What should be in your trunk if your car breaks down?

What Should Be in Your Vehicle if Your Car Breaks Down?

A sudden car breakdown is one of the biggest inconveniences you can have on a day-to-day basis. They always seem to happen at the worst possible moments: birthdays, weddings, vacations, etc. But when you think about it, at least one of the many moving parts in a vehicle are bound to malfunction eventually; it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. How frequently (or infrequently) you drive, the terrain you traverse, how well you maintain your vehicle, and its age are all just a few factors that play into the probability of your car breaking down. 


According to AAA, “roadside data shows that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to end up stranded on the side of the road compared to newer vehicles and on top of that, the odds of needing a tow quadruples.” 


From dead batteries to engine trouble, it’s important to be prepared for these types of unfortunate situations. Here are the 9 items you should keep in your vehicle at all times in the case of a car break down.


  1. Tire iron and jack. You’re probably aware that you should always keep a spare tire on board, but don’t overlook the tools required to change one. Both a tire iron and jack are necessary to change a tire, otherwise you’re left with a useless donut — and not the good kind!

  2. Emergency roadside kit. Equipped with a flashlight, jumper cables, clamps, gloves, screwdriver, duct tape, extra batteries, first-aid supplies, reflective signs and more—an emergency roadside kit is designed to keep you safe and help get you back on the road more quickly should bad luck befall you.

  3. Tire pressure gauge. Think a tire might be low? Check before you embark on that road trip! Be sure to check the spare tire pressure as well. The last thing you need is changing a flat only to find the spare is low, too.

  4. First aid kit. Performing auto maintenance can be grueling work, depending on the issue you’re dealing with. There are plenty of opportunities for cut or burnt extremities under that hood, so keep a first aid kit on-hand.

  5. Blanket. Midwest winters can be brutal. If you become stranded in the middle of winter or even just at night in a remote area, an insulated or thick blanket can keep you warm while you wait for help.

  6. Shovel and sand. Speaking of Midwest winters, if you live in a snowy climate, be sure to keep these items available if you ever hit a snowbank and need to dig yourself out. Sand, kitty litter or another grainy substance can be used to help your tires gain traction if stuck on ice.

  7. Cell phone charger. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but be sure you always keep one in your car. Batteries die (especially during long road trips) and you may need to call for roadside or emergency assistance.

  8. Gas can. If you run out of gas, you may need to walk to a nearby gas station for fuel. A 1-gallon gas can will come in handy in transporting the fuel from point A to point B.

  9. Granola bars and water bottles. You should consider keeping non-perishable granola or energy bars as well as drinkable water stowed in your vehicle. If you become stranded on the side of the road in a remote area you will be thankful to have a bite to tide you over while you wait for help. Just be sure to avoid the kind with chocolate — especially in the summer!

Do you keep any particular emergency items in your car? What are they? For more information or to learn about our training programs near you, contact Top Driver.

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