Don't Rely on Roadside Assistance: Everything You Need in a Car Emergency Kit
October 10, 2013 / Sara Davis / Be a Tech Savvy Driver
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!