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11 items to keep in your car for roadside emergencies

Be prepared for any emergency on the road

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
man changing tire on side of road

Everyone should prepare their vehicle for unforeseen mechanical mishaps and weather events. Some emergency items will be specific to your car’s make and model, like a hidden spare key, spare tire and assortment of fuses. Other products are universally useful in case you or your vehicle get into trouble. Drive prepared with this list of 11 critical items to store in a car for roadside emergencies.

No-spill gas can

no-spill gas can
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 2.5-gallon capacity
  • No-spill design

BUY ON AMAZON

If you run out of fuel, you might have to hoof it or rely on a stranger to give you a lift to the nearest gas station. An empty no-spill gas can in your trunk can be a godsend when you need a receptacle to lug that petrol back to your stranded ride. The container can also be used to transport gasoline home to power a lawn mower or generator, or on a drive into remote areas.

Emergency blanket/sleeping bag

emergency blanket
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • Compact design for easy storage
  • Available in orange or green

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Winter weather can be a car-stalling and life-threatening event. If your car conks out during a blizzard or deep freeze, a thermal blanket or emergency sleeping bag might save your life. The Life Bivy, which comes with a 20-decibel survival whistle and reflective interior, will keep you warm while you weather the storm and wait for help.

Jumper cables

jumper cables
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 5-year warranty
  • Includes carrying bag

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Jumper cables are a must if you want to charge a dying or dead battery or assist a fellow motorist in need. The Cartman Heavy-Duty Booster Cable comes with a five-year warranty and carry bag. Easy-to-use, color-coded clamps will revive the battery with the juice it needs to get your vehicle running again.

Scissor car jack

red scissor car jack
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 3,000-pound capacity
  • Lift range from 4-1/8" to 15-1/8"

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When you have to fix a flat yourself, a good scissor jack tucked away in the trunk will get you back on the road faster. The sturdy Torin Big Red Steel Scissor Jack is a reliable must-have tool to prepare your vehicle for potential flats. Plus, its compact design won't take up much storage space.

Tire repair kit

tire repair kit
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 35-piece set
  • Includes storage case

BUY ON AMAZON

When a tire deflates and you don't have a spare (or you do, but have multiple flats), a tire repair kit is an essential solution. While not everyone is up for fixing a tire on their own, if you have tubeless tires, this simple kit can help you tackle a worrisome flat or puncture without even having to remove the tire from the rim.

First aid kit

first aid kit
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 115-item kit
  • Includes nylon carry bag

BUY ON AMAZON

A comprehensive first aid kit is a no-brainer for anyone who spends a lot of time driving. Hopefully, you'll never need to unbox the MediKit Deluxe First Aid Kit, but if an emergency strikes, you and your passengers will be glad it’s on hand for fast wound care.

Collapsible snow shovel

collapsible snow shovel
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • Adjusts from 26" to 32"
  • 1.6 pounds

BUY ON AMAZON

Don’t let Old Man Winter catch you off-guard. Snowfall can be unpredictable, but with a foldable snow shovel, you’ll always be prepared to dig out your vehicle. This collapsible and lightweight shovel breaks down into three pieces for compact storage and gives you leverage over winter weather when away from home.

Emergency drinking water

emergency drinking water
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 125 ml packs
  • Easy-store pouches

BUY ON AMAZON

Water is essential to life. If you’re stuck in a remote spot with your car or truck, you’ll want purified emergency drinking water on hand. Choose water that can be stored for up to five years and still be safe to drink.

Emergency energy bars

emergency energy bars
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 5-year shelf life
  • 400 cal per bar

BUY ON AMAZON

We can go a lot longer without food than water, but it’s always a good idea to have some emergency rations in your car to quell hunger pangs in a survival situation. Keep a supply of S.O.S. Food Labs fruit-flavored energy bars accessible. Pro tip: Put the flavors you like, but don't love, in your car so you’re not tempted to snack on them in a non-emergency.

Fire extinguisher

fire extinguisher
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 2.5 lbs
  • 9-second discharge time

BUY ON AMAZON

A fire extinguisher built to handle electrical equipment or flammable liquids (such as those in the engine) is an indispensable car safety tool. When dealing with potential fire hazards associated with motor vehicles, this type of halotron extinguisher beats powder fire extinguishers hands down — and it makes the clean-up after a small electrical fire a heck of a lot easier.

Roadside emergency kit

roadside emergency kit
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • 40- or 99-piece version available
  • Portable design weighs less than 4 lbs.

BUY ON AMAZON

Investing in a comprehensive roadside emergency kit is a wise idea for any motorist. This pack comes with a reflective warning triangle, safety vest, tow rope, safety hammer, seatbelt cutter, tire pressure gauge, whistle, fire blanket and jumper cables, plus other useful extras. It's a great kit to have if you get into trouble on a busy highway or lonely backcountry road.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.