The Glove Compartment

What’s in your Glove Compartment?

Almost every car has a glove compartment. Some call it a glovebox, a glove compartment, or trash collector. Whatever you call it, there is a purpose to its existence. We will examine not only how it came to be, but also what you should probably have in it.

Origin of the Glove Compartment

The official name is “glove compartment.” It was create early on in the history of the automobile. Back in the day, motorists used to wear gloves while driving.  That trend went on for many years.  One story is that the glove compartment was created as a simple storage unit under the newly created “dash board” for horse and buggies.

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

The dash board protected the driver from mud and junk flying up when the horses were dashing through the snow… or whatever. But the use of gloves for drivers continued for the early motorists.

Early drivers wore gloves because cars did not have heat until about the 1930s. The gloves worn back then were big and bulky, and extended over the sleeves of the driver’s coat.  As heating in cars got better, people continued to wear driving gloves because it allowed them to better grip the steering wheel. This was necessary as some older steering wheels were made of wood or ivory and were thus slippery.  Also, the steering in older cars were not always hydraulic. Manual steering, even today, requires a tight grip on the wheel.

So, it was obviously convenient to have a place to store your driving gloves. Even after the need for driving gloves became less necessary, drivers still liked them. This was more for a fashion statement than anything else. So the glove compartment became a staple of the automobile.  It is in nearly every car and truck. In fact some cars have more than one. And, as you probably guessed, very few glove compartments today actually contain gloves.

Today’s Glove Compartment

Most often, today’s glove compartment contains tissues (used and unused), a dead AA battery, a couple of pens, some faded receipts, a lighter, several screws from who knows where, an insurance card, and 38 cents. It is actually rare to find gloves in a glove compartment. I saw a pair of work gloves in a glove compartment once and I actually laughed. So, of this list of common inhabitants of the glove compartment, which is actually needed. What should you have in your glove compartment?

A List of What to Put in Your Glove Compartment

The following suggestions are just suggestions. You could have a half-eaten tuna fish sandwich in there, it is up to you. I suggest having your proof of insurance and registration in some sort of holder in the glove compartment. I also suggest the following:

  • Proof of insurance and vehicle registration (as stated earlier)
  • Working flashlight (“working” being the important part here)
  • Pocket knife or scissors
  • Cigarette lighter (even if you do not smoke)
  • Facial tissues
  • Pens and paper (for notes)
  • Air pressure gauge
  • Work gloves (yes, actual gloves – helpful if car breaks down or if it is cold)


Again, these are just suggestions, but hopefully these items will come in handy.  Today’s glove compartment is a great place to store many things. And yes, even gloves.


Written by Gary Pradel