Drinks and Snacks
Keep bottles of drinking water and snacks such as granola bars in a small cooler in your trunk. If you have the trunk space you may want to consider upgrading to a larger cooler which can serve as storage and as a cool space to keep groceries such as vegetable and ice cream from melting or spoiling in the Summer heat as you make trips to and from the grocery store.
First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit available in the car is one of the best ways to be prepared for emergencies situations on the road and may be a lifesaver as it allows you to attend to injuries while waiting for further assistance especially in remote areas. Not all first aid kits will fit your specific needs out of the box. Take inventory of all items that came with your first aid kit and customize your kit to your specific family needs by adding additional items such as your preferred pain medication and allergy medication, a small blanket, rain poncho, whistle and instant ice packs.
Reflective Vest and Cones
A reflective vest and some reflective DOT approved triangular warning cones are just as important as having a first aid kit in your car. Roadside emergencies such as mechanical break downs, flat tires, and car accidents can put your family and car in dangerous and potentially life threatening situations, especially on the highway. A immobilized or disabled vehicle in the wrong place leaves you and your family vulnerable and increases the chance of injury or death from on-coming cars. Turning on your hazard lights while waiting for emergency services to arrive along with putting on a reflective vest and setting reflective cones will help draw the attention of other drivers to your emergency situation, increasing your visibility and safety level.
Flammable flares are a great way to increase your visibility and alert other drivers especially at night but we do not recommend them as we do not like the idea of storing flammable flares in our own cars. Flammable flash can also lead to car fires if flammable liquids e.g. gasoline get in contact with the flame or roadside fires if the flares are blown off the road by wind passing cars. Instead we recommend a set of LED flares to replace old style flammable flares.
Accidentally leaving your headlights on is one of the most common cause of battery drainage. Other causes maybe a old failing battery or failing alternator. Whatever the cause. Don’t let a discharged or weak battery leave you stranded and ruin your day. Always leave a pair of jumper cables in your trunk as backup for peace of mind. You may need it when you least expect it. In general jumper cables are a good investment that should last you many years of use. We recommend a pair of jumper cables around 20ft in length, 4 gauge or lower, with preferably solid copper clamps over plated copper, and with good quality cable insulation material. Do not just go by the appearance of thicker insulation material surrounding the cables although this maybe a sign of quality insulation you need look at the gauge number. The gauge number is what the manufactures use to indicate the thickness of the cables wires underneath the insulation material. The lower the gauge number the thicker the cable wires. This is important because thicker, lower gauge number, jumper cables are more effective and efficient compared to thinner, higher gauge number, jumper cables. A 4 gauge cable jumper cable is recommended for passenger cars, small-medium size trucks and small-medium size SUVs and even lower gauge cable for larger vehicles like large heavy duty trucks, large SUVs and RV vehicles.
We recommend a small basic tool box in the car to use just in case of emergencies. Most basic tool boxes will do as most will come with a ratchet and some sockets along with extra tools such as pliers and allen wretches. Be sure to select a tool box with the correct sockets, metric and/or standard size sockets, that works with your car. It may also be a good idea to pick up a adjustable wretch and a multi-purpose pocket knife to keep in the glove compartment to give you some flexibility when performing on the road repairs and to offer you a variety of useful tools that a small tool box may not provide you such as a knife, scissor and bottle opener.
Portable Tire Pump and Tire Repair Plug kit
A portable tire pump powered by your car’s cigarette lighter along with a simple tire plugging kit to perform minor roadside emergency tire repairs is a must have in every car’s trunk to get you back on the road, especially if your car does not have a spare tire. A portable tire pump is essential to performing a emergency roadside tire repair using a plug kit for the following reasons:
- You will lose air from the tire once you remove the foreign object stuck in your tire like a small nail
- You will lose air as you ream the hole to prepare the tire to fit the tire plug.
- You may find that putting some air into the tire after reaming the hole to fit the plug make it easier to insert the plug.
- You will need to pump the tire up to recommended pressure level after successful repair.
Note that not all tire punctures are repairable. You should only plug holes about the size of the diameter of the reaming tool in your repair kit and you are advised not to plug and repair tires with any punctures on or close to the shoulder of the tire near the sidewall and not to repair any punctures on the sidewall of the tire itself.
In the event that you failed to repair the tire or plugging a tire is out of your comfort zone and you don’t have a spare tire to use you may want to keep a can of fix-a-flat in your trunk and use that instead.
Hand Crank Flashlight
In times of emergency you just cant depend on battery powered flashlights. The batteries inside are either dead from sitting idle too long or leaking acid ruining the batteries and the flashlight. We strongly recommend a hand cranked, generator style, flashlight for emergency situations instead. There are many hand crank flashlights out there for the outdoors and camping use but not many specifically manufactured for use for car roadside emergency use. This particular hand crank flashlight is light weight, water resistant and comes with useful tools for emergency car situations such as, a strobe light, window breaker hammer, seat belt cutter, and USB port to charge your phone and devices making it the perfect hand crank flashlight to keep in your glove compartment.
OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner Tool
Cars manufactured after 1996 will have a port to plug in a diagnostic tool called a OBD2 scanner to read check engine light codes. OBD2 scanners can range in price from very affordable to extremely expensive and comes in either a wireless bluetooth version that require additional software to be installed on your phone e.g. Torque App or a wired version with its own built in software. If you choose to buy the wireless bluetooth scanners make sure the scanner is compatible with your phone, IOS or Android or both operating systems.
A OBD2 scanner can save the day and save you money! Imagine you are in the middle of driving your car to work or a family road trip then suddenly a check engine light (CEL) come on your dashboard. If you have a OBD2 scanner in your car you can quickly scan the code to determine the cause and possibly fix it with the right tools on hand. If you are lucky it might just be a loose gas cap!
Car fires pose a real danger to property and human life. A car fire can start after a car accident from leaking fluids like spilled gasoline or from neglected car maintenance such as not fixing oil leaks that may combust on hot engine and exhaust parts. Carrying a fire extinguisher in your car will give you some control in a fire situation as oppose to not having one in possession. A chance to act on putting out the fire before more damage can occurs can potentially save your life, car, and thousands of dollars in damages.