Mechanic's Wire

To the untrained eye, this probably looks like just 20 feet of 18-gauge galvanized wire, right? Well, actually... that's all it is. But this little roll of wire is incredibly versatile and will come in handy!

Tip: Mechanic's wire is great for reattaching loose mufflers and exhaust parts, wiring trunks shut - or securing anything else that's falling off.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is great for temporarily fixing hose leaks, fixing busted side mirrors and hiding rust holes before your annual inspection. Duct tape is very easy to tear in both directions. You can make a piece of duct tape fit just about anything.

Tip: Duct tape is excellent for taping your mother-in-law's mouth shut. Not that we know anything about that.

Four-in-One Screwdriver

We especially like this tool because it's four screwdrivers in one--two straight blades and two sizes of Phillips ends, which sure beats carrying around a box of various sized screwdrivers. Look for one that's not a piece of junk, and feels sturdy and durable.


Look for a flashlight that's durable and dual-purpose, which doubles as a lantern or beacon. An alternative that we like is the Mag-lite brand flashlight. They're indestructible, but pretty costly. And, like any flashlight, after months of sitting in the back of your car, the batteries are often corroded. For a neat alternative, see the generator light below.

Tip: Store the batteries outside the flashlight, in a Zip-loc, if you want to make sure the flashlight doesn't accidentally turn on and drain the batteries. And have extra batteries on hand - who knows how long you'll need that light when the time comes.

Generator Light

If you've ever reached for your flashlight... only to discover that the batteries are dead, we've finally found a solution we like. A number of companies now produce flashlights that charge a nicad battery with a hand-cranked generator. Some of these even include a radio and a flashing beacon light.