Having your car breakdown on you is always inconvenient, but never more so than when you’re traveling long-distance. Keeping an emergency car kit in your car is smart, and while you might not need it if your car happens to breakdown while you’re traveling between home and work, it will be indispensable if you ever experience a breakdown on the open road. Your car insurance may well include roadside assistance, but on the open road, you could end up waiting hours before help arrives.
It is possible to buy pre-packaged emergency car kits, but the quality of the items included is never a sure thing, and you want everything in your emergency car kit to be reliable. It’s also worth noting that your emergency car kit is in addition to other essentials you should always have in your car, such as a spare tyre, car jack, and tyre iron. The list below covers the essentials that you should have in your emergency car kit, but you can add items to it that you believe are necessary, dependant on your location, and the areas you will be driving through.
- A First Aid Kit
No need to assemble you own first aid kit; you can buy pre-packaged first aid kits, which have the benefit of including all the essentials, in a handy carry pouch.
- A Good Multi-Tool
Any brand will do, but as with all the items in your emergency car kit, it must be reliable. Ideally the multi-tool should include pliers, wire cutters, knives, a scissor, and screwdrivers.
- A Torch
Your smartphone probably includes a torch function, but is far from being the perfect solution when your car breaks down. Look for a powerful, compact LED torch, which won’t take up a lot of space, and uses smaller batteries. Take note of what batteries it uses, and keep a spare set in your kit too.
- A Lighter
In extreme situations, you could find yourself having to make a fire. Packing a lighter – or better yet, waterproof matches – will come in handy in such situations. It might not be something you need very often, but it also doesn’t take up too much space.
- A Powerbank
Smartphone batteries don’t last for days on a single charge, and having a fully charged powerbank or portable phone charger in your emergency car kit is essential. Look for models that include the ability to be charged via your car’s cigarette lighter, and make sure the phone charging adapter is suitable for your phone.
- A Set of Jumper Leads
This is something that you should have in your car at all times, but packing them in with your emergency car kit will help you avoid misplacing them. Stick to known brands, rather than a cheaper off-brand set, and make sure it is suitable for your car.
- An Emergency Triangle
Another item that should always be in your car, but keeping an extra set in your emergency car kit can be invaluable. A reflective emergency triangle is critical for when your car breaks down at night, but it can be used at any time to let other motorists know that you are stranded. You could also use road flares, but unlike an emergency triangle, they need to be replaced every time you use them.
- A Compact Raincoat
Changing a tyre, or trying to figure out what is wrong with your engine, is never a pleasant task, but doing so in the pouring rain is hellish. A compact raincoat can be stored anywhere in your car, without taking up unnecessary space, but keeping it in your car’s glove compartment makes it more accessible than in the car boot. It is unlikely to keep you bone dry, but at least you won’t be soaked through.
- Water Bottles and Non-Perishable Snacks
While these aren’t essential if you never travel outside of fairly busy built-up areas, but are absolutely critical for any long-distance travel. If your car breaks down while traveling on the open road, you could end up being stranded for several hours. Keeping a few bottles of water and snacks in your emergency car kit will help you avoid dehydration, and flagging energy levels.
- A Map
Relying on your phone’s GPS or map app in an emergency situation is foolish. Not only will it drain the battery faster, there is always a chance that you might be stranded in an area with little to no cellphone coverage. It is therefore better to keep maps of the areas you will be traveling through in your car, or emergency kit.
Finally, make it a habit to always check on the contents of your emergency car kit before you leave on any long-distance road journey. That way you are always sure it contains the essentials you may need, including any special items that could come in handy depending on the terrain and weather you will be driving through.. It’s also always a good idea to let someone know when you leave, what time you expect to reach your destination, and the route you will be following.