10 Items Every Driver Should Have in a Car Tool Kit

Broken car. Lady standing on the road

A car tool kit can be very useful for any car owner. We’ve listed 10 of the best items to keep in your tool kit in case of emergencies.

1. Duct Tape

Duct tape is one of the most versatile components in any tool kit. Its strong adhesive and waterproofing make it suitable for a huge variety of uses. You can use the tape to insulate two wires joined together, temporarily reattach a damaged side mirror, or even form a cup to drink out of.

2. Set of Wrenches

Wrenches are available in numerous sizes, and we recommend purchasing a set with a variety of sizes to fit the nuts and bolts in your car. Most car parts are connected by nuts and bolts. A handy wrench can save you time waiting for help. Sometimes you can temporarily fix a problem by simply tightening a bolt.

3. Set of Screwdrivers

Any car parts that aren’t connected by nuts and bolts use screws. Choose a set of screwdrivers that includes flat, Phillips, Torx, and square heads in several different sizes. This will ensure that you have the right screwdriver for any job. If possible, get a set with easy grip handles, as this makes working with a screwdriver very convenient.

4. Jumper Cables

Jumper cables are essential for your tool kit as they allow you to get another car battery working again very quickly. Most drivers don’t carry jumper cables, and if you have a set you can quickly get your friend or family member on the road again. We advise choosing the longest cables possible as they allow you options if you can’t park directly facing the other car’s hood.

5. Flashlight

A powerful flashlight can mean the difference between driving away or waiting for a repair or tow. Problems can happen at any time, and it’s extremely difficult to fix even a small problem at night without any light. It’s advisable to keep spare batteries for the flashlight. In addition, a flashlight that is adjustable or has a hanging feature is preferable. This will allow you to use both hands to fix a problem.

6. Water

Although strictly speaking it is not a tool, you should keep water as part of a toolkit. It can, for example, enable you to clean most substances or temporarily refill your cooling system. It’s also good to have water available if you have to wait for assistance to keep yourself hydrated.

7. Gloves and Warm Clothing

Wearing gloves and other warm clothing will make the task of clearing your car easier. It also doesn’t hurt to keep a few hand warmers in your car as well.

8. Blanket

Have an extra blanket around your house? Put one in your car. If you get standard or get in a crash, it will get cold fast, especially if your car won’t turn on.

9. Cell Phone Charger

Try to keep your phone charged before hitting the road, but always keep a cell phone charger in your car as well. You will need your phone to call for assistance if you are stuck or involved in a car crash.

10. Non-Perishable Snacks

If you get stranded, you may have to wait for assistance. Storing snacks in your car will come in handy in these situations. Some non-perishable snacks include granola bars, nuts, jerky and raisins, and remember to store them in a cool, dry location of your car.


(Modified article credit:













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What You Should Do If Your Car Won’t Start

Man checking his broke down car

It’s a nightmare for any driver when you try and start your car and nothing happens. It could be time or damage that can prevent an engine from starting immediately. We have listed a few possible reasons why your car won’t start and what you can do.


Dead Battery

Every driver probably experiences a dead battery at least once. A battery has a useful life of three to five years before it wears out. The chemical reactions that allow your battery to store energy will eventually cause it to fail. If you try and start your car and hear a clicking noise, your battery is the most likely culprit.

The battery must have enough charge to power the starter motor, which cranks your car. The clicking sound means the starter motor is trying to crank but isn’t receiving enough power. In this situation, a jump start is the best way to get your car mobile again so your technician can identify the problem. Once your car receives power from a jump start, the alternator will power your car long enough to get you to your service department.

Starter Motor

The battery charges the starter motor. This charge activates the start solenoid. The solenoid powers the starter, which then cranks the engine. If you don’t hear clicking from your car when you try and start it, this is a sign that the starter has failed. Unfortunately, a damaged starter will prevent your car from starting, and can’t be bypassed with a jump start.

Your technician will need to examine the starter motor. A damaged starter can be repaired, depending on the reason for the failure. A worn solenoid, for example, can be quickly replaced to resolve this problem.

Blocked Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter removes dangerous chemicals before they’re expelled from your exhaust. Over time carbon can build up in the converter and block it. A blocked converter forces the exhaust gases back into your engine.

If your engine starts and then dies in a few seconds, a blocked converter is the most likely cause. The flow of exhaust gases back into your engine chokes the engine and prevents the spark plugs from firing. Your technician should be able to easily clear the blockage to fix this problem.

If your car won’t start, the most important thing is to get it examined ASAP.


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How Long Has It Been Since Your Last Car Inspection?

Automobile mechanic repairman hands repairing a car engine autom

Have you recently had your vehicle inspected? If it’s been a while, or if this is your first time getting a car inspection, there are a few things you’ll want to have checked. Your local dealer can help with that!



Bumpers are one of a car’s most critical safety features, yet they are often overlooked during routine maintenance checks. They are made of metal or plastic and are situated at the front and back of the vehicle.

Bumpers are attached to the frame of the car with bolts or brackets. Over time, they can become loose or damaged. If they are not adequately secured, they can cause severe damage to the car during a collision. A good mechanic will examine the bumpers as part of a safety inspection to ensure they are secure and in good shape.

Clutch (if manual transmission)

The clutch allows the driver to engage and disengage the engine from the wheels and is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels. If the clutch is not maintained correctly, it can cause the car to slip or jerk when shifting gears, which can be dangerous.

In addition, a worn clutch can also make it difficult to change gears, and it can eventually lead to transmission failure. Therefore, it is essential to have the clutch checked regularly as part of a car’s safety inspection.


Mirrors are crucial in helping drivers drive safely, and they should be checked during a safety inspection. There are various types of mirrors, including rearview mirrors, side mirrors, and blind spot mirrors. Rearview mirrors give drivers a view of the cars behind them, while side mirrors provide a view of the cars next to and behind them. Blind spot mirrors help drivers see cars in their blind spots.

All three types of mirrors are essential for safety and should be inspected regularly to ensure they are clean and debris-free. In addition, any cracks or chips on the mirror surface should be repaired to avoid glare and distortion.

Engine Oil

Engine oil is essential for keeping a car’s engine running smoothly and efficiently. Over time, engine oil degrades and becomes contaminated with dirt, debris, and other materials. If this contamination is not removed, it can cause the engine to wear down prematurely and experience performance problems. As a result, it is crucial to have the engine oil changed regularly during a car safety inspection.

Maintaining your car’s health is crucial if you want to prevent any significant issues in the future.


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4 Tips for Getting a Car Loan

Happy and beautiful middle age business woman buying new car at

Are you looking for ways to afford a high-quality car this year? Getting financing is one of the best things you can do. To get the best rates for your car loan, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.


Get It From the Right Place

Where you get car financing from is going to affect the overall quality of your experience. This is why it’s important to do your research and get your loan from the right place.

So where exactly is the right place? Your best bet is to get your financing straight from your dealership. Dealers work with multiple lending partners including large national banks and local credit unions and can match your purchase with the best financing option. This flexibility and lender competition will help you get the best rates and ensure that the process of getting financing is as smooth as possible.

Maintain a Good Credit Score

A low credit score won’t stop you from getting a loan for your car, but it might mean that your interest rates are higher than you’d like. That’s because a low credit score indicates that you’re a higher risk. Keeping your score high will help you get the best rates.

That said if you’re looking for an effective way to boost your score, getting vehicle financing is a great option. Since they’re easy for almost anyone to get and paying your monthly payments on time helps prove you are trustworthy, vehicle financing can quickly boost your overall credit score.

Make As Big a Down Payment As Possible

When you get financing for your car, you’ll only need to put down a portion of the car’s total cost as your down payment. Many dealerships will even give you the option of putting down 0% as your down payment.

However, to keep your monthly payments reasonable, it’s a good idea to put down at least a portion. Ideally, you should be putting down at least 20% of the car’s total cost.

Make Your Payments on Time

Once you have your loan, you’ll start making your monthly payments. If you miss one or two payments because you didn’t have the funds or simply because you forgot, that’s usually nothing to worry about.

However, you don’t want to make a habit out of this. Not only will you be lowering your credit score if you do this, but you may also incur some hefty fees. Keep yourself in good financial health by paying your car payments on time.

Getting financing for your car will ensure that you can afford a quality car that’s going to last you a long time. Remember to visit your dealer to get the best financing rates.


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Am I Really Saving Money if I Buy a 30,000-Mile Car?

Visiting car dealership

We sat down again with Joe Malick and Rodney Braun from CarShop to get answers to questions that customers often ask.

How much life is really left in a 30,000-mile used car?

Joe: These days, a lot.

Rodney: A lot of people have it in their head that 100,000 miles is what they can expect. But that hasn’t been true for at least a decade, maybe two.

Joe: It used to be, you’ve got a domestic SUV with 150,000 miles on it, you cringed when you went to hit the starter. What am I going to hear? What lights are going to stay on?

Rodney: These days, you go out and do an appraisal of a car 150, even 175,000 miles old, and it’s basically still in pretty good shape – cosmetic issues more than anything mechanical.

Joe: Cars do last longer, so that 20,000-mile used car, even that 30,000-mile car, has a lot more value than it did even 5 or 6 years ago.

Rodney: Replace all soft parts on a regular basis, so hard parts don’t have to be replaced, and 200,000 miles is not unrealistic anymore.

So, you’re saying 200,000 with maintenance. What kind of maintenance?

Joe: Fluids and filters. Every 30 to 60,000 miles, just flush your brake fluid and get all the contaminants out of there.

Rodney: You want to flush the cooling system every 45 to 60,000 miles, instead of replacing a heater, cooler, water pump, head gasket at 120,000 miles.

Joe: Make sure the air filters get replaced. And your oil filter as well.

Rodney: Spark plugs… Tune ups are really 100,000 miles in most cars now.

Joe: Myself personally, I don’t like going beyond 60,000 miles for a transmission fluid flush. I’ve been doing that for years and years, and out of the dozens of cars I’ve owned I only had to replace a transmission once, and that’s because I bought a junker – an old Ford Bronco.

Rodney: Keep an eye on brake pads, so you don’t have to replace both brake pads and rotors, where you go down to metal on metal and kind of destroy everything.

Joe: Easiest thing for our customers to do is change the oil every 4 month or 4000 miles. Get your synthetic blend or full synthetic, whatever the car calls for, keep your oil filter changed, that’s your base.

I notice you’re talking synthetics and synthetic blends when it comes to oil.

Rodney: I don’t know how many vehicles we have that have been built in the last five years that don’t at least call for a synthetic blend.

Joe: I recommend full synthetic to everybody who asks me. It has properties to it, it has additives, and it doesn’t cook off like regular oil can. I say it’s great insurance – I would say cheap insurance, but you do spend a little more for synthetic oil. But to me, it’s worth every penny.

Rodney: Some manufacturers say you can go 10,000 with it, but that’s a risk not worth taking.

Joe: 10,000 is not a good idea.

If you’ve been using a conventional oil, can you just switch to synthetics?

Rodney: Sure, not a problem.

Joe: You can switch back and forth all the time if you wanted to.




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It’s a Gift

Miniature Red Car Carrying a big silver box on colorful bokeh background. Holiday Merry Christmas concept

Looking to wow them? Here’s a holiday list.

Sure, you’d love to give everyone a new car for the holidays. But when your list includes every niece and nephew, and you’re trying to keep every gift under $50 (or even $10 or $20), what’s the next best thing? Below are a baker’s dozen of the best car-related holiday gifts, good for drivers from Pennsylvania to Arizona, selected from a curated BuzzFeed list. For more details on where you can buy all the products listed here, it’s all in the BuzzFeed article listed at the end of the blog.


For neatniks

Cleaning slime for air vents

There are lots of weird, hard-to-clean places in cars. Ticarve Cleaning Gel can be pressed into tight spaces like putty, and when you pull it out, the dust and dirt comes out, too. Under $10.

Waterproof seat cover for pets

Got a best friend who really sheds?  Waterproof seat covers hang between the back seat and the front seat rests, so all surfaces are protected from clinging fur or mud, or if you live around the desert sands. Just under $20.

A great glass cleaner

It can be hard to get into the angled corners of car windshields and side windows. How about a pie-shaped window-cleaner for under $15?


For the mildly disorganized (like the rest of us)

Seat gap filler

How often have you dropped your cell phone through the seat? Drop Stop seat gap fillers fill those spaces — and are way more affordable than the manicure you may need after jamming your fingers into tight spaces to pry the phone out. Get two for about $20.

Sticky dash mat

Where do you put things like your phone or your car keys? How about a small washable mat that sticks to your dash, and all those other things can stick to? Under $10.

Glove box travel utensils

GoBites is a set of utensils — knife, fork and spoon — that fits into a folding travel case. Great if you want a salad or something besides finger food on the road. Under $15.


For parents

Engaging conversation topics

Want to get the kids away from their electronics on a road trip? Road Trip TableTopics are a set of cards with questions that get everyone talking about subjects beyond the inevitable “are we there yet? “Under $10.

Portable humidifier

If you drive in the desert sands, you know all about dry air. So how about a little humidifier that fits into the cup holder of your car and plugs into your cellphone charger. If you want, you can incorporate essential oils, which makes it even better against unwanted odors. About $20 – essential oils additional.

Plug-in cooler/warmer

Ok, we’re breaking our $50 limit here, but if you’re going on a long road trip, this might be worth it. It’s a small plug-in cooler, it not only cools things 32 degrees below room temperature, it can also warm them to 140 degrees. Nice for hotels, too. About $90.


For the teenager

LED lights for mood lighting

Want to jazz up any car? LED lights can be hidden in seat wells… and can be set to actually change with the music you’re playing. Under $15. 

Vent clips

You can buy all kinds of spangly accessories for your car (like steering wheel covers), but sparkly Mickey Mouse vent clips that have both bling and air fresheners inside might be the home run you’re looking for. Two for just over $20.

Cordless vacuums

Is your teen’s car as messy as his or her room? For bits of leaves that cling to their shoes, what could be better than a cordless vac? Black and Decker makes a nice one in the $50 range; the telescoping end gets into crevices where your kids have dropped the Goldfish snacks. THISWORX Car Vacuum has all sorts of car-specific tools and costs a few bucks less.


For anyone

Stupid car tray 

We would call it something more polite, but it’s actually called Stupid Car Tray. Very versatile, very utilitarian, very good for kids or anyone who uses their passenger seat as a dining table when on the go. About $35.


Other ideas: 

We’ve given you our short list, but there are dozens more ideas. Here are three good sources with more than you — or they — could ask for.

BuzzFeed Gifts for Anyone Who Absolutely Loves Their Car

Best Gifts for Car Lovers

Road Show Gifts for Car Lovers under $100 



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The Importance of an Oil Change

oil change

The oil in your car is important for many reasons. Not only does it keep our engine components running smoothly, but it also prevents the engine from overheating. Making sure your oil is replaced regularly is crucial to the longevity of your vehicle. Below are a few tips on when you should replace your oil and how you check it.


Why Change Your Oil?

Your car’s oil, like everything, wears down over time. If not changed regularly, it can thicken and eventually cause engine damage. To prevent this, changing your oil every 5,000 to 10,000 miles is a good idea. Though if you have an older vehicle, it’s better to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

When to Check Oil Levels?

Over time, your car’s oil levels will drain from use. To determine your current levels, it’s a good idea to check your dipstick regularly. To get an accurate reading, turn off the engine and only check when it’s cold. If the vehicle was just turned off, wait about two hours before checking. If the engine is warm, 15-30 minutes should be fine. Following these instructions and the owner’s manual is the best way to get a more accurate oil level reading.

When to Change Your Oil?

As mentioned, changing your oil every 5,000 miles or so is recommended. But if you don’t change your oil that often, there are some signs you should be aware of. If your “oil light” comes on, it’s time to visit our service center. If you detect a leak or have low engine oil pressure, you should visit your dealer or service technician immediately to schedule a service appointment.






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Does Your Car Really Need Premium Gas?

Handsome man pours gasoline into tank of car

Got questions about cars? Joe Malick and Rodney Braun started at CarShop as service technicians years ago, and have worked with cars all their lives. We sat down to get answers that consumers often ask.

My car recommends premium gas. Should I spend the extra bucks or just go with regular?

Rodney: You want to match your octane to whatever you’re driving.

Joe: It’s what your engine is engineered to run on – that’s what you should target.

Rodney: In cars that require premium gas, their engines are set up for higher octane. Some engines, higher compression engines – like a turbo – need premium.

Joe: The ignition timing is a little bit different in those engines, also.

Rodney: In high performance engines, the higher the octane rating, you’re going to be less susceptible to engine pinging and knocks – things you hear when the fuel is burning at the wrong time.

Joe: Knocks and pings can put a hole right in your piston. They’ll give you an engine job if you let things like that go long enough.

Rodney: Don’t get too up tight about it. Putting in lower octane here or there, that’s not going to make a big difference. But long term, if you use premium gas in an engine that requires it, you’re going to get less deposits and it’ll run more optimally.

So if it says premium, the highest octane I can get?

Joe: Interestingly, not necessarily. Even though at a lot of gas stations, 93 octane is premium, a lot of times manufacturers talk premium gas, it’s 91 octane.

Rodney: So more mid-grade than super high premium in that case. That could help some people out, pricewise.

Joe: The way to know is to read your owner’s manual. Then compare to the numbers on the pump handles at your gas stations.

Rodney: Sometimes, you’ll find the recommended octane on the inside of the gas cap door.

Joe: One other thing to notice – sometimes those octane numbers are just recommended. Like I had a Nissan Sentra. Inside the gas cap door, it said “Premium fuel recommended for optimum performance.” I just put regular gas in that car all the time, and it ran fine, never had an issue. Now there are going to be other people who say, “I want every ounce of performance I can get out of my Sentra”, and they’ll put 91 or 93 in. That’s their choice.

Can I help my engine by putting premium fuel in from time to time?

Joe: Back in the old days, my Dad would say, “Fill your tank with the good stuff and go blow it out” – by which he meant go somewhere where you can get the RPMs up, just to burn off the deposits in the engine. Maybe that used to work back in the old days, when cars had carburetors and different gasses, but it’s antiquated advice today.

Rodney: If the engine isn’t running right, if you feel you have a performance problem or your engine light is on, 93 octane is not going to be a fix. The rare exception is if your engine is designed to run solely on 93 octane and you’re not using it – then it might help a bit.

Joe: People think higher octane is better gas because it’s more money, right? That’s not true. It’s just right for certain engines – the higher performance, higher-compression ones.

Rodney: A lot of people think they’ll get better gas mileage with premium, as well. Also, not true.

Joe: Again, you want to match the octane rating to whatever you’re driving.

Rodney: I think that’s where we started here.


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