If you love cars, chances are you also love anything car-related. These could range from cool floor mats, attractive rims, audio system add-ons, and dozens of other amenities. But what about the more essential, not-so-cool items that can either save your life in an emergency or make things easy when the going gets rough? For instance, if you’re stranded on a lonesome stretch of interstate in the dark, how with oncoming traffic see you?

A Visibility Kit

Want to be seen when it matters? Make sure you have the three components of a roadside visibility kit, namely flares, light sticks, and several reflective triangles. Unfortunately, plenty of highway accidents happen simply because drivers can’t see stalled vehicles and crash into them. Carry high-quality flares, at least a dozen light sticks, and the large reflecting triangles like truck drivers use.

A Wash & Wax Kit

It’s not about emergencies but making sure you can clean and wax your car wherever you are, even after driving through muddy construction areas or in inclement weather. There are some excellent online resources where you can review a complete guide to adopting a routine for washing and waxing your car. Then, if you always have a basic wash/wax kit in the trunk, you’ll be ready to remove salt, debris, mud, and other gunk that eats away at paint, add a protective layer of wax, and continue your trip in a clean machine.


You don’t have to be a mechanic to use an on-board diagnostic (OBD) device. For less than $50, you can get the deluxe model called OBD II. It comes with simple instructions for hookup to your engine on the inside of your car, under the steering wheel. The device shows error codes you can look up in the instruction booklet and figure out exactly what’s wrong with your vehicle. It’s the best $50 you’ll ever spend.

A Full-Size Spare

Spend the extra money to replace your donut spare tire, the cheap one that came with your vehicle, with a full-size spare. This is an incredibly handy item if you suffer a flat in the middle of a long trip or in hazardous road conditions. Don’t forget to check the pressure in all five of your tires regularly so that your backup is good to go in anytime, anywhere.

The Big Four

We’re counting the big four as one item because they’re absolute necessities for safety and security while you drive. The four are a screwdriver, a set of jumper cables, a sharp utility knife, and a torque wrench. Often, a one-minute repair job can get you on your way, which is why the tools are a must. Likewise, jumper cables will save the day more often than you expect.

First Aid Kit

You can buy a complete kit at just about any auto parts store. Make sure your set includes a whistle and a reliable flashlight. What people often forget to do is read the instructions that come with the kit and learn how to use all the items before an emergency happens. Plus, toss in one or two sets up extra batteries for the flashlight.