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Ask Mechanic Shop Femme: What Should Every Vehicle Owner Always Have on Hand?

Mechanic Shop FemmeChaya Milchtein is an automotive educator, writer, and speaker. She'll be here every other week answering all your car questions. Need to know what engine oil you need? She's got you covered. Wondering what gas your car really needs? She has an answer. Let's untangle cars together.

Top Pick: Forney 52877 Jumper Cables | $190 | Amazon

Most vehicle owners want to take care of their car and do what it takes to keep it safe and running for many years to come. In a recent interview with AARP, I was asked what I think every vehicle owner should own. A tire pressure gauge, of course, was my answer. But what else should you own? How do you decide what should take up space, and what is worth the investment?

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Jumper Cables

Illustration for article titled Ask Mechanic Shop Femme: What Should Every Vehicle Owner Always Have on Hand?
Image: Forney

A good pair of jumper cables can get you out of a sticky situation. In the wintertime, having a pair on hand is even more critical. And don’t buy the cheapest ones you can find. A quality pair is worth the money and will last you for many many years. Pop these in your trunk and you’re good to go.

Tire Pressure Gauge

Illustration for article titled Ask Mechanic Shop Femme: What Should Every Vehicle Owner Always Have on Hand?
Image: AstroAI

I’m all about getting a handle on simple car maintenance and checking your tire pressure yourself is just that, simple. Twice a month, when your car is cold, take 5 minutes out of your morning and perform a simple check. Open the front door of your car, and look on the edge of the door or the B-pillar (where the door meets the frame). You’ll find an information label there that denotes the proper tire pressure for your specific vehicle. Don’t read the side of the tire!

There are many different tire pressure gauges out there. At the end of the day, which one you should get depends on which you’d like. You’re much more likely to use a gauge you like. I prefer a digital one with a light, but it’s really up to you.

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Washer Fluid

Illustration for article titled Ask Mechanic Shop Femme: What Should Every Vehicle Owner Always Have on Hand?
Image: Rain-X

Hello! If you’re driving around in the wintertime without washer fluid, your visibility is probably quite limited. When snow and salt fill the air, it looks as if your car is covered with a layer of film. That makes it tough to see, and your car less safe. I like this washer fluid from RainX, it’s designed for winter temperatures and has deicer as well.

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A Rag

Illustration for article titled Ask Mechanic Shop Femme: What Should Every Vehicle Owner Always Have on Hand?
Image: Simpli-Magic
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Don’t laugh! You need a rag, or paper towels, so that you can check your oil level. It’s needed because you can’t use the first reading, and you have to wipe the dipstick off to check the second level. It’s also useful for cleaning up spills and messes right away to help prevent interior damage.

Car Detailing Kit

Illustration for article titled Ask Mechanic Shop Femme: What Should Every Vehicle Owner Always Have on Hand?
Image: Chemical Guys
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Did you know that tree sap, bird droppings, salt, and acid rain will quickly damage the paint on your car? You don’t have to spend a lot of money getting your car detailed, but you should invest in the product to detail it yourself. This detail kit includes everything you need to clean your car, inside and out. Doing so will help protect your vehicle and avoid rust in the long run.

So tell me, what questions do you have for me to write about in future columns? Let me know in the comments below.

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Chaya Milchtein is an automotive educator, freelance writer, and empowerment speaker who's made it her mission to engage and empower people in her community and beyond.