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Buying your first car is a rite of passage. It’s easy to get so excited about getting behind the wheel for the first time that you forget the essentials that you should ensure you have in the car before you start driving.
Don’t worry — we’ve got your back. Here are the top 12 essentials all first-time car owners must have.
1. Energizer Jumper Battery Cables
Dead batteries are a common problem even in newer cars. All it takes is forgetting to turn off your headlights once and you could find yourself stranded in the parking lot at work.
One of the most important to keep in your car is a set of jumper cables. These allow you to jump-start your car by hooking it up to someone else’s battery and spare you from pushing your vehicle to a hilltop to start it. Look for high-quality cables with decent length so it’s easy to reach the other car’s battery.
2. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
Dead batteries might leave you stranded in a parking lot. A flat tire can leave you stranded just about anywhere. You can call AAA and get a tow or you can save a lot of money and keep a portable tire inflator in your trunk. Simply plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter and this pump will inflate your tires and even check your tire pressure.
3. Amiva Scissor Jack
Sometimes a compressor just won’t cut it and you need to swap out your flat tire for the inflated spare in your trunk. In that case, you’ll need to be able to get it off the ground. Your car may come with a jack, but it’s always a good idea to replace it with a stronger and more stable option that will keep you safe while you’re changing your tire on the side of the road.
(Note: This particular option is rated for 3,300 lbs. Make sure you’re getting a jack that is rated to support the weight of your chosen vehicle.)
4. Boulder Tools Heavy Duty Tire Repair Kit
A nail in your tire might suck but with the right tools on hand, it doesn’t have to be more than a minor inconvenience. This comprehensive tire repair kit has everything that first-time car owners will need to plug a hole in your tire, including instructions and even a few spare valve caps in case you lose one.
It might take some practice to get it right but once you master plugging your own tires, you’ll be ready to take on the world.
5. Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Car Safety Hammer
After an accident, getting out of your car should be one of your first priorities, but that can be challenging if your seat belt won’t unbuckle or your door won’t open.
These car safety hammers make it easier to break windows, cut seatbelts, and keep yourself safe while you wait for emergency services to arrive. Everyone, regardless of their experience behind the wheel, should have one of these in their car — just in case.
6. EVERLIT Auto Emergency First Aid Kit for Cars and Trucks
First aid kits are one of those things that most first-time car owners never think about until they need them, and in those situations, you don’t want to be the one who doesn’t have one handy.
This affordable first aid kit has all the basics that you’ll need to keep yourself safe if you’re stranded or in an accident, from bandages and alcohol swabs to emergency flares and even a tow rope.
7. Maglite LED 3-Cell D Flashlight
We know what you’re thinking — why do you need a flashlight when you can just turn on your phone? Keeping a flashlight in your car is for all those times when your phone might be dead or you’re conserving your battery while you wait for help to arrive. You can’t go wrong with a classic.
Pick up this affordable Maglite and keep it in your trunk for emergencies. Plus, with the solid steel construction, in a pinch, it can double as a weapon for self-defense.
8. Garage Monkey LED Road Safety Flare
Safety flares are an essential visibility tool if you’re stranded on the side of the road — especially in poor or severe weather conditions — but the traditional magnesium-powered flares can be incredibly dangerous.
Modern technology has made these old-school flares obsolete in favor of LED beacons. These provide just as much light without the fire hazard, plus they have replaceable batteries so you can keep using them for years to come.
9. Eastvolt General Purpose Tool Set
There are plenty of little repairs that you can do if you find yourself stuck in a parking lot or on the side of the road, but only if you have the right tools on hand. You don’t need an entire garage full of tools but you’ll want to have a solid set of tools on hand if something does come up.
10. AstroAI Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
Checking your tire pressure isn’t just important for keeping your tires inflated. Properly inflated tires impact everything from traction and performance to fuel economy. Checking your tire pressure should be something you do weekly.
Keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment and make it a point to check each tire regularly.
11. AOKIWO 126 Pcs Emergency Survival Kit
Ideally, you’ll never need any emergency supplies when you’re out driving but it’s one of those cases where it’s better to have them and not need them than to need them and be left wanting.
You don’t necessarily need an entire bug out bag in your trunk but a small collection of emergency supplies can make an enormous difference if you end up in an emergency situation.
12. Duck Max Strength Duct Tape
You should never go anywhere without duct tape. We joke that this sticky substance is like The Force — it has a light side, a dark side, and holds the universe together — but it really is one of the most useful things you could have in your trunk.
Be More Prepared Than Average First-Time Car Owners
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you might need when you buy your first car, but it is more than enough to get you started.
You don’t need to clutter up your car — just make sure you have everything you might need to stay safe and comfortable if something goes wrong while you’re behind the wheel.