Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
Few events are as stressful as realizing there’s something wrong with your car in the middle of a long drive, especially in an unfamiliar area. You may not be able to prevent vehicle malfunctions, but having some emergency supplies in your car can make it possible to fix some of them, or make it easier to get help.
If you’re facing a more serious problem, the smartest move is to call a service like AAA, which can resolve some issues, or tow you to the nearest mechanic.
1. A Small, Powerful Flashlight
If you’ve pulled over to the side of the road at night, a compact flashlight will make it easier to identify what’s wrong with your car. Yes, you could always use the one on your smartphone, but HeroBeam’s has a magnet built into the bottom, so you can attach it to a metal part of your car and search with issues with both hands.
Using your phone’s flashlight will also drain its battery more quickly, which can be an issue if you decide to call someone for help.
2. A Collapsible Shovel
If you need to dig yourself out of a snowbank after an unexpected storm, Showviger’s collapsible shovel is the perfect tool.
It comes in three pieces: its handle, blade (scoop), and midsection. It’s just over one foot tall when disconnected, which makes it easy to store in your trunk, and about three feet tall when fully assembled.
The blade is made out of strong aluminum alloy and has a metal tip, which can break through heavier snow, and even some ice, and makes it possible to shovel snow that’s partially frozen to the ground.
3. A Set Of LED Road Flares
If you’ve pulled over to the side of the road at night, it’s critical to let other drivers you’re there. If they don’t see you, there’s a chance you could get into an accident while inspecting your car, which is why recommend these digital road flares.
Each of the four flares has 16 LEDs, which means they’ll be bright enough to be visible from a far distance. They’re water resistant, too, so they’ll work in the rain. The flares run on three AA batteries (keep a set of spares in your glove box) inside of a sealed chamber. You need a screwdriver (provided) to open it up.
4. A Portable Battery Jump Starter
If your car’s battery has died, it’s possible to revive it by connecting it to a power source. Typically that means another car, but LOFTEK’s jumper lets you do it by yourself. The battery has a pair of clamps that you connect to terminals on your car battery.
Be completely sure the clamps are attached to the correct terminals, and follow the directions exactly. This battery has a lot of safety features in place, but you never want to mess with a powerful electrical circuit.
Loftek says its battery can hold a charge for up to a year (we recommend plugging it in every three or four months), and work for up to 1,000 cycles (charges). This kit comes with the battery, a protection case, a pair of jumper cables, and a USB cable that lets you charge your phone.
5. Orcish Tire Repair Plug Kit
A flat tire is one of the most common issues you’ll run into on the road, and a huge inconvenience if you’re not closet to a gas station. Orcish’s Tire Repair Kit includes tools that let you remove the obstruction (nail, rock, shard of glass) and either plug it or patch it. This is not a permanent solution, but a patched tire is safe to drive on for a short distance.
This kit is only helpful if you’re dealing with a small hole, though; if your tire has a wide gash, you’ll need to call a repair service to replace it. If you’re able to get your patched tire to a gas station, you can use this kit’s pressure gauge to make sure you don’t overfill it with air. Again, this is an essential emergency tool to keep in your car, but you should get your tire completely changed as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a spare tire in your car, or need to replace the one you’ve got because it’s old and worn, I recommend getting one from Priority Tire. The site offers a wide selection of tires, free shipping, a generous 90 Day return policy, and a car lookup tool that ensures you get the right tires for the specific year, make, and model of your vehicle.
6. An Emergency Roadside Kit
If you have a limited amount of space in your vehicle, but still want to be prepared for anything, First Secure’s Emergency Roadside Kit includes all of the essentials in a single package. From gloves and a window scraper to a basic first-aid kit and jumper cables, keeping this in your car is a no-brainer. Our favorite piece is the 12 Volt compressor, which allows you to fill up a patched tire if you’re not close to a gas station.
7. A Jack
A jack is a tool that allows you to safely raise and lower your car when changing you’re tires. Some cars come with one (typically tucked in an enclosed compartment), but many don’t. If that’s the case, you should always keep one in your trunk. We’re recommending this jack from K Tool International because it’s built to lift cards up to 6,000 pounds between five and 18.5 feet. It’s made out of steel, not aluminum, which reduces the chances of it bending under pressure.
8. A Lug Wrench
A lug wrench is another necessary tool for removing an old tire from your car and attaching a new one. Lugs nuts are what keep the wheel attached to your car’s axle, so it’s important to turn them as tightly as possible when changing a tire. This wrench from Epauto is made out of steel and comes with two bits to fit different sizes of wheel.
9. An Escape Tool
If you’re trapped inside your vehicle after an accident, Resqme’s Keychain Car Escape Tool may be able to help. It contains a concealed cutting tool, which slips right over your seatbelt to make a quick cut. Pushing the top of the tool against the corner of your window will release a spring-loaded spike that will break the glass. If you need to make a quick exit from your car, keep this tool on your key ring at all times.
10. An Ultra Long Lasting Battery Pack
Designed for campers, Anker’s PowerCore Essential will ensure your phone stays charged if you have to stay on the side of the road for an extended period of time. It has one USB-A port one USB-C port, and holds enough juice to fully recharge an iPhone up to five times.
The PowerCore Essential is small enough to keep in your glove box at all times, just remember to keep a power cable in there, too.