People spend a lot of time in their cars driving back and forth to work, running errands and sometimes taking trips. With all this time spent in your vehicle it is a good idea to make sure that you keep several items in your car at all times in the event of an emergency.
One of the most common problems people face is their vehicle unexpectedly breaking down and finding out that they are not prepared to take care of the problem. That leaves them at the mercy of a tow truck or roadside assistance schedule.
If they are busy you could be sitting on the side of the road or in a parking lot for hours. We have provided a list of important things to keep in your car that will help in the event of a breakdown or other emergency.
In addition to being prepared with the right items in your car, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of breakdowns or repairs your vehicle needs. Read more about that here.
1. Jump Starter
One of the most common reasons for a vehicle breaking down is a dead battery. While jumper cables are very important and need to be in your trunk as well, a jump starter can be a huge benefit if your car battery dies somewhere where there aren’t any other people around. A jump starter will get your vehicle going again without having to have another vehicle there.
Unless your battery is completely dead, which is unlikely, the jump starter will get your vehicle going again so you can get home. This piece of equipment doesn’t take up a lot of room and can be kept in the trunk for when you may need it. It is easy to operate and most models have LED lights that will indicate the jump starter needs to be charged.
2. Jumper Cables
Another way to get a dead battery going is with the use of jumper cables. It is always a good idea to have a set of jumper cables in your trunk in the event your vehicle’s battery or someone else’s needs a jump start.
Make sure that you and the other drivers of the vehicle know how to properly attach the jumper cables.
Even if you have a jump starter in the trunk, have a set of jumper cables as a backup jump starting method. Look for a setr of jumper cables that are long enough to easily reach between vehicles. A good quality set of jumper cables doesn’t cost a lot and it provides some extra peace of mind that you are prepared to handle a dead battery emergency.
3. Spare Tire
You may be surprised to find out that many vehicles do not have safe, working spare tires in the event of a flat. It is very important to ensure that your spare tire is in good condition with the right amount of air, good tread and no leaks.
Use a tire gauge to check the air in your spare periodically so you know when it needs to have air added. If it is in the trunk or underneath the vehicle, it may not require more air to be added but if you notice that you have to keep adding air even when it is not in use, you may want to pull it out and have it checked for leaks or holes.
Tires are one of the most important things on your vehicle and when they go flat it can be a real inconvenience. Make sure that all your tires are in good working order including the spare. It is also a good idea to make sure that you know how to remove the spare from wherever it is kept and that you know how to change a tire if necessary.
4. Tire Jack
In the event of a flat tire, you won’t be able to accomplish changing the tire without a tire jack. Most vehicles have a jack in the trunk that comes with the vehicle but if you have purchased your car used, there is a chance it won’t have that original jack anymore.
You can purchase tire jacks separately and they are very important pieces of equipment to have in your vehicle in the event of a flat tire. There are many different styles of tire jacks on the market. Make sure you purchase one that is sturdy enough to handle the vehicle you have and that is easy for you and the other drivers in your home to use.
Changing a tire is a basic repair, but many people don’t know how to do it. Making sure that all the drivers in your home know how to use the tire jack and change a flat tire is providing them with valuable knowledge that will keep them safe when they are in the vehicle.
Some people prefer a tire inflator which is a tool that can be plugged into the lighter jack and used to inflate your tire in the event it goes flat. Tire inflators can make quick work of taking care of a flat and get you back on the road quickly.
It will not work if the tire is completely blown, but for a flat tire that happens while you’re in the store or while you are at work on sleeping, a tire inflator will do the trick. They are like air compressors and can inflate most tires in as little as three minutes.
5. Tool Kit
Having a tool kit in your vehicle with the common tools that are needed in the event of a breakdown can be very beneficial even if you don’t know how to fix your vehicle.
Someone stopping to help may know how to perform various repairs and if you have a good tool kit, you’ll be all set.
Make sure the car tool kit contains a can of fix a flat, a hammer, screwdrivers, a wrench set, and a socket set. It is also good to have a crow bar and maybe a rubber mallet in your vehicle as well in the event you need to do some heavier adjustments or repairs.
It is also a good idea to have emergency flares and road flares in the event that you are broken down at night.
6. First Aid Kit
It is very important to have a well stocked first aid kit in your vehicle at all times. You never know when you or one of your family members may get an injury that needs immediate attention. You should have band aids, would cleaner, antibiotic cream, peroxide, ibuprofen, children’s ibuprofen, bandages, medical tape, gauze, epi pen, allergy medicine, scissors and a convenient bag to put it all in. A gym bag will work well for this.
Keep the first aid kit in the trunk or behind the seat of your vehicle for quick access when you need it. Once a month or so, check the first aid kit and make sure that it has everything it needs. It’s better to stay on top of the supplies and make sure you have all you need then be in a situation where you need something and don’t have it.,
7. Bottled Water
There are several reasons to keep bottled water in your vehicle at all times. If your vehicle overheats, it is important to have a few gallons of water that can help you cool things down enough to get your vehicle home or to the repair shop.
You should plan on keeping 2-3 gallon jugs of water and a couple of 12 packs of bottled water to drink in the event you are stuck in your car for an extended period of time.
Water can also help rinse off your hands if you get them dirty from changing tires or doing other works.
8. Extra blankets
If it is wintertime and you are broken down on the side of the road, you don’t want to sit there freezing while waiting for a tow truck or repair vehicle. Having 1-2 blankets in your vehicle can keep everyone warm and keep the chill off until help arrives or you can get the vehicle started again and get home.
These blankets are especially important for when children are in the vehicle. In freezing weather when you can’t run the heat, it is very easy to become dangerously cold. Good warm blankets will prevent frostbite and other cold related issues from occurring should you have to be in the cold for extended amounts of time.
9. Non-perishable food
Even though most people don’t stay in there car for extended periods of time, even when broken down, if you are stranded somewhere and it’s going to be awhile it is good to have some non perishable snack foods in the trunk in case you have the children with you when the vehicle breaks down.
It doesn’t have to be fancy food; a couple of boxes of granola bars ought to be sufficient. You more than likely won’t be stuck in the car for days, so granola bars will provide protein and energy and will keep your stomach or any family members who are stuck with you from being sick from no food.
10. Emergency Cell Phone and Cash
It is also very important to keep a little bit of cash and an emergency, fully charged cell phone in the tool kit in case you are broken down away from home.
You don’t want to keep a large amount of cash in the vehicle, but $20-$50 dollars should be plenty along with a cell phone that is fully charged. (and turned off until you need it)
If you are ever stranded away from home, you will be very grateful for the cash when you need it most. Make sure that you keep the cash and cell phone out of sight.
Keep it in the glove compartment or the tool kit in the trunk. This will prevent anyone passing by when you are not in your vehicle, from seeing the cash and attempting to break in to get it.
Flashlights are important if your vehicle ever breaks down at night. Make sure you have at least one really strong, reliable flashlight in your vehicle. Two is preferable if for some reason the first one isn’t working.
These flashlights should not be the cheap varieties that that have a bad habit of breaking easily or not working well. Even when they on working the light from a cheap flashlight is not as good as the light from a powerful flashlight. Keep extra batteries in the vehicle as well.
Some people opt to have a good car worklight that can be plugged into the lighter or attached to the jump starter. This is great for doing any repairs that are necessary, even in the dark. These lights are not too expensive but they will cost a lot more than a flashlight. They can be well worth it though if you need to see under the hood or underneath the vehicle and need a good, powerful light.
12. Diagnostic Tool
If you want to be able to find out what is wrong with your vehicle and save yourself time and money, you should get a diagnostic tool to keep in your vehicle’s tool kit. This diagnostic tool works with your vehicle to help determine what is wrong with it. These handy tools can give the mechanic direction as to what has gone wrong so they are not blindly searching for an answer as to what is wrong.
Preparation is Everything
Breakdowns are not uncommon. People drive vehicles that breakdown for various reasons every day. What makes a breakdown a lot less stressful is being prepared for it by having what you need in the vehicle. All the items we have listed above are the ones that you would end up using most often if you were stranded in your vehicle for any reason.
In the winter months this becomes even more important as being stranded in your vehicle can mean being stuck in freezing temperatures.
Having those emergency items can be a real comfort to you and your family members who are stuck in the car with you. In extremely cold temperatures, having warm blankets and water can safe your life.
Being prepared is never over reacting or being paranoid. The more prepared you are for these emergencies, the better off you will be in the event your vehicle does breakdown.