Best Car Escape Tools

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
How we decided

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

19 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
182 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Buying guide for best car escape tools

Last Updated December 2019

Considering the low cost and high reward, a car escape tool might be one of the most valuable items you ever purchase. If you find yourself trapped in your vehicle, this handheld device can free you, potentially saving your life. Depending on your preference, however, there are a few factors to consider.

The best car escape tool is durable and brightly colored so it’s easy to spot in an emergency, when your senses might be overwhelmed. A device with a seat-belt cutter is essential, but you have the option of purchasing a model that has either a manual or spring-assisted window hammer.

If you'd like to learn more about how a car escape tool can help save your life and what additional features are available, keep reading. If you’re ready to purchase one and are just looking for the best, consider one of the car escape tools we've spotlighted in this article.

In most cars, if you lose power, there’s no way to roll down your windows.

Key considerations

A car escape tool is actually a type of multitool. While you have many features to choose from, your device needs to include two very specific items in order for you to be properly prepared for any scenario: a window hammer and a seat-belt cutter.

Window hammer

Car windows are made of tempered glass, which makes them much stronger than you’d imagine. If you lose power in your car and your door is unable to open, or you’re submerged, the only way you can escape is through a window. A window hammer has a sharp, pointed metal tip that focuses all of your force on one small location. This allows you to break the tempered glass and escape through a side window. There are two types: manual and spring-assisted window hammers.

Manual: The manual hammer is either a small tool, shaped like a hammer, that you swing to break the glass, or it’s a small, handheld object that can be jabbed into the window. It requires motion, so if you’re constrained or limited in your movements or strength, the manual tool can be harder to work.

Spring-assisted: The spring-assisted hammer operates at the press of a button, quickly punching through the window without need of a forceful swing.


Seat-belt cutter

A seat-belt cutter is a very sharp knife used to slice through a seat belt that won't open. The best ones have a slot that guides your cutting and protects your fingers from the blade.

Multi-purpose tool

LUXON's seven-in-one safety tool is a magnetized unit that has both essential escape tools (window hammer and seat-belt cutter), as well as a red safety light that can be set in one of three modes (low, high, or strobe). It also features a hand-cranked charger with a USB port to provide limited backup power to your devices in an emergency situation.

Car escape tool features

There are several other features you will find in car escape tools. For the most part, these don’t directly impact your ability to escape, but they can come in handy depending on your situation.

Durability

You want a well-made, durable car escape tool. Since the device needs to provide a glass-shattering impact, you don’t want a model that’s poorly constructed.

Color

A car escape tool is brightly colored for a reason: you need to be able to easily spot it in the midst of panic and chaos. A darker color might be sleek and match your car’s interior, but it could take too long to locate in an emergency when every second counts.

Case

You need your car escape tool to be within reach. Having a case or a holder that securely mounts in an easily accessible location is essential.

Keychain

A smaller, spring-assisted car escape tool that can be connected to your keychain is a great idea for a backup choice because it will be hanging from your ignition, placing it easily within your reach.

Flashlight

Many car escape tools have a small LED flashlight built in. This is a highly desirable feature to have.

Safety light

Another desirable feature in a car escape tool is a flashing red light that can alert others to your situation.

Magnetic base

A car escape tool with a magnetic base and a safety light allows you to place your device on your car so others can more easily see you and your vehicle.

Charger/USB port

Some car escape tools have a USB port that allows you to charge your devices. If your car escape tool also has batteries, it can serve as a limited emergency power source.

Hand-cranked generator

If you run out of charge for your cell phone, you can't call for help. A car escape tool with a small, hand-cranked generator can provide enough power to help you make that vital call.

Compass

If you’d like a car escape tool with a built-in compass, that feature is available on some models.

Simplest might be best. In an emergency situation, you probably won't be thinking clearly, so the best car escape tool might be the one with the fewest features.

Car escape tool prices

Inexpensive: Car escape tools start as low as $1 or $2, but these are typically smaller, lightweight items that may not perform as well as you hope.

Mid-range: At around $8 to $12, the car escape tools are more reliable and feature a seat-belt cutter built into the hammer handle. At the upper end of this bracket, you start seeing car escape tools that have a spring-assisted hammer.

Expensive: Spend $20 and more and you find additional elements, such as flashlights, compasses, and other features that won't directly help save your life but might be handy to have. If you want to spend more than $30, you can purchase an entire emergency kit that has a car escape tool included.

EXPERT TIP

Besides a car escape tool, it’s prudent to keep a bag in your vehicle that contains the essentials you need to survive for 24 hours.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

A car escape tool is one of those purchases you hope you’ll never have to use, but that doesn't mean you should postpone buying one. Most of us are exposed to potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis, but we stop being aware of this when our commute becomes routine. Here are a few potential threats you might face on your commute that make purchasing a car escape tool a wise investment.

  • Bridges: Many of us get a little nervous on a bridge, but it's for good reason. If anything happens on a bridge, evasive driving skills aren't of much use because there’s no room to maneuver.
  • Deep water: If your commute takes you over or alongside deep water, something like a blowout or locking brakes might be all it takes to put your vehicle in that water.
  • Low areas: Low areas are prone to flooding. It takes only six inches of water to cause loss of control and stalling. At one foot, your vehicle could float – even an SUV or a pickup truck can be swept away by as little as two feet of water.
  • Cliffs: If your daily commute takes you along a cliff's edge, you probably already own a car escape tool – or two.
  • Mountains: Runaway trucks are a big concern on roads with long, gradual descents.
  • Falling rocks: We've all driven on a road that warns of falling rocks, but we don’t always consider what a dangerous situation that is.
  • Trees: Trees don't live forever. Limbs can unexpectedly drop and trees can fall at any time, not just during a storm.
  • Long, uninhabited stretches: Any long stretch of uninhabited road can pose a threat because there’s no one around to help if you experience a blowout, brake failure, engine failure, or any other unexpected situation.
  • Weather: No matter what your daily commute is like, you should always be aware of the weather conditions. Heat, cold, wind, rain, and snow can all lead to accidents.
FOR YOUR SAFETY

The best place to keep your car escape tool is the center console or a pocket in the driver's door. If you keep it in your glove compartment, you might not be able to reach it if you’re constrained by a stuck seat belt.

Affordable lifesaver

This affordable little gadget features the two essential tools most needed to escape your car in the event of an emergency (window hammer and seat-belt cutter). The double-head hammer is made of tungsten metal, and the blade features a safety cover that protects your fingers while providing a guide so you can quickly slice your way through the seat belt. And the bright orange color makes the two-in-one tool easy to locate in an emergency.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a highly rated car escape tool, there are a number of options elsewhere in this article, but that doesn't mean they’re the only models worthy of your attention. Following are a few more that you might find interesting. If you want a compact unit, about the size of a cell phone, with a number of bonus features ranging from magnetic base to safety light, consider the iMagitek Multi-Functional Life-Saving Kit. The Cobalt Car Hammer is a durable unit that comes in neon pink, which makes the tool easier to quickly locate in an emergency. The BlueSkyBos Digital Tire Pressure Gauge doubles as a car escape tool. The unit features a seat-belt cutter, window hammer, flashlight, and compass.

Consider keeping a backup car escape tool on your keychain in case your main one gets knocked out of reach in an accident.

FAQ

Q. What is a car escape tool?
A.
A car escape tool contains the two essential items needed to get out of your car in an emergency: a window hammer and a seat-belt cutter. If you find yourself trapped in your vehicle, these are the two tools that could save your life. Some car escape tools have other features, but these two are not optional.

Q. Isn't it dangerous to shatter glass?
A.
It can be, but breaking your car window is only to be done in an emergency situation. As such, it’s a far better option than the alternative. Car windows are made of tempered glass (safety glass), and when broken they’re designed to explode outward in tiny balls rather than shards. Some injury is always possible when breaking tempered glass, but the likelihood of it being a serious laceration is greatly diminished. The most important thing to remember is to turn your head so no pieces of glass get in your eyes.

Q. Which window should I break in an emergency?
A.
Always go for the side window, ideally a lower corner at just a few inches from the window’s frame. This is the safest spot to work, but in an emergency, you might not have optimum conditions, so you’ll have to do what you need to do to escape. The reason you don’t want to attempt breaking the windshield is because that tempered glass is laminated with a thin plastic sandwiched between two sheets of glass. The plastic layer holds the glass in place, making it much harder to break through, possibly thwarting your attempt to escape.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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