One of the best feelings in the world is fixing something that has gone wrong. If you've ever broken down on a journey and been able to pop open the hood, fix the problem and then get back on your way, then you'll know just how accomplished and capable you tend to feel afterwards. And this is especially true if you happen to be with other people who will no doubt take note of your expertise and cool attitude in a crisis.
You know what's even better? Seeing someone else in trouble on the side of the road and pulling over to help them – like a knight in shining armor to the rescue!
While not every problem will be easily fixed, the next best thing is to be able to at least help everyone to remain comfortable and calm in a bad situation. Being well prepared is another good way to turn a potential crisis into a chance to feel smug instead.
For all these reasons, it's a good idea to keep certain supplies, tools and parts in your car in order to ensure you can avoid getting caught out and so that you can take every opportunity to be a hero.
Here are the most important examples of things you should keep in your car if you want to look like a pro and handle anything your car might throw at you…
This is the obvious one. It's all too easy to get a flat tire and in many cases it's simply not avoidable. In order to make sure this doesn't ruin your day then, you need to keep a spare tire in the back at all times and you need to know how to replace it.
Tire Inflater and Sealer
Sometimes you won't need to replace the tire but can instead simply fix it.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Keep one of these to hand and you can make sure your tire is suitable to drive on after making a spot repair.
There's no point having a spare tire if you can't actually use it. A jack is therefore useful in order to be able to lift your car up so that you can take the wheel off. At the same time, it's also useful for helping other people to remove their car tires and for performing a range of other jobs. If you want to get the air out of your brake fluid for instance, or if you want to replace your brake pads, then you will also benefit from being able to lift your car up with a jack.
Most new cars will come with the jack in the boot, but if you bought yours second hand you won't necessarily still have one. If you're unsure: check.
The last tool you absolutely need in order to be able to remove your tire is a wrench. This is what you'll use to take off your lug nuts and you need to ensure it's the right size for the job. Again, it should have come with your car.
A voltmeter allows you to find out how much current is coming from any particular part of your car – or whether it's reaching that part at all. This is very useful for diagnosing issues: for instance it can help you to tell if you have a flat battery, or to tell if you have a loose connection somewhere that's preventing your headlights from coming on.
General tools from screwdrivers to hammers are very useful if you are going to be fiddling around under the hood. These can be useful for undoing all sorts of screws or dislodging stubborn parts you're trying to remove.
WD-40 is incredibly useful for helping you to loosen nuts, screws and other parts and can also be used to help your lock cylinder to turn if you're having difficulty starting the ignition.
From smashed headlights to lose wing mirrors, there are few things that some well-placed duct tape can't fix.
If you are going to be routing around in the bonnet or climbing under your car, then bear in mind that the weather isn't always going to be on your side. Our cars tend to have something of a bad habit of having problems at the very most inopportune of moments.
This is why you need to keep a torch on you: so that when it's very dark out you can still see what you're doing and prevent an accident. It's also helpful if one of you needs to go and get help.
Jump leads are cables that you use in order to jump start a car by connecting to the battery. If you have an old car or an old battery that hasn't been replaced for a long time, then driving around with a pair of jump leads is a very good idea. Otherwise, this can be a great way to ensure you're ready to come to the rescue of other people who you find stranded on the side of the road.
Your Car Owner's Manual
Time and time again we are telling people to refer to their car owner's manual to find 'X'. It makes sense then to ensure it's always in your car.
Synthetic tape can be useful for fixing oil leaks. Say you have a leak in your oil line, you can use this as a temporary measure to plug the leak so you can keep on going.
Stop Leak Additive
Another solution is to use some stop leak additive. If you have an oil leak around one of your gaskets, then adding this fluid to your oil will help to soften and expand the gasket helping it to do a better job of sealing the leak – and it can last for months giving you plenty of time to make the repair.
Fluorescent Leak Detection System
This is a fluorescent substance you can add to your oil in order to locate the source of a leak. Handy for knowing where to put that silicone tape.
If you're a super-anal type and you worry about your bulb blowing in the middle of nowhere, you could always keep spares in the back of your car. This is a particularly good idea if your right headlight has just gone – it's only a matter of time until the left follows suit, so get two and keep one to hand.
Car Phone Charger
Sometimes the very best thing you can do to repair a problem with your car… is to call someone else who knows what they're doing (or who can at least tow you somewhere useful). To make sure you aren't left in the middle of nowhere with a dead phone, keep a car adapter with you so you can charge wherever you are.
A Blanket and Supplies
If you are left in the middle of nowhere waiting for help, then the best thing you can do to be a hero is to provide everyone with some water, some snacks and a blanket to huddle under. Keeping a first aid kit to hand is also a good idea with any medication that you or your family need regularly.