After eight hours into a twenty hour cross-country drive, you’re 100 miles from the nearest gas station, exit, or fellow human. You just hit a pothole, your tire blew out, your brake line is leaking, and your alignment now pulls hard to the right. To top it off, you just ran out of Gatorade. When you open your trunk and moths fly out, and a desperate look into your glove compartment nets only a few papers and the crumbs of a half-eaten Clif bar.
You should’ve built a roadside emergency kit.
A roadside emergency kit is one of life’s little necessities that may seem like a PITA at first, given you have to buy a bunch of stuff that you might never use, but it becomes a lifesaver when things, shall we say, go sideways. Not only will it have your back in the case of getting a flat or needing to repair a mechanical part, but when stocked correctly, it will saveyour own backside, too.
To better understand what you need and why you need it, Car Bibles put together this guide on how to build a roadside emergency kit.
Yeah, But Do I Actually Need A Roadside Emergency Kit?
Seriously, you do. I, and many other editors, have been in more than one precarious situation when our roadside emergency kits have saved our butts. They’re massively helpful and, in some cases, mean the difference between life, death, and years of physical therapy.
Fine, What Do I Put In One?
Let’s break it down into a few more manageable chunks.
Jumper cables: A necessity in every car.
Multitool: Something like a Leatherman is invaluable, as it offers so much in such a small package and is easily stored in your glove compartment.
Adjustable wrench: Bolts can be shaken loose. If you need to tighten one back on, or loosen another, you’ll want an adjustable wrench. They’re also small and easily stored, unlike an entire wrench or socket set.
Duct tape: Red Green’s favorite tool is in our Top 10, too.
Tire pressure gauge: Keeping your tires at the right pressure will save you money by reducing your trips to the fuel pump, as well as give you insight into whether or not you’ve got yourself a puncture.
Jack: Never leave home without one.
Lug wrench: A jack is no help if you don’t have the tools to remove the tire..
Gloves: Do you want your greasy hands touching your steering wheel after you’ve changed a tire? NO!
Glass breaker: In the event of you being unable to open your door and needing to get out quick, a glass breaker is gonna be the tool that saves your bacon.
A first aid kit is essential in an emergency. Get a good quality one, something with more than you think you’ll ever need. That way, in the event of an oddity of an emergency, you’re fully prepared.
Flares: It’s better to be seen by the side of the road than not. Hundreds of people are injured while servicing their vehicles, so it’s important everybody knows you’re there.
Fix-a-Flat: A lifesaver when the nearest America’s Tire is 45 minutes away and you’ve got a flat.
Safety triangle: Like flares, a safety triangle helps others see you by the side of the road.
Zip ties: Every enthusiast’s favorite tool, zip ties are always good to have in your emergency bag. They can even reattach a bumper if need be.
Thermal blanket: Depending on what time of year it is, you’ll want a thermal blanket just in case you’re worried about getting stranded in your car.
Water: Water is good for you and your car and can keep you hydrated in the desert or cool your radiator down if need be.
Tire inflator: If you have a flat and need some air, have one.
What Else Should I Do To Stay Safe?
Beyond the backup protections of an emergency kit, there are several maintenance points you can utilize to stay safe whenever you get behind the wheel. Let’s talk turkey.
Periodically Check Your Oil
This seems obvious, and it is, but it should be restated. Always check your car’s oil. It’s the lifeblood of your engine, and if it’s bad, old, or gone, it’s going to negatively affect your day.
Periodically Check Your Spare Tire
Another obvious check is keeping your spare tire in tip-top shape. You don’t want to head to your trunk and find your spare flat as heck. It takes two seconds to check. Take the time.
Do a Visual Inspection of Your Car
It takes barely a minute to walk around and look over your car for exterior issues. Burn some calories.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Follow your car’s scheduled maintenance. It’s the biggest factor in keeping your car on the road and not alongside it.
The Car Bibles Questionnaire
Car Bibles answers all your burning questions.
Q: Can I just buy an emergency roadside kit?
A: You can, though they won’t be as good as the customized one you build yourself.
Q: How much do those prebuilt kits cost?
A: Anywhere between $40-$150, depending on the level of kit offered.
Q: Should I carry cash in my kit?
A: Absolutely. A few bucks in your glove compartment isn’t a bad idea when you forget your wallet, encounter a gas station that only takes cash, or want to tip a friendly helper.
Video on Emergency Roadside Kits
Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly how to build a good emergency roadside kit. We pulled it from one of our favorite, and most trusted, sources and it’s a great additional resource.
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