Car supplies

I’m drafting a few lists of gear to acquire this year and I find myself stuck on car supplies beyond the basics (spare oil and coolant, spare wheel, tire iron, jumper cables, belt cutter/glass breaker…). Besides any GHB and your EDC, what do you keep/want to keep in your vehicles ?


  • Comments (57)

    • 13

      I may be a little overboard here, but I include the following:

      Dedicated Car supplies:

      • Jumper cables – though I’ve heard of devices that store a charge and let you ‘jump start yourself.  Never tried them, but having failed to jump start someone else’s car under controlled conditions I’m curious about these are easier/reliable
      • First aide kit
      • Knife
      • Water bottles, about 2/3 full in flexible bottles to avoid freeze-ruptures, stored vertiaclly so a freeze expansion doesn’t damage the screw-top
      • I don’t have, but should get: flares (or “LED flares” especailly if you’re in a wild-fire prone area).
      • Misc tools: Hollow 2.5′ pipe, heavy duty rubberize ‘mini-sledge’/heavy mallet
        • My car comes with a basic spare tire kit, but I need more leverage to get the tire iron to losen the tire fasteners.  the hollow pipe fits over the tire-iron i have and gives me more leverage (note: too much leverage and you might be able to break things)
        • Under a different controlled scenario, my wheel was locked to the [hub?] so even after the fasteners were off, i couldn’t get the wheel off (rusted on, I think)!  I was even at home with access to some extra tools… (I’m not a car expert though).  I’m told you can hit the wheel with a hammer to try and knock it loose, though I’m somewhat dubious of this method but if i’m desperate and stuck on a back road i’d try it.


      • I have room, so i keep a spare change of old clothes in a duffel bag.  So if its ever cold and I get wet i can change into something dry if i’m stranded on the side of a road
      • I have a “get home bag” which is basically a medium sized “bug out bag” minus some of the larger items, so that includes a lot of your standard BOB gear
      • I try to keep some plastic sheeting and duct tape in my trunk, in case someone breaks into my car but doesn’t steal it, it would be nice to semi-seal a window if i have to drive in the rain
      • 3

        Thanks for the list. What do you think about keeping a lug wrench in the trunk for extra leverage ?

        I remember having bent a regular cheapo tire iron once trying to loosen a wheel.

      • 5

        The cheater bar is a great tip.  Last time I tried to change a tire, I was utterly unable to break the nuts free with just the included wrench.  I asked the techs about it the next time I was at the dealership, and they almost all agreed that it was impossible – except for one guy who claimed he broke the nuts free by standing on the wrench and jumping on it.  Now I have a cheater bar.

      • 4

        @Rich DC, I’ve used a NOCO Boost ($100) once instead of jumper cables and it worked like a charm! Luckily this was in a situation where I also had jumper cables on hand and could have used them, but chose not to so as to see how the booster worked.

      • 4

        Rust can make it very difficult to remove a wheel when you want to change a flat. Get ready for that problem by putting anti-seize on the back of the wheel at your next tire rotation.

        If you can’t get one of your rear wheels off make sure you don’t have the emergency brake set.

        If your lug nuts are stuck you can use a cheater bar but remember to turn it SLOWLY so you don’t bust the nut.

        It can be impossible to change a flat in the snow or on wet, soggy soil; your jack just keeps going deeper into the ground. Get ready for that problem by putting a 12″x18″ piece of 3/4″ plywood in your vehicle. Use it under the jack and you will jack up much more easily.

        If your mechanic put your lug nuts on too tight you can use a cheater pipe or breaker bar. You can also be ready by putting anti-seize on the lug nuts and re-torquing your lug nuts yourself. You can also make a really good solution to loosen those nuts by making a very effective penetrating oil: ATF full synthetic transmission fluid and acetone, 1:1. This eats plastic so store it in the old fashioned metal oiler.

        I keep 3/4″ drive impact sockets for my lug nuts and a 20″ 3/4″ drive breaker bar for changing tires. Works all the time.

      • 1

        Good points Shaun. I’d like to also add to have a stiff wire brush and brush off all the rust that builds up on the threads and bolts before you apply the anti-seize. A clean surface is a happy surface.

    • 6

      Well stocked first aid kit, energy bars or some snacks kept in the glovebox, rotated bottles of water and cans of soda, blanket, small tarp, flashlight, matches and lighter…. 

    • 8

      I am also currently kitting my car out, and have created a master list kit. Feel free to clone it and modify it!

      Vehicle Every Day Carry Master List

      The Prepared had also touched on VEDC. Although it’s in a an article about winterization, it still touches on some basic concepts https://theprepared.com/situations/guides/prepare-severe-cold-winterize-checklist/#vedc

    • 10

      Early 2000s Toyo Highlander. This is still in process but feels good at this point.

      • Tire repair kit (Boulder Tools makes a nice one)
      • Jumper system (holds a charge; no need for other car)
      • Air pump (re-inflate that repaired tire)
      • Tow strap
      • Basic tool kit (wrenches/ratchet/drivers)
      • Fire exstinguisher
      • 5 gal wavian gas can (kept empty)
      • 2 x 2.5 gal reliant H20 jugs


      • roof rack system (looking at Rhino) for additional 2 jerry cans and clamshell storage
      • a .50 cal with 2K rounds accessible via sunroof (not really, but boy what fun…)
      • full sized spare
      • fuses/sparks/etc is a great idea from other contributors 
    • 7

      A can of Fix-A-Flat spray, a tire inflation device that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket, a “Luggable Loo”, a roll of toilet tissue, baby wipes, and a golf umbrella.


    • 9

      I know I should carry/keep water in my car but Florida car temps in summer are unforgiving. Plastic is out, so I’m guessing metal canteens?

      • 8

        I’ve been wondering about that too.

        I thought about keeping store-bought water bottles in the car along with an empty Berkey Sport bottle. My reasoning was that the sealed bottled water stays ‘fresh’ for a long time; I could pour the water into the Berkey bottle and let the filter remove any plastic from the water. But according the Berkey website, the Berkey bottles will deteriorate above 115 degrees F. So that idea won’t work in the summer.

        So I think you’re right. Metal canteens would be best. I will just have to set a reminder to regularly change the water and wash the canteen.

      • 5

        I have the opposite problem, water left in the car can freeze for half the year, I just rely on never driving anywhere without bringing a 1L bottle of water with me. I plan to leave water purification tablets and a filter in the car with my get home bag in case I need more

      • 2

        I change mine out every daylight saving time. 

      • 8

        I keep a few small 3/4 full disposable water bottles in my car inside a bag. Keeping them in the bag hopefully prevents them from freezing solid and from getting direct exposure to sunlight. I’m not drinking from them all the time so not too worried about plastic chemicals

      • 3

        hmmm… I’m guessing that 3/4 full means that they don’t burst if they do freeze? The problem I would have then would be remembering to make sure the water is changed regularly because I wouldn’t be able to use sealed store bought bottles since I’d have to open them to pour some out

      • 4

        Hi LadyKaos,

        Yes, the 3/4 full is so that they won’t burst if they do freeze. 

        As for the water going bad after opening, that shouldn’t be a huge issue. There’s already air in the bottle right? I haven’t seen a store bought disposable bottle that was completely full. So if you open the bottle, pour out a bit, and put the lid back on there shouldn’t be any new contamination in there and the water should still be safe. 

        If you put your lips on the neck of the bottle and back washed or left the bottle out in the sun that could make the water unsafe. But if you carefully open, pour, and close it should be safe for a year or two at least.

      • 2

        I hadn’t thought of it like that before, thanks for the tip 🙂

      • 3

        “I know I should carry/keep water in my car but Florida car temps in summer are unforgiving.”

        I added TintWorld’s “ultimate” tinting to my car, so it never gets hot anymore. Cost is a few hundred dollars. Besides the comfort of not getting baked every time you enter your vehicle, you’ll have a lot more flexibility regarding what you can store in the car.

        Window Tinting

        I chose the 5% shade, so the car doesn’t look tinted. Choose a higher percentage if you like the tinted look.

      • 1

        That’s a pro tip if I’ve ever seen one! That probably is a very good investment to never have a burning hot steering wheel, to not die in there yourself, not have your car plastic crack from sun damage, and to be able to store more things stably in your car.

      • 1

        And no more sunburns while driving! That was the main reason I added tinting about 5 years ago. I was getting sunburns all the time while driving to work.

      • 2

        There’s a picture of a truck driver with 28 years of repeated skin damage to the one side of his face that was exposed to the sun. Good that you are taking care of yourself, it’s no joke.

        Screenshot from 2022-01-03 11-32-59

      • 3

        I drove a big brown truck for 32 years.  Had part of my left ear removed due to skin cancer.  Seeing this picture, I feel pretty lucky it was only an ear.  

      • 2

        Good attitude, Brewit.  I hope the ear is the end of it for you.  I also hope the trucking and logistics companies, and truck manufacturers learn this lesson as well especially since glass coatings and films as Eric mentions would prevent it.    

      • 1

        Sounds like something that should be an OSHA worker safety requirement.

    • 11

      All seasons

      • flashlight
      • qt oil
      • wiper fluid
      • transmission fluid
      • 5 gal jerry can
      • jumper cables
      • spare fuses
      • tow cable
      • hazard warning kit (warning triangle, flares, and LED lights)
      • tire iron
      • jack
      • magnetic bowl (good for not losing screws, etc)
      • spare tire (remember to check inflation regularly!)
      • work gloves
      • first aid kit
      • fire extinguisher
      • glass breaker w/ seatbelt cutter
      • protein bars or freeze dried meals
      • lighter, matches, candle
      • rain poncho
      • 1-6 strips of red fabric (tie around door handle or antenna, insert into window)
      • marker, notepad, tape


      • extra water (3 gallons)
      • hat/bandana
      • sun block
      • hoodie/light jacket


      • water container (to melt snow) [water jug might freeze]
      • cat litter
      • shovel
      • ice scraper
      • no freeze window washer
      • extra flannel shirt
      • extra pair wool socks
      • wool hat
      • scarf
      • gloves
      • sleeping bag
      • emergency blanket
      • thermal tarp
      • chemical hand warmers
      • chemical boot warmers
    • 7

      This is a very interesting and timely topic. I live on a pretty busy highway and a few nights ago during a storm 2 college girls had a flat in front of my house. They tried calling the roadside assistance number on one of their driver’s license and were told to call 911. They did and a sheriff’s deputy stopped, but didn’t help. Eventually, he left and they called their insurance company and were told someone would be there in about 30 minutes. Finally, they decided to walk up to my house, which was definitely taking a risk since they had no idea what kind of people we would turn out to be. I seriously doubted my ability to break the lug nuts loose (and it was raining really hard), but we were able to find someone to help, 2 high school kids, a boy and a girl who lived close by. Also, by now the insurance company had called back and cancelled. Even the boy had a hard time with the lug nuts, but eventually he was able to get them off and change the flat and then they were on their way. They were about 6 hrs from home and had this flat happened a little sooner they would have been in a stretch of highway that had NO houses and very little phone signal. They literally didn’t have anything; no umbrella, no rain poncho, no flashlight except their phones, and had no idea of how to get the spare off. As I thought about all this, I came back to the issue with the lug nuts. I was talking to a friend about it and he mentioned a power tool that runs on the 12V in a vehicle. It’s called a torque wrench and I found it on Amazon. I’ve ordered one to keep in my vehicle in case I’m ever in the position where I have to change a tire myself. Has anyone on here ever used one of these?

      • 2

        Oh my gosh! What a story! That’s sure nice of you to help.

        Thank you for the reminder to add a poncho to my car, I would not want to be in that situation.

      • 4


        We’ve lived here for a long time and decided that there has to be a sign somewhere that says stop here if you have a problem. 😉 Actually, I don’t even want to think about what could have happened to those girls if the wrong kind of person had happened by. The most disturbing part is that the deputy stopped and then left them there stranded, in the dark and in a storm. On the positive side, I’m so proud of the high school kids that came out in the middle of the night to help a couple of strangers change a tire. They were awesome!

      • 4

        I’ve changed wheels on the road side a number of times, yeah the nuts are tight but I could usually undo them by jumping on the wrench, although one time I couldn’t so after that I removed all my wheel nuts one by one and covered the threads in copper slip (anti seize compound) it work’s wonders at making it easier to unfasten things after a winter of driving on gritted roads, a length of steel pipe to put on the wrench to get more leverage helps to

        and rain poncho is now added to my get home bag list 🙂

      • 2

        I would be careful with a 12V ‘torque wrench’. If that is an impact drive you have to be ready for the torque to be transferred to your hands, i.e., it’s going to snap hard when it meets resistance. A breaker bar or cheater pipe is a better idea because the strong and the weak can use it just as effectively.

        Go to harborfreight[.]com and search for breaker bar.


    • 4

      My 2 entries to list:

      –  Carry a fluorescent vest. An ideal color is orange but if your area has much snow during long winters consider a red fluorescent vest. 

      –  Carry a 2 inch X 8 inch X ~ 1-2 ft piece of wood.  This is to place jack on top in case tire changing is on sandy or other non-firm ground.

      • 2

        Those are two very good suggestions Bob. If changing the tire near the side of the road in the rain, I can imagine the ground being really muddy and soft.

      • 3

        Thank you, Robert.

        Was just out at truck having just  remembered to to fill up plastic spray bottle of anti-bug spray.  It’s actually pine oil.  If I ever have to get on the ground, don’t want any homesteading bugs around work area. 

    • 2

      Probably a bit light on tools but…

      • standard tool set that came with car
      • jump start battery with compressor
      • fire extinguisher
      • EMT bag
      • trekking pole – mostly through laziness but now that I think of it it is a useful thing to have for efficiency, shelter pole, splinting, other utility tasks
      • snow shovel
      • brush and scraper
      • lighter plug to anderson power pole converter (yes I am a ham)
      • survival kit
        • large swiss army knife
        • ESEE laser strike
        • ESEE mess tin survival kit
        • 2x contractor bags
        • 2x lifeboat rations
        • “pocket chainsaw”
    • 7

      You have a good number of suggestions here already.  What I have that others haven’t mentioned or I missed their mention:  

      • Female urinal device – for side of the road
      • Disposable urinal – Traveljohn when stuck in the car
      • Disposable pooper – Biffy Bag in glovebox
      • Plug to turn a cigarette lighter into a USB charger and charger cord for my cell phone
      • Extra Fuses and puller
      • Several sizes of hose clamps
      • Jumper Battery – has been very convenient even in our own driveway for our 2002 truck.  Also doesn’t require another vehicle
      • Foldable gas can – Itsagascan.  I also keep the tank above half full at all times and during Covid above 3/4 as I top off every time I’m out.
      • Tire Repair kit – liked this: Nealey mini Tire repair kit – also needs inflator which came with the car.  
      • Cable ties
      • Electrical tape and a few sizes of wire nuts
      • Adjustable wrench that is also a prybar and a bit of a hammer by Craftsman.
      • Wide angle magnetic flashlight – makes some work easier if the entire area is lit up.
      • 6

        A foldable gas can is a good idea. I’ve always wondered what I would do if I had to hike it to the gas station. Ask them for a 44oz soda cup and fill that with gas?

    • 5

      Hi all,

      I keep a full vehicle breakdown kit which includes lubricants, battery charger, jump leads, water, tyre repair kits, window smasher, petrol, emergency lighting and first aid kit in each of my cars.

      In addition, I keep drinking enough water & food for 3 people for 5 days in each car.  In addition, winter sleeping bags, cooking & fire lighting kit, tent, spare clothes, waterproof clothing, torches, spare batteries, solar and battery operated radio and family protection kit is kept in each car.

      I haven’t gone into too much detail but each vehicle is very well equipped for most emergencies.

      • 5

        What food do you store in your car? I’m always looking for new car safe friendly foods.

      • 4

        I’ve got a couple Clif Bars for snacking (lesser emergency) as well as 2x 3600 calorie food bricks (greater emergency)

    • 6

      I haven’t seen these items listed above: tie wire (aka baling wire) and wire cutters to cut it with.

      This is useful if you drop an exhaust/muffler and need to wire it up to drive home without it dragging on the ground. Or, if you have an accident and need to wire up a bumper to drive home.

      If working on the ground where any venomous reptiles or insects, be careful, especially if you are alone and don’t have a spotter to keep watch. I would set up some kind of warning if working alone. Perhaps a full perimeter low fence made of netting with bells attached to give warning if something slithers it’s way toward you while under the vehicle? Deer netting (in the garden section) is inexpensive and can be cut, small bells available at craft stores. Or some kind of repellent? Sound?

      Important re tire changes – A spare is useless if you can’t get a tire off.

      I found out that my tires were being over-torqued. 

      Talk to whoever does your tires and find out what torque is recommended and then tell them if it is too much. I did and now my tires aren’t where I can’t remove the tire. I drive an older van with 15″ light truck tires and I don’t need 150 lbs of torque. 

      A piece of pipe or anything that can act as leverage will help get the tire off, but make sure you can do it yourself, especially if traveling off the beaten track.

    • 4

      You guys, I have to share a (tiny) prepping success that is germane to the subject of this thread: My car preps saved a teacup Pomeranian (or at least, her haircut).

      I have always kept a pair of scissors in my glove compartment. Scissors, nitrile gloves, a flashlight, a pen, a pencil, and a Sharpie— those things have been in my glove compartment since I first had a glove compartment to call my own. Recently we had some friends visiting from out of town for a week or so and we loaned them my car (we have another vehicle). Turns out they had a serious emergency while driving it: Their VERY tiny dog got into the bag they were using for trash and got a piece of their discarded chewing gum stuck in her cloud of fur. They pulled over and tried to figure out what to do. There was some urgency about the matter, since every dog movement deepened the tangle of the gum. One of them said, as she cautiously popped open the glove compartment, “You don’t think it’s possible that she [i.e., me] has scissors in this car somewhere?” and the other said, “Who keeps scissors in their car?”

      Well, you all know the answer to that question. 

      If all the time and money I’ve spent on prepping turns out to be for naught, and I live a peaceful, disaster-free life… well, that would be its own reward. But the prepping will still not have been in vain! 😀

      • 2

        Good for you.

      • 3

        Uh huh… sure… your friend’s dog. wink wink… 😉 We really know it is your dog and you are just too embarrassed about it to claim it as your own. haha jk

        That’s a great story pnwsarah! I love hearing stories where our preps help in even the littlest ways. Even if it’s if the drive through didn’t give you a spoon for your ice cream and you were prepared and had one in your car. Any level of preparedness is awesome!

        I have countless little disasters saved from my preps but none where my life depended on it. Even if I never save someone’s life or my own, I it’s just a good feeling to be prepared to tackle whatever life throws at you, large or teacup sized.

      • 3

        “…large or teacup sized…” 

        Omg, thanks for the chuckle, there. But yes, that’s exactly how I feel: Even the little things feel like a big reward. There have been a few other mini prep wins, like having N95 masks on hand when smoke from the Camp Fire blew into the Bay Area, being able to donate some PPE to local healthcare workers when Covid hit, and having decent lighting in the house during power outages. But this one was… more unique.

        As for the teacup Pomeranian… not mine, I swear. The real tell: I would never let a dog of mine near chewing gum, due to the toxicity of xylitol. 

      • 2

        You know your dog health. My wife warns me about xylitol too. Alright I guess I’ll believe you about the Pomeranian.

        I do need to remember to stock up on some more PPE and N95’s. We will have another pandemic in the future, and even with how deadly and horrible Covid was/is, the next could be far worse. We now know with a surety that these items will be sold out very quickly if the whole world tries to get them all at once again, so we have no excuse to ignore and not stock up a little.

      • 4

        Indeed, Robert and pnwsarah!  We need a thread for this if there isn’t one already (I think there may be).  It is those little wins that put the joy into prepping for me.  Giving OTC medications or bandages to a co-worker, having a biffy bag when needed in a remote neighborhood, providing a light for birthday cake candles to strangers in a restaurant from the car GHB (pre-covid).  Small everyday heroism (sometimes for yourself).  

      • 4

        That’s a great story! Moral of the story: never underestimate the importance of scissors (and of a good prep).

    • 2

      Bunch of good info here,

      I personally like to have an upper and lower radiator hose, and a serpentine belt w/tool.

      A guy once changed my wifes fan belt for her alongside the road, because we had a spare belt and the tools in the car.

      One time I lost my serpentine belt just as I arrived at my destination. Glad I had a spare. I had a spare because, about a year earlier I had lost one in a different vehicle.

      • 1

        Isn’t that a rare coincidence that the fan belt he had for your wife’s car was the exact size she needed? Aren’t they all different lengths and sizes according to vehicle make and model? 

      • 2

        No, we already had the spare belt for my wife’s car, and the tools.

        He just did what I would have done under the same circumstances. Fan belts are easy, s-belts can be miserable.

    • 4

      This is a very good thread and I can’t add to the equipment list but I have solved the heat & freezing problem for my food and water with a HABIT: I have a small tool/gym bag with my food & water and I take it in the house at night and bring it into the office during the day. I keep my lunch in it too. Nobody has ever questioned me at work. I keep it next to my system bag and I never forget it.

      • 1

        Ayuh, that’ll work.

    • 2

      I just read this report about a cable car problem and it made me realize how important it is to really think about preps in all cases! If I had been on that cable car I would have wanted more water, some hand and foot warmers, a few extra layers, plenty of snacks, and a phone charger. Even unusually well-prepped me would probably have had none of those things on a festive cable car ride on New Year’s Eve.

      • 1

        Not an issue for me. I would have Tom Cruised it and climbed out the top and down the cable to safety. 

        Just kidding! That would be scary to be stuck in there and freezing at night. You really do need to be prepared at all times. The hand and foot warmers probably would have been the most valuable.

      • 2

        Indeed.  Much of my prep on these sorts of events is by chance because I’m a freeze kitten typically (heavier coat than most)  and gluten intolerant so I often have food on me.  Otherwise it’s only skills.  

    • 1

      potable water (one gallon0, durable snacks,, headlamp, flasher beacon, jacket, gloves