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8 Things to Keep in Your Car in Case of Roadside Trouble

Along with that essential spare tire, there are a handful of less obvious items that you should keep in your car to make sure your next drive is a safe one.

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A Tire Iron and Jack

That spare tire isn’t going to do you a lot of good if you don’t have the proper tools to swap out the flat one. If you’ve never done it before, changing a flat can be a bit daunting, but a little know-how goes a long way. Brush up on the key stepsand if you still don’t feel confident, invest in some canned tire inflator like Fix-A-Flat instead. Regardless of how you choose to temporarily repair the tire, make sure you pick a safe spot to do it, and always turn your hazard lights on before you get to work.

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Photo: Shutterstock

A Candle and Matches

If your car breaks down in cold weather, a small candle lit inside the car can provide a surprising amount of light and, most importantly, warmth. Any candle will do, but tea lights tend to be tidier and have the added advantage that they don’t take up much space. Pop a few into your car’s first aid kit. An alternative is to pack a candle inside a tin can: A coffee can with a plastic lid is ideal – you can keep your matches and candle inside and everything should stay nice and dry.

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A Warm Blanket

Not only will a blanket complement that candle in keeping you warm in case of cold weather car trouble, it’s also great to have for sleepy kids and impromptu picnics. But if you don’t want a bulky blanket taking up valuable real estate in a tiny trunk, pick up a pack of Mylar Space Blankets. These inexpensive, silver, plastic-like sheets can fit in your glove compartment and will help you retain up to 90% of your body heat in cold conditions.

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A Road Map

We’re not talking about Mapquest, Google Maps, or your electronic GPS – we mean a good, old-fashioned paper map. Keep it in your glove compartment for those times when your GPS is on the fritz or your cellphone isn’t picking up a signal.

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Bungee Cords

Bungee cords are key if you’re the kind of person whose eyes are bigger than your car trunk, but besides using them for packing a new bike or an exciting antique market find into your car, bungees can come in handy if you get into trouble on the road. A bashed-in bumper may need a little extra support staying attached to your car while you drive to the mechanic and a broken hood latch can be temporarily remedied with one, too. 

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Jumper Cables

Car batteries can die in any kind of weather but they usually quit when we least expect them to. Jumper cables typically cost less than $20 and are easy to use (or will be after you read this quick refresher. If you’re going to be driving on less-travelled roads and don’t want to rely on someone else to help you out, you can also pick up an emergency battery booster and boost yourself!

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Duct Tape

Duct tape: It’s not just for home repairs and Canadian television comedies. If you’ve ever returned to the parking lot to find your driver’s side mirror dangling, you’ll know how handy a roll of duct tape can be as a stop-gap on the way to the body shop.

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A Multi-Function Car Emergency Tool

An absolute must-have for every glove compartment! These hardworking and compact tools function as flashlight, seatbelt cutter, window breaker, and an LED warning light that magnetically attaches to your car. The best part? They only cost around $10 and you can find them at most major retailers or order them online. Just be sure to stow yours in an easily accessible spot inside the car as opposed to in your trunk.