Whether you’re driving a sedan, SUV, pickup or wagon, chances are that its trunk or cargo area is in need of some serious organizing and TLC. For most drivers, these cargo areas get messy in a hurry, and understandably so. Being out of sight and a somewhat expansive area, it’s a natural tendency for the trunk to become a catch-all for items hurriedly placed in the vehicle and then just as quickly forgotten.
There are undoubtedly some things that belong in every trunk (such as an emergency kit), and then a whole lot of other items that can probably be removed. It’s a new year and time to get organized, and even if organization isn’t one of your resolutions, just consider this top ten list of how and why to organize your trunk as a way to get a jump on spring cleaning.
1. Increase safety
When a vehicle stops short or is involved in a collision, its occupants are (hopefully) restrained thanks to safety belts. The same can’t be said for items lying loose in the vehicle. In an emergency situation, these items become airborne projectiles capable of inflicting serious injury on occupants and causing significant damage inside the vehicle, particularly if the loose items are heavy. This isn’t as much a concern when the items are contained in the trunk as compared to loose items in an SUV’s cargo area or a pickup truck bed.
Loose items can also impact vehicle handling in unexpected ways. Heavy items rolling about can cause a loss of vehicle control during cornering because of the uneven weight distribution and sudden weight shift. Organizing items back there, removing unused cargo and securing what remains can greatly improve passenger safety.
2. Save money
The extra weight being carried around is having a negative impact on both fuel mileage and your wallet. Reduce the vehicle’s weight by removing unnecessary cargo to increase your fuel mileage. A better organized cargo area also helps save money because you know what you have at a glance – such as windshield washer fluid, oil, deicer or bottled water – helping prevent the purchase and unnecessary expense of duplicate items.
3. Drive (or ride) happier
Most vehicle owners aren’t fond of disorder, chaos and clutter when it comes to their vehicle’s storage area or any aspect of their environment. Organize your vehicle and be a happier, more efficient driver.
4. Remove everything
The first step in organizing the trunk is to remove everything so you’re starting with a clean slate (after you’ve vacuumed and shampooed the carpet, that is), and you can actually see what’s been lurking back there these past several months. Next, decide what’s staying and what’s going.
5. Get an organizer
There are numerous products on the market that will help you achieve an organized trunk or cargo area. It can be as simple as a device that prevents cargo from rolling about to a multi-compartment organizer that collapses when not being used. Only you know what works best for your lifestyle and trunk. The key to organization is knowing what you have and having a designated place for it.
6. Keep it out of the trunk
One good way to keep your trunk or cargo area better organized is to not put stuff back there in the first place. Plastic or re-useable fabric grocery bags, your purse or pretty much any bag with handles might be better off riding up front with you. Hooks that slip over the headrest, providing a convenient and secure spot to hang a bag with handles, can be found on the market. With the bags not being in the trunk, they won’t spill over, and you won’t run the risk of forgetting they’re back there.
7. Bare necessities
In keeping with point number six above, the less that’s in your trunk means the less you have to organize. That’s not to say the trunk should be empty. At the very least, there should be an emergency kit with jumper cables or a battery booster, a first aid kit, tire inflation, flashlight, snacks and water, fresh batteries, flares and/or emergency warning triangles. If you’re driving in colder climates in winter, also include a small snow shovel, blanket and traction material.
8. Use protection
Whether its hauling bags of potting soil, sandbox sand or water softener salt, or just muddy or snow-covered boots, things can get pretty dirty back there. That’s ok, because the cargo area is designed for this. That doesn’t mean, however, that the carpet or other items stored in the trunk have to suffer from damaging stains or moisture. Trunk and cargo-area liners are made to fit snugly in the area they’re protecting, feature a lip around the edge to contain spills and are made from moisture-proof rubber or plastic materials that make clean up a snap.
9. Stay clean
Your vehicle’s exterior probably isn’t sparkling clean 100 percent of the time. And when it’s at its salt- or dirt-covered nastiest, you can be sure that’s the day you’ll need to lean over the back bumper to retrieve something out of the trunk. When you do, you can prevent getting your clothes dirty with a trunk protector that’s always in your trunk and attached to the carpet when you need it. Simply unroll it over the bumper, and you’re leaning up against a clean surface.
10. Contain it
Loose items and trunks, beds and cargo areas aren’t a good combination because they’re guaranteed to deliver spills, damage, frustration and potential injury. The solution is simple – no matter what you’re driving or what you’re hauling, contain the cargo. Bars, tie-down straps and pet and cargo barriers will help better protect you, your cargo and the vehicle.
Editor’s note: Count on Advance Auto Parts for your trunk storage and organizational needs. Buy online, pick up in store—in 30 minutes.