Building an Emergency Breakdown Kit

What are the most important but also affordable items to have in a breakdown kit? I’m building one for my daughter and wanna be sure I don’t leave anything out. Right now I’ve got a waterproof flashlight, spare batteries for the flashlight, water, blanket, granola bars, jumper cables, a first aid kit and fold open orange cones.

1 Like

Forget the jumper cables and use a battery pack . Also a AAA membership .

I will not jump anyones vehicle and will not let them jump mine .


Cell phone charger for 12V.


Some sort of self defense weapon appropriate for your daughters capabilities.


Get her an AAA membership.


Teach her: 1) How to change a flat, or use an inflator kit or drive on a run-flat.
2) Teach her what ALL those warning lights on the dash mean and which ones mean Stop Driving NOW… so both of you read the owners manual together.
3) How to check the oil level and add if needed.
4) How to check the coolant level and hot NOT to open when HOT, but add if needed when cool.
5) How to check her tire pressure and fill a low tire.

In her Kit… A tire pressure gauge, A quart of oil, A quart of drinking water (good for the coolant tank, too), I’ll second the vote for a jump pack… but choose a lithium-ion battery type WITH a built in tire pump (they stay charged longer and can fill a tire and have an emergency light!)

AAA is a nice add but with smart phones tow services are readily accessible as are maps.


In addition to all the other good recommendation’s I would add a fire estinguisher and a emergency credit card in case of maybe needing to buy a tire in case of a blowout.


I have one of these. it works great for those stubborn lug nuts that are hard to get loose. it gives you more leverage than a cross bar lug wrench.


I don’t disagree with any of the above but the best defense is a good offense. Regular check/replacement of belts and hoses. Battery and other wear items. Most on the road emergencies are for simple wear items that can be avoided. Yeah motor club and cell phone, but it sounds like you are preparing her to spend time in the cold during bad weather. Best is to stay off the roads. Police and tow trucks will be plenty busy and may not be able to respond for quite a while. On the road though we had snow mobile suits, candle and coffee can, compass, map, etc. Just like a Boy Scout camp out. Best to just stay home.

1 Like

This is good advice. I’ve been working on cars my whole life and taught my kids the basics. Checking fluids, tire pressure etc.
But a few years ago my daughter hit a dog and smashed her front end (which a Honda CR-V has very little). When she called we were discussing the situation. After about 5 or 10 minutes I assumed she knew enough to turn off the engine cause there was antifreeze all over the road. But I decided to ask just in case. She was so flustered about the dog that she left the car and left it running. It probably ran over 20 minutes with a dessimated radiator. Thankfully the engine still lasted many more miles. So some understanding of engine properties can be valuable.

A few flares in the trunk and one of these on the key chain resqme® Car Escape Tool, Seatbelt Cutter / Window Breaker

Agree with the jump pack, I won’t connect my car to another car

How many posters have come here after destroying their engines by running out of oil, while overheating, running out of coolant as well as wrecking tires because they were wildly low on air all while red and yellow lights were glaring on the dash TELLING them something was wrong? Lots and lots. That little bit of education can go a long way and save a lot of problems.

1 Like

Cell phone cable is handy for charging if you are stuck in snow. Of course, if you drive like me you could use about six quarts of oil and a new engine.
Recommended music: Breakdown, Runnin Down a Dream, 55, Radar love, Hot Rod Lincoln etc.

Agree with all the above, cell phone, AAA, heavy duty lug wrench and Mustangmans and Bings preemphative suggetions all of which I provided my daughter but whatever you do, from my own experience it’s going to come down to Daddy’s All Night Service or Boyfriend’s All Night Service and most important … your/her credit card…

We’re all highly protective of our daughters but my advise is to take care of all the above issues but also but rely on your daughter’s common sense and abilities.
Trust me, to quote the regga song, “The women are always smarter”,.

1 Like

Makes me glad my daughter went to college in Manhattan. The subway runs 24/7.

1 Like

A flashlight. Some of the jumper packs have it built in, along with an air pump. If you live in a state that has bad winters… a foldable shovel, and some hand warmers can’t hurt.

1 Like

Yeah, son was about 150 miles into his 200 mile trip back to school and wrecked a tire. For some reason had a problem changing it-don’t remember. I called the motor club and they sent a truck out. Next day at the tire shop I just gave the guy my CC number to pay for the tire. Gee all done electronically without getting my hands dirty.

No matter what you put in an emergency kit, it won’t have what she needs when she needs it. That’s a version of Murphy’s Law. She needs a cell phone and a 12v charger and some knowledge. Teach her to check her oil level at least monthly and check her coolant level in the reservoir. Don’t have her opening the radiator cap on a hot engine.

Also show her what a tire looks like when it is low on air. If she can use a tire gauge, so much the better but she should be able to notice when one tire is much lower that the rest. If she has any questions about anything, she will have the cell phone to call daddy and get an answer.

1 Like

Good ideas above. I’ll add

  • Before the trip help her change a tire in your driveway. Better to discover missing/stuck jack parts or hard to interpret instructions there than on the side of the road. Also verify the spare tire is fully inflated.

  • Include in the break-down kit a sturdy 18 inch breaker bar (1/2 inch or 3/4 inch drive) and appropriately sized socket that fit the car’s lug nuts. This can be critical to success when changing a flat tire if a prior mechanic has overly tightened the lug nuts. Not an uncommon problem.

  • Look up a few names of tow truck operators and police departments along the route and store them in her cell phone memory.

  • This is the best flashlight imo. LED bulb makes the battery last a long time, and it’s dirt cheap $5, from Walmart. Reliable on/off switch as well, no need to jiggle it. Adding one of those little LED flashlights from Harbor Freight can be helpful too, the Walmart one might be too large for some purposes.

Best of luck.


OK , I am against this idea of the daughter , wife or son changing a tire on the side of a road with vehicles going by at 60 mph or more . I would have them drive on a flat rather then have some idiot hit them . Let AAA or some other roadside service do it. Also many cars now do not even have a spare. Our 2018 Ford came with 5 year roadside service and I will use it myself .