustbuster vacuum

What about you? Do you have a car kit? What do you like to keep in it?

P.S. — They don’t really go in the car kit, but I also think a stock of quarters and a cell phone charger are essential in any car.

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This is my 6th project as a True Value Blog Squad Member. I’m having such a good time getting stuff done around the house. A big thanks to True Value for helping me make it happen.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pamela November 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

such a great list! totally going to use this!

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2 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Glad you found it helpful. Thanks, Pamela.

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3 Connie Z. November 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

+ Tire Pressure Gauge
My husband is a car guy and preaches preventative maintenance like any good dentist does. Plus, keeping the right amount of air in your tires saves big on gas mileage.

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4 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I need to learn how to use a tire gauge!

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5 Brenna November 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

If you live in a colder climate, I would put blanket in the bare essentials section along with a shovel and some kitty litter or sand. Getting stuck in a snowstorm could kill you in some parts of the country.

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6 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Good ideas, Brenna!

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7 Anne November 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm

A car kit makes a great birthday or graduation gift! Every time one of my cousins turned 16, my dad would get them a tire pressure gauge, little orange cones, a flashlight, etc.

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8 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm

You’re right! It would make a great gift for a new driver or new car owner. Love it.

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9 Katie November 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I live in Florida and my hubbie bought me a combo glass breaker/seatbelt cutter just in case my car ever gets submerged in water. Not as crazy as it seems – people drive into canals here all the time!! And in a tropical downpour it’s sometimes difficult to see where the road ends and water begins.
Hopefully it will never be used, but I’m happy to know it’s right there next to me in the driver’s side door.

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10 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I’ve heard of those tools, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen one. Off to google…

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11 The Sweetest November 9, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I actually bought a car kit at Costco the other day- all came in a little red bag, nice and neat. Here in LA, though, we are supposed to keep an additional “go bag” in our cars, in the event of an earthquake. A backpack you can strap on and walk with, that has water, a snack, emergency contact info, a change of clothes and shoes, and basic first aid supplies.

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12 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Good old Costco. What would we do without it. Also. I think the idea of Go Bag is smart. At our house we try to keep “72 Hour Kits” stocked — backpacks for each person with a change of clothes, food, and emergency supplies to last for 3 days. But I’m not always great at keeping them updated. : )

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13 Melissa November 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

We sort of have a car kit. Our car (aka the Element of surprise) has built in baskets on the sides of the trunk space. There we stash the essential battery cables, wipers & oil. We also have an overhead compartment up in the front where we’ve stashed little water pouches & bandaids.

I’m definitely going to add a blanket to our kit. So often we find ourselves in situations where we could use one! Great idea!

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14 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I miss having a truly functional trunk. The baskets sounds brilliant. And yes, definitely add a blanket! We end up using ours whenever we go to the park.

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15 Brinly November 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I think you should add duct tape to the list. Over the summer I got too close to a curb and when I pulled out I heard a big ripping sound. There is a protective plastic cover that is attached with plastic fasteners and I ended up pulling some of them free. So I had a giant plastic thing handing and dragging on the ground. It would have been nice to just use some duct tape to secure it back to the van so I could take it in and get those fasteners replaced. (luckily I didn’t do damage to the cover, I just stripped the fasteners). There was a lady in her car next to me who happened to have some not very sticky masking tape, but it at least got me to the dealer and they fixed it right away.

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16 Design Mom November 9, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Good thinking, Brinly. Duct tape is so helpful!

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17 just November 10, 2010 at 6:39 am

gas can-i ran out of gas last night! not that it wouldve helped without the actual gas, but if youd trust a stranger in the woods enough youd get gas quicker than waiting for your hubs!

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18 just November 10, 2010 at 6:41 am

oh, and a box of juice! so glad i had my sons honest kids juice pocket!

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19 Kyran November 10, 2010 at 7:13 am

With three boys who love to splash in creeks and run with drinks in their hands, I find an old towel is a must-have in my van. I’ve often wished I kept an old t-shirt or two on hand, too — one large enough to cover any of the boys in a pinch.

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20 Rory November 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

is it sad (about me) that this is one of my favorite topics ever? We recently downsized from two cars to one access-cab pickup truck and an embarrassing amount of thought went into what would get place in the two interior consoles (jumpers, bungee, and nylon straps go in the slots in the pickup bed).

There is something about stocking a car that makes me feel like a Pioneer, and I always flash to Mormon Pushcart scenarios, so: Cabela’s sells a little survival kit stuffed into a 24 ounce water jug (looked for link, came up dry) that has a few mylar blankets, rain ponchos, a little flash light, strike-anywhere matches, h20 purifying tablets, flints, first aid stuff, a wax candle, a mini multitool, etc. etc. I’ve added a spare Bjorn and mini sleeve of powdered Gatorade (you know, to power up for my long hike out of the Sierras…even though I live in Brooklyn and rarely leave the interstate highway system). It’s like the survivalist’s ultimate stocking stuffers, and super compact. (And the Cabela bottle is $20, an affordable peace of mind!)

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21 Kari November 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thanks for posting this! I was thinking about putting together a car kit for our 17 year old son who just started driving this year. Now I’ll have a nice reference list to work with.

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22 Jon Goff November 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm

If I am allowed to give advice, it is also a good idea for you to install radar detector in your car. It would be helpful for radar protection.

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23 Liz Santiago Grabill September 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

Would love to see what you put in your “small tool kit.”

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24 Bill Corbett February 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Three more items for the car (no laughing) 24″ or longer crow bar. Leather gloves and a pocket knife. As for your first aid kit add a face mask like you see the doctors use ( if you can) NIOSH N95 Approved. (Harbor Freight 2 pack.)
Someone say earthquake, fire other problem you are able to help or save yourself as its in the car.

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