Five things to keep in your car

A few years ago we published an article about keeping your car organized. We stand by that advice, but want to expand on it. Instead of just ways to keep your car organized, consider these five things you might wish to keep in the car. Some will keep you organized, others keep you on the road, while one item may be able to save your life.

First aid kit

First aid kits are fairly inexpensive and readily available. If you don’t want one that is premade, consider a DIY setup. Get ahold of something like a fishing tackle box and fill it with items the Red Cross recommends.

It’s not a bad idea to take CPR/first aid classes, either.

A window smasher

Unless you’re a Hollywood action hero, the glass used in car windows is very hard to break. Keep a window smasher in the glove box or center console. Find one with a built-in seatbelt cutter, like one by LifeHammer or GOOACC. Again, make sure it’s stored within reach of the driver’s seat (it’s useless in the trunk) and that all potential drivers know how to use it.

Emergency road assistance kit

Breaking down is always a bummer, but if you do it’s nice to be prepared. A good kit from AAA includes a flashlight, batteries, booster cables, and more. Toss in a blanket in case you break down in cold weather and some road flares and you’re good. Also, ensure your car has a charger for your phone, because for some reason trouble loves to happen just as your cell phone battery dies.

Bonus item: If you have room in the trunk of your car, a portable floor jack is a useful device. They are so much faster, effective, and easier to operate than the flimsy jacks that ship with most cars.

Shoe organizer

To keep items off seats and the car floor, consider hooking a small shoe organizer over the back of the front passenger’s seat to hold snacks, water, maps, tissues, napkins, or whatever else you regularly store in the cab of your car.

The manual

If you’re like me, you gave your car’s manual a look on the day you brought your car home, tossed it in the glove box, and erased its existence from your mind entirely. It’s really full of useful stuff like how to connect your Bluetooth devices, what the light on the dashboard means, and which kind of oil to use — all advice that can save you time and energy in the future.

Now, these things are bulky and heavy, so keep that in mind. Still, if you can make it work, do it. They’re awesome.

Now that your car is tidy, add the essentials and happy motoring.

Watch out for bumper clutter

Honor students, America, political figures, and the environment are all subjects that are routinely displayed on a bumper sticker. I’ve never been one to display my political or social beliefs on a sticker on the back of my car, but it seems that many people enjoy displaying things on the bumper of their car. To each their own, but some drivers feel that they must wallpaper the back of their car with just about every conceivable sticker they can find. It turns out, that the over use of bumper stickers may have a correlation with incidents of “road rage.”

Dale Jewett, citing a Nature article in AutoWeek, writes about the possible correlation between bumper stickers and aggressive driving:

“The number of territory markers predicted road rage better than vehicle value, condition or any of the things that we normally associate with aggressive driving,” psychologist William Szlemko said. “What’s more, only the number of bumper stickers, and not their content, predicted road rage.”

I’m not sure of the merits of this study, but it sounds legitimate enough to me to keep bumper stickers in high numbers off the back of my car.

For more on the study behind the AutoWeek article, check out the Nature magazine article (registration required).

The ineffiency of a cluttered car

We have given some tips on keeping your car uncluttered in the past. Recently, this aspect of clutter popped into my head again when I rode in a car that was unbelievably packed with anything and everything the driver had brought into the car over the years. I’m not exactly sure why some people feel the need to use their vehicle as a trash can, but the back seats of the vehicle I rode in were rendered useless by the amount of junk that was strewn about them.

In an article by Karen Youso of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, she brings up some valid problems that extreme car clutter can cause for a vehicle:

“No matter the reason, however, operating a cluttermobile has some real drawbacks.

‘All that junk adds weight, and that affects fuel economy, especially in town, with its stop-and-go driving,’ said Bruce Jones, professor of automotive engineering technology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The heavier a car is, the more force or torque is needed to get it going again once it’s stopped, he explained.

And, in turn, it takes more effort to stop a moving junk car. The brakes won’t last as long…

…More important, however, is safety. The stuff inside cars can become ‘weapons’ in a crash, and not just in a roll-over or a serious collision. Hitting something at 30 miles per hour might stop your car, but it doesn’t stop all the stuff inside from flying around. If anything strikes an occupant, it can severely injure and possibly kill them, Marose said.

In addition, when the airbag deploys, it comes out at about 200 miles per hour. Any object in its way is ejected at nearly the same speed, with the same consequences, he added.”

Whether you work out of your vehicle or you have a few children to tote around, make sure your vehicle is clutter free. The safety of yourself and your passengers may one day depend on it.

Bucketless car wash

Green EarthIf you hate washing your car as much as I do, you may want to check out Green Earth Waterless Car Wash from Lucky Earth Products. From the CNET’s Crave blog:

The compound–made out of water, coconut extracts, silicone, and a bit of salt–gets misted onto your car. Once there, it attracts dirt via electrostatic principles and encapsulates it. The owner then wipes their car with a soft cloth.

A $20 jug containing 32 ounces of the liquid is good for about 10 car washes. Additionally, the company has liquids for cleaning tires (Tire Shine) and stains (Oopsie Baby).

The race car circuit uses a similar method for washing their cars, explained Tamara Garcia, a Lucky Earth representative. The company basically took the idea but came up with a cleaning formula that is made from more environmentally friendly substances.

So you can get rid of your bucket, sponges, and shammies and simply spray your car clean.

(via Crave)

Workspace of the Week: A car’s glove box

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Toffer’s glove box modification:

Toffer explains what is featured in the photograph:

I shoved my spare hipster PDA into the tissue dispenser of my glove box, took some pens and put them in the slot to load napkins and then taped a pad of re-stickable post-it notes to the side.

Repurposing a car’s glove box as an uncluttered, personal workspace is a brilliant idea! Thank you, Toffer, for the creative suggestion.

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.