It’s happened to all of us, a breakdown on the side of the road. Whether it’s due to the car overheating, a blown-out tire or just running out of gas, a basic emergency kit in your car or trunk can provide you with less stress, add to your safety and get you tooling down the road again. Not to mention, finding yourself stranded in inclement weather can put you and your family in jeopardy.
More than half of drivers have a variety of nonessential junk in their trunk, and a bigger percentage were equipped with a spare tire or jumper cables. But is that enough? Even if you have roadside assistance protection or coverage, you will still have to be able to contact them and wait a considerable amount of time. All drivers should have a basic kit, no matter if they only drive around town or take long-distance trips. And one other note, check your kit periodically to make sure everything still works, is fresh and dry.
According to Consumer Reports, the Basic Kit should contain:
A Cellular phone: Perhaps you always have a cell but is it charged? Getting a device that plugs into a cigarette lighter or power point in your car and charges your cell when driving is a minimal expense and a good idea.
First Aid kit: Purchase an all-round kit that will provide you with tools for a whole host of problems from minor cuts or burns. Take a look inside your kit before you stow it away so you know what is available.
Hazard triangle, warning light or flares: Inclement weather can impair the vision of all drivers and being able to distinguish you and your vehicle may just save your life. Reflective surfaces are important and battery-powered warning lights may also prove helpful.
Flashlight: A heavy-duty flashlight in a bright color and one that can be mounted to free up hands is a great idea.
Fire extinguisher: Car fires are possible from leaking fluids or something as simple as a wiring short. Being able to extinguish a small flame that’s just begun may be the difference between small damage and an irreparable fix.
Tire gauge, jack and lug wrench: Your basic go-to kit for tire fixes, inflation check and tire changes. Remember that some models have run-flat tires and will not have a spare. They will only be useful for a limited number of miles. Perhaps for minor punctures, a foam tire sealant will get you back on the road quickly, although you might need a portable compressor and plug, check your car’s owner’s manual for the difference.
Jumper cables, battery booster and spare fuses: If there is no second car with which to get a jump, the portable battery booster should suffice. Spare fuses are, most often, the fix for an electrical problem, keep an assortment on hand.
Gloves, rags, hand cleaner: Help keep your interior and clothing clean.
Money, pen and paper, and a disposable camera: $20 in small bills and change for miscellaneous use or any toll situations and a disposable camera to document any fender benders, or the condition or your car or other vehicles for insurance purposes.
Speaking of car insurance, every year take the time to get car insurance quotes and actively compare your current services with other companies. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut but you could potentially be saving hundreds of dollars a year. Your driving record and claims history may vary or you may have either upgraded your vehicle or changed your year of make. Not to mention, but a male of 20-years of age may have a different payment versus a family man of 30. And insurance companies often change rates to remain competitive.
So do yourself a favor, put together a car trunk kit that will aid your safety and convenience, and take a few minutes to research your insurance and costs—you’ll be better prepared and may be pleasantly surprised.
Sources: Consumerreports.org and Newswise.com