Every Car Owner Needs These Things

Every driver should write a list of things they carry around in their car. Some are required by law (license, insurance, registration), some are essentials, and some are good to have. 

Driving around different places, on different types of roads, in various traffic patterns, and having passengers all factor into road-worthy prep. For the best roadside assistance in the Elgin, Ill. area, make sure you have KS Auto Care’s phone number. In addition to the security of having the best auto care, knowing what you should carry with you can help make your trips less stressful.


Things that you should keep in your car:

  •  Owner’s manual. The owner’s manual tells you how your car works and what you need to do to keep it going. It’s the most important thing you can carry in your car. The newer your vehicle is, the more sophisticated it is, and the more you’ll need the manual. You need to know these things: 
  • What the buttons do and what the lights mean. 
  • What do the dash warning lights mean?
  • How to open the fuel door.
  • Set your vehicle settings (lights, clock, alarms, etc.). 
  • Where the spare tire is. 
  • How to use the radio.
  • Why your car is “limping” (when the engine loses power). 
  • The type of fluids your vehicle requires. 
  • How the oil change reminder works.  
  • How to reset the oil change reminder.
  • How to set the trip computer. 
  • You need to know what TPMS stands for and how it works. (TPMS is your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system. )
  • What your vehicle’s interval services are.  
  • How to open the hood. 
  • All the awesome features your salesman should have shown you.
  • Keep insurance and registration papers updated in a marked envelope so you won’t fumble around in the glove compartment if you are ever stopped. You also need to have your driver’s license with you.
  • Maintenance records. Keep these to prove you’ve done the maintenance required by warranties and to show you’ve taken care of your car when you sell it.
  • Spare tire, jack, and lug wrench. Even if you’re not physically capable of changing a flat tire, know where these are.  
  • Tire pressure gauge. Your TPMS may tell you a tire is low but won’t tell you which tire. You’ll need this to find the bad tire and fill it to the correct pressure (which is information you’ll find in your owner’s manual).
  • Jumper cables. Learn how to use these to protect your car. When your battery dies, you may be able to find someone who can help, but not if no one has cables. You need to know how to use them so no one destroys your car by misusing them.

This list can be customized depending on the type and age of your vehicle. 

Good To Have 


  • Duct tape and zip ties. With these two items, you can hold together many parts until you can fix them properly.  
  • First aid kit. You know why you need this. Buy one or create your own that matches your family’s needs.
  • Flashlight. At least one good light. Consider a headlamp to keep your hands free.
  • Escape tool. These handy little tools will break a car window and slice a seatbelt. You never know if you’ll need this to save your life.  
  • Multi-tool. Sometimes called a leatherman’s tool, these compact kits contain everything from screwdrivers to pliers to knives.
  • Phone holder. In almost every state, cell phone usage must be hands-free. A phone holder will allow you to watch maps and make calls legally.
  • Dash camera. It’s one of those items that you only need once there’s an accident. It is even possible to get discounts on auto insurance plans with a dash camera.
  • Hand sanitizer. The pandemic taught us all about the importance of clean hands. Even in good times, you’ll pick up all sorts of nasty stuff at stores, parks, and gas stations. Taking the time to use hand sanitizer correctly can protect you from getting sick.
  • Paper towels and a trash bag. Recycled grocery bags are the best! 
  • Bug-out bag. What is that? It’s a duffel bag or a backpack that contains everything your family will need for about 72 hours, ready for you to use if you must leave your home in an emergency. Ideally, you’ll have one for each family member, bearing in mind that a child can’t carry as much as an adult. You can buy a kit, but they can be pricey. The bag should stay ready – don’t pull things out just because it’s convenient. It should include (at least):
    • Important paperwork
    • Critical medications
    • Easy to carry nutrient-dense food (protein bars are good)
    • Water
    • Multi-tool
    • Flashlight or headlamp
    • Minimal clothing for your environment
    • Minimal toiletries (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, baby wipes)
    • Space blanket 
    • Baby or pet supplies, if needed

You can find more details on bug-out bags on the internet.

Depending on the season

We’re thinking about winter – Elgin averages 33 inches of snow each year, with an average low January temperature of 16 degrees F and an average high of 30 – so be ready! 

  • Extra windshield washer fluid because you know what the roads are like in the winter!
  • Blanket. Your bug-out bag, stored in the trunk, should have all the winter supplies you need. If you don’t have a bag, at least put a blanket in your car during the winter (one for each passenger). 
  • Snacks and water. You may not need much, but being stuck on the interstate for 24 hours makes you hungry. Please don’t sit there miserable; you’d be surprised at the tailgating parties on the highway when strangers are stuck. If you’re lucky, you’ll be stalled next to an RV, and you know what that means: bathroom. It might be a good idea to share your snacks!
  • Kitty litter to help you get your car off the ice or out of the snowbank.  
  • Ice scraper and brush. You know why you need these – credit cards are not the answer to scraping northern Illinois winter off your car. 
  • Shovel. Pack a little one in your trunk, just in case.

And of course, one essential must-have, no matter the season, is a phone with an extra battery pack. 

Make Sure Your Car is Ready for Travel with KS Auto Care

KS Auto Care

Traveling is fun, but remember that things can happen that are beyond your control. You can avoid some incidents on the road, but others are still possible. Thinking “It can’t happen to me”  sets you up for unplanned misery. Being prepared is not only wise but also the best way to care for your loved ones in your vehicle. 

Do yourself a favor and establish a relationship with a trusted auto repair business with certified mechanics who can perform routine maintenance, fix your car problems, and advise you on the phone if you need help getting to the station and need advice. KS Auto Care is your go-to place in Elgin, Illinois, for all things car. 

Now, pat yourself on the back for putting that bug-out bag together and hit the road! And remember, when you need help, KS Auto Care is your preferred auto repair. We’re always here, whether you need a once-over for your drive or more extensive work, so call us. We’re KS Auto Care, and your safety is our top concern.