A car emergency kit contains helpful tools and safety equipment. Hopefully you won’t ever use it, but here’s what you need just in case.

One of the most important things to keep in your car (that you hope you’ll never need) is a car emergency kit. Whether you own a newer model or drive an older used car, an emergency kit can be a lifesaver.

There are several must-haves to store in your kit even if you have good insurance and roadside assistance.

Tools and Safety

If your car dies on the side of the road at night, you’ll learn just how important flares or warning lights are. Keep a battery-powered emergency warning light, flares, or reflective hazard triangles in your vehicle for these emergencies. Flashlights are often afterthoughts when it comes to emergency kits, but keeping one or two with fresh batteries in your vehicle can be a tremendous help if you’re stranded at night.

A solid set of jumper cables can get you back on the road if you break down. A bonus tool to have is a battery pack, which you can connect to your cables. Then you can jump your own car without flagging someone down. You should also keep a tow strap in your car in the event you get stuck and need to be pulled out.

A jack and a lug wrench are mandatory tools to keep in your vehicle, as Consumer Reports recommends. Almost every driver will get a flat tire at some point. Storing a jack and lug wrench that fit your wheel lugs to change your own tire can prevent you from being stranded or buying overpriced tires from the nearest tire shop.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep a small fire extinguisher in your vehicle to use in the case of a wreck or fire under the hood, notes Bankrate.

First Aid and Sanitation

It’s important to keep a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times. You can purchase a kit or put one together yourself. The basics include bandages, pain reliever, antibiotic ointment, cleansing wipes, and any other special aid you or your passengers may need. Consider storing a blanket in your backseat for passengers to use. You’ll be glad you have it if you get stuck for a long period in cool weather.

Working under the hood or changing a tire can result in dirty hands and clothes. Keep clean rags, gloves, and some hand cleaner in your car in case you get dirty.

Beyond the necessities, certain items are helpful when taking long trips. Bottled water and snacks like granola bars or nuts last for a while and can keep you sustained.

Winter Driving

If you plan on traveling to a cold or snow-prone climate, tire chains can help get you out of an emergency situation. Consider storing a bag of kitty litter or sand if you know you might experience icy road conditions. This can help give your tires traction on a slick surface, as Farmers’ Almanac explains.

Keeping these items in your car emergency kit won’t prevent accidents or breakdowns from happening, but they will help you get back on the road faster.

Traci Benoit

About the AuthorTraci Benoit

I'm an automotive copywriter with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. I've written automotive content, articles, how-tos, magazine articles, sales copy and more. I have more than 15 years of professional hands-on experience in the automotive industry.