Tips, Tricks & Trends

Inexpensive Emergency Tools to Keep in Your Car

On our day-to-day drive, we don’t always plan for all of the possible emergencies. It’s hard to know what you should keep packed in your car, or it seems like keep your car stocked with emergency tools is too expensive. Being prepared for an emergency can help you, and it can also make you more prepared to help your loved ones as well. These tools are easy to use and inexpensive to keep in your car, so while they may not be crucial to your standard car maintenance, they are still essential to have.

Simple tools you should always have

You can’t be ready for every single problem your car might have, but being prepared for the most common issues can be easy. While it’s ideal to have some type of emergency roadside assistance, it’s not always efficient in more rural areas, and sometimes it can leave you stranded for hours. The first tool you should have seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to rescue a friend with a dead battery just to find out they don’t have jumper cables. Having a reliable set of jumper cables can help you in case of a dead battery, but it also means you have to rely on the kindness of a stranger to help you out because you need another car to jumpstart your own.

A pair of roadside emergency kit jumper cables are attached to battery terminals.
Jumper cables are essential in roadside emergency kits | Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images

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The simple way to avoid that is to invest in a small jump starter, and you can find these online or at local auto stores for less than $100 usually. They can double as a charger in case your phone dies, and they can jump-start your car without another car. This is my ideal alternative to standard jumper cables because it means I don’t have to rely on a friend or stranger to help get my vehicle jump-started. It also makes it easier when you’re parked in a place where using another car isn’t convenient.

The missing spare tire

As cars become more modern, it seems like one thing is becoming less and less common — spare tires. Many modern vehicles are skipping out on spare tires altogether and opting for tires that have run-flats. Run flats are convenient because they allow you to continue driving a short distance after your tire has gone flat. If you do have a spare tire, it’s essential to double-check that you have a jack to go with it. Most of the time, these tools are included when you purchase a car, but they may not come with a used car.

Emergency jumper cabls and a tire pressure gauge.
A tire pressure gauge is included in most roadside emergency kits | SimeonDonov/iStock/Getty Images

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Having a portable air compressor has saved me on several occasions, and I’ve even had a few jump starters that include a small air compressor to re-inflate your tires for a brief time. While many cars have the modern tech to let us know when our tire pressure is low, it doesn’t typically reach the threshold for an alert until it is too low. If you live in a place where the temperature can vary throughout the day, having a small air compressor can help you get your tire pressure back up to a safer range until you can make it home.