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10 Things You Should Always Keep in Your Car

Find out what you need to be prepared for any situation on the road.
Published on December 7th, 2020
  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas

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Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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Australia's vast and diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities for exploration and adventure on the road. However, being prepared for the unexpected is key to ensuring a safe and smooth journey. From emergency supplies to practical tools, there are essential items that every Australian driver should always have in their car. Here's a comprehensive list of the top 10 must-haves for your car.

1. Spare tyre, jack and lug wrench

A flat tyre can happen anywhere, and having a spare allows you to replace it and continue your journey without relying on roadside assistance. There are two main types of spare tyres:

  • Full-sized spare: this is the most ideal option, matching the size and type of your regular tyres.
  • Space-saver spare: these are smaller, temporary-use tyres allowing you to reach a repair shop at reduced speeds.

Always check your car's manual to determine the type of tyre you need and the recommended inflation pressure. Additionally, ensure you have a jack and lug wrench compatible with your vehicle and understand how to use them safely.

2. First-aid kit

Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Being prepared with a basic first-aid kit can make a significant difference in an emergency. Your kit should include essential items like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, gauze pads, adhesive tape and scissors. Consider including items for specific needs, such as allergy medication or insect bite relief cream.

Remember to regularly check the expiry dates on all medications and medical supplies in your first-aid kit. Replace expired items to ensure their effectiveness.

3. Warning triangle and reflective vest

If you experience a breakdown or accident on the side of the road, visibility is critical for your safety. A reflective warning triangle – a bright orange, collapsible sign – placed a safe distance behind your car alerts approaching traffic. Meanwhile, a high-visibility reflective vest ensures you're clearly seen, especially at night or in low-light conditions.

4. Torch

A reliable torch is a versatile tool for any situation. It can help you check under the hood in case of engine trouble, navigate dark areas during roadside emergencies or simply illuminate your belongings at night. Opt for a durable and waterproof torch with a long battery life to ensure reliability when you need it most. Keep spare batteries on hand to avoid being caught in the dark without a source of light.

5. Jumper cables

A dead battery can be a frustrating experience, especially if you're far from help. Jumper cables allow you to jump-start your vehicle using power from another car's battery. Choose heavy-duty cables with sufficient length to reach between vehicles, and ensure they have sturdy clamps to securely connect to battery terminals. Familiarise yourself with the correct procedure for jump-starting a car to avoid any safety hazards, and consider carrying a portable car battery charger as an alternative solution for recharging your battery independently without needing another vehicle.

6. Non-perishable food and water

Being stranded on the side of the road can take longer than expected. Keeping a small stock of non-perishable food and bottled water in your car ensures you have basic supplies in case of unexpected delays or emergencies. Choose high-energy snacks like granola bars, nuts or dried fruits that won't spoil quickly and provide essential nutrients to keep you fuelled during extended stops. Store bottled water in a cool, dark place within your car to ensure it remains fresh and drinkable. Staying hydrated and nourished is crucial for maintaining energy and focus, especially during prolonged roadside situations.

7. Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses

Australia's harsh sun can be relentless. Keeping a broad-spectrum sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses readily available in your car protects you from harmful UV rays during unexpected stops or breakdowns. Sun protection is essential not just for long drives, but also for quick errands where you might be exposed for extended periods. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF rating to exposed skin, including your face, neck and arms, before stepping out of your vehicle. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat provides additional shade for your face and neck, reducing the risk of sunburn and heatstroke. Sunglasses with UV protection shield your eyes from bright sunlight and glare, enhancing visibility and reducing eye strain while driving.

8. Phone charger

While using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal in Australia, having a car charger ensures that your device remains powered during your journey. In case of emergencies or when parked, a charged phone allows you to make important calls, access navigation apps for directions, or communicate with others. Choose a car charger compatible with your phone's charging port to ensure reliable charging while on the road. You may also want to install a phone mount – making sure it adheres to traffic laws and doesn't obstruct your view.

9. Local maps and emergency contact information

While GPS navigation is convenient, relying solely on technology can be a risk. Keeping physical maps of your local area or the areas you will be travelling through can be a lifesaver if you lose signal or encounter technical difficulties. It's also crucial to have emergency contact information readily available, such as roadside assistance numbers and important phone numbers of family members or close contacts.

10. Blanket

Keeping a durable, easily washable blanket in your car can provide warmth and comfort in various situations. In case of unexpected delays, breakdowns or emergencies, a blanket can help keep you warm, especially during colder weather conditions. Additionally, it can serve as a makeshift picnic blanket for impromptu outings or provide a layer of protection when sitting on rough surfaces during outdoor activities.

Being prepared ensures that you are equipped for a range of situations on the road. From emergencies to unexpected delays, having these items readily available in your car enhances safety, convenience and peace of mind during your travels.

However, staying safe on the road isn’t just about the item’s you’re carrying. If you’re looking to upgrade your car, Savvy can help you find a loan to suit your needs. Our team can support you through the journey, comparing finance options from more than 40 lenders. Get started today!

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