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5 must-have safety supplies for your car

A professional mechanic wouldn’t leave home without these essentials

Aside from checking the oil and knowing how to gas up, I know very little about how to keep my car going. I know even less about how to manage any minor malfunction I might encounter.

Luckily for me, I married handy: My husband is a mechanic.

He’s helped countless stranded drivers, and his experiences have led to some solid insight into what we should carry in our cars at all times.

Here’s his list of must-have, don’t-leave-home-without items:

  1. Jumper cables—Get a set and learn to use them (it’s easy, I promise). A battery jump pack can also come in handy if you have a dead battery and there’s not another soul in sight who can share his or her car’s juice with you.
  2. A can of tire sealant—Designed to seal and inflate a tire in minutes, this is super handy to have. It can get you from being stranded on the side of the road to a nearby gas station in no time.
  3. A flashlight—Yes, there’s a flashlight app on your smartphone. But in the dead of night on a dimly lit side street, nothing beats an old-fashioned flashlight (just make sure to keep working batteries in it) for getting a better look at what made the awful noise before your car sputtered to a stop. At least then you can describe it better to whomever you’ve called for help.
  4. A car phone charger—Speaking of calling for help, make sure you’re able to reach out to someone if the need should arise.
  5. Cold-weather gear—You’ll be glad to have a couple of blankets, hand warmers and other gear to keep warm if you find yourself waiting for a tow truck during the winter.

Bonus tip: Check your spare tire whenever you have your oil changed, and make sure you have a jack and tire iron. You don’t want to discover you’re missing the proper tools or have a flat spare when you’re on the side of a busy freeway with a blown-out tire.

When all else fails, nothing beats a backup plan: Progressive’s Roadside Assistance. Add it to your policy, and one call gets you in touch with a service provider who can help get you up and running. Learn more.

The simple truth is that my husband’s seen countless situations where his customers would have been much better off if they just had a few things in their trunk. These things really can come in handy, even for someone with limited mechanical know-how.

What are your must-have safety items for the car?