Apr 26, 2023

5 Emergency Tools You Should Always Keep In Your Car

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Just as you should always have an emergency kit in your home, you should keep similar emergency tools in your car. While having a vehicle theoretically means you can travel somewhere to pick up supplies you need in a pinch or drive for help if you need it, getting stranded in the middle of nowhere with car trouble changes that very quickly. In that situation, the emergency tools you keep in your vehicle make a huge difference.

Fortunately, most essential items don't take up much space, and your car should have room for everything you need. "Better safe than sorry" isn't just a worn-out maxim — it's very good advice and a lesson you don't want to learn after it's too late.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the emergency tools you should always keep in your vehicle. Of course, there are items not on this list you should keep in your car as well — like extra oil, antifreeze, and a tire gauge — but the tools here are for immediate emergencies that can't wait. If you don't already have the tools on this list, you'll want to make sure you get them as soon as possible so you're prepared if the time comes when you urgently need them.

You probably remember at least one time in your childhood when your parents' car needed a jump from a neighbor using jumper cables. In recent years, however, jump starter batteries that you can keep inside your car have become cheaper and more prevalent, and they're now a must-have for your vehicle. The upside to having a portable battery you can jump your car with is obvious — you don't need to rely on another vehicle or willing driver to bring your car back to life. This is especially crucial if you're in an isolated area or it's the middle of the night.

Jump starter batteries have a few caveats, as they are more expensive than cables, take up slightly more space, and, most importantly, you need to remember to keep them charged. However, their benefits outweigh these slight inconveniences, and it's worth buying a good one even if they can get a little pricey.

This jump starter battery from DeWalt retails at $182, but it comes with everything you need. That includes LED lights to see your engine in the dark, an alarm if you're not connecting to your battery correctly, a power bank to charge your phone, and even an air compressor. Plus, it's also built to work in cold weather.

Ideally, you should always be driving around with a spare tire in your trunk — or at least a donut spare. While run-flat tires are becoming more popular and the days of changing a tire on the side of a highway may eventually come to an end, most drivers are still riding around on traditional rubber tires that can snag a nail or spring a leak at any given moment.

If you can't afford a spare, don't have room for one, or recently used the one you had and haven't had time to replace it, you should at least have a bottle of Fix-a-Flat. Fix-a-Flat, and similar canned tire inflators, are small pressurized bottles that can chemically seal the tear in your tire and inflate it with enough air to allow you to drive at low speeds to your home or an auto body shop. They're typically not a permanent solution to a flat tire, but they can be vital in an emergency when you're stranded without a spare.

If you're close enough to drive somewhere else, you can even opt to use it over a spare tire you have on hand, allowing you to change your tire in a safer location other than the side of the road. You can find a two-pack of single-use Fix-a-Flat bottles on Amazon for less than $20. Remember, however, that sometimes the sealant used to internally patch a tear can be tough to remove, permanently damage the tire, and potentially mess with your car's tire pressure monitor systems.

Just as a fire extinguisher is an emergency tool you should keep in your home — particularly your kitchen or garage — a fire extinguisher is just as important to have in your car. Obviously, driving around with a tank full of gasoline, and perhaps more stored in your trunk, means fire is always a potential hazard when driving, although usually, the fire will start in your engine. However, driving an electric vehicle doesn't mean you're not at risk because EV technology is still relatively new, and electric batteries have been known to explode and catch fire on occasion.

You can get a small, single-use fire extinguisher better suited for a vehicle. Once you have your fire extinguisher, you should store it in your front or backseat area rather than the trunk. That way, you can access it quickly, especially if the fire catches inside from a cigarette or other cause. This two-pack of single-use extinguishers from A+ Safety can be found on Amazon for $25.

Usually you won't have a problem charging your phone from your car's engine, but if your car battery dies and you find yourself stranded, you'll definitely want to make sure your phone is charged so you can call for help. If you're in a remote enough area or trapped during a storm, you'll want to make sure your phone has enough juice for several calls, as well as other apps like navigation and flashlights, which can drain your battery very quickly. If you're using jumper cables rather than a jump starter battery or don't have any other means to charge your phone, you should get a charger specifically for your car.

A power bank to charge your smartphone is cheap and easy to stow away in your glove compartment and can be a lifesaver. This 10,000 mAh power bank from Anker can provide two charges for the iPhone 12 about a charge and a half for Galaxy S20 — all for just $22.

You should pick up a pre-packaged emergency kit for your car, even if you can find cheaper versions of each included item individually or already own some of the things it includes — such as a fire extinguisher, perhaps. There are several reasons why such a redundancy is worth it.

First off, it's good to have extras, and it's even better to have all the basics in one place that you don't have to think about, especially in an emergency. Also, even if it takes you just a week to assemble everything you need in an emergency, getting a kit right away will keep you prepared in the meantime — remember, emergencies often happen when you least expect them.

The Everlit Survival Car Emergency Kit is available on Amazon for $65 and comes with everything you might need in a roadside emergency. The kit includes a reflective warning triangle for drivers passing by, a glass breaker, seatbelt cutter, air compressor, jumper cables, and a 108-piece first aid kit, as well as several other useful emergency items so you can respond to any issues that come up unexpectedly while driving.