Emergencies happen. Whether it’s a tire blowout, dead battery, or even a bathroom emergency, you may find yourself on the side of the road someday — and a well-stocked emergency kit can save the day.
Even if you’re driving a new car or have roadside assistance, it’s helpful to have supplies that can get things fixed up quickly. New car tires aren’t immune to running over road hazards, and roadside assistance can sometimes take far too long to reach you to actually be helpful.
A car emergency can happen at any time and anywhere, and while it would be ideal to break down right outside a dealership where you can get help, that’s probably not going to happen. Instead, you may have an emergency on a dark, desolate road at night or even during a natural disaster when help isn’t easy to find. A car emergency kit can be very handy in these situations — and it can even save your life.
Even if you never have to use it, a car emergency kit is a good idea to have. It can help you get through basic roadside repairs like changing a tire or temporarily fixing a hose, even jumping a battery, or surviving a blizzard in your car.
Stay safe and comfortable in any roadside emergency with a fully stocked emergency kit. We recommend these 28 important items no car should be without.
- Your owner’s manual: Your driver’s manual contains important information on jump-starting your car, locating your spare tire and jack, and more. It should always be kept handy in your vehicle’s glove compartment.
- Roadside assistance and insurance information: The side of the road is the last place you want to be scrambling to find out the 1-800 number to call for roadside assistance or to report an accident to your insurance company. Keep this information handy in your glove box with your driver’s manual.
- Duct tape: Duct tape is good for so many quick repairs, including broken hoses, taillights, and side-view mirrors.
- Jumper cables: Don’t get stuck with a dead battery. With jumper cables, all you need is another vehicle willing to help you get jump-started.
- Spare tire: Make sure you have a spare tire and properly inflated along with your other tires. It would be best if you also were sure you have your spare tire jack — and that you know how to use it.
- Tire gauge: Find out right away if a tire is too low or too high and needs pressure adjustment.
- Fix a Flat: A tire sealer and inflator can help you quickly patch up a tire and limp your way to a tire shop for help instead of changing out to a spare tire.
- Basic fluids: They may take up a lot of room, but oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, and other important vehicle fluids can really help out in a pinch. It would be best if you also were sure to carry extra of any fluid your vehicle is known to be leaking.
- Spare fuses: Spare fuses are so small and easy to replace. There’s no excuse not to have a spare fuse kit handy.
- Car escape tool: A seat belt cutter and window breaker can help you get out of your car quickly if you need to escape in an emergency.
- Work gloves: Whether you need to change a tire, check your oil, or shovel snow, work gloves can make the job easier, cleaner, and more comfortable.
- Multitool: A multitool is useful for many quick roadside repairs, so it’s always good to have handy.
- Flashlight: Emergencies can happen at night, and you’ll need light to see safely. Make sure you always have a flashlight in your car and that it’s ready to go with fresh batteries.
- Reflective triangle: Warn other drivers that you’re on the side of the road safely with a reflective triangle. Two or more is best.
- Vehicle fire extinguisher: Not many people carry fire extinguishers in their vehicles, but this tool can be a lifesaver if you’re in an accident or your car overheats. Look for a fire extinguisher that is specifically designed and rated for vehicles.
- Tire traction materials: Avoid getting stuck in the snow. Keep cat litter, sand, carpet, or pieces of carpet handy in your car to put under your tires if you need to gain traction.
- Snow shovel: Be ready to dig your way out of the snow during the winter with a snow shovel. To save on space, look for a collapsible version.
- Ice scraper: Keep an ice scraper in your car so that you’ll always be ready to clear ice off of your windshield for visibility.
- Tow chain: Whether you need it for yourself or others, a tow chain can get you out of a bind. This is a good tool to have, especially in case you get stuck in snow or mud.
- First aid kit: A first aid kit can help you patch up scrapes and injuries. Your kit should include band-aids, bandages, gauze pads, tape, pain relievers, and alcohol prep pads.
- Toilet paper: This may not help in a real emergency, but we can guarantee you’ll be glad to have it if you need it. Keep a roll or more in your car. To save space, take out the cardboard tube and flatten the roll down.
- Paper towels or baby wipes: You’d be surprised how many ways you can use paper towels or baby wipes in your car, especially in an emergency. They can keep your hands clean and help you out if you’re checking your oil or performing other roadside vehicle repairs.
- Blanket: Handy year-round, blankets for everyone in your family can keep passengers warm whether it’s cold outside or they’re just getting blasted by the air conditioning. If you get stuck in a blizzard or other winter weather situation, they could even save your life.
- Water bottles and nonperishable food: Another useful thing to have if you get stuck is sustenance. Keep water handy and store nonperishable food. Many people prefer food and water packets, but water bottles and snacks like energy bars or granola bars are a good idea, too.
- Paper maps: Even if you’re used to using GPS or your cell phone for directions, remember that they won’t work everywhere. Don’t get lost in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. Download and print or simply buy an old-fashioned map to keep in your car just in case you need directions, and you’re not able to use mobile devices for help.
- Mobile phone charger: Your phone should always be in the car and be well-charged in case you get stuck. Make sure you have a phone charger that always stays in your car. Most people use a car charger, but a solar-powered mobile charger is also a good idea.
- Battery-powered radio: Again, you may not always have cell service, especially during difficult weather or natural disasters when phone lines are overloaded. A battery-powered radio can keep you informed even when you don’t have vehicle or cell phone power.
- Emergency cash: You may be armed with a loaded debit card or credit card, but they aren’t accepted everywhere, and when power is out, they won’t even work. Make sure you have emergency cash available for gas, hotel, and other necessities.