How to Put Together an Automotive Emergency Kit

There are two types of automotive emergencies:

1) large scale car trouble including motor trouble, car accident, or getting extremely lost and 2) small scale car trouble including flat tires, overheating, broken windshield wipers, and other things that could require pulling off the road.

The prevalence of cell phones has made people passive about car emergency kits. The tendency to believe in the ability to call for help whenever it is needed can lead to serious problems when in an area where there is no cell phone reception or when the cell phone battery has died.

Major Car Emergency Kit

A major car emergency kit is a must for anyone taking a long road trip. There may be several places along the planned road that are isolated or at least far enough off the beaten path; that it could be quite a while before another motorist happens by. Unfortunately, If there is no cell phone service then it may be quite a while before anyone stops to help.

This type of kit is very similar to a disaster survival kit or “bug out bag” and should include items that can sustain a family of four for up to 72 hours. These items can be picked up at stores like Amazon, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, or similar outdoor sportsman venues and even at some big box retailers like WalMart or Costco. These items should be kept in a vacuum sealed bag to keep them dry

List of items for a Major Car Emergency Kit:

  • Thermal Blankets
  • Extra clothing including rain and cold weather gear (poncho, gloves, hats, jacket)
  • Two Gallons of water (These can be empty milk jugs or juice bottles)
  • Protein Bars (or other high nutrient items like trail mix or granola)
  • Car chargeable Flashlight
  • Fire starting gear (butane lighter, cotton balls for kindling)
  • Road Flares
  • Jumper Cables
  • Extra Medications (Prescription variety)
  • First Aid Kit

Minor Car Emergency Kit

This kit is for fixing minor problems with a car while on the road. This simple kit can be helpful for tightening lose belts, temporarily fixing leaks, securing a loose accessory, or any number of other minor problems. These items should be kept in a toolbox or other watertight container so they don’t get ruined by the temperature and humidity changes that often occur in a car trunk.

The items suggested for this kit are readily available at any supercenter or hardware store. They are relatively inexpensive and a kit can be put together for under thirty dollars.

List of Items for a Minor Car Emergency Kit

  • Duct Tape
  • Multi-head screwdriver (Phillips and Standard)
  • Small Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Zip Ties (for holding hoses in place)
  • Latex gloves (to keep hands from getting greasy during repair)
  • Old sweat pants and shirt (to wear over clothes during repair)
  • Fix-a-Flat (or similar tire repair foam)
  • Crescent quality wrenches
  • Small Socket Set
  • A wire coat hanger or similar gauge wire for fastening up loose exhaust system parts
  • A back up cell phone battery or battery charger

Suggested Items for Car Maintenance

Although these are not required items for an emergency kit most car owners should have these items either in the glove compartment or another storage compartment in the car; car repair guide (Haynes Repair Manual or Chilton Repair Manual), tire pressure gauge, extra fuses, and a small mirror.

In the trunk it is suggested that there be a 50/50 antifreeze mix, windshield washer fluid, two quarts of 10W30 or 10W40 oil, cat litter or sand, and a carpet remnant for lying on if work needs to be done underneath the car.

Pre Assembled Kits

If putting together a kit seems like too much of a hassle ,there are several places to purchase ready-made car kits. They are available online at sites like Amazon, TheReadyStore, IPrepare, Walmart, Costco, and FirstAidKitProducts among others. A quick Google search will give hundreds of options. These kits range from $39.99 on the low end (for a single person kit) to upwards of $499.99 (for a 72 hour 4 person kit) on the high end.

These kits are great for a quick fix but don’t offer the specialization that a homemade kit has. A self made kit offers the chance to put in only the things that will be relevant to the given situation. For instance, it is unlikely that someone in Florida would need to have snow gear but someone in Alaska would most defiantly need it.

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