Driving long distance can be a pleasure, but if something goes wrong with your vehicle, it can turn into a nightmare. Keeping some essential car parts in your car can prevent a good trip from going bad, and may well save you the costs of tow-trucks and mechanics.

Spark plug

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Spark plugs

Many manufacturers claim that a spark plug has to be changed only every 100,000 miles, but in practice few go for that long before needing replacement. The spark plug is the crucial last piece in the ignition system. Damage to it is often the reason that a car won’t start at all. Replacing a bust spark plug can also save your car from consuming too much fuel and prevent engine damage down the line.

Windshield wipers

Windshield wipers are simple to remove and replace. Carrying one or two spare windshield wipers can save you if you’re driving long distance and discover that your existing wipers are too worn to allow you to see properly in poor weather conditions. When your wiper blades are worn, they don’t clear water off the windshield fast enough. Instead of clearing your vision, they can become a hazardous distraction themselves.

Fuse box

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A fuse is often the sole cause for a number of electrical components in your vehicle not working. It could be that your lights don’t work, the CD player doesn’t turn on or the blinkers don’t blink. For a fraction of the cost of replacing or repairing individual electrical components, why not carry a fuse in your car – they’re cheap, small, and easy to replace. They may save you a lot of time and trouble down the road.

Fan belt

If your fan belt has broken or become loose, your car may exhibit a number of symptoms. Whereas older fan belts were simply for the radiator, today’s fan belts can power several parts under the hood, from your battery-charging alternator to the air conditioner’s compressor. Replacing the fan belt yourself may be more than you can handle, but it’s a good idea to carry one with you in case a road-side mechanic can’t provide one immediately.

Air filter

Image by Joe Doe 2010

Air filters

Air filters ensure that the fuel mixture in your engine doesn’t become too rich. In other words, they ensure that the right ratio of air to fuel is mixed and combusted in the engine. Some air filters can be cleaned out and put right back in, but it’s best to carry an extra air filter around in case yours becomes irreversibly damaged or too dirty to do its job properly.

Spare tires

Many car owners fail to purchase new spares after they’ve used their existing spare tires to replace flats. Especially if you drive long distances, it’s vital to have a spare tire that’s in reasonable condition. Also, changing a tire is something everyone who owns a car ought to know how to do, but having the right knowledge isn’t enough – you also need the right tools. This leads us to the next essential item to keep in your car.

Tool kit

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Tool Kit

A hydraulic jack, wrench and screwdriver are all must-haves in any careful driver’s car. Without these simple and inexpensive tools, many of the replacement jobs that you may need to do while pulled over in the middle of nowhere become impossible.

Radiator hoses

If you’re doing a lot of driving in hot weather, you may end up causing a leak in your radiator hose, which can stop your car dead in its tracks. If you can’t simply detach, snip off the leaking end and reattach it, you’re going to need to put a whole new hose in. Make sure to let your engine cool down before sticking your hands under the hood though.


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Canned Chemicals

Inflators and sealant for leaky tires, water for your radiator, brake fluid, oil, WD40 and Liquid Wrench Penetrating Oil can prevent a great day from turning bad. Don’t buy these items and then just keep them in the garage. Instead keep them in the car so you can use them whenever the need arises.

Jumper cables

Whether your vehicle’s battery dies or you happen to drive past someone else in need of assistance, you’ll be glad if you have jumper cables in your car.