15 Must Have Items for Your Winter Auto Kit

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Colder weather means its time to check your emergency kits! Don't forget your car kit! Be certain that yours has these 15 Must Have Items for Your Winter Car Kit included!


Like it or not, colder weather is here for most of the country and you know what that means! No, I don’t mean higher power bills (well okay it DOES mean that but not JUST that)…its time to check the emergency kits you have in your cars! For a lot of folks, your kits won’t be too terribly different, and for some, this is your first time building it. Either way, take a look at these 15 Must Have Items for Your Winter Auto Kit and be sure that the items are included in yours! If you don’t have a kit, make sure you have one! You never know when you could be stranded on the road in the cold! A good sized Rubbermaid tote that will fit in your trunk is a great idea to keep all of your emergency items in.


Candle and Coffee Can – Most people would be surprised to find out how much heat a simple candle and an empty coffee can can put off. If you would be stranded in the cold, just light the candle and drip a bit of wax onto the bottom of the inside of the can. Use the wax to “glue” the candle to the can and let it burn. LOL be sure you’re not holding the can! They’ll get hot! LOL! Also make sure to crack your window a bit to allow any fumes that may seep from the candle to leave the vehicle without causing you or your family harm.

Jumper Cables – Cold weather can drain a car battery FAST! Make sure you have a quality set of jumper cables in your trunk just in case you need them! I can remember my Dad helping many people when I was a kid with his jumper cables because they didn’t have their own! Don’t be them! 🙂

Blankets – Ideally, you should have (1) blanket for each person who travels in your car frequently, but if you don’t have that many spare blankets, even 1 or 2 is better than nothing. If you’re looking at picking up something cheap, check out Harbor Freight for moving blankets. They’re $5.00 each and they’re actually really warm. Honestly, I use a moving blanket when we go camping in the early spring or fall because they ARE so warm.

Small shovel – If you live in a snow prone area, you know the pain of getting stuck somewhere. Carrying a small shovel can ease that burden. Folding shovels are awesome for this because they save space and work just as well.

Kitty litter – Speaking of getting stuck? Carrying a bag of kitty litter in your trunk will help with that as well. If you get stuck in a snowbank or on ice, sprinkle the litter under your tires. It will provide traction for your tires and may be the thing that gets you out of a tight spot.

Water – I know that none of us plan on being stuck somewhere for an extended amount of time, but let’s face it…it does happen. Keep a tote or small box in your car that has enough water for each person who will be riding with you. In a perfect world, you would carry enough for 3 days, but if that isn’t possible, a gallon or 2 could be what saves your life.

Food – You can survive longer without food than you can water (about 3 days for water, 3 weeks for food), but you should still carry food in your kit too. Make sure that the foods you’re keeping in your car are high in protein and calories. If you’re trying to stay warm, your body will burn calories faster than normal meaning you will need that extra boost. This isn’t the time to be worried about it going to your hips! Also, if you have kidlets, be sure that you keep extra snacks in your kit for them as well. Things like granola bars, raisins, fruit snacks, fruit pouches, individual peanut butter cups, travel soups, ready to eat freeze dried foods, and ready to eat tuna meals are fantastic for keeping in a tote in the truck.

Flashlights – I know that it seems a given to some folks, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people that do not carry a flashlight in their car. If you’re stuck alongside the road at night without one, you’ll wish you had one! Maglite brands are a great, quality flashlight that are well worth the money you pay for them. You don’t have to use Maglite brand, but at least have something to see by. Also be sure you have enough batteries in case the ones in the flashlight goes bad. Like I said above, cold will drain a battery quick so you’ll want to be sure you can easily replace them if you need.

A Map – In a world filled with Google Maps and Garmin, reading a map has gone the way of the Dodo bird! If you’re in BFE though, you may find yourself without a signal, on a road that the GPS doesn’t recognize and lost. That’s a very, VERY good way to run out of gas…lol. Carrying a map or atlas with you will give you a third alternative to finding your way back to where you should be. You can pick up an atlas at just about any gas station for a few bucks and state maps are even cheaper. Oh and make sure you know how to read that map. It won’t do you much good if you can’t.

Boredom busters for the kids – Kids are kids and sometimes they don’t understand what is going on. Little Timmy won’t care that the car is stuck or broke down…what he will care about is that he’s bored. Keeping a few travel games, coloring book and crayons, favorite reading books or whatever in the car will make sure that he has something to occupy himself with while Mom or Dad works on fixing the issue.

Gas can with gas – This is another one that you would think most people would do, but they don’t. We live in a world with a gas station on just about every corner so most people don’t think its needed. Tell that to someone who is broke down in a rural area with the nearest gas station 50 miles down the road. Keeping a gas can with just a few gallons of gas in your car could be your saving grace. You don’t need to keep enough to fill your tank, but you should have enough to get you to the nearest station. You know where you live and you know how far apart the gas stations are so only you can judge how much you’ll need. If you’re worried about the fuel degrading, add an additive like Stabil to it to keep it fresh.

First Aid Kit – Another no brainer, right? Nope. Its that whole “on every corner” thing again. Most moms will tell you that there are times in our kids lives where even a simple band-aid can go a long way. You don’t need to carry an expensive decked out kit, but you do need to carry something that will handle most minor emergencies. Band-aids, headache meds, allergy meds, stomach and car sick medicines, any diabetes supplies and of course any life saving allergy medications you may need. Also be sure that your kit contains up to date medical information for your entire family. If you were in an accident, it could save your life. (Says the blogger who got into an accident and almost had an ER doctor give me medicine that I’m allergic to.) If you take medication on a daily basis, you’ll also want to be sure you have a day or two supply kept in the car too.

Inexpensive Cell Phone – There have been plenty of winter accidents where the people involved have had their cell phone destroyed. Having a back up is never a bad plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just something simple that can call out. We personally use Republic Wireless since we can keep service on it for $5.00 per month. Even if you don’t have active service on it, still keep one there. ANY cell phone in the US can call 911…even if it doesn’t have active service.

Road Flares – Winter roads, especially if you live in the northern half of the country, can be dark and very, very dangerous…especially if you live outside of the city. If you get into an accident or end up broke down, make sure that you have a few road flares on hand to set up in front AND behind your car. This will help alert other drivers that you are there so they can slow down and pass you safely (or even pull over to help!). They’re cheap to buy and really are a lifesaving piece of equipment that not a lot of people think about.

Spare Tire and Tools – Imagine my surprise when just a few weeks ago, while headed down the interstate, we had a tire blow at 70mph. Yes. I did have a minor heart attack and my poor front fender fared worse than that. (Seriously..that blown tire ended up costing $500 in fender and front end damage.) I’m grateful that we had a spare tire, because amazingly, it was the one thing I hadn’t thought to check on in the weeks leading up to the blow out. It can be easy to forget because it is so out of sight. Make sure that your car has one and that the tire itself holds air well, has good threads and could be easily changed. While you’re back there, be sure to double check that you have a tire iron and jack too. That tire won’t do you much good if you haven’t got the tools you need to change it! Most cars come with a tire iron, but we prefer to buy a 4 way tire iron to keep in our car. They make changing a tire so much easier!


Bonus item:

A small toolbox – Along the lines of the tire and tools, keeping a small toolbox with a few wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers in your car isn’t a bad idea either. If you end up having an issue that is an easy fix, you’ll be grateful that you put those items in there. You can pick up small hand tools pretty cheap and a small toolbox isn’t going to break your budget either.

Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family. A true gypsy soul, her newest blog, Unsettled Hearts, chronicles the journey of her family to become full-time travelers. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

Click here to learn how I made over $100,000 blogging in 2016!
Stacy Barr
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  1. Excellent post and very necessary. Sometimes people just don’t think about what ‘could’ happen, until it’s too late. It’s not winter yet, but I’ve loaded my car with 2 sleeping bags, and a few supplies.

  2. Anonymouse says:

    I agree with everything except the gas can. If you drive a truck, go for it, keep a full gas can in the box! However, if you’re like me and drive a little Hyundai, it can be extremely dangerous!

    Plastic gas cans have been known to ignite or even explode at high temperatures or under certain conditions (such as static electricity… anyone else have carpet or fabric upholstery in their trunk?) I know in my part of the country (Saskatchewan, Canada) it is illegal to carry gas cans or propane tanks in a closed cab for that reason.

    You’re better off simply keeping your gas tank full, especially fueling up before long trips! If you are never running on “Almost empty,” you are less likely to need to fill up on the side of the road.

  3. Kathy Bartholomew says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people off the side of the roads and NO ONE with a simple tow strap. Takes up little space, but invaluable. This has to be put into these lists.

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