Everyone has run into car trouble on the road at one time or another. Often, there’s someone around to help, or maybe you keep a set of jumper cables and some emergency car tools in the trunk. But what do you do when the problem isn’t something common? Or if you are in the middle of nowhere. People often think they have everything they need in case of an emergency, but there’s no way of looking into the future. Here’s a list of things you may not have considered for your emergency care pack.
Here’s what we think you need to keep around for an emergency. We’ll get into why you need them next.
- Duct Tape
- Spray Lube
- Multi-Function Tool
- Emergency Hammer
- Small Gas Can
- Camping Poncho
- Folding Shovel
Stick and Move
It seems obvious in hindsight, but a lot of people overlook holding things together or breaking them free until there’s a problem. Keeping things like a roll of duct tape and spray lube in your trunk can come in handy. Not only can duct tape hold on a body part after an accident, but it can also help seal a leaky coolant hose, keep water out of a broken headlight, patch a convertible top, and more. Just remember that any fix with duct tape is a temporary one and that you will need to perform a proper repair once you are clear of the emergency.
A can of WD-40® can come in handy when you need to lubricate a stubborn bolt, but did you know that it softens rubber on cracked hoses and can even be used to keep grease and grime off your hands by spraying it on before you start working? If can also keep door locks from freezing if you spray a little in the key hole before cold weather strikes. Since the “WD” stands for “Water Displacement, 40th formula” it can also get you moving again if your electrical connectors get soaked. WD-40® was often the go-to answer for drying out a wet distributor cap on older vehicles.
Trunks have plenty of space for storage, but do you really want to lug around an entire tool set with you? There are many multi-tool options that can provide the right tools for the job in one easy-to-carry handle. By simply keeping a multi-function tool (or multi-wrench) and a compact emergency hammer, you should have every tool you need for most roadside repair. You probably won’t be rebuilding a transmission with these tools, but having close to the right tool is better than having no tool at all in an emergency. It’s also a good idea to keep a set of mechanics gloves. Not only can they protect you during repairs, but they also can keep your hands warm if you’re stranded during the winter.
In racing, drivers come into the pits for tires and fuel. While you may not be trying to set a new lap record, it’s a good idea to think of your tires and gas. A simple can of Fix-A-Flat (or similar emergency puncture repair product) and an small empty gas can are always great things to keep in your trunk. While not every tire emergency can be fixed with emergency tire sealant, there’s a good chance that a low tire is caused by an errant nail or screw. Just like duct tape, any emergency tire puncture repair should be consider temporary so head straight for your local NAPA AutoCare for a proper tire repair or a new tire. If you run out of gas for any reason, you will be thankful for that little empty gas can once you find out that some gas stations charge a premium for one (nor do they lend them out). Resist the temptation to already fill the gas can with fuel, as the danger of a spill or fire far outweighs the inconvenience of walking to a gas station to fill it up in an emergency.
Let’s face it: Cars never break down on pleasant crystal clear days. They wait until it’s pouring rain or freezing outside. A waterproof camping poncho, blanket and a folding shovel can do more than just keep you warm. If you find yourself stuck, you can dig out with the shovel and use the blanket to provide your car with additional traction. If a snowplow kicks up a rock that smashes your window, you’ll be happy you had that plastic poncho and duct tape to cover the window up.
There are lots of tools that have straightforward uses, but we often don’t consider what else they can be used for or what else we might need when we run into car trouble. Stowing these items can relatively easy thanks to their small size. Don’t forget about nooks and crannies around the spare tire area or around where the jack is stored. Many vehicles have a lift-out trunk (or cargo area) floor panel that hides lots of great storage spaces underneath. With a little creativity, ingenuity and the right gear, you can help keep those roadside visits to a minimum. Or even help out a fellow motorist when disaster strikes.
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Image courtesy of Flickr.
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.