Last updated December 8th, 2023
When it comes to motoring , it always pays to prepare for the unexpected.
The next time you set out, there’s always the possibility that your car will break down or get a flat tyre. Whilst these are not welcome scenarios, if your car is stocked up with the right supplies and equipment, dealing with them will be much easier.
In this guide, we’ll cover a list of essential items that you should keep in your car at all times. Follow our checklist to avoid getting caught out in an emergency.
If a police officer pulls you over, they may request one or more of the following documents:
If you are pulled over by the police but do not have the required documents, you'll have 7 days to produce them at your local police station.
However, there are certain documents that you should not keep in your car. These include:
If stolen, any of these documents could be used to steal your identity. Therefore, you should keep them in a safe place at your home.
For more information on this topic, please visit our guide ‘Documents you should keep in your car’.
Although you are not legally required to carry a warning triangle in your car, we recommend doing so as an extra safety precaution.
In the event of an accident or a breakdown, warning triangles can be used in conjunction with your hazard warning lights to alert oncoming motorists that there is a stationary vehicle ahead. They are reflective, which helps to ensure they are visible in all conditions.
The Highway Code includes the following guidance about the use of warning triangles in an emergency:
“Put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways”.
A first aid kit will allow you to treat wounds and injuries whilst awaiting health care assistance. A basic first aid kit may include bandages, plasters and pain relief medication such as ibuprofen.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic for a few hours, there’s always the risk that your phone will run out of charge.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep a spare phone charger on board. What’s more, if you forget to charge your phone overnight, you can replenish the battery during your morning commute.
Keeping a jerrycan in your car can help ensure you don’t run out of fuel. When storing a jerrycan in your car, you should abide by the following regulations:
If you break down somewhere remote, you could be stuck for a long time. Keeping a supply of food and water on board will ensure you stay nourished and hydrated whilst waiting for assistance.
The following foods can be kept in your car for a long time:
The following foods can be kept in your car for around 6 months:
You should avoid keeping the following foods in your car, as they may become contaminated, especially during warmer weather:
Breakdowns frequently occur due to flat tyres. This is why it’s always a good idea to carry a spare. Many newer cars have a spare tyre, but if yours doesn’t, it’s well worth investing in one just in case.
You should also keep a jack and a wrench on board so that you can change a tyre if necessary.
You should maintain the correct tyre pressure at all times. Tyre pressure can affect many aspects of your car’s performance including:
Remember to check your tyre pressure on a regular basis and keep a tyre pump on board to top it up when necessary.
You should be able to find the recommended tyre pressure for your car in the handbook. This information may also be printed in the sill of the driver’s side door or inside the fuel tank flap. Read the guidance carefully, as the manufacturer may recommend different tyre pressures for the front and rear tyres.
You should also pay attention to your tyres’ tread depth – and proactively replace any tyres that are nearing the minimum legal tyre tread depth.
Jump leads can be used to resolve flat batteries. You’ll just require the assistance of another motorist - and you can use their car to jump-start yours.
You should familiarise yourself with how to jump start a car safely. The incorrect use of jump leads can cause electrical fires.
For your car to run safely, you must have ample fluid levels (e.g. oil, screen wash, brake fluid and coolant). Make sure you know how to check and top up each of these fluids when necessary.
A pair of sunglasses can help to reduce glare from the sun or reflections on wet roads. This reduces eye strain and provides a more comfortable driving experience.
Driving with frosted windows is illegal and highly dangerous. Therefore, you should always keep a scraper and a can of de-icer in your car, so that you can clear your windows quickly and easily.
Whilst many facilities now accept card and mobile payments, it’s always wise to carry some spare change in your car in case you encounter one that doesn’t.
This way, you’ll always have the means to pay for parking, toll roads, tyre pumps, car washes, toilets and any other services you find on your travels.
WD-40 is a versatile product that can be used to:
Therefore, it's a good idea to keep a can of WD-40 (or a similar product) in your car at all times.
If you use your phone to navigate or play music whilst driving, you should place it into a universal phone mount to minimise distraction. Aside from keeping your phone at eye level, a good holder will also prevent it from tumbling to the floor whilst you’re on the move.
Whilst you might want to be prepared for every eventuality, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your car can be counterproductive. This approach creates unnecessary clutter – and carrying all the extra weight around will hurt your fuel economy.
Therefore, when it comes to your car inventory, it’s better to prioritise according to your needs. For instance, if you regularly make long trips to the remote countryside, it makes good sense to pack extra food supplies … or if you regularly navigate with your smartphone, a charger and holder are both essentials.
Equipping your car wisely will ensure you’re ready for virtually any situation. We wish you safe travels wherever you go!