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Essential car clutter - what  you actually need in your car!

Your car gets a good clear out maybe twice a year and then gradually turns back into a mobile trash-can over the next 6 months. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

If we’re lucky, the muddle might actually contain one or two handy items. If not, we’re left with a half-melted tube of lipstick and a dried-up kid’s Band-Aid with which to tackle the challenges our cars throw at us from time to time. 

To help us keep the clutter at bay – and make sure we’re not left stranded for the things we really need, here’s a list of the items a girl should have in her car.

Road triangle and emergency car kitCar kit for emergencies and sticky situations

Emergency first aid kit

For yourself, your passengers or (if you’re involved in an accident) other road users, an emergency first aid kit can take care of minor injuries. Check and replenish used items regularly.

Flashlight

Handy at night if you break down, especially if you have to walk to a roadside breakdown phone or attempt a repair on a poorly-lit street

Breakdown recovery card

Keep your breakdown recovery details in the car. Your handbag might seem like a great place to keep the card, but if you change your bag as often as you change your outfit, perhaps not.

Jump-start cables

Because you can’t rely on someone else having them if your car won’t start.

Owner’s manual

Full of useful information about your car, from the meaning of dashboard warning lights to the correct tyre pressure and the appropriate service intervals. At some point you’re bound to need it.

Mobile phone, fully charged, for emergencies

Most of us carry a mobile phone, but for added reassurance, keep a basic but functional, fully charged phone in the glove compartment. If it’s switched off most of the time the battery won’t lose much charge. Rather than mess around with pricey contracts, keep it topped up with credit on a pay as you go basis

Maps

Sat nav isn’t a sure-fire guarantee of getting where you want to go; in our experience GPS can and will drop off the face of the earth the moment you drive into an area you’re not familiar with. Keep a traditional map of Britain in the car and if you’re visiting a town or city for the first time, you might find a smaller scale map of that area helpful, too.

Tyre pressure gauge

It can be dangerous to drive on tyres with the incorrect pressure. Check your owner’s manual for the correct tyre pressure for your car, and if you can’t get to a service station before a long journey, use a tyre pressure gauge before you set off.

Reflective road sign

A useful safety device if you break down at the side of the road, a reflective road sign helps to make other road users aware of your presence.

Fire extinguisher

Private cars don’t have to carry a fire extinguisher in the UK, but it’s useful to have one and they’re not expensive. The RAC recommends a dry powder extinguisher with the BC or ABC rating.

Items to keep in your car in the winter

You probably wouldn’t keep these items in your car all the time, but if snow or ice is forecast during the winter months, a shovel and some road salt in the boot of your car could get you out of a tight spot – literally. For the same reason, a warm blanket, hat, scarf and gloves are worth keeping in the car too. If the worst happens and you have to hunker down until help arrives, you’ll need them.

Low winter sun can dazzle drivers and make driving uncomfortable, if not downright dangerous – it’s a good idea to keep sunglasses in the car all year round.

Items to keep in your car in the summer

Keep high factor sunscreen in the car during warmer months. Your arms, face and neck (and those of your passengers) can be exposed to intense, harmful sunlight through the car window on long journeys.

For general convenience

  • Umbrella and de-icer – be prepared for whatever the great British weather throws at you
  • tissues/wet wipes – especially if you frequently have children in the car
  • flat-heeled shoes – many women can’t drive without them
  • bottled water and high energy snacks with a long shelf life
  • mobile phone charger
  • emergency money – for parking, toll bridges and roads, calls from a phone booth
  • note-pad and pen to take details of accidents etc.

Most of these items will take up far less space than you might think, but if you’re going to carry around a boot full of bits and pieces, at least make sure they’re useful! With just a little preparation, you’ll be able to manage most roadside situations and save yourself a great deal of stress.