Winter prep: 13 tools you should always keep in the car

The windy, slushy winter days are here, and it's crucial to prepare in advance for any car trouble. Keep these tools handy, and you'll be ready for any crisis that could strike during winter on the road. 

Reuters/Muhammad Hamed /File
A man shovels snow in front of his home during a snowstorm in Amman January 9, 2015. (If you live in a climate or terrain where you might get bogged down in snow or mud, having a shovel on hand is a necessity.) A storm buffeted the Middle East with blizzards, rain and strong winds, keeping people at home across much of the region and raising concerns for Syrian refugees facing freezing temperatures in flimsy shelters. The storm is forecast to last several days, threatening further disruption in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have all been affected.

It's a cold, windy, and slushy winter day, so of course that's when your car decides it doesn't want to operate properly. Are you prepared for a flat tire, a dead battery, or the results of a collision? How about a loose screw or a blown fuse? Now is a good time to make sure you've got the tools you'll need to deal with any car trouble. We've compiled this list of the best tools and supplies you'll want to keep in your trunk.

In Case of Emergency

First Aid Kit
Work on a car long enough and you'll need to dress a pinched finger. The Red Cross suggests that your automotive first aid kit include bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, nonlatex gloves, and more.

Fire Extinguisher
If you car ever catches on fire, you're best advised to clear the area as fast as you can. If, however, you have a smoldering cigarette ash on your back seat or another minor flare-up, an extinguisher is the perfect tool to prevent a fire from getting out of hand.

Flares, LED Flashing Light, or Road Reflector
If you're broken down along the highway, take a tip from the truckers and carry flares, a reflective triangle, or LED flashing lights to warn other cars.

Handy Tools

Multi-Head Screwdriver and Wrench
A nice combo piece such as the Milwaukee 11-in-1 Multi-Tip Screwdriver ($9.97 with free shipping, a low by $6) and the Irwin VISE-GRIP 7" Locking Pliers ($8.54 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5) are great sized tools for your car repair kit.

Work Gloves
Lots of people wear a single glove when they pump their gas in order to keep the smell off their hand. Add its mate and you'll have a pair handy for working on your car, too.

It seems no one ever gets a flat tire on a sunny, dry, warm day. To be prepared for the dark, grab this super portable Rosewill 2.22-watt CREE LED Search Flashlight ($8.99 via coupon code "EMCAKAT85" with free shipping, a low by $6) with good batteries.

Tire Air Pressure Gauge
A properly inflated tire not only gets better gas mileage and provides better traction, but it also is less likely to be punctured. A fun alternative to the standard gauge are these Set of 4 Tire Pressure Valve Gauge Safety Caps ($7.18 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $4) that change color you when tires become low on air.

Snow Brush & Ice Scraper
A good snow brush can be your best friend, unless you're the kind of person that just clears a little hole in the windshield allowing you to only see what's immediately ahead of you. For more stubborn accumulation, check out this Thermal Ice Scrapper Mitt ($2.99 with free shipping, a low by $6).

Stuck & Stalled Solutions

Empty Gas Can
Who among us hasn't at some point run out of gas? When you need to hitch a ride to the gas station, having your own gas can will make the process less painful. A 6-gallon can is a good size, however, don't under any circumstances make a habit of carrying fuel in your car; it can become a fireball in an accident.

Jumper Cables & Portable Battery Charger
In the dead of winter, you don't want to get stranded with a dead battery and not have jumper cables. You'll also then be prepared as the Good Samaritan to provide a jump to another in need. Or, if no one is around to help, you'll need the Stanley SSLION Simple Start Car Battery Booster ($32.99 with free shipping, a low by $7) to crank up any reluctant vehicle battery; it even comes with a built-in flashlight.

If you live in a climate or terrain where you might get bogged down in snow or mud, having a shovel on hand is a necessity. A durable, foldable shovel like the Outdoor Life Folding Shovel ($10 with free in-store pickup, a low by $6) stores neatly and can get you out of a tough spot.

Don't want to mess with changing a tire? Pennzoil Fix-A-Flat Sealant 12-oz. Can ($7.49 with free in-store pickup, a low by $5) is an aerosol can that when sprayed into a wheel fills the tire and seals the leak from the inside. Fix-A-Flat is good for a temporary fix.

Salt, Sand, Kitty Litter, or Traction Mats
Sand, salt, or clean kitty litter will also help provide traction if you get caught in snow. And if you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, storing these materials in your trunk over the wheel well can help increase traction. Traction mats are also great. They are plastic troughs that you can lay down in front of your wheels to provide traction when stuck. Whatever your preference, this Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter 40-lb. Bag ($14.81 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $9) should keep you stocked through a whole winter.

Nothing is more frustrating than having car problems on the road and realizing that the tool or supply you need is back home in the garage. And these suggestions are just a start: other supplies to have on hand include a blanket, water and food, and more. Take a few minutes now to equip your car with the necessary stuff, and you can drive with one more valuable tool: peace of mind.

Tom Barlow is a contributing writer for DealNews, where this article first appeared. 

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.