More Things To Carry in your Car

You can pack your toolbox with the best tools that money can buy, but all those fancy budgets and gizmos won’t do you any good if they’re in your garage at home when your car breaks down 30 miles from civilization. Don’t tempt fate: Keep these tools and materials on board at all times.

  • Rags: Rags should be clean and lint-free. Get rid of gasoline-soaked rags – they’re highly combustible. Never keep them in close places. Don’t use an oily rag on anything that isn’t oil already. Because your car contains a variety of substances that must be kept away from other substances, throw out or wash dirty rags, and use a clean one each time you start a job. Keep a clean, lint-free rag in your glove compartment; you’ll need it to wipe your ol or transmission dipstick.
  • Spare Parts: If you replace your spark plugs and your points, save the old ones if they’re not too worn. Carry them in your trunk compartment toolbox for quick replacements if something goes wrong with those in your engine. Just be sure to replace these substitutes with new ones immediately, because they won’t hold up well. The same goes for old, not-too-cruddy air filters, rotors, and other minor gizmos. A couple of extra nuts, bolts, and screws also help, in case you lose the ones you have or strip them accidentally.
  • Emergency Parts: Buy extra accessory belts, extra coolant hoses, an extra thermostat, an extra radiator cap, and extra fuses – they’re inexpensive and could get you out of a lot of trouble on a long trip.
  • Spare Tire: Check your spare tire often. It’s humiliating to go through the work of changing a tire only to find that your spare is flat, too. If your spare is worn beyond belief, most garages will send you a not-too-hideous second hand tire at a low prize. Make sure that it’s the right size.
  • Lug wrench: A lug wrench is sometimes provided, along with a jack, on new cars. You use it to remove the wheel or lug nuts when you change your tires. If you buy a lug wrench, get the cross-shaft kind, which gives you more leverage.
  • Snow and Ice Equipment: If you live in an area that’s cold in winter, try to carry tie chains or a bag of sand in case you find yourself dealing with icy conditions. A small shovel may prove useful for digging your tires out, and a scraper can clear your windshield if you’ve been parked in the snow and it’s iced over.  A can of de-icing fluid is useful in icy weather.
  • Spare tools: If you can’t carry your toolbox in your car all the time, try to leave a couple of screwdrivers, some standard-size combination wrenches , an adjustable wrench, and a can of penetrating oil in your trunk compartment. Some very handy gizmos that combine a variety of basic tools into one all-purpose, weird-looking instrument are also available.
  • Flashlight and reflectors: A flashlight is always a good addition to your glove compartment. It can help your kids locate dropped toys on the floor of the car, enable you to see under the hood if your car breaks down, and serve as an emergency light for oncoming traffic if you have to stop on the road for repairs. A flashlight with a red blinker is safest for this purpose. An inexpensive set of reflector triangles can save your life by making your stopped vehicle visible on the road. You can use flares, but they can be dangerous, and many states have rules regarding their use on highways.
  • Gloves: Keep a pair of gloves in the car for emergencies. Thin, tough, and comfortable dishwashing gloves are available at any discount auto parts store or supermarket. They cost little and keep the grease from under your fingernails. One problem, however, is that gasoline or solvent may melt them. If you prefer, industrial rubber gloves, available at swimming pool supply stores, aren’t affected by gasoline, solvent, or battery acid.
  • Hat: To keep the dust and grease out of your hair, and to prevent long hair from being caught in moving auto parts, wear a hat that you can afford to get dirty. A wooly watch cap or a baseball hat worn backwards works just fine.
  • Miscellaneous stuff: A roll of duct tape, a roll of electrician’s tape, a sharp knife, and scissors also come in handy.

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