Essential Things Every Teen Driver Should Have in Their Car

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Essential Things Every Teen Driver Should Have in Their Car

Written by: Marybeth Bock

Without hesitation, I will readily admit that one of the scariest days for me as a parent was when my teenager pulled out of the driveway and drove off alone… IN A CAR.

It was a moment of both great triumph and sheer terror as I simultaneously celebrated this major milestone in my child’s life (and their independence) all while worrying, hoping and praying that my precious child would stay safe on the road. 

But the one thing I’ve come to realize is that no matter how much instruction our kids have before they take the wheel, no matter how well we try to prepare them and no matter how many long and arduous lectures we make them endure about the perils of driving, their safety is so often out of their control and ours.

Other drivers, weather conditions, unexpected road hazards (ever have to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting a couch on the freeway? Scary!) and just everyday car-related issues can be challenging (and sometimes, even treacherous) for anyone…especially new drivers who lack driving experience. 

It’s not something we want to think about, I know.

The mere thought of our kids getting into an accident, being stranded on the side of the road, or facing a situation in which they feel ill-equipped to handle is enough to get our hearts pounding. But as parents, it’s our job to prepare our kids. 

Here are a few things every teen driver should have in their car to prepare them, provide them with a little boost of driving confidence, keep them safe on the road and (hopefully) ease their (and our) worries just a bit.   

Essential Things Every Teen Driver Should Have in Their Car

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License, Insurance, Registration

It goes without saying that the moment your teen starts learning how to drive to the moment they get their driver’s license, they should carry their permit or driver’s license in their wallet at all times. Also, proof of insurance and the vehicle registration card should always be kept in the glove compartment. It’s the first thing police officers will ask for if they ever get pulled over and they’ll need to present it if they get into a fender bender (which teens have a tendency to do.)

Accident Checklist

When we’re teaching our teens how to drive, we also need to teach them what to do in the event they have a fender bender. Tuck an accident checklist in the glove compartment so they know exactly what to do.  Here are lots of good examples!

USB Mobile Device Charger (If the Car Doesn’t Have One) and a Charged Power Bank

Don’t let your teen get caught off guard while driving by having their phone die. Equip them with the tools they need so they’re never left without a way to reach you or authorities, if needed. 

Car Maintenance/Repair Items

Spare Tire, Jack, Tire Iron

If the car wheels require a special security key to remove, make sure that’s always in the car and your teen knows where it is. And if they haven’t been shown how to change a tire, have them check out this short video: “How to Change a Flat Tire Like a Boss.” It’s helpful to have a pair of work gloves in the car, as well.

Tire Pressure Gauge & Tire Sealant

A tire pressure gauge along with a tire inflater (here’s an inexpensive one on Amazon with great reviews) and a can of tire sealant, (which can plug a minor air leak just long enough for your teen to get to an auto shop) are great to have on hand if your teen gets a flat tire or notices their tire(s) are low. 

Jumper Cables & Emergency Battery Booster

Jumper cables and an emergency battery booster (in case another motorist isn’t around to use their car to help jump their battery), are a must-have in any teen’s vehicle. According to Life Hacker, “Jump-starters come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from 300 amps to 3,000 amps, but most fall between 4-600, which is enough for most vehicles. Expect to spend between $50 and $100 USD for a solid model.” Here’s a helpful video for teens to watch: How to Properly Jump Start a Car.

Car Repair Contact Information

Your teen should have apps and/or saved phone numbers downloaded on their phone for your insurance company and car repair membership or local shop. It’s a good idea to have physical copies of this information in the glove compartment as well, just in case their phone dies.

Safety Items

Emergency Escape Tool(s)

A seatbelt cutter and window breaker emergency escape tool are things we hope our kids will never have to use, but they can save their life in an emergency. These items should ideally be kept in the door well right next to the driver’s seat or in the glove compartment. 

Reflective Triangle or Flare

If your teen is ever stuck on the side of the road (especially at night), a reflective triangle or flare will help them be visible to other drivers. 

First Aid Kit

Having a well-stocked first-aid kit readily available in your teen’s car is a must.  (Check out this one on Amazon.) Bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, and gauze pads are some of the most important first-aid items that should be in every kit. A first-aid manual should also be accessible in the car in the event of an emergency.

Flash Light

Whether they’re trying to find stuff in the dark or trying to change a tire at night, a good flashlight is a must in any teen’s car. (Here’s one on Amazon that’s cheap with great reviews!)

Paper Map

Yep, it’s old school, I know. But if your teen is driving somewhere where they don’t have service or their phone dies, they’ll be happy they have a backup plan!

Extreme Weather Items

Ice Scraper

A must-have for those snowy/icy days.

Mylar Thermal Rescue Blanket

Mylar Rescue Blankets (like this one on Amazon) are great for staying warm in extreme conditions. They’re waterproof, windproof, and snowproof and can help retain as much as 90 percent of body heat – perfect for teens who live in cold or snowy climates.

Snow Tire Chains, Kitty Litter or Carpet Remnants

Getting stuck in the snow is a scary thought for any new driver. Having supplies on hand like snow tire chains, kitty litter or carpet remnants to place under tires will give them traction and a whole lot of peace of mind.

Comfort/Convenience Items

Umbrella or Rain Coat

There’s really nothing worse than getting stuck in a massive downpour and not having an umbrella. Tuck a compact umbrella or an inexpensive rain poncho in the side door of your teen’s car so they’ll always be ready for the next rainstorm. 

Emergency-Only $$ Stash

When my kids started driving, I tucked $20 in the glove compartment… just in case. You never know when they’ll need a few bucks for gas, food or if they need to catch a taxi. Chances are they won’t need it, but if they do, they’ll be awfully glad they have it. 

Extra Face Mask and Hand Sanitizer

As long as we continue to be in the midst of a global pandemic, these are must-haves in any car – not just teens. 

Roll of Paper Towels or Wet Wipes

Considering the fact that most teens are pretty much always hungry, there’s a good chance they’ll be eating in their car (hopefully, if they’ve listened to anything we’ve said, when they’re stopped). And, when they do, spills and messes happen. Having a roll of paper towels in the backseat or a small package of wet wipes tucked in the side door could be a saving grace when their burger lands in their lap. 

There are likely a few more things every teen driver should have in their car, but these items are the essentials. Remind your teen that driving a vehicle is a privilege that is earned and that their safety is your number one priority. For me,  absolutely nothing is more important than doing everything I can to make sure my kids arrive home safely after every car trip. 


About Marybeth Bock:

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed, “Essential Things Every Teen Driver Should Have in Their Car,” you might also enjoy reading:

Life-Saving Driving Tips Every Teen Should Know (Some Might Surprise You)


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