Readiness for the Car
people are completely unprepared for ordinary car problems.
For some reason car problems usually
happen at night in the rain.
Ken Young (http://www.DinoDudes.com).
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Things to know
- Be sure every driver can change
a tire alone.
- Be sure every driver knows how
to use jumper cables safely.
Things to have in the front
- Some people need glasses to
drive. They should keep a spare pair in each car. You can buy them over
the Internet for $7. This way you can get home if something happens to
your glasses or contacts.
- Keep a full set of maps in
every car, but don't waste space storing maps of places you don't go
- A compass to help navigate in a data outage
- Keep a rain poncho in each car,
a disposable one will do. They are small.
- Keep two flashlights with fresh
batteries in every car. When batteries get old the flashlight will
pretend to work in order to trick you. It will light for a minute or
two and then fade. You think you have two working flashlights, but you
really have none. The temperature extremes in a car are hard on
- Keep a zip-kit
in the car. It is small, cheap,
- Keep a fire extinguisher that
can handle oil fires. Don't bury it, you may need it quickly.
Shake it vigorously every 6 months to keep the power from caking; the
car's vibration packs the powder. Service or replace it when it expires.
- Keep a magnetic key case with
keys in it. Stick it somewhere improbable and difficult to get to.
Juvenile delinquents prowl parking lots feeling under bumpers for these
- Have hand cleaner and paper
towels or hand-wipes in a convenient place for spills and dirty hands.
- Tissue or paper towels in your
car can be used for toilet paper in an
emergency; Very handy when traveling.
- Spare phone charger, and a way to charge your phone in the car.
Things to have in the back
- Work gloves
- Keep jumper cables in the
trunk. Remember that the acid residue on used jumper cables can ruin
- Keep two sturdy reusable
grocery bags in each car. They fold flat and are really handy.
- Keep a toolbox in every car. It
should have work gloves, hose-clamps, zip-ties, both kinds of
screwdriver, an adjustable wrench with an insulated handle, pliers with
spare lug nuts, and spare fuses.
- Keep a warm waterproof
windbreaker in each car. It will fit in a big zip-lock bag. You or your
passenger will forget to bring a jacket on a regular basis.
- Keep a couple reflective vests in your car. They can save your
life. In some countries, the police will give you a ticket if they see
you on foot near a road without your vest. Using a vest is good advice,
like wearing a seat belt.
- Keep three reflective hazard
triangles, three flares, and three
light-sticks in your car.
- Keep a gallon of water good for
either drinking or the radiator (preferably in little bottles).
Replace it every 6 months. Trivia:
Diet soda works in a radiator in emergencies.
- Keep a quart of oil or two in
- Keep a spare gas cap and a few
spare valve stem caps.
- If you sometimes wear
impractical shoes (like heels), keep some practical shoes ziplocked in
- Bungie cords and a rope
- A tire pressure gauge
- If you have room in the trunk,
keep a 72-hour
kit. This is a bag
containing everything you need to get by for 3 days. It is always handy
to have a toothbrush and change of clothes. What if you want to
spontaneously spend the night somewhere? This is invaluable if you
cannot get home or have to leave in a hurry.
- Snow socks for your tires
- Keep a wool blanket in the car.
It is handy for padding cargo and invaluable in a breakdown.
- A folding shovel is really
handy and can also get a car un-stuck.
- A tow rope is handy for getting
- If you sometimes face ice, keep
a bag of sand or kitty litter for getting unstuck.
- Keep a windshield scraper and a
spare bottle of
windshield de-icer in the trunk.
You will also need things that are
not on this list.
If water starts coming up out of the
storm drains, leave the area immediately. Three inches of water in a
low spot blocks a road. If you try to drive through it your car could
stall, and the car could be a loss. Less than 12 inches of water can
float a car (this is bad). Most Americans who died in floods did so in
Floodwater shorts out the electric windows and holds the doors shut. If
you are trapped in a floating car, you are usually better off if you
break a window before the water level reaches it to create an escape
route. If the car is stalled in floodwaters but not being washed away,
you are usually safer staying in the vehicle. Rushing floodwaters are
really dangerous, but being trapped in a car that is filling with water
is even more dangerous.