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You’re speeding along the highway, singing to your favorite song on the radio, when all of a sudden your tire blows out. Hope you didn’t have any upcoming appointments because now you’re going to be late. Very late.

Accidents always seem to happen at the worst possible moment. You never know when an emergency will happen, but if you’re prepared you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches. If you come prepared with an emergency kit, you will be in control of the situation, and you could even save your life and the lives of your family and friends.

The Top 15 Things to Pack in Your Car’s Emergency Kit

1. Cell phone charger

We all use our cellphones all the time, and yet we never seem to remember to bring our chargers with us. Avoid being thrown back to the dark ages by keeping a car charger with you. You’ll definitely be grateful for it when the tow company puts you on hold for the third time.

2. Tool kit

How do you expect to change that flat tire if you don’t have a tool kit? A tool kit with a Phillips head screwdriver, a flathead screwdriver, vise grips, an adjustable wrench, and a pair of pliers will come in handy if your car breaks down so you can fix things immediately. 

3. First-aid kit

Dad thinks he can change the tire by himself, even though it is pitch black outside. While Dad did successfully do that, he also cut his hand in the process. Now is not the time to say I told you so. Better to just keep a first-aid kit in the trunk with bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, aspirin, antiseptic wipes, and antibiotic ointment. This way, Dad can change the tire, and get his bandaid too.

4. Flashlight

You’ve seen that horror movie, right? The one where the couple’s car breaks down at night and they are stranded in the unknown woods, hearing the sounds of snapping branches and animal howls? Avoid becoming the star in your own horror movie and keep a flashlight in your glove compartment, as well as some extra batteries. 

5. Multi-tool

It fits in your pocket and it has so many uses! A standard multipurpose knife will come with a bottle opener, a flathead screwdriver, a wire cutter, a rescue blade, and a glass breaker. It’s a useful tool in any situation. 

6. Rain gear

Is it fashionable? Eh. Is it useful? Absolutely. If you’re fixing that flat tire and it suddenly starts pouring, you’ll be happy to keep dry with a poncho. But what about an umbrella? If you’re driving alone, who is going to hold the umbrella while you loosen the lug nuts? No-one, exactly. You’ll drive home completely drenched with your useless umbrella. Just keep a poncho in your car, or be ready to take an unexpected clothes-on shower in the rain.

7. Comfortable shoes

These boots are made for walking, but if you walk too far in them you’ll get blisters. Maybe we should change that phrase to these boots are made for limping. If you happen to run out of gas on the middle of the highway, you’ll need to walk somewhere to refill the tank. And you’ll probably have to walk farther than you’d like. Comfortable walking shoes, like sneakers or hiking shoes, will make the trek more bearable. 

8. Jumper cables

There’s a major sale going on at the mall. The parking lot is totally full. Suddenly a spot opens up, and you’re so excited that you snatch it and run into the store. But you forgot to turn your lights off. And when you come out with your newly bought packages, your battery is dead. Leave jumper cables in your car so a nearby vehicle can help get your ride running again. This could also be very useful if your car doesn’t start because the weather is too cold.

9. Fire extinguisher

Are you really hot, or is that smoke coming from your front hood? Whether from overheating or from a spark caused by an electrical problem, a fire extinguisher can prevent a very dangerous situation from getting worse. Make sure the expiration date on the fire extinguisher is current too. There’s nothing worse than having a fire extinguisher that doesn’t work when you need it.

10. Reflective barriers

Cars are whizzing past you, practically clipping your side mirror, but your engine just won’t start. Place some reflective warning triangles around your car to notify oncoming drivers that your car is stationary. It will also signal them to slow down. LED flares are another good option to prevent roadside mishaps and alert drivers to use caution as they pass you.

11. Non-perishable snacks

This is the most fun item to keep in your car. Everybody loves snacks! If your car breaks down and you’re far away from civilization, your pre-packed snacks can help stave off hunger. Just make sure that you don’t eat them all during regular road trips.

12. Bottled water

Along with snacks, keeping bottled water in your car is vital. Snacks are delicious, but water is practical. Especially if your snacks are salty. If you get stuck somewhere overnight for some reason, you will stay hydrated and much happier. We need water to live, so it’s worth it to bring it along.

13. Cat litter

You decided to finally visit those distant cousins in Minnesota for Thanksgiving. Hooray! You drove through the snow to see them, but you parked your car on a patch of ice and now you’re stuck. Boo! You press the gas pedal, but the tires just spin. Use cat litter as a replacement for sand to create traction beneath the tires if you happen to get stuck. It really does work, and it will save you an a-meow-zing a-meow-nt of time.

14. Radio handset

Video killed the Radio Star, but radios are a great tool for communication and information. Leave a battery-powered or hand crank radio in the car to listen for weather warnings and other important news if your vehicle’s radio or your cell phone stops working. Why would your cell phone stop working? Well you definitely listened to my sage advice and brought a power charger, but perhaps you decided  to forego that poncho after all and your cell got drenched in your back pocket. Or perhaps you’ve driven into the horror movie where cell service stops working. Either way, going old school with a radio will help connect you to the outside world.

15. Blankets

Storing a fleece blanket in the trunk of your car could save your life. Remember those cousins you visited in Minnesota? So you had your cat litter and you were able to get your car out of that icy patch, but now your car has broken down completely, very far from their house. Too far and too cold to walk with your walking shoes. And yes, it has started snowing again. The blanket will help keep you warm as you wait for help to arrive.

Get Your Car Inspected Before a Road Trip

Prevention is always the best plan. If your car is due for an inspection, make sure to have a certified mechanic look at it before you embark on a long journey. 

For more advice on cars or trip planning, come chat with us at New Jersey State Auto Auction in Jersey City. We can get you set up in a pre-owned vehicle that is ready for any excursion. Browse our inventory of used cars for sale now.