questionswhat are essentials for a new car?

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Make sure there's a spare tire in the trunk - many new cars are leaving them out. If you don't have one, grab a can or two of fix-a-flat and keep them in the car.

vote-for14vote-against

Mobile phone.
AAA if you can afford it.

j5 j5
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Here are a couple of suggestions for car safety kits:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/03/roadside-emergency-kit-what-to-carry-with-you/index.htm

http://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-create-your-own-roadside-emergency-kit.html

I think these are both a bit much, but at least provide a good idea of things you might want to consider including in your car. Obviously, adjust yours to suit your location and car. For example, if you live in Miami, you probably aren't going to need an ice scraper.

vote-for10vote-against

Most insurance companies have a road side assistance plan that is inexpensive. Just make sure you're aware of the limitations so you can augment the coverage if needed. For example a co-worker thought she was covered, however she broke down on a road trip only to discover her coverage was limited to "local" areas only.

Items you should have: Flairs (I've used these many times), jumper cables, and a spare tire. I DO NOT recommend using "Fix-a-flat" if your car has a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) - the last time I used fix a flat it cost me $300.00 to replace the sensor it ruined.

vote-for8vote-against

jumper cables, tire pump, water, first aid kit. rope to tie down stuff. duct tape (always useful!). if you have power windows, the electrical system may short out if your car ends up under water in a canal or something and you can't open the door (b/c of the water pressure) or the window (no power), so something to break the window if necessary (hammer or window punch). phone and gps. rocket launcher for that car that cuts you off.

no1 no1
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THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED IN THE CAR IS KNOWLEDGE

to lazy to go look for links so you get a list instead:
patients (other driver is stupider than anyone thinks is possible)
decent insurance (& proof there of)
spare tire (that has air in it)
jack stand/car jack
knoweledge how to change said tire
jumper cables
blanket (nap in car in parkinglot, not while driving)
facial tissue
trashbag
car charger for cell phone
depending on state laws bluetooth device for cell phone
gps (nice but not required)
sunglasses (the glare will get you when you don't expect it)
emergency roadside kit (ten bucks at walmart during christmas gift season)

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED IN THE CAR IS KNOWLEDGE. know how it will handle if you slam the brakes, if you suddenly have to swerve, how the switches and knob controls react,.

and because it can't be said enough:
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED IN THE CAR IS KNOWLEDGE

vote-for9vote-against

Also, if you see a lion, don't ask, just GET IN THE CAR.

vote-for24vote-against

@no1:
jumper cables: For the battery powered torture device
tire pump: For the air powered torture device
Water: To keep victi..uh...guests hydrated
First aid kit: in case they hurt themselves struggling. Can't damage the goods you know.
Rope to tie down stuff: Like your guests
duct tape (always useful!): To keep guests from screaming for help
if you have power windows, the electrical system may short out if your car ends up under water in a canal or something and you can't open the door (b/c of the water pressure) or the window (no power), so something to break the window if necessary (hammer or window punch): Like when the cops find out you have guests in your trunk and you drive off the bridge to avoid capture.
phone and gps.: no GPS, too easy to track.

j5 j5
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I keep a small portable air pump in my car at all times; it has saved my butt several times.

vote-for4vote-against

All these answers and nobody's added a flashlight or flares?

vote-for3vote-against

@elforman: the fourth response by @ryanwb mentioned "flairs"

no1 no1
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@elforman: Yes they have, they just spelled it "flairs". I guess for clocking in for your shift at Chotchkie's?
;)

j5 j5
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@j5: I started reading @no1's reply and was thinking, "This is turning into an abduction list real quick". Glad I wasn't the only sick person on this thread. "It rubs the lotion into it's skin...."

vote-for6vote-against

At risk of pulling this thread back into helpful land, here is my 2 cents in addition to what has already been mentioned:
- maps (in the event the GPS craps out)
- snacks of some sort that will stay fresh in your car (granola bars, etc) in case you get stuck in traffic or lost or you have to escape using your car somewhere and that is your only source of food
- umbrella
- if you live in a snowy area, a snow shovel (or some kind of shovel) in the winter, in case you get stuck and need to dig yourself out
- basic first aid kit
- sunglasses
- pen and paper and a permanent marker (you always need it for some reason)
- bungee cords

vote-for6vote-against

Don't forget a lug wrench to go with that spare tire/ emergency jack. Probably not a problem with a new car, but I bought my car used and didn't think to check. Got my first flat tire in the middle of nowhere and had to walk 3 hours in TX summer heat to go buy a lug wrench since there wasn't one in my trunk.

As has been said jumper cables are also wonderful. It is a lot easier to find someone willing to give a jump than someone willing to give a jump who also has a set of cables lying around.

vote-for5vote-against

Your first car...I'm assuming you are young. Best advice I can give you is: when you get in the car, toss your texting device into the glove compartment. That crap can wait until you are at your destination. All the stuff everyone suggested is great, but worthless if you wreck your car because you were distracted. So the answer to the question: what to have in the car at all times -- presence of mind.

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A towel, you never know when you might need to clean the glass from the inside when you turn the corner and the sun blinds you.

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There are long stories behind these but two things I keep in my car: a penknife and a small package of picture wire.

cf cf
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For me personally: good stereo, safety, space.

Other concerns: four wheel drive, mileage, maintenance costs.

It really depends on what you're using the car for. If you just need point A to point B and groceries and what not, you probably dont need a lot of space. But if you'll travel a lot or you have big things, space is a necessity. Fancier cars are going to have higher costs to maintain. Snowy areas you'll likely want AWD.

Safety is something I feel the need to reiterate. Make sure your car is well rated. I was in a really bad accident a couple of years ago and arguably could have died or been severely injured. Thankfully I came out physically okay (seatbelts save lives), but it really solidified how important safety ratings are. This was an SUV, for the record. Tank of a car. Entire front end crumpled about a foot and the airbags did not deploy. Clearly not the safest car...though I suppose it did take the pretty much the entire hit. When I got the car I currently have [cont]

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I made damn sure to check it's safety and crash test ratings.

I can't imagine there's anyone who doesnt at least consider safety when purchasing a car, but I've gotten the impression that some people don't prioritize it as highly as they should...so make sure you stay safe.

vote-for1vote-against

Take the dead bodies out of the trunk