In a previous post, I tackled $10 Disablers. Regular readers can probably guess what prompted another visit to this territory, but here are a few more items of even lower cost that can leave you unable to continue your journey.
Windshield Washer Fluid. This is not just important for a dirty windshield, but it is critical for winter travelling. The worst scenario is having just a little bit left. This is usually enough to eliminate whatever lousy minimal visibility you had.
Air in Tires. An obvious item perhaps, but overinflation can cause a blowout, and underinflation can cause a puncture or dangerous handling. It is surprisingly difficult to get air into a car or motorcycle tire by blowing into the schraeder valve. It is even more difficult when you remove the schraeder valve. It is however, entertaining to turn a bicycle pump into a pogo stick capable of projecting a 200lb man great distances, by attempting to put air into a vehicle tire.
Fuses. Vintage vehicles use vintage fuses, which are sometimes hard to find at Autozone. These vehicles also combined interesting functions on the same fuse, such as ohh say, the cigarette lighter and the ignition, or the vanity light and all exterior lighting. This allows you to short out a useless accessory and quickly bring your vehicle to a stop. This may have been an early emergency braking system. Motorcycles are even worse, as the previous owner (or the factory) hid the fuse block inside the rear fender or in some other vulnerable location.
Cupholder. I reluctantly include this one because it seems counter to operating a performance car. However, if you have ever forgotten that you have no cupholder, and then tried to wedge a Big Gulp between the seatbelt receiver and the emergency brake, you know how dangerous this can be. Somehow, there is an innate human reflex that makes you reach down to save your carpet and upholstery from 3.4 gallons of Mountain Dew, rather than letting it spill and keeping your attention on driving. A similar reflex compels you to respond to a crotch full of hot coffee. This autonomous reflex is particularly active during simultaneous cornering and downshifting.
Throttle Return Spring/Cable. A simple thing, but it is surprisingly difficult to find the right length and/or tension late at night in either rural or urban locations. Carry one in your tool bag. It turns out that rubber bands and hair scrunchees and bungee cords are not good substitutes. The failure of this item is however good for a couple of things. First, if you are in doubt as to the dexterity of your right ankle and its ability to coordinate with you clutch foot, this will help to provide you with an accurate assessment. Second, if you are not sure where the rev limiter kicks in on your vehicle, this will help you find it. You do have a rev limiter, right?