Essential Items to Keep in Your Car

Today we're going to talk about the bare bones essential things you should keep in your car. There are only a few essentials people need to keep in their car, and you may have a few additional items to add. None of these are luxuries or nice-to-have items except the jacket, but you'll probably use the jacket way more often than the other items combined.

The Paperwork

Arizona law requires you to be able to produce your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance during a traffic stop. Even though you carry these things, we strongly urge you to hide them or lock them in your glovebox. The reason is because many people carry their garage door opener in their car, and if that is stolen, the thieves will know your address. The other thing is that your car paperwork can be used by thieves if they steal the same make and model of the car you own and need proof of registration during a casual traffic stop. Most cops don’t check the actual VIN as long as the make, model, and color are right., but the VIN of a stolen vehicle will raise a red flag.

Also, carry your owner’s manual. This has all the information you need on maintenance, specs, and the workings of your car.

This tire is tucked beneath the car.

This tire is tucked beneath the car.

The emergency stuff

A spare tire

This is not an optional item. Even if it’s just a donut, you’ll need to have one eventually. We really hope it’s not full sized if it’s still flat from the last blowout you had.

A jack

A jack(with a tire iron and lug wrench). One you can use. If it has parts missing, it’s not good.
Even if you have road service, you’re going to need these items, because flat tires aren’t always possible in convenient locations.

Jumper cables

Not only should you own a pair of jumper cables, but you should also know how to use them. In all likelihood, some good samaritan will come along and help you if your battery dies, but jumper cables are still a ‘must have’ item.


Because you’re going to want gloves for when you change the tire. But, even if you never change the tire and never use the jumper cables, there will be a time when you’ll need to pick up something which is unpleasantly dirty or disgusting. We recommend keeping those under the driver’s seat.

A little bit of cash

We’re basically a cashless society at this point, but you never know when you’re going to go somewhere that the credit card machines are down. We’ve never heard anyone say, “Gee, I wish I wouldn’t have kept that few dollars hidden in the ashtray.” it doesn’t have to be a fortune, it just has to be a little pin money.

Essential non-emergency items


Carry water, even if it’s only a couple of bottle in the trunk. This is Arizona and the lack of water will kill you--or your car. 

A cell phone charger

Carry a cell phone charger in your car because it’s one of the most misplaced, lost, necessary items in our society today, so having one in your car means having a backup in your life.

A jacket or sweater

As summer approaches, many grocery stores and other places turn their air conditioning to the snowfall setting. It isn’t that we think you’re going to get cold in the great outdoors, it’s that we think the stores, restaurants, and malls are secretly trying to kill us with their A/c settings set to meat locker level.

Things we recommend you never carry in your car

Gasoline or flammables.

Having a can of gas in your car is okay if you’re on your way to help someone who is out of gas. Other than that, it’s toxic, noxious, and flammable, and we don’t recommend carrying it as a matter of course.

Your car title

Never carry your car title in your car unless you’re on your way someplace to sell it.

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