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20 Things Under $20 to Always Keep in the Car

One of our nation’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, famously said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This mantra is especially true when you get behind the wheel. So to make sure you’re prepared for anything life may throw your way, here’s a list of 20 essential items you should always keep in your car. And best of all: each is readily available for under $20!

Essential Items to Keep In Your Car

  1. Flashlight: If you’re ever stranded after sunset, you’ll appreciate having a light source available that’s not your smartphone. A flashlight is handy in plenty of situations, from looking under the hood to searching for something that’s rolled underneath a seat.
  2. Tire sealant: Whether you ran over a nail or discovered a slow leak, a can of tire sealant can save the day by enabling you to drive to the nearest repair facility instead of installing your spare tire or calling emergency roadside service.
  3. Jumper cables: Few things can leave you stranded faster than a dead battery. But with a set of jumper cables in your car, and the help of another friendly motorist, you can get back on the road right away. (Need a tutorial? Read our guide on how to jump-start a car.)
  4. Tire pressure gauge: Maintaining the correct tire pressure in your vehicle has plenty of benefits – from improving gas mileage to promoting even tire wear. Experts recommend you check your tire pressure once a month and before long road trips. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your glovebox, and you can follow that advice with ease.
  5. Wiper fluid: Visibility is one of the most important factors of safe driving. To help keep your windshield clear, make sure your wiper fluid tank is topped off. And keep an extra bottle in the car so you’re prepared in the event you run low.
  6. Work gloves: These can help protect you from cuts and scrapes if you ever need to perform a hands-on job like changing a flat tire.
  7. Duct tape and zip ties: Need to fix a cracked bumper? What about some loose wiring under the dash? As two of the most important items in any aspiring MacGyver’s toolbox, there’s no shortage of things that can be creatively fixed with duct tape and zip ties.
  8. Fire extinguisher: A small fire from an oil leak or electrical short can quickly send your entire car up in flames. Having a fire extinguisher handy can help protect you and your family by putting out the blaze – while potentially saving your vehicle from becoming a total loss. Learn more in our ultimate guide to fire extinguishers.
  9. First aid kit: Cuts, scrapes and burns are unfortunately a normal part of life. Having a travel first aid kit in the car means you’ll always be prepared to treat them.
  10. Roadside flares: If you’re ever stuck on the side of the road, it’s important to alert other drivers to your presence. Roadside flares can accomplish that job – day or night.
  11. Blanket: What would happen if you run out of gas during the winter or get stuck in a snowbank? With a blanket, you can stay warm until help arrives.
  12. Snow scraper: If you live in an area that sees freezing temperatures during the winter (or you’ve ever been forced to clear your windshield with a credit card) this item requires no explanation.
  13. Tool kit: You never know when you’ll need a screwdriver or a pair of pliers. For that reason, having a travel-size toolbox is always a good idea.
  14. Food and water: Keeping a few bottles of water and some non-perishable snacks in the trunk are an important part of any car emergency kit.
  15. Phone charger: We rely on our smartphones for everything from phone calls and text messages to navigation and touchless payments. Keeping a charger in the car helps ensure you’ll never be caught with a dead phone.
  16. Paper towels: Life can get messy. In the event you spill a cup of coffee or get greasy hands from checking your engine oil level, a roll of paper towels can save the day.
  17. Umbrella: Weather can be unpredictable. But keeping a small travel umbrella in your vehicle means you’ll never be caught out in the rain.
  18. Escape tool: This multipurpose tool can quickly get you to safety if you ever get trapped in your vehicle. The small pointed hammer allows you to break the safety glass in your car’s windows, while the cutting tool is designed to slice through seat belts.
  19. Hand sanitizer: A bottle of sanitizer will get rid of any germs you may have picked up while pumping gas or buying groceries. And it’s especially important in the age of COVID-19.
  20. Glove box organizer: Stop frantically searching through the glove box for your registration and proof of insurance. A glove box organizer will help you keep all your documents in one place. Even better? With the Erie Insurance mobile app, you can view and share policy documents (including your ID card1 and declaration page) anytime.

Be Ready for Anything with Auto Insurance You Can Trust

At ERIE, we want you to be prepared for whatever life throws your way. And auto insurance is no exception. That’s why we always customize your protection and service, giving you exactly what you need at a great price. Contact your local ERIE agent today to get a free, no-obligation auto insurance quote.