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Your car’s trunk is sort of a “catch-all” for anything you don’t want stolen, lost or seen. As the largest storage area, however, finding anything inside it can be an all-day job. The key, of course, is organization.

Empty the trunk

While you’re taking everything out, begin organizing by placing all of the items into categories. Tools, fluids/wax/tire care products, gym gear, and so on. This will allow you to see how much space you’ll need to devote to each category. Remove whatever doesn’t belong in the trunk and store it someplace else.

Use the Built-in Spaces

The spare tire is usually under the carpeting, so this is where you should start. Find out where the manufacturer wanted you to store the jack and lug wrench, and put them there. It may be under the spare tire itself, or somewhere on the side of the trunk. When the car was designed the manufacturer probably figured out how to maximize the trunk space, so following their lead is usually a good idea.

Create Smaller Spaces

Find smaller plastic containers or even cardboard boxes that will fit each of the categories of gear that you want to keep in the trunk. Waterproof plastic containers with lids are great for this, and you can even use old food storage containers for fragile items. Very small items don’t belong in the trunk; they should be moved to the glove box instead. Otherwise, they move around and get lost. If you must keep very small things in the trunk, put them all into one container.

Load the Big Stuff First

Larger, heavier items should be placed as far forward as possible. There are 3 reasons for this: First, you don’t want to move them around every time you have to locate something else. Second, the vehicle will handle better and be safer when the load is farther forward. And finally, you probably won’t accelerate fast enough to toss the heavy items toward the back of the trunk, but if somebody cuts you off, forcing you to slam on the brakes, heavier items will slide forward. This means that in an emergency braking situation, your bowling ball could otherwise make a 7-10 split with your bottled water.

Once everything is in boxes, you can begin to load the trunk. Remember to put larger items in first, as well as those that you don’t need to access very often. Those things that you may have to grab in a hurry, such as your emergency kit and/or first aid kit, should be kept in a place where access to them is unrestricted.

Fill the Floor of the Trunk

Avoid stacking items if at all possible. Instead, organize the containers flat on the deck so that the remaining space is as large as possible, and then find the largest empty container you can that will fit in the empty space. This is where you will put bags of groceries or other things that you pick up and bring home. By filling the trunk with an empty container, you can prevent items from shifting around too much while you’re driving.

Time required: One hour

Price of containers: $20-$30

Now you have a trunk worth showing off!