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Don't Rely on Roadside Assistance: Everything You Need in a Car Emergency Kit

When I was younger, my mother always told me that failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Granted, this was usually used in the context of studying for pop quizzes in class, but as I grow older and wiser, I've come to realize that this tidbit of wisdom applies to many situations we may face in life and this also includes road safety.

Imagine you are on a 700 mile road trip, and just after you pass that “Next Services – 150 Miles” road sign, you hit a nail and deflate one of your tires.

Or your vehicle begins to overheat.

Or you run out of gas.

Or…you get the picture, there are dozens of scenarios that could force you to pull over to the side of the road. Depending on how severe the problem may be you could easily take care of it yourself or you might have to stay put for a while. Whether it’s a quick fix or a case of waiting it out, every driver should prepare themselves for any unexpected problems they may face.

With that in mind, here are a few things that every driver should have in their car, particularly if they are travelling long distances or on country roads and interstates between major towns and cities:

  1. Phone Charger/Extra Battery: While many insurance policies today provide holders with emergency roadside assistance, it’s not of much use if you can’t get in contact with them. Keep a charger or an extra battery (charged, of course) in your vehicle just in case you need that extra bit of juice to call roadside assistance or a friend or relative. All this is assuming that you have cellphone coverage.
  2. Jumper Cables: Whether you’re travelling a long distance or not, this is another must have. Car batteries get weaker over the years and get to a point where they can’t hold a charge anymore; wouldn't it be ironic if it died  the one time you have to make a quick detour at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere? Or that one day that you decide to work past midnight? Jumper cables allow you to get your car started and get back on the road until you can get the battery tested.
  3. Spare Tire, Jack & Lug Wrench: Flat tires are one of the most common roadside emergencies so it’s imperative to keep a spare tire in the car. Just as important is a jack to lift the vehicle. Make sure that the jack is in proper working condition and that you know how to use it properly, and also ensure that the spare wheel is properly inflated. This can be done whenever you’re having your driving tires rotated.
  4. Flashlight with Extra Batteries: This is useful in case you get stranded at night or if you need to look deep into your engine bay to find and fix a problem. Always keep an extra pair of fresh batteries just in case the ones in the flashlight die in between uses.
  5. Basic Tool Kit: It’s always a good idea to keep some basic tools around (screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers) to take care of simple issues like loose hoses, screws or bolts.
  6. Nonperishable Foods/Snacks and Water: If you’re going on a long drive, it’s smart to have some snacks or canned foods and also some water just in case you’re stuck waiting for roadside assistance for several hours.
  7. Extra Items of Clothing: While this isn't necessary, having an extra change of clothes can be convenient in case you get dirty trying to replace a flat tire or another quick fix. Also in this category is a blanket just in case you’re travelling when it’s likely to be cold, and also a rain jacket or poncho, because Mother Nature might decide to add some rain to compound an already frustrating situation.

While there is no “complete” emergency roadside kit on the market, this list is enough for a temporary fix to get back on the road, or to survive a nervous wait for emergency roadside assistance. Before your next road trip, make sure to get together whatever you think you’ll need to survive should you be forced to pull over on the side of the road.

Did I miss anything in the list above or do you have any suggestions for items that could be useful in case of a roadside emergency?

Share with us so we below in the comments so we can be prepared out on the open road!

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Gravatar Julia Carlson

These are great tips. I am so nervous about breaking down on the side of the road. I have been really unprepared for years. My friend broke down on the side of the freeway and ended up calling emergency assistance. I will definitely follow her example if that happens to me in the future.

Gravatar Katherine Williams

Regardless of commute length, will help you stay safe on the roads. Armed with’s roadside assistance rates and reservations, you’ll be able to enjoy a comprehensive, stress-free travel experience anywhere you go.

Gravatar michael hinderliter

Honestly you can never be too prepared for a roadside emergency no matter what because they are always different in each situation, You can be on the side of the thruway and have something happen or you can be at home and have something happen as well, But being prepared is not always something that we can be ready for.
But you can at least have a few things in your vehicle to try to be prepared just in case something does ever happen though like clothing, flares, spare tire, fuel so if you run out of gas and even a charged cell phone.

Gravatar Christina Black

I think there is nothing worse than breaking down on a road and that happened with me so many times.
I saved all these tools in my car trunk but now I don’t use these things anymore because I hate to change
tire or etc. One of my friends told me about the highway hand app now I always use this for the road
assistance. It is such a great app I think everyone should try this.

Gravatar Jimmy

#6 is a very good point. You never know where you’ll end up spending the night. Having an emergency snack is a smart choice. Especially when driving in the country.