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Boxing clever: What do you keep in your glove compartment?

A photo of a glove box by ZawezomeWhy is a glove box so called if no-one really keeps gloves in them? What should we be keeping in them? And what unusual items are we keeping in them? finds out.

Why is it called a glove box?

The glove box or glove compartment is so called because, back when the insides of cars were more exposed and even roofless, gloves were an absolute necessity. Likewise scarves, and sometimes even goggles. If someone drove without gloves, it would have a numbing effect on the hands. Not ideal if you have to operate a ton of vehicle. And so the glove box was born, for their storage.

But times change and the modern driver seldom keeps gloves in his glove compartments. So what are the new glove-box essentials? We asked the staff at, and compiled this list of useful items not to be without.

Glove box essentials

Copies of your insurance certificate and MOT certificate

It’s worth having a copy of your car insurance certificate or schedule to hand, so that you can swap details if you’re involved in an accident with another motorist. It’s best to have a copy, and keep the original somewhere safe.

In addition, it’s not a bad idea to have a copy of your MOT available too, and your driving licence in your wallet or purse. If, for any reason, you’re required to produce these documents by police, then having them all to hand will save you having to make a trip down to the station later on.

A pen and notepaper

Useful for all sorts of reasons, including getting people’s details after an accident. There’s no reason why a minor prang shouldn’t lead to dating, and possibly love.

First-aid kit

Hopefully you won’t need to use this, but good to have.

Locking wheel nut

You never know when you might need to change a tyre. And if it’s at night, it might also be handy to have a torch with a hook that you can hang from the top of the car.

Wet wipes

Useful if you get your hands mucky changing a tyre or fiddling around in the engine.

Scratch and chip repair pen

Handy for when your car gets the odd nick. And they don’t cost much more than a fiver.

A disposable camera

If you’re in an accident, it always helps to take photos of the scene – especially if who’s at fault is a matter of dispute. Not everyone has a camera on their phone (and even if they do, it can still run out of battery), so keeping a cheap, single-use camera in the glove can be a smart move.

Cigarette lighter-powered phone charger

Having a phone charger that’s powered by a car lighter is very useful. It’s also worth having one if you’re planning on going to any festivals, as you can usually charge your phone with one of these in the lockers for hire.

Emergency cereal bars/M&Ms/other snack items

The real test here is having the will power to save them for when you’re stuck in a huge traffic jam, or on the side of a mountain in a blizzard, rather than just gobbling them down on the next trip.

An emergency birthday card

How many times have you gone to someone’s birthday shindig and realised – too late – that you haven’t brought a card? Never again!

The manual for your car

Should be obvious this one, but often overlooked. If this writer had kept one in his glove box, it might not have taken him half an hour to realise his (flat) battery was located under the driver-side floor rather than under the bonnet.

Your breakdown cover details

If you’re a member of the AA, RAC or any of the other breakdown services, then keep at least their phone number and ideally your policy number here. You don’t want to be left stranded at the side of the road! If you’re not a member, you can compare breakdown cover policies here.

Not so essential

Polling the team also threw up some unexpected (and occasionally undesirable) results, including:

  • Three DVDs of Monkey!
  • A double-sided paper sign which reads 'No valuables kept in this vehicle' on one side, and the same in Welsh on the other
  • Old parking tickets
  • An emergency can of lager (strictly for passengers)
  • A Hall and Oates MiniDisc
  • An actual pair of gloves

Is there anything incredibly useful you keep in your compartment that we’ve missed? Or anything unusual? Feel free to let us know by commenting below.

Glove box image by Zawezome.


Owe Carter

Owe Carter

Owe Carter is a content producer who's worked for since 2007. He's the author of our Carless Cities report. Twitter: @ConfusedOwe View more from Owe