7 Things You Absolutely Need to Have in Your Trunk

Your vehicle is the epicenter of your comfort zone, however, it often takes you to places that are all but safe and secure. Because of that, you need to understand just how important it is to be prepared for any situation. Luckily, your trunk is most likely big enough to help. This is especially important to think about since you might find yourself behind the wheel of a car whose origin you’re not familiar with (e.g. a new buy or a rental vehicle).

Nevertheless, you can’t have it all, seeing as how even the biggest of trucks have a limited amount of space. For instance, carrying a tent when going on a road trip or camping is a great idea, but carrying it around during your commute to work or when visiting your relatives in another town is just ludicrous. With that in mind and without further ado, here are 7 things you absolutely need to have in your trunk at all times.

7 Things You Absolutely Need to Have in Your Trunk

  1. Jumper Cables:
    You would be shocked at just how often the battery in your vehicle drains. Once this happens, you need only two things to get it up and running. First, you need a friendly passerby. Second, you need a set of jumper cables. Sure, there’s always a probability that a person you stop will have their own jumper cables, but why take the risk? As for the use, you just connect black to black and red to red, while carefully holding for the rubber part. One last tip: make sure that both cars are in neutral when you first connect the cables.
  2. First Aid Kit:
    The next thing you need in your vehicle is a sealed first aid kit. This is one of those items you hope you’ll never get to use, yet it is also something you can’t even risk starting your car without. No matter how quickly you call the EMT and how fast their response is, you might need to do a bit more in order to preserve life. First aid kits have some of the essential items necessary for you to do so.
  3. Hazard Vest and Triangle:
    One of the things that a lot of people neglect to understand is the gravity of an emergency breakdown. Sure, taking your car to a reliable car repair center is mandatory before any trip, however, unexpected things may happen, even if you do have a nearby mechanic on speed dial. You need to know how to protect your motionless vehicle on the side of the road.

    During the night, hazard vests and triangles will help you get spotted by arriving mechanic/towing service, thus preventing the possibility of getting missed or hit. Furthermore, some insurance companies, like Metromile, already provide 24/7 roadside assistance, which is yet another handy safeguard to have in mind.

  4. Spare Tire and Jack Lug Wrench:
    There is virtually no driver out there who hasn’t had a flat tire at least once in his or her life. Therefore, it’s outright irresponsible sitting behind the wheel, let alone going on a road trip, if you don’t know how to change a tire. Still, knowledge alone might not suffice, seeing as how you can’t unscrew the bolts with your bare hand (at least not if they’re safely fastened). That’s why you need a lug wrench, as well as a spare. Aside from this, you also need a jack in order to lift your car slightly off the ground. Once you have these three items, you’ll be able to safely replace any flat tire without any worry.
  5. Flashlight:
    The next item you absolutely must have in your trunk is a flashlight. Keep in mind that some on-road accidents may happen at night. Needless to say, your level of mechanical prowess is completely irrelevant if you can’t see what you’re doing. Fortunately, a flashlight doesn’t take much space, which is why some prefer to keep it up front in the glove compartment. In this way, you can get your hands on it as soon as the vehicle stops.
  6. Air Pump:
    While some people may disagree on this point, it’s incredibly important to have an air pump with you. Sure, a spare tire is always a more reliable solution but what happens if two of your tires go flat. At least one of them might be inflated so why wouldn’t you have a device that can help you do that in your trunk.
  7. Blanket:
    Finally, this item may seem a bit unexpected on the list, but there’s really no reason for such surprise. After all, a blanket is a multi-tool to be used on so many different occasions. On a road trip, you can use it as a surface on which you can set up your camp. In a situation where you’re forced to stop unexpectedly, you can use it to wrap yourself in and get a bit warmer, more comfortable sleep. And if you’re ever forced to pull something hot or dirty, you can wrap the blanket around it to act as an insulator. You would be surprised just how often the latter situation occurs.

At the very end, there are some additional things you might consider taking like some water and snacks. The key to the list was to include items you can just safely deposit in the trunk and forget you even have them there. Snacks may have an expiration date and aren’t really vital to urban commute, even during the rush hour. As for the above-listed seven items, they don’t take much space but make a world of difference.

Nick is a blogger and a management expert currently engaged in projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and a passionate traveler.

What To Do When You are Locked Out of Your Car

Car lockouts happen all the time, for all sorts of reasons. You might lock your keys in your car or lose them altogether. Your door locks or the key could break suddenly. It doesn’t matter if you are on a road trip or just on your way back from the grocery store, these things can happen with no warning. But when you are locked out of your car, it is important to remain calm and not to do anything that will damage your vehicle or cause you to injure yourself. Instead, take a look at some professionally recommended tips for getting back into your locked car.

    1. Troubleshoot Your Locks

    No matter the reason you have found yourself locked out of your car, you might be able to find a way back in by simply checking all of the doors. If your key is in the car or lost, there might be a door lock that did not close properly. Be sure to check that every door or window was successfully locked. If you do get in this way, be sure to fix the malfunctioning lock once you’ve retrieved your keys, as unlocked cars are the leading causes of car break-ins.

    If you have your keys, but your car door lock is broken or malfunctioning, try the other lock cylinders on your vehicle. Even if you don’t have a hatchback, you might be able to get into your car to unlock the doors through the trunk. Also, be sure to use your physical key (if you have one) to try to unlock the door, as there may be an issue with your car’s remote.

    2. Phone a Friend

    If you are nearby any friends or family, don’t hesitate to give them a call. Being locked out of your car can put you in a vulnerable position, even if it does not seem like a full-blown roadside emergency. You are put at risk by having to potentially get help from strangers or stand by the side of the road, so it is always a good idea to let people in your life know where you are and the situation you are facing.

    Best case scenario: one of the people you contact has a spare key you can use to get the car open without further incident. But even if they do not have a key, they may be able to bring you some supplies to help you manually unlock the door. Some tools that you might find helpful include; shoelaces (or comparable string), a door stop, and a wire coat hanger, to name a few.

    3. Use Your Shoelace

    This method requires your car to have post locks, which are the type of locks that stick straight up on the window-sill. You pull up to unlock them and can clearly see them from outside the car. If you have that style of lock, start by removing your shoelace. Eyeball around 5 inches from the middle of the lace. Tie a slip knot at that point. Work the shoelace between the door and the doorframe of the car at the midpoint, holding one end of the lace at the top of the window, and the other end on the side where the door would open.

    It will take a bit of finesse, but using a flossing motion, you should be able to loop the slip knot around the post lock. Then pull on both ends of the shoelace to grip the post and pull upward while continuing to restrict/tighten the knot. If you don’t have shoes with laces, ask the people you’re with.

    4. Reach Tool Inside

    Out of all the tips for purchasing a car, chances are you did not consider whether your vehicle had post locks or not. If your car doesn’t, don’t worry, you can still use another DIY-friendly method to get back into your locked car. You will need a wedge-shaped object (a rubber door stop will suffice), and a thin, strong, rod-like tool. Create a gap between your door and the door frame with the wedge and then insert the long-reach tool into the gap to try and manipulate the lock.

    You’ll want to place a small piece of fabric over the wedge so that inserting it does not scuff any part of the car. Also, do not make the gap too wide or hold it open too long, as this could damage the door or the window glass. If you can get something like a wire hanger, you might be able to bend the reach tool to work better/faster.

    5. Get Professional Help

    Any of the professionals listed below can come to your location, but you do need to know where your car is. Using the GPS function on your Metromile App, you can locate your car even if you had to leave it to get a signal. For customers with roadside assistance support, help will come to your location and open your car.

    In some areas, the police will respond to non-emergency car lockouts, but it is best not to clog up the line if there nothing pressing about the situation (such as a child locked in the car). For those who do not have roadside assistance, you can contact a car locksmith. They will be able to open your car without causing harm, fix any broken locks that may have led to this predicament, and make you new keys if yours have been lost or broken.

There are a lot of ways to open a locked car and the options listed here are the easiest to execute and present the least amount of risk of harm to yourself and/or your vehicle. I do not recommend breaking the window, as this presents both of these risks. And tools that enter the car door, such as slim jims, are a bit risky nowadays as modern cars have many important wires stored in these spaces. Stick to these five methods and you will be able to get your car open safely.

Ralph Goodman is a security expert and lead writer for the Lock Blog, the #1 locksmith blog on the Internet. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about locks, safety and security. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, homeowners, locksmiths, and security professionals. Ralph has been featured widely throughout the web on sites such as Business Insider, Zillow, Bluetooth, Apartments.com, CIO and Safewise.

College Car Care 101: Get Back to School Ready

The school year is upon us and while you’re thinking about textbooks, school supplies and student loans, getting your car ready to go is probably the last thing on your mind. Parking, gas, insurance and car maintenance can be expensive, though. Don’t leave it until the moment you’re loading the trunk to think about your car, as there are certainly some things you can do ahead of time to save you money and keep you safe when you go back to school.

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  1. Consider leaving your car at home. College campuses offer a variety of ways to get around including campus shuttles and many public transportation options. Sometimes city transit or even your college will offer student rates or public transportation discounts. Since you’ll likely live on or near campus, biking or walking to class are always great options as well.
  2. Take it for a tune up. If leaving your car at home isn’t an option, take the time to get your car ready for the school year. Check the levels of coolant, oil, brake and power steering fluid. Check your windshield wipers, battery, tire pressure and walk around the vehicle to check all the lights including headlights, turn signals, brake signals and emergency flashing lights. Lastly, give it a good car wash and even consider detailing the inside. If you’re a Metromile customer, our smart driving app will keep you alerted to your car health.
  3. Share the road. College campuses are congested and may bring new commuting challenges with campus buses, bikes and lots of students. Colleges often have very specific parking procedures and drop-off zones so be sure you know the safest place to park your car. Never block crosswalks, stop and yield to all pedestrians and be alert at all times.
  4. Have an emergency kit. You never know when your battery might die or another problem might arise! A car emergency kit is a great way to stay prepared and will keep you from depending on costly roadside assistance for minor problems. Your emergency kit should include jumper cables, a tire gauge, a flashlight, a small tool kit, duct tape, rags and a fluorescent emergency sign. Add a first-aid kit, a bottle of water, a blanket and some granola bars in case something happens and you’re stranded for some time.
  5. Earn extra cash. If you find you don’t use your car much, consider renting it out using a peer-to-peer car rental service like Getaround. If you find students who have similar schedules or even live in a nearby hometown, consider carpooling and they’ll reimburse you for gas. You can also use your car for many on-demand jobs such as driving for Uber or Lyft, or food delivery services like Postmates.

Finally, follow these tips to further maximize your savings during the school year and consider switching to pay-per-mile car insurance. Your monthly bill will be based on the miles you drive, so if you don’t drive much, you won’t pay much. And don’t worry about the occasional road trip or long drive home during school breaks. With Metromile, you won’t pay for any miles driven over 250 a day (150 in certain states). Try getting a quote to see potential savings.

How to Get the Best Fuel Economy for Your Car

The following is a guest post from YourMechanic, which delivers mobile car repair by certified mechanics in over 700 U.S. cities. Their top-rated technicians can perform over 600 services at your home or office for up to 30% less than shops and dealers.

Every driver wants better fuel economy, and there are a range of methods to get every last mile out of a tank of gas. Here we look at different parts of your car that affect fuel economy, and share some tips that can save you dollars at the pump.

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Change Your Air Filters

The air filter is what your engine breathes through, so it can be the case that a dirty air filter will reduce your fuel economy. This is mainly true if your car has a carbureted engine (common before 1980), as modern fuel-injected engines have onboard computers that adjust the air-fuel mixture on the fly. Still, it’s important to replace the air filter when it gets dirty. We recommend every oil change or two, especially if you live in a dusty or dirty environment.

Maintain Correct Tire Pressure

Maintaining correct tire pressure is one of the easiest ways to improve your fuel economy. Think your tires are fine? It’s worth checking: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one-third of cars have underinflated tires. Underinflated tires have more friction and resistance on the road, leading to increased fuel consumption (plus premature tire wear and a higher risk of blowouts). You can use the air compressor many gas stations have to check and fill your tires once a month.

Be Mindful With Cruise Control

Keeping a steady speed using cruise control is a great way to conserve fuel. On a flat and level road, your engine can maintain efficiency. However, chances are the road you’re on has changes in elevation. When your cruise control senses an incline, it opens the throttle to maintain your speed. That rate of acceleration could be more rapid than how you would accelerate on your own. Turn off cruise control when you approach hills, accelerate gently, then turn it back on when the road levels out.

Drive an Automatic

To optimize your fuel economy, it’s best to drive a car with an automatic transmission. New automatics are becoming ultra-efficient through increasing gear counts – it’s not uncommon to see eight-speed automatics these days. Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) have “infinite” gears and can hold engine speed at an optimal point for fuel efficiency, even as you accelerate. Still, for enthusiasts, a few less MPG’s could be a worthwhile tradeoff for the increased fun of driving a car with a manual transmission.

Use the Correct Grade of Fuel

Your engine is tuned to run on a specific octane of gas. If you’re using premium in an engine that’s meant to run on regular, you’re pouring money down the drain – it simply won’t give you any benefit in power, performance, or efficiency. However, the opposite it not true: if your engine is rated for premium and you fill it with regular, you could see a reduction in performance between six to 10 percent. If you’re unsure, your car’s octane requirement should be under the fuel filler door.

Keep a Regular Maintenance Schedule

The fact is, the more you drive, the worse your car’s fuel economy is going to get. Normal driving will wear down your car’s components and reduce the tight manufacturing tolerances it had when it was brand new. Fortunately, this is a very gradual process that happens over tens of thousands of miles. Eventual degradation is unavoidable, but keeping a regular maintenance schedule helps maintain fuel efficiency. We can come to your home or workplace to tune up your car and make sure it’s getting the best mileage it can.

Adopt Efficient Technology

In the past, large cars and SUVs burned up a lot more gas than their smaller counterparts. However, technology is leveling the field: hybrid drivetrains, clean diesel engines and low rolling resistance tires are a few ways that automakers are improving efficiency. These advancements mean new cars have better fuel economy than ever before, regardless of size. If you’re buying a new or used car, look for these features to help maximize your mileage.

The Future of Fuel Efficiency

Governmental standards and consumer demand has led to a reaction from the auto industry: the cars of today are more fuel efficient than ever before. Additionally, with hybrid and all-electric drivetrains on the rise, there are increasing options for cars that don’t use a drop of gasoline. It’s likely that in the next decade we’ll all be driving cars that get 50 miles per gallon or hundreds of miles to the charge. Who wouldn’t want to use less fuel?