Must-Have Gear for a Roadside Emergency

What Causes a Roadside Emergency?

Woman standing in front of the car worried

A roadside emergency is when an incident occurs, and your vehicle breaks down. Roadside emergencies can also happen in case of an accident when your car cannot drive. If such an emergency occurs in a secluded area, getting help might be difficult or may take a lot of time. 

In such cases, you must either call roadside assistance or try fixing the issue yourself. Roadside assistance is a service that assists vehicles when they experience mechanical failure and need to be transported to a repair shop. 

However, some issues are easily fixable. So, you must have enough knowledge and equipment to fix the issue yourself. Suppose your tire bursts and needs to be replaced. Instead of calling roadside assistance and waiting for them to arrive, you should be able to replace a tire. 

A roadside emergency kit is essential to make these repairs on your own. Ideally, such a kit should include all the necessary gear to get yourself out of a potentially dangerous situation. 

Benefits of Having a Roadside Emergency Kit

An orange bag with various emergency tools

When on the road, you must prepare for emergencies just in case you get stranded. Having a roadside emergency kit is highly beneficial for many different reasons. 

1. Includes Tools to Fix Your Car

A roadside emergency kit is equipped with all the necessary tools to get your car moving. These tools include jumper cables, wrenches, a scissor jack, etc. The selection of equipment ensures that a small problem, such as a loose bolt or a car needing a jump start, can be solved quickly and easily.

Even though the tools may not fix the problem completely, they can help you patch up the issue quickly so you can reach the nearest stop. 

2. Allows Immediate Access to Necessities

Emergency kits are designed to contain all the necessary survival essentials. Other than gear, it also contains items such as food, water, and first-aid supplies. These can be very useful if you are stranded and know it will take time for help to arrive. 

Additionally, suppose there has been an accident, and you have sustained an injury. In that case, items such as first aid kits can come handy and in some situations a life saver.

3. Gives Peace of Mind

You never know when your car may break down, or you may get into an accident. Having a roadside emergency kit gives you peace of mind that even if an accident occurs, you have something to get through it. A backup plan also gives you peace of mind and comfort so you can fully enjoy your trip and not worry about potential emergencies. 

Additionally, having an emergency kit helps you keep calm when driving and if you encounter an accident or your car breaks down. 

4. Aids Communication

A car emergency kit also aids communication in case you get stranded in a remote location. When you are on a road trip, you often pass by many remote areas where cell towers do not function. If you happen to get stranded in such a location, a radio or portable charger can ensure you do not lose communication with the outside world. 

Sometimes, assistance takes time to reach you or cannot find you. If you have an emergency kit with a GPS, you can let them know your exact location.

Essential Gear to Have for a Roadside Emergency

First aid kit, fire extinguisher, and fire extinguisher inside a car.

A car breakdown or an accident can happen to anyone. Still, it can be pretty inconvenient or even dangerous when it occurs in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, everyone must have a roadside emergency kit for such situations. 

Although many premade emergency kits are available on the internet, it is best to pick out the gear yourself and make your own customized roadside emergency kit. Pre-made roadside emergency kits are often expensive and do not have all the necessary equipment that you may need. Thus, it is best to decide which gear you should have in the car at all times. 

Tire Pressure Gauge

One of the most common reasons a car stops working is because of a flat tire. Often if a tire is underinflated and you ignore it or do not notice, it can turn into a blowout or a flat tire without warning. An underinflated tire can increase fuel consumption and increase the wear on your tires as well as the suspension. Controlling your car also becomes difficult when a tire is underinflated.

A simple way to avoid getting a flat tire is by keeping a pressure gauge and regularly checking your tire’s pressure. Professional mechanics recommend that you check your tire’s pressure once every month. A tire pressure gauge is super simple to use and is an effective tool for reducing chances of accidents and your car breaking down. 

Pressure gauges come in manual and digital forms. The manual ones are accurate enough and durable. You also do not have to worry about the battery of a manual pressure gauge running out. A digital pressure gauge is easy to use and usually more precise, but there is always a chance that the battery might run out, especially if you are using it after a long time. 

Scissor Jack

Scissor jacks are used to lift the car in case you need to change its tires. Most cars come with a jack, but they are not as durable and designed for occasional use. These jacks are more concerned about saving space than being easy to use and capable of withstanding the car’s weight for extended periods. Therefore, you should purchase a new durable jack made of high-quality materials.

Before using a jack, check your car’s manual to check the recommended contact point on the vehicle to use the jack. If you place the jack in the wrong position, you risk damaging the car, and the jack may also slip, causing a safety hazard. 

You should also ensure that the car’s wheels are locked and cannot roll by putting it in park mode and applying the emergency brake. When putting the jack in place, ensure that the base is on a flat surface. The jack should stay vertical as you lift the car because it can easily slip if it leans. 

Lug Wrench

When dealing with a flat tire, stubborn lug nuts are a nuisance to remove. Cars usually come with a set of wrenches, but they are often useless in trying to remove tightly screwed-on or partially stuck nuts. In such cases, you need a lug wrench to deal with stubborn lug nuts.

Ensure that the lug wrench you purchase for your emergency toolkit is made of high-quality material, such as hardened steel. The wrench handle should also be long because it makes loosening screws much easier. 

Foam Tire Sealant

If you have a flat tire, you will need to fix it, but when you are in an area where a mechanic is not present, a foam tire sealant can be very useful. This sealant temporarily fixes the issue so you can drive your vehicle to the nearest mechanic or to a safer place to change your tire.

Sealants are dispensed into the tire with air through the sealant’s built-in hose. Aim not to drive too fast or too much with the sealant. It is recommended that you do not drive more than 100 miles. Sealants come in a variety of sizes. If you are driving a regular car, then a 16-ounce can will be enough. However, if you drive a larger vehicle, you may need a 22-ounce can.

Tire Inflator

No matter how good a tire is, it will eventually lose its air pressure. It can be due to a leak or due to normal seepage of air through the tire’s rubber. In such situations, your tire may become under-inflated, which can become a safety hazard. 

Underinflated tires make it difficult to control your car, so swerving in the face of an obstacle may be more challenging. Such situations often result in accidents. Your tire can also blow out due to overheating if it is under-inflated. Furthermore, underinflated tires use more energy, meaning you use more fuel than needed. 

If you own a small tire inflator, you can avoid all of these issues and keep your tires well-inflated at all times. Additionally, suppose you feel that controlling your car is becoming difficult. In that case, you can check using a tire pressure gauge and fill up the tire using a tire inflator. 

Jumper Cables

A dead battery is another common reason why you may find yourself stranded on a deserted road. Sometimes all it takes is leaving an interior light or a headlight on to kill the battery. When that happens, the best way to deal with it is by using jumper cables or  car battery chargers. Thus, you must have a pair in your emergency kit. 

Your jumper cables should be long enough to reach a battery and sturdy enough to carry sufficient charge to your car. The thicker your cables are, the more efficient they will be. Usually, 6-gauge cables are both long and thick enough to get your car going again. 

Ensure that the clamps are easy to use and are well-designed and constructed. They should easily clamp onto conventional top-mount car battery posts and have a smaller extension to attach to smaller posts on the side terminals of batteries. 

Portable Jump Starters

If you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery, having a compact jump starter can save you from calling roadside assistance and waiting for them to arrive. Jump-starters are powered using lightweight lithium-ion batteries, which are usually small and compact. 

Ensure that you choose a jump starter with a battery capable of holding a charge for long periods. They are also excellent for charging your phone or other devices, so you can stay connected through calls and texts.

Jump starters are much easier to use than jumper cables, but you must check that you are hooking it up right. You should also ensure that the clamps are sturdier and the device is small and portable. 

Engine Oil

Engine oil is necessary to keep your engine running smoothly. Otherwise, you risk damaging your engine. Thus, you must top it off when it starts running low. To check the recommended oil designation, check the car manual and keep that amount in your car. 

If you do not have the manual, generally, 5W-30 oil works for most engines. You should also consider fully synthetic oil instead of synthetic or conventional mineral oil. Ensure that your emergency kit includes a roll of paper or towel so you can clean the dipstick before measuring.

You must measure the oil and add it after the engine has warmed. Remember to turn the engine off before you pour in the oil. 


You should check your antifreeze or coolant level often to avoid your car breaking down during a road trip. If your antifreeze level is low, you can damage your engine. Carrying an adequate amount of antifreeze on road trips is a good idea and can be very helpful if for some reason you need to top it off.

Antifreeze is essential if you are driving through a heatwave. Ensure that you purchase a pre-mixed coolant. Such coolants are usually labeled 50/50. If you accidentally buy a concentrated bottle, you will need a bucket and a gallon of distilled water to use it. This may be impossible if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, so it’s better to be prepared in advance.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is an indispensable tool when you are out on the road. It is beneficial for emergencies and can fix almost anything short-term. If you have a radiator hose that is leaking, loose wires, or wayward bits of trims, duct tape can temporarily fix it all. It is not a permanent solution, but it can offer short-term support to get your car to a safe place or a mechanic. 

Ensure that the duct tape you purchase has high material strength, a strong adhesive, and is flexible. The more flexible a tape is, the easier it is to wrap around curved and irregular surfaces, which are abundant in cars. You should also choose duct tape that tears in a straight line.

Head Lamp

If your car breaks down during the night, it is simply impossible to figure out the issue and fix it with one hand while the other holds the flashlight. To avoid such a situation, a headlamp is a must-have gear for roadside emergencies. Aim to purchase one with an elastic strap that you can wear over your forehead, so your hands are free to work. 

Ensure the battery is rechargeable so you can charge it in the car or use a power bank if it runs out of power. The headlamp should have certain features, such as a waterproof rating and a flood feature, to increase its usability in different situations. 

Fire Extinguisher

Cars are filled with volatile liquids, plastics, and fabrics that can easily catch fire if a spark occurs. To protect yourself from a fire breaking out in your car and escalating, you must have a fire extinguisher. If you don’t, there is a high chance that your vehicle will be engulfed in fire while you wait for help to arrive. 

Aim to purchase one that is not over 10 pounds. Otherwise, it may be too big to keep in your car. Avoid buying disposable fire extinguishers because they are not sturdy, and their valves are made of plastic. Metal valves are much better and last longer. 

Storage Bag

Once you have all the necessary gear for roadside emergencies, you need to put it together in a decently-sized storage bag. You can spread out the items, but in an emergency, it is better to have your tools in one place rather than hunting around to find them. Packing them together also means that they are less likely to rattle around.

Choose a bag that is big enough for all your necessary tools and opens wide to accommodate more oversized items. Ideally, it should also have pockets on the inside that you can use to store smaller gear. You can also keep your equipment in seat organizers for cars that you can hang on the back of your car seat. 

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is also crucial if a roadside emergency or roadside accident occurs and you or others have sustained injuries. First aid kits usually have everything you need to take care of minor cuts and scrapes. Ensure that you purchase good quality first aid, including items such as bandages, alcohol wipes, pain relievers, etc. 

You can also assemble your own first aid kit based on items you think may be helpful. By customizing your first aid kit, you can also include medicines for travel sickness, nausea, etc. 

Escape Tool

In case of a severe accident where you may be stuck inside your car, an escape tool can help you get out. It is designed to break a window with little force from your end. Most escape tools are designed to be compact. You can hang them on keychains or put them in your pocket so that they are easily accessible when you need them. 

Escape tools contain a hardened-steel plunger on one side that you can break a window with and a knife on the other to slice through a seatbelt. Ensure that you buy a good quality one made of high-quality and durable materials. 

Roadside Assistance

If you have suffered a roadside accident and cannot fix your car, you should call roadside assistance. They will immediately dispatch professionals to your location who will rescue you and your vehicle. 

Suppose you are unable to drive your car to the nearest mechanic. In that case, roadside assistance will offer emergency services such as fixing dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts. Additionally, suppose the vehicle is not drivable. In that case, it will cover your towing bill, which would otherwise cause you several hundred dollars.

There are several places where you can get roadside assistance.

Places to get Roadside assistance Details
Auto insurance companies The simplest way to get roadside assistance is through your car insurance company. Some carriers offer roadside assistance as part of their car insurance package.
Member Organizations Some organizations, such as AAA, offer roadside assistance.
Car Manufactures When you purchase a new or certified pre-owned vehicle, you often receive complimentary roadside assistance within a certain period.
Credit Card Companies Some credit card companies offer their credit card holders 24/7 roadside assistance for their customers. They often charge a flat fee per service. 


1. What tools should I keep in my car in case of a roadside accident?

Ideally, you should have a scissor jack, jumper cables, a tire inflator, a pressure gauge, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher. 

2. Where should I keep my first aid kit?

You can place your first aid kit where it can be easily accessed. The best place is a glove box. Ensure that your first aid kit has bandages of various sizes, antiseptic wipes, sterile gauze pads, cotton balls, and cotton-tipped swabs.

3. Do all cars come with a tire-changing kit?

No, not all cars come with a tire-changing kit, so you should make sure to purchase heavy-duty tools that you can use in an emergency. 

4. Can I drive a car with a flat tire?

No, professionals do not recommend driving your car on a flat tire. If it is absolutely necessary, you can drive a small distance to pull over. Still, it may be dangerous to the passengers and vehicles if you drive it more. 


You never know when an emergency might occur, so it is always good to be prepared. Emergency roadside gear is essential if you plan to go on long drives because you never know when the car’s battery or the tire may malfunction. 

There are many items that you can include in the emergency kit, including jumper cables, engine oil, tire pressure gauge, tire oil, etc. However, most are temporary fixes to bigger problems, so you should drive to the nearest mechanic to get the issue fully resolved. The items covered above the most needed tools in common situations. The items in your customized kit can vary based on the terrain, weather and other variables.