You’ve spent thousands of dollars on your car, truck, or SUV. You rely on your vehicle to get you to and from work, transport your family around town, and take you on your next road trip. Of course, you will need to handle emergencies with your vehicle. Whether you experience a flat tire, engine malfunction, or even a fender bender, you will need to have tools on hand that will help you get home safely. With this in mind, we created a list of essential items you should keep in your car, just in case.
Image via Flickr by leif.maxfield
At a minimum, your emergency kit should include jumper cables. Your car’s battery provides the power to start the engine and operate the electrical components. When your battery dies, you can’t start your vehicle. If this hasn’t happened to you before, you’re one of the lucky few. Batteries eventually die, and as they age, they start failing to hold a charge. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize this until it’s too late.
Jumper cables enable you to use another car battery’s power to start your car. It’s a simple process. Attach one end of the jumper cables to your dead battery and the other end to another car’s working battery. Next, start the other car’s engine and rev it a second. Then start your car. Jumper cables generally cost $10-$15, which is affordable protection.
Portable Jump Kit
The portable jump kit takes the jumper cable concept to the next level. The jump kit doesn’t need another car. It has a battery inside, ready to provide the power to start your dead battery. Jump kits cost between $50-$150 depending on the battery size and other options. Some jump kits have power outlets to charge phones, power flashlights, and more.
Flashlight and Batteries
You can’t predict when your car breaks down, but if it happens at night, you’ll need to carry a flashlight. You won’t need anything too bulky, but you’ll want something with good illumination. You should also keep a spare set of batteries to power the flashlight. An alternative to the battery-powered flashlight is the LED lantern.
An escape tool will cut through seat belts or break window glass from the inside of your car. All this sounds drastic and dramatic, but you might need to escape from your car after an accident. Consider the following scenarios:
- Your seat belts won’t disengage after a crash. Having a tool to cut through the seat belt can come in handy.
- Your power windows fail, or your doors jam after a crash. Breaking the window glass might be your only way out.
- Whether you drive in the dark or lose control of your car, you somehow end up in a body of water. If you have power windows, you may eventually need to break one of them to escape.
You hope you never have to use an escape tool, but if you do, a seatbelt cutter or car glass breaker could save your life.
Mechanical Tool Kit
Most people aren’t trained mechanics. However, a tool kit can come in handy if your car needs light repairs. For example, having a wrench to tighten a loose battery cable or a screwdriver to help reattach a hose could be the difference between reaching your destination or waiting an hour or more for roadside assistance.
If you live in a cold climate, you know how freezing temperatures feel. Even if the weather doesn’t dip below freezing where you live, temperatures in the 40s or 50s can feel quite cold if you get stranded for any length of time. If your vehicle breaks down in cold weather, a blanket, gloves, and a warm hat will help you stay warm while you wait for help to arrive.
Also, if you experience snow every year, you should have an ice scraper and snow removal tool to clean your windshield and car. Additionally, a bag of sand can help you gain traction if you get stuck in ice or snow. You spread the sand out in your tires’ path to help gain traction. Kitty litter works the same if you can’t find a bag of sand.
We rely on cell phones more than ever. If you get stranded, especially with a dead car battery, your cellphone will eventually run out of juice, too. Having a spare battery to recharge your cellphone will keep you connected while waiting for help to reach you. A portable jump kit will have a USB port you can use to charge your cellphone.
First Aid Kit
image via insightIBX
Too often, people don’t anticipate an injury while on the road and don’t have a first aid kit available. You don’t need a field surgeon kit, just the basics. Your first aid kit should include band-aids in various sizes, gauze, medical tape, splints, ace bandages, and other items to help ease minor cuts, bruises, and wounds.
If you’ve ever gotten stuck in the Texas mud, you know the value of traction boards. These portable boards provide you with critical traction should your vehicle become stuck in mud, sand, snow, or ice. You can find an inexpensive set of two traction boards for $75-$100. Compared to the cost of a tow truck, it’s much cheaper, and you won’t have to wait for help to arrive.
Traction boards range from 2-4 feet in length and stow neatly in your trunk. When you get stuck, wedge the boards in front of your tires that spin without gripping. The board has a raised tread that your tire can grip and provides the necessary traction to pull your tires onto more stable ground.
At Huffines CJDR Plano, we understand emergencies happen when you drive. We hope you found our list of essential items helpful so you can prepare your emergency kits. If you feel like we left a top safety item off our list, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll do our best to update our list for everyone’s safety.