What items should you always have in your car? Read on to find out our 7-must have pieces of inventory for the everyday vehicle.
Yes, this is an obvious one, however how many can say that right now they have a few litres of water sitting in their car? A stash of water is not only useful for hydration in emergency purposes (think breaking down on a highway on a hot day), but also to top of up radiator water levels in case of an unexpected loss of fluid. This can be caused by a small leak in the cooling system, or potentially via a faulty head gasket (the latter of which will be costly). Just remember to refresh the water every month or so, ensuring it doesn't get too stale to drink.
No matter what you do or where you go, this will always come in handy at some point! Enough said!
3. Jumper Leads
The dreaded sound of a flat battery? We've all been there. There is never a good time or place for a battery to let you down, so mitigate your drama by always carrying a set of quality jumper leads. With the help of another motorist and their battery, it will likely get you out of a spot a bother. Alternatively, you could chose carry a battery jump pack, which come in all different sizes and capacity's - ranging from the compact Noco Boost + which we regularly use at Autohouse, through larger units such as the Projecta 2200A, which can jump start diesel engines up to 7 litres!
Jump Pack or Jumper Leads?
This is an important consideration - both have pro's and con's. A jump pack doesn't require another car or battery to operate and tends to be safer and more convenient. A lot of modern ones feature handy tools such as USB charging and an integrated torch. On the other hand, they will only work if sufficiently charged, and will likely not work if the car battery it is jumping is completely dead (the module needs to recognise some charge for it to be boost).
Jumper leads are limited in that you will need another car with a healthy battery or seperate charged battery to properly operate. Using them can also lead to accidental reverse polarity (aka getting your reds and blacks mixed up), which can lead to electronic system and computer damage. That being said, sometimes they are necessary in order to properly boost a completely flat battery. Of course, the key to avoiding the situation of having to jump start your car is to keep your battery nice and healthy!
BONUS TIP: How to (safely) jump start your car
Step-by-Step: 1. Connect red lead from positive (red) terminal on boosting car to positive terminal on dead car
2. Connect black lead from negative (black) terminal on boosting car to a non-painted metal ground point on the chassis.
3. Start engine of boosting car
4. Attempt to start engine of dead car
5. If dead car starts, remove jumper leads from dead car as soon as possible
6. Be sure to run the dead car for a long period of time so ensure the cars alternator re-charges the previously dead battery. Be prepared to jump start the car again if it is turned off prematurely and will not re-start.
4. Tow Rope
A good quality, high-load-rated tow rope is another must-have to get your (or someone else out of trouble). Stretchable elastic ropes are best to mitigate potential damage whilst towing, as they are far more gentle on vehicle tow points. A tow rope will help pull you or someone else to a safer place if broken down in a dangerous position. Be sure to know where your tow points are, and always test fit your tow rope before you actually need to genuinely use it.
5. Air Compressor
A simple 12 volt air compressor will come in handy in the case of a slow puncture, deflated tyre from lack of use or a spare tyre lacking pressure. We like the Trade Tools-Renegade branded 80LPM unit - an absolute bargain at only $98, and a firm feature in the Autohouse Tow Ute. Maintaining the correct tyre pressures is an important part of general vehicle maintenance, as highlighted in our tyre pressure article earlier in the year.
6. Basic Tools
A simple kit of basic tools can sometimes be enough to get out of a situation of mechanical trouble. An inventory with the following bare essentials will certainly do more good than harm:
Roll of Tape
7. First Aid Kit
This is one you want to hope you never need, but if you find yourself in the situation where you do, make sure you have it within easy reach. A basic kit is fine like this one from BCF will do the job, and may even save a life!
8. Phone Charger
Again another obvious one, but one often overlooked. A charger is invaluable for longer journeys, particular ones that involve continued use of phone-based navigation apps. Most modern cars will have a USB port to plug your cable straight into, whilst older cars will feature a 12v socket/cigarette lighter to plug a car charger into.
As we discovered in our ground-breaking experiment back in May, these very simple but effective shields can keep a heap of heat out of your car whilst its parked outside on a hot day. Not only that, but it will help preserve the condition of your interior, by minimising the impacts of drastic heat cycles. In summary, it will alway pay to be diligent with your vehicle inventory! The above items don't get you out of trouble at some point, they may likely help someone else in need. Thanks for reading! Lachlan from Autohouse.