Car essentials

12 minute read Published on Dec 20, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

A smiling woman scraping snow from a car windshield

There’s nothing worse than having an emergency while driving. Even if the emergency poses no danger to your life, dealing with a flat tire or running out of windshield wiper fluid can be incredibly stressful. Unfortunately, accidents happen, making it very possible that an unforeseen event will affect you on the road at some point in your life.

To prepare for this reality, we’ve put together a list of car essentials to keep in your vehicle at all times. From a valid car insurance policy to a spare car battery, keep reading for a complete list of car essentials to keep with you or in your vehicle.

A complete list of essential items to keep in your car

There are several items that are important to have in your car at all times. Whether you’re getting your car winter ready or simply want to be prepared should the unexpected happen, the car essentials below can help you start a car that won’t start, prevent you from getting stranded on the side of the road, ensure you remain comfortable while waiting for a tow truck, and much more.

Emergency kit

If you find yourself stranded, whether your car won’t start, you get stuck in the snow, or something else happens, having a basic emergency kit is crucial. A basic car emergency kit should include a wide range of items, such as a first aid kit, and should be useful in both the winter and summer months.

Consider adding the following items to your emergency kit:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Bottles of water
  • A blanket
  • An extra pair of shoes and a set of warm clothing or items to layer
  • A first aid kit that includes a seatbelt cutter and window punch
  • A shovel, ice scraper, and snowbrush in case you are stranded in the winter
  • A candle and a lighter or matches to keep your vehicle warm
  • A flashlight
  • A whistle

Ice scraper

Another essential to have in your car at all times, especially if you live somewhere with harsh winters, is an ice scraper. There will come a point when you need to scrape snow and ice off of your car. This might seem like a nuisance, but it’s necessary to increase visibility. Driving with snow or ice on your windshield is dangerous.

Not only does it make it harder to see the cars and people around you, but if you were driving at a high speed and a chunk of ice flew off your car, it could hit another vehicle and cause a collision.

Depending on where you live, there are a few types of ice scrapers that may be worth considering. A basic ice scraper is likely sufficient if you live somewhere that only receives a small amount of snow each winter. However, if you live somewhere that experiences moderate snowfall, it is a smart idea to purchase a scraper that also has a brush. This dual scraper allows you to not only chisel away at the hard layers of packed snow and ice but also to brush off the top layer of freshly fallen snow.

Finally, if you live in an area with heavy snowfall throughout the winter, consider purchasing an entirely separate snow broom that can push off several inches or feet of snow that have piled up on top of your car.

Portable charger

Technology can help keep us safe, but only if you have enough power to use your electronics, such as your smartphone. If you’re ever in an emergency, having a portable charger can help. For example, you need a smartphone to call for help and alert people of your whereabouts. However, you can also take advantage of a smartphone’s other features, like a map or flashlight.

That said, you can only use your smartphone if it’s charged. That’s where having a portable charger comes in. By storing a portable charger in your car, you can extend the battery life of your smartphone and other electronics, which could make a big difference in an emergency. It might be especially important in the winter when cold temperatures can reduce battery life.

Spare tire

Having a spare tire in your car is another must. Why? Flat tires happen, and it’s best to be as prepared as possible. If you have a spare tire in your car, you can quickly resolve the issue. Just make sure that you store your tire properly to ensure that it remains in good condition.

Tire jack and lug wrench

Just as having a spare tire is important, so too are the tools that you will need to change a tire. Namely, a tire jack and a lug wrench. Without these tools, you won’t be able to change your flat tire which will render your spare tire useless.

Winter tires

Winter tires are nearly as important as a spare tire, especially if you live somewhere with extreme winter conditions. Cold weather can impact your tire’s capabilities, even if the roads are dry. Winter tires are more flexible than all-season tires, which offers better traction in cold weather.

Conversely, summer or all-season tires are less flexible and become more rigid as temperatures drop, which prevents them from gripping the road as effectively. Therefore, one of the top winter car maintenance tips is to install winter tires on your car and to have a spare winter tire in your car during the cold months in case you get a flat tire.

Emergency flare

It’s a good idea to keep an emergency flare or reflector in your car in case you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with no other way of calling for help. A flare immediately calls attention to you, letting others know of your whereabouts.

Whether it’s another car, a tow truck, or an emergency vehicle, sending up a flare can help someone find you sooner, especially if you are stuck at night or in inclement weather, like a blizzard.

Kitty litter

Believe it or not, kitty litter can be a lifesaver if you’re ever stuck in the snow. If you frequently drive on snow-covered roads, consider storing a bag of kitty litter in your trunk. Kitty litter provides traction, which is exactly what you need if your car is stuck in snow.

Spread the litter around the base of your tires, then get in your car, and try rocking it back and forth until you are free. If kitty litter is not something you want to carry you can alternate with sand or salt to gain traction so you can get unstuck from the snow.


A shovel is an essential that can be very helpful in the winter. While there are many times that a shovel can come in handy, it is essential if you ever get stuck in snow and need to dig yourself out. A shovel, even a small one, can help you make a clear path around each tire, making it easier to remove yourself if you get stuck.

Jumper cables

Car batteries die all the time and may be especially prone to doing so in cold weather, which drains a battery faster. This is why jumper cables are another car essential. Jumper cables can help you start your car in an emergency. If you have such cables with you, it makes it possible to get a jump from a neighbour or another driver.

The good news is that jumper cables are relatively inexpensive and nowadays, you can even find ones that feature USB connections so you can charge your electronics at the same time.

Owner’s manual

It’s always a good idea to keep a copy of your car’s owner’s manual in your vehicle. An owner’s manual contains all kinds of critical information, like the recommended fuel levels and load bearing weight.

Driver’s licence and registration

This should be an obvious one, but another essential to have in your car at all times while driving is your licence and registration. You need a valid driver’s licence to legally drive anywhere in Canada, and if you are ever pulled over, this is the first thing that a law enforcement officer will ask for. The same goes for your vehicle registration.

Before getting behind the wheel, double-check that your driver’s licence is in your wallet and that your vehicle registration is somewhere else in your car, such as the glove compartment. It is important to note that failure to present these documents to a police officer when asked can result in a fine.

A copy of your car insurance policy

Having a copy of your car insurance policy is another must. Car insurance in Toronto and everywhere else in Canada is mandatory, which means you cannot legally drive without it. If pulled over, a law enforcement officer will also ask for a copy of your policy. If you cannot provide a copy of your policy, you may be fined.

Learn more about the types of auto insurance that are required to drive in your province by contacting BrokerLink.


Tire pressure gauge

Yet another car essential to keep with you? A tire pressure gauge! This nifty tool allows you to check your tire pressure at any given time, which will make you aware of how depleted the pressure is and if it needs to be refilled.

Regular checks of all four tires are recommended, especially in the winter when tire pressure drops faster. The reality is that although you may not need a tire pressure gauge in an emergency, it is still an important essential given the importance of tire pressure.

Maintaining tire pressure can improve handling, promote greater fuel efficiency, and increase the lifespan of your tires.


WD-40 is another item to have on hand in your car. This lubricant can help you out in a wide range of situations, whether you’re swapping out a licence plate, trying to loosen a lug nut, or wanting to quiet a squeaky door. WD-40 can even be used to remove dirt and grease in your car.

Duct tape

Duct tape is great to have in your car in case you need to perform an emergency fix. While duct tape is not going to be a long-term solution, it can certainly help in the short term. For example, if your car is suffering from an unforeseen leak, crack, or break, or if something like your side or rear-view mirror falls off, you can perform a temporary fix with duct tape that will allow you to continue driving until you can resolve the issue permanently.

First aid kit

The importance of a first aid kit cannot be understated. Whether you’re travelling with children or simply want to be prepared in case of an emergency or acollision, having a first aid kit in your car will help.

A basic first aid kit should contain the following: bandages, ointment, gauze, scissors, and gloves. You can make a DIY kit yourself or purchase one from the store. Either way, having these medical essentials can help you clean up a cut or scrape quickly.


A multi-tool can be incredibly useful in a wide range of situations. As the name suggests, multi-tools contain multiple tools in one, ranging from scissors and a knife to a screwdriver with multiple heads.

Car hammer

In certain situations, a car hammer can save your life. A car hammer will allow you to break a window and escape your car in a major emergency where you cannot open your car door.

Nowadays, most car hammers also come with a seatbelt cutter, both of which can be lifesavers.

Windshield wiper fluid

Having an extra stash of windshield wipe field in your car is also important. While it likely won’t save your life, it can make driving safer, as if you run out of windshield wiper fluid mid-rain or snowstorm, you can easily replenish it. Without it, your visibility would be severely compromised, which could easily lead to a collision.


During the summer months, keeping a bottle of sunscreen in your car isn’t a bad idea. Although the windshield and windows of your car offer some protection against the sun’s harsh UV rays, they will not protect you completely.

Leaving your body exposed to the sun can wreak havoc on your skin and even contribute to health issues, such as skin cancer, down the line. Thus, if you drive regularly in the summer months or live somewhere that experiences a lot of sunshine, keep sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 in your car.

Driving gloves

Driving gloves might be another essential if you frequently drive in the sun. Again, UV rays can damage your skin, and the delicate skin of your hands may be even more prone to damage.

Consider purchasing a pair of fingerless driving gloves or tech-friendly gloves for driving. They can also help improve your grip on the steering wheel.


Finally, sunglasses are one last essential to keep in your vehicle at all times. In case we haven’t made it clear, visibility is everything when driving. Thus, you want to maximize visibility at all times.

If you have trouble seeing what’s in front of or around you due to sun glare, this can easily lead to an accident. Ensure your ability to see as best you can by keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car that you can put on anytime it’s sunny. Sun visors help but often aren’t enough.

Sunglasses, like sunscreen and driving gloves, can also prevent UV damage to your eyes. Sunglasses can also be necessary in the winter when sunlight reflects off the snow and causes bright winter scenes.

Auto insurance is another car essential

One car essential we want to go into detail about is auto insurance. Auto insurance coverage is perhaps the greatest essential of all given that you cannot legally drive in Canada without it. There are specific types of coverage you must have depending on the province you live in. In Ontario, motorists are required to carry the following types of car insurance:

Third-party liability coverage

Third-party liability car insurance is the first example of essential car insurance coverage. It is mandatory no matter what province you live in. Some provinces even stipulate a minimum amount of third-party liability insurance you must carry.

For example, in Ontario and Alberta, drivers must have $200,000 in third-party liability coverage at all times. This type of coverage is designed to pay for the costs associated with an at-fault accident, such as medical fees, repair bills, legal fees, and more.

Accident benefits coverage

Accident benefits coverage is another required coverage type in Ontario. It can be claimed if you get into a collision that results in bodily injury. Whether the policyholder was injured or someone else involved in the accident, accident benefits can be claimed.

This type of coverage can reimburse policyholders for funeral fees, loss of income, or healthcare not covered by health insurance like physical therapy or prescription medications.

Direct compensation

Direct compensation property damage coverage will help pay to repair your car if it is damaged in a collision. Please note that this coverage only applies if the policyholder did not cause the accident that led to the damage.

Uninsured automobile coverage

Finally, uninsured automobile coverage can help cover a range of expenses, like medical bills and repair bills, if a policyholder gets into an accident with a driver who does not have car insurance. It can reimburse you if you collide with a driver who is underinsured, meaning they do not have sufficient coverage to pay for the cost of the accident, or anonymous, in the case of a hit and run.

Although not mandatory, the following is a list of optional coverages that you may wish to add to your policy for extra protection:

Contact BrokerLink for a complete list of car essentials

If you want to learn more about the essentials that are worth having in your car at all times, contact BrokerLink. We can explain the benefits of keeping various tools and items in your car, as well as provide further insight into the importance of car insurance.

As auto insurance experts, any one of our licensed professionals can also help with tasks like renewing car insurance or even reporting a car accident. BrokerLink can help with all your car insurance needs, including finding you a fantastic policy. With our resources and expertise, we will make sure that we find coverage that not only meets your needs but that you can also afford.

Your dedicated insurance advisor will reach out to the top insurance companies in Canada, obtain quotes on your behalf, and compare them to ensure you are getting the most competitive rate possible.

Begin your car insurance journey by contacting BrokerLink and requesting a free quote. All BrokerLink car insurance quotes are 100% obligation-free. Give us a call, visit us in person, or use the online quote tool on our website to get started today.

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