You probably already know you should have a flashlight and extra batteries in your car. Ditto for jumper cables, a first-aid kit, cell phone charger and tire gauge. And it’s always a good idea to have an umbrella and blanket, just in case. But there are several not-so-obvious car essentials that would be helpful to have on hand, too.
1. Disinfectant wipes: A must-have for so many uses, from picking up spills to cleaning dirty hands to dusting your dashboard.
2. Pen and paper: For leaving reminder notes, or jotting down brilliant ideas that hit you out of the blue, or just needing somewhere to deposit your used gum.
3. Energy bars: To tide you over if you have no time to stop for lunch before your next appointment.
4. Bottled water: Keep hydrated during hot weather and unexpected long rides. Replace periodically to keep your supply fresh.
5. Maps: Keep a U.S. map, a state map and an updated county map handy. It’s nice to be able to see the big picture — where you are and where you’re going.
6. WD-40: Not only can you loosen a lug nut with it, you can lubricate door latches, license plate bolts and screws; protect rubber trunk molding; get rid of dead bugs and dirt; remove dog slobber from seats and dashboard and many other uses.
7. Duct tape: Great for temporary fixes — whether holding your muffler in place, reattaching a side-view mirror or cleaning the dog hair off your clothes.
8. Kitty litter: Absorbs and eliminates odors quickly if someone gets sick in your car. Plus, it can help give you traction if you get stuck in snow.
9. Utility knife: With a knife, screwdriver, file and can opener, this multi-purpose tool can handle a thousand problems. Splurge and get one with scissors, pliers and even a magnifying glass — you won’t be sorry.
10. Matches: Keep a couple matchbooks or a box of safety matches in a freezer bag so they’ll stay dry. You never know when you might need a fire or, for that matter, to light a bunch of birthday candles.