Car Care: What to Pack in Your Emergency Kit

December 2017
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Car Care: What to Pack in Your Emergency Kit
Never drive off without a well-stocked emergency kit

It’s impossible to predict a vehicle breakdown like a flat tire or engine fail, but a change in weather can force you to pull over to the side of the road and prevent you from continuing on your journey. A mistake in navigation can leave you stranded in an unfamiliar area. Luckily, it is possible to be prepared to handle such unfortunate circumstances with a well-stocked emergency kit.

Vehicle trouble

For all the things that can go wrong with your set of wheels, it’s important to stock your trunk with tools and items that can assist with mechanical mishaps. A set of jumper cables is a must, according to Items such as a portable compressor, aerosol foam tire sealant, work gloves, a tire plug kit, “a good-quality gas can” and spare fuses and bulbs are welcome additions, too.

Paul M. Eng, writer, recommends including flares, hazard triangles or warning lights in your kit so other drivers will be alerted to your car breakdown. If you find yourself venturing out in harsh winter weather, Eng also suggests including a reflective safety vest, tow strap, tire chains, a collapsible shovel, kitty litter and an ice scraper.

According to Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor, you’ll also appreciate items such as a flashlight with extra batteries; a quart or more of motor oil; a tool kit complete with pliers, pocket knife, adjustable wrench and screwdrivers; a tire pressure gauge; a gallon of coolant; and a spray bottle filled with washer fluid.

Personal injury

A first-aid kit is essential to soothing minor cuts or bruises while on the road. recommends burn ointment, sunscreen, nausea medication, antiseptic wipes, gauze bandages in various sizes, cloth tape, non-aspirin and aspirin pain relievers, safety pins, tweezers, scissors, an elastic sprain bandage, eyewash cup and duct tape.

Forces of nature

Before Mother Nature rages and your car’s battery gives up, Eng recommends hauling warm blankets, a winter hat, chemical hand warmers, a winter hat, gloves, and extra layers so you and your passengers will be protected from chilly temperatures. 

A tarp will serve as a short-term shelter according to, and it’s a good idea to have a hand-crank or solar-powered radio/light/cellphone charger as well.

Health boost

To keep everyone’s morale and energy up during a breakdown, be sure to stock your car with snacks and water. “Bring enough food and water to sustain you and any passengers for at least a meal—longer for remote areas or in extreme cold regions,” reports Eng. Reed suggests energy or granola bars and bottled water for sustenance.

According to, “The biggest hurdle when carrying water: It weights eight pounds per gallon, and considering each person in the car will need to drink about a gallon a day, that’s a heavy load to haul around. It’s easiest to pack a case of 16 small drink boxes of water. Another option would be to carry refillable water bottles. When empty, they won’t add unnecessary weight, and you can fill them if you think you might be driving into remote areas. If you bring empty water bottles, bring water purification tablets.”

Whether you’re embarking on a road trip or your daily commute, never drive away without a smartly-stocked emergency kit.

This article is presented by Bill Marsh Automotive Group in Traverse City, Michigan.


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Published by Bill Marsh Automotive Group
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