What would you suggest for a car emergency road kit?

I’m a big believer in being prepared for many situations, and I’m an experienced backpacker and former special forces, but just picked up a car after not needing one for a few years living in a major metropolitan area and would like to make sure we’re properly equipped - what would you suggest keeping in the car?

What would you store in the glove compartment, trunk and handy on the dashboard?

Flares, a caution triangle, and a cigarette-lighter-powered air pump are the first things that come to mind. You’d hate to have a blowout or get a flat and pull out your spare, only to find that it too is flat.

Maybe a good set of work gloves too.

A cell phone, seriously. Unless you do a lot of travel at night on back country roads, the odds of you being stranded needing something major(remember to change that timing belt on time) that a call to a tow truck can’t fix, are pretty low.

The only emergency road kit I’ve carried for years is a cell phone and a credit card.


I have a small (backpacking type) first aid kit, a decent little tool kit, a couple of road flares, a can of fix-a-flat, a portable battery pack (for jump starting), spare belts, some spare diesel fuel filters, a flash light. I always have a cell phone. I usually have my GPS and a map book. That’s about it.

Thanks. Know a good ready commercially available kit?

I used to carry my toolbox, spare parts, oil, a jug of water, 12v air pump and spotlight, and safety flares or triangles. Now I leave all that home. A map collection, credit card, and cell phone are all you need.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet: Money. Enough quarters to feed unexpected parking meters, and enough cash to fill your gas tank and get home if you lose everything else.


Being mechanically inclined, I carry a small tool box with some basics and a few not so basics (scanner, VOM, etc.). Also carry a small box of wire, wire ends, duct/electrical tape, clamps, etc. along with a spare jug of coolant, oil, etc. Seldom ever need this stuff but it’s there just in case.

I like to cover the bases and trust no one but myself. I also have a tendency to stop and help someone broke down on the side of the road so that few boxes of junk comes in handy at times.

Sears used to sell a fairly comprehensive road emergency kit. I think all the auto parts stores probably also have ones worth looking at. I always put together my own kits by purchasing decent tools on sale.

For first aid, we used the supply list for a Equine first aid kit from a vet supply, put it in an ammo box. 85-90% of the supplies work well with humans, so we added a smaller box of stuff for humans, like band aids and some medications.

Very helpful suggestions. A few questions:

-decent little tool kit - what should it contain?
-portable battery pack (for jump starting) ? what size batter should it be?
-spare diesel fuel filters - What for? To enable you to use diesel fuel if you had to, even though your car is not rated for this?
-spare parts - which would you carry?
-spare oil - which would you carry?
-spare jug of coolant - which would you carry?
-clamps - which sizes would you carry? Though most I’ve used are adjustable over quite a wide range.

-decent little tool kit - what should it contain?

It depends what if any roadside repairs you want to be capable of performing. I carry a small socket set and an assortment or wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. that will allow me to replace belts, fuel filters, and tighten clamps, etc. If you are not comfortable making repairs, there is no point in having the tools.

-portable battery pack (for jump starting) ? what size batter should it be?

I just carry a generic little power pack that I bought at some auto parts store for about $100, mostly to help other people without having to jump them from my car.

-spare diesel fuel filters - What for? To enable you to use diesel fuel if you had to, even though your car is not rated for this?

Well,I drive a diesel car and diesel fuel is sometimes not the best quality. A bad batch of diesel fuel can clog your fuel filters and leave you stranded. I wouldn’t carry fuel filters for a gasoline car (don’t put diesel fuel in your gasoline engine).

-spare parts - which would you carry?

All I carry is a set of belts (the used ones I took off last time I replaced them)

what about the emergency human kit???..add to a cell phone, credit cards and about $100 cash… a few bottles of water, energy bars, blanket, candles…in the winter in case your stuck in snow a shovel to keep exhaust pipe exposed…

I’d recommend a cell phone. (I’m serious. Basic stuff is already supplied…a jack, a spare, emergency flasher lights. If you were a mechanic you wouldn’t be asking the question. So for non basic problems, call a mechanic, call your friends to pick you up, call a tow truck, etc.)
Now, for those that are mechanics, please go to my recent post (May 31 1:18PM) Odd Keyless Remote Problem and solve it.

Great question. It?s good to see what other people carry in their cars and to compare notes.

Where do you live? If you?re in the city or the boonies, you?re car ?survival? kit will be a little different. This list is geared to those driving in the boonies.

First of all, I always carry some basic car stuff that I won?t count such as a cell phone & car charger, baby wipes, bottled water, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, tire pressure gauge, extra quarters, and paper towels.

Secondly, I check the tire pressure of my spare tire at least once a year. Guess what happened to me once?

Omitting some of the unique regional requirements, here?s what I always keep in the trunk/hatch:

  1. A 2-pack of Road Flares. A bit archaic but saved my butt and others on occasion. IMHO no battery light or triangle reflector will make semi?s and cars slow down and change lanes to avoid you like a road flare.
  2. Jumper cables
  3. Fix-a-flat can
  4. Flashlight & extra batteries
  5. Extra fuses and fuse puller (if not already included in the car fuse box.).

Here?s what I sometimes carry depending on my travel plans or condition of my car(s):

  1. Basic First Aid Kit or bigger first aid kit with latex gloves, scissors, etc.
  2. Basic tools (pliers, screwdriver, Swiss army knife, 10mm & 12mm wrenches).
  3. Electrical tape and sometimes duct tape
  4. air compressor that runs off the cigarette lighter
  5. car fire extinguisher (if you have an older car or a Pontiac Fiero)
  6. safe emergency gas substitute to help you make it to a gas station if you run out of gas. I don?t know if they still sell those.
  7. work gloves
  8. Orange Triangle road reflector
  9. Extra Quart of Engine Oil
  10. Extra washer fluid

If you drive in the boonies and someplace cold and snowy:

  1. emergency candles or sterno like equivalent AND matches/lighter
  2. high calorie/fat shelf stable munchies
  3. blanket or compact foil survival blanket
  4. folding shovel
  5. signal mirror (there are places a cell phone doesn?t work and roads are deserted…) I’m usually on the way to some remote outdoor adventure when I have this.
  6. extra water
  7. A Full Gas Tank at the start of

Can you tell that I was a Boy Scout once and have experienced car trouble on the road?

Cell phone
Cell phone charger
box of bandaids
A couple extra pills of my medication
Fuel filter
multi meter
multi tool
Pry bar
heavy ratchet strap
40 cal Smith and Wesson
spare key in my bilfold


Other than some fluids, fuses, etc. about the only spare parts I carry is an extra used serpentine belt and one extra spark plug; the latter in case a spark plug decides to drop dead out of the blue.
One tool that is a necessity to go along with the basics is a set of Torx bits. If the car is a domestic it’s not a bad idea to carry a few spare sockets that are not normally used; 7 MM, 15 MM, 18 MM, etc.
I keep a spare key wired underneath the car and another in the glove box and like Skipper, I carry a blue steel anti carjacking module but mine is a .357 Magnum with hot loads.

Vice grips
2 spare tires
both screwdrivers
small toolbox w/all sockets

and most important, a fire extinguisher for me or anyone else on the road having a carbeque.

don’t you need a concealed carry permit and to have the ammo in the trunk, or is that just a regional thing?

regional…in VT no permit required, in Maine permit if concealed not hard to get carry permit.