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Best Car Emergency Kits

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 6 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 141 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for the best car emergency kits

    Last Updated August 2018

    A flat tire. A breakdown. An accident. Emergencies on the road aren’t pleasant to think about, but they happen, and when they do, being prepared can literally mean the difference between life and death. That’s why a good emergency kit is a must-have in your automobile. These convenient kits contain just about anything you might need in case of an unexpected event while out and about.

    And while it’s true that you can assemble such a kit yourself, that’s going to take quite a bit of time and money. It’s far easier – and more economical – to purchase a ready-made emergency kit that easily stores in your car’s trunk.

    Deciding which kit to buy, however, can be complicated. There are many auto emergency kits and bundles on the market, so how do you know which to choose? Luckily, we’re here to help.

    At BestReviews, we pride ourselves on our helpful, accurate – and most importantly, unbiased – product recommendations and buying advice. We don’t run advertisements on our site, accept free products, or take manufacturer perks. Instead, we do our own research, listening to both experts in the field and owners of the products in question. Then we extend that information to you, in the form of product recommendations and buying guides.

    So, if you just want to buy an auto emergency kit and hit the road, check out our five recommendations in the matrix above. But if you’d like to learn more about these essential kits in general, including what they should contain and how to handle an emergency, read on.

    If your car breaks down, stay calm. Get to the side of the road if possible, make your car as visible as you can, raise the hood, and contact emergency roadside service as soon as possible if you cannot handle the problem yourself.

    What belongs in an auto emergency kit?

    A well-stocked emergency kit includes items you’re likely to need in either a medical emergency or a mechanical failure. While you can tailor your kit a bit to suit your specific climate and needs, a good kit will have all – or very nearly all – of the following items, along with a sturdy bag, box, or pack to hold them. After all, you don’t want your emergency items rolling around the bottom of your trunk.

    EXPERT TIP

    Acquaint yourself with your first aid kit at home, so you know how to use the contents properly in an emergency. It’s much easier to be prepared than to try learning during a high-stress situation.


    You need a first aid kit

    Every car needs a first aid kit. In fact, if you have kids, it’s not a bad idea to have a very small kit tucked in the glove compartment, one that’s easy to grab when a day at the park ends with a scraped knee or bee sting. But your auto emergency kit needs a more comprehensive first aid supply that includes:

    • Band-aids: Cuts and scrapes happen, and when they do, you want to be prepared. If you have young kids, add some child-appealing Band-Aids decorated with colorful designs or cartoon characters to take a bit more of the sting out of their ouchies. Otherwise, a selection of various sized regular Band-Aids is fine.

    • Adhesive tape and gauze: A roll of sterile gauze and medical tape lets you bandage larger wounds, or keep them protected until assistance arrives.

    • Antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment: Prevent germs from getting a foothold in a scrape or cut by first wiping it clean with antiseptic wipes, then applying a thin coat of antibiotic ointment before covering the wound with a bandage.

    If it’s safe, remain in your car in an emergency that you can’t handle yourself. If the car is stranded in the middle of the road or in another dangerous location, do your best to get out and get to a safer spot.

    • Tweezers: No need to suffer with a splinter when you have tweezers at hand.

    • Aspirin or other pain medication: Headaches, muscle pulls, bruises or bumps: keep a basic OTC pain reliever in your first aid kit for welcome relief.

    • Ace bandage: These large, rolled gauze bandages are just the thing when someone sprains an ankle or wrist.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    You can cut down on the likelihood of ever needing your auto emergency kit by always keeping your car well maintained, and keep at least one-quarter of a tank of gas.

    Emergency items to keep you safe and comfortable

    In the unwelcome event you are stranded overnight or in severe weather conditions, you’ll fare much better if your auto emergency kit contains a few items to keep you reasonably comfortable.

    • Disposable rain poncho: No one wants to be soaking wet, and if your car breaks down in a storm, you’ll appreciate a plastic rain poncho that keeps you dry.

    • Emergency blanket: Often made out of mylar, these lightweight, metallic blankets work well to hold in body heat if your car breaks down somewhere cold or remote.

    • Food and water: No, you’re not going to cook up a tasty meal, but you’ll feel much better with a few bottles of drinking water and non-perishable snacks, like protein bars or dried fruit. If you have young kids, include a few items that appeal to their pickier tastes, if necessary.

    If you are involved in an accident with another driver, exchange auto insurance information, names and addresses, driver license numbers, and car VIN and license plate numbers. Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of damage, the position of the cars, and anything in the vicinity that is important to the accident scenario.

    • Flashlight and batteries: Whether you need it for illuminating the engine while you work, or lighting your way to safety in the dark, you’ll be glad for the light.

    • Cleansing wipes: A pack of baby wipes is useful for cleaning away any type of dirt or grunge.

    • Work gloves: Whether you need them to protect your hands while changing a flat tire, or clearing away debris from the road, they can prevent the need for all those bandages and antiseptics.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    If you must exit your stalled car, only do so on the side away from traffic, even if that means you have to crawl over the passenger seat. Do not open your door into the path of oncoming traffic.

    Emergency items to get your car back on the road

    Here are the basics your kit should contain in case you break down or experience an emergency away from easily accessed roadside assistance.

    • Jumper cables: Trying to start your car, only to find that the battery is dead, is an almost inevitable experience at some point for most drivers. A set of jumper cables – and the knowledge of how to use them – will get you up and running until you reach a mechanic.

    • Fire extinguisher: When fire breaks out, every second counts. A fire extinguisher rated for Class B fires (those involving flammable or combustible liquids, like gasoline) and Class C fires (those involving electrical elements, like batteries and switches) might save your car, your family, or your property.

    • Tire sealant: In the unhappy event you get a flat but can’t switch to the spare, foam tire sealant might be enough to get you to assistance.

    EXPERT TIP

    Consider adding a portable USB charger to your auto emergency kit; most kits won’t come with one. While waiting for help, conserve your phone battery.


    • Ice scraper and snow shovel: If you live in or are traveling through a cold-winter climate, you’ll almost certainly need one or both of these items at some point.

    • Flares or reflectors: When your car is broken down at the side of the road – or even worse, in the middle of the road – you’re at great risk of being hit by a passing motorist that doesn’t see you or your car until it’s too late. Set up road flares or reflective triangles around your car, with one 15 feet behind the car, one the same distance in front of the car, and any remaining flares or reflectors at 30-foot increments behind your automobile. These help greatly to alert oncoming drivers to your presence.

    • Tow rope: A tow rope capable of pulling up to 6,000 pounds will come in handy if your car ends up in a ditch.
    Don’t skimp on an auto emergency kit (or worse, neglect having one altogether) just because you think you’ll never need it. Just about every driver eventually experiences some type of mechanical failure, dead battery, or flat tire, and you can never predict when or where you’ll need a first aid kit.

    How much do auto safety kits cost?

    Depending on the completeness of the kit, you’ll find auto emergency kits for as little as $15, or as much as $80. In general, however, a kit that costs between $30 and $50 should contain everything you might need for a basic roadside emergency or injury.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jeff
      Jeff
      Editor
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer