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15 Items you Should Carry in your Car for a Roadside Emergency

Gov Auctions - 15 Items you Should Carry in your Car for a Roadside Emergency

No matter how well we drive or how often we service our cars, sooner or later most of us will experience a breakdown by the side of the road. If it’s a busy road in the middle of summer, this may only be a minor inconvenience, but if it’s an isolated back road in the dead of winter, it could be a whole different ball game.

Having these 15 everyday items in your car could make all the difference in such a situation. And while there are lots of expensive pre-packaged emergency kits out there, these items are relatively cheap and can be stored in a duffle bag or cardboard box in your trunk.

1. Tire gauge

Just a few dollars in any auto store, a tire gauge won’t help if you get a flat tire, but it will make sure you have air in the spare. Use it to check your spare every so often and top up with air if required and it will always be inflated and there for you if you need it.

2. Rain poncho

Repairing your car in a rainstorm is no one’s definition of fun, so having a poncho you can slip on when needed is a great idea. It usually comes with a hood, is lightweight, one-size-fits-all and will fold away to nothing when not in use.

3. Aerosol tire sealant

If you run over a nail, this can get you to the nearest tire repair shop. Just spray it into the valve and it will seal the nail hole and inflate your tire enough to get you moving again. Tire repair shops don’t like them much because of the sticky mess they make inside the tire, but they can be a life saver if you don’t have a spare.

4. Jumper cables

If your battery dies, a set of jumper cables can get you moving again, providing there is another driver around to give your battery a jump start. Don’t attempt this if yours or the other driver’s car is less than five years old however, as recent model vehicles can have their onboard electronics severely damaged by jump starting.

5. Duct tape

This is a universal tool that everyone should have in their car. It can be used for all sorts of emergency repairs – from connecting wires to patching radiator hoses – and while not a permanent fix, it can at least get you to a mechanic where proper repairs can be made.

6. Multi-tool

Rather than carrying a complete tool kit, which can be heavy and take up room in your trunk, a multi-tool combines a range of miniature tools into one, including screwdrivers, pliers and cutting tools, giving you the means to carry out a variety of different repair jobs.

7. Flashlight

You never know when you’re going to break down, and if it’s at night, you’re going to need to be able to see what you’re doing. A waterproof flashlight (with spare batteries) can be a huge help when trying to see what’s wrong under the hood.

8. Fire extinguisher

Vehicle fires account for 10% of all fires in the U.S. so having a portable fire extinguisher is a good investment. Cars contain a toxic cocktail of chemicals however, so make sure you get a multipurpose extinguisher that’s rated for use against Class A, B and C fires.

9. Water

This is not only essential for keeping you hydrated in summer, but can also be used to top up a leaking radiator. A one gallon bottle won’t take up a lot of space in your trunk, but consider carrying more if you’re planning a trip through desert country.

10. Energy bars

If you’re stuck in a ditch far from civilization, these can come in handy for staving off hunger and keeping your energy levels up. They’re available in any camping store and have a shelf life of up to five years, so they don’t need to be changed all that often.

11. Space blanket

A mylar thermal blanket is windproof, waterproof and capable of reflecting over 90% of your body heat, so if you travel a lot in remote places subject to cold conditions, having one of these in your trunk could literally be a lifesaver.

12. First-aid kit

This is an essential item in your roadside emergency kit and should contain at least the basics such as gauze and adhesive bandages, cloth tape, absorbent pads, antiseptic wipes, latex gloves, burn ointment, CPR mask, elastic sprain bandage, splint, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, aspirin and sunscreen.

13. Snow shovel

If you’re driving through areas affected by snow, it’s a good idea to have a fold-up snow shovel in your trunk. These are lightweight, don’t take up a lot of room and can be very handy when trying to dig your way out of a snow drift.

14. Reflective triangles

These are waterproof, lightweight and painted with reflective paint and should be placed strategically around your vehicle if you break down on the side of the road at night to warn approaching traffic of your presence.

15. Road map

While this might seem outdated, if your GPS is broken or you can’t get a signal, a traditional road map can get you out of trouble. At the very least, it can tell you which direction to head to seek help if you’re stranded in a remote area.

The ultimate roadside emergency kit

While carrying the 15 items listed here can help in a range of emergency circumstances, it’s important to make sure they’re in good working order as well. Just assembling them and dumping them in a box in your trunk could give you a nasty surprise when you eventually come to need them.

You should check periodically that first-aid items and fire extinguishers are still current, energy bars and bottled water are still fresh and that batteries are still fully charged. You should also make sure the standard tools that come with your car are all present, including a jack and a lug spanner for the wheel nuts.

And remember when assembling your roadside emergency kit that these 15 items are not set in stone. If you don’t drive in remote areas or experience harsh climate extremes, you may not need some of these at all. As long as you have the essentials for changing a tire and making minor temporary repairs to your vehicle, you should be able to fend for yourself on the road, even when AAA is nowhere in sight.