Roadside Emergency Kit Whats In Your Trunk

Summer's here- gas is still pretty cheap and the roads are clear.  Heading out for a road trip?  Lucky you!  
However, while road travel can be exhilarating, it doesn't come without its own dangers, too, and if you're not prepared for them your trip can go from exciting to annoying or downright miserable with just one mishap.
To help you prepare for road trip season (or just your daily commute), we've put together a list of items to have in your trunk.  With a little help from California's Office of Traffic Safety, we've also included a list of extra items you could include in your kit, which aren't essential but helpful nevertheless.
Armed with these basic essentials for roadside emergencies, your trip should be more enjoyable, even if it's just to the office.

Essentials for Your Roadside Emergency Kit

Auto stores sell pre-made roadside emergency kits, but you can make your own in no time, and it will probably be more complete, not to mention more cost-effective.  What's nice about the pre-assembled kits, however, is the handy case they come in.
For your own emergency kit, a catch-all that doesn't roll around in the trunk or take up too much space is what you're after.  A milk crate will work just fine, since it's sturdy, stable, and not too large for the trunk of most cars.
First, some essential items that won't go inside the catch-all, and which you might already own:

  • A spare tire. You'd be surprised at how many people drive around without one.
  • Car jack.  Ditto!
  • Lug wrench.  The two items above won't be much use with this.
  • First Aid Kit. Consider this a kit within your kit.
  • Jumper cables.  Even if you don't know how to use them, get some.

Now, here are the essential items for your kit:

  • Extra oil for your car. Sometimes that's all it takes.
  • Roadside flares. To protect yourself when you break down, especially on a highway.
  • Flashlight. For peering under the hood, under the car, or for a nighttime breakdown.
  • Tire pressure gauge & tire inflator.
  • Bottled water & blanket.  Keep yourself healthy during your roadside emergency.
  • Energy bars. Try not to eat them when you simply need a snack.
  • Tools: vise grip, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pliers.
  • Duct tape.  Because every emergency needs duct tape!
  • HELP sign.  A white rag tied to your car will do, too.
  • Extra fuses. 

Now, the non-essentials that could also come in very handy during some types of roadside emergencies.

  • Gloves.
  • Anti-freeze & ice scraper.  Obviously, these are geography-specific.
  • Bungee cord.  Hopefully it won't come to this but you may have to strap something to your vehicle roof.
  • Cable ties. Again, we hope it doesn't come to this but you may have to jerry-rig something under your car, like a loose muffler or a bumper.
  • Raincoat. Emergencies are even worse when you're all wet.
  • Pen & paper.
  • Paper towels.  For cleanup.

Finally, make sure you have the phone number of your auto insurance company's roadside assistance service in your phone or written down in your glove box.  They should be able to help you out.
This might be a good time to find out whether your car insurance has a good roadside emergency coverage.  Our handy auto insurance comparison tool can help you with that.  Check it out at


  • Roadside Emergency Kit- California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).  Retrieved 6/1/2016 from