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17 things to put in your car emergency kit
Thinking of taking a road trip? Visiting family in a remote area? Or, driving through some crazy weather conditions? No matter where you’re driving or what the conditions are, there’s always a chance you might need some tools to get you out of a fix.
The basics: city driving
Even if you only drive in the city or suburbs – surrounded by mechanics and convenience stores at every turn – there are still some things that you should keep stored in your car at all times. Here are the basic items every driver needs in their car.
1. User manual
Your car’s user manual can come in handy for more reasons than just stopping an unexplained flashing light, or that beeping noise that won’t stop. Use it to help troubleshoot problems, understand your car’s features, and get information on how to safely change tyres and refill fluids.
2. Spare tyre
Having a spare tyre in the boot is essential for any kind of car trip, whether you’re commuting to work or road tripping in the country. Many cars are fitted out with a spare tyre compartment – so all you need to do is keep it stocked and check the tyre pressure every now and again to ensure it’s suitable to use in an emergency. Some newer cars come with a space saver tyre which fit easily into the car. These are not the same size as your usual tyre and are designed for temporary emergency use, so you can only drive 80km/hr maximum.
3. First aid kit
You never know when a first aid kit may come in handy. You can buy these from pretty much anywhere, like many hardware stores and chemists, and they come kitted out with things like gauze, band aids, pain killers, antiseptic wipes, bandages and more. If you injure yourself while out and about or attending to a car problem, at least you’ll have something on-hand – and good first aid kits will even come with a useful guide on how to use the products. If you’ve done some basic first aid training you may be able to use it to provide assistance at the scene of an accident.
4. Spare cash (kept well hidden)
As much as society is becoming cashless, it’s a good idea to keep some spare cash tucked away in your car somewhere out of sight. No, this is not intended for emergency ice cream stopovers – keep it there for legitimate emergencies only, like if you lose your wallet and are running out of fuel. Don’t store heaps of money in your car, perhaps $20-$50.
5. A poncho or umbrella
Murphy’s Law dictates that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. So chances are, if you’re going to break down it will be in the middle of a downpour. Keep some kind of weather protection gear in your car so you can deal with the situation at hand without becoming sodden.
Road tripping? Add these
Whether you’re visiting family in the country, or embarking on your Great Australian Road Trip, when going on long drives you need to put a bit of extra thought into packing a car emergency kit. Stay safe by adding these extra items.
6. Emergency water
Under normal conditions, the average human can only survive a few days without water – so it can never hurt to store a few litres in your car boot in case you break down or get stuck. It’ll also be useful if your car needs water.
Believe it or not, there was a time before Google Maps. But how did people get anywhere?! Well, printed maps are a thing, it turns out – and they’re super useful to have in your car as a backup option in case your phone loses battery or your GPS is out of range. At the very least, make sure you study your route thoroughly before you set off on your road trip.
8. Car trip first aid additions
If you’re driving for a long period of time, keep yourself feeling fresh with eye drops to moisten your eyes and remove any dust particles, painkillers to keep headaches at bay, and motion sickness tablets for any passengers that might get woozy on car trips.
Extra tools for driving in remote areas
If you live in a remote area or regularly travel though the country, include these extra car emergency items to your kit.
9. Jumper leads
Car batteries don’t last forever – as you’ll experience if you accidentally leave the interior light on! Store some jumper leads in your car in case your battery does wear out and emergency roadside assistance isn’t available. Read your car manual carefully to work out how to use them properly, and then all you need is another working vehicle to give your car battery a kick start.
*Note – some modern cars shouldn’t be jump started, as it can affect internal computer systems and cause expensive damage. That brings us back to item #1… read your car manual to confirm what’s advised for your car before going out and buying jumper leads.
10. Oil and coolant
Keep these fluids stored in your car for emergency top ups. You should check your car’s oil levels regularly to ensure it’s running smoothly, while coolant should be topped up to ensure your car doesn’t overheat.
Consider keeping some non-perishable food in your car, especially when driving in remote areas. If you break down, you’ll be able to stay sustained while waiting for help to arrive.
12. Safety tools like a high visibility vest or hazard triangle
Store some high visibility safety materials in your car at all times, so if you do break down or have an accident you have a way of indicating to other drivers that there’s a hazard on the road. Stay safe by putting on a high visibility vest or a setting up a reflective hazard triangle by the roadside.
All out safety: crazy weather essentials
From scorching weather in the summer months to heavy snow in alpine regions in winter, Australia has a wide variety of weather conditions. If you live somewhere that experiences extreme weather – or if you know you’ll be travelling through crazy weather – add these extra items to your kit.
If travelling in cold weather, having a spare blanket or two in the boot will come in handy if you break down and need to wait for help to arrive. In hot weather, blankets can also be rigged up to provide much-needed shade.
14. Cat litter
Okay… it sounds kind of weird, but cat litter can help your car get out of icy situations if it’s snowy and slippery by creating more traction for your wheels. Store a bag in your boot in case you need help getting your car moving.
15. Snow chains
Only use snow chains if you know how to properly fit them to your car. These can help avoid your car slipping in snow and causing an accident.
16. Glass cleaner
If it’s excessively sunny, a dirty windscreen can cause distracting reflections to impair your vision of the road. Store some glass cleaner and newspaper or a rag so you can give your windscreen a quick polish if this happens to you.
Roadside assistance for all conditions
17. AAMI Roadside Assist
While there are ways you can fend for yourself if you get a flat tyre or your car battery runs out, you don’t necessarily have to! Consider getting AAMI Roadside Assist for peace of mind that you’ve got backup if something happens – or if your tyre changing skills aren’t quite up to scratch.
We can respond to calls 24/7, and can tow cars up to 20km in city locations or 100km in country locations to get your vehicle repaired. Our emergency roadside assistance services can cover you for:
- Car batteries: jump starting your car if the battery is flat, or replacing your battery on the spot if required
- Flat tyres: fitting your car’s spare tyre or towing your car to the nearest repair centre to fit a new tyre
- Emergency fuel: up to $10 emergency fuel so you can get to the nearest pertrol station
- Lost or locked-in keys: we’ll reimburse up to $150 for you to call out a locksmith.
You can add AAMI Roadside Assist as an Optional Cover to your AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance for less than $86 per year. Get a car insurance quote online simply and quickly. Or, if you’re an existing AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance customer, add Roadside Assist to your policy by calling our friendly team on 13 22 44.
AAMI Car Insurance, Motorcycle Insurance, NSW and ACT CTP Insurance, and Caravan Insurance are issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) trading as AAMI. AAMI Roadside Assist is an Optional Cover only available in conjunction with AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.