Every day, drivers are confronted with unforeseen circumstances — whether it’s terrible weather and road conditions or a flat tire, there are steps we can all take to prepare for the unexpected. There are some essential items you should have with you every time you leave the house. These tools are imperative in emergencies and will serve a purpose in even the most unforeseen circumstances.
Most vehicles come with jacks located somewhere in the trunk or near the spare tire. If your ride is missing the jack, it’s the first thing you should add to your tool kit. Car jacks allow you to raise your vehicle, making tire replacement possible and other maintenance easier. Many spares are single-use only, so make sure your backup tire is in good condition before driving. (It’s also a good idea to keep a safety vest in your car, in case you have to change a tire on the side of the road.)
Located with your jack should be a lug wrench or tire iron. Without this valuable tool, you won’t be able to remove your flat tire or reattach the spare. Make sure to buy a wrench that fits your lug nuts, and purchase a spare in case your first becomes bent or damaged. Having the right lug wrench is just as essential as having a jack.
Your vehicle’s fuse box supplies power to critical functions like your wiper blades and headlights, as well as more mundane features like your radio and interior lights. Make sure to keep a selection of spare fuses between 5 and 30 amps to cover most systems in your car. A blown fuse typically isn’t catastrophic, but in some cases, it can keep your vehicle from starting so a wide variety of spares is invaluable.
Flashlights and headlamps are some of the most important tools to keep nearby when traveling. Flashlights can be used to light areas for inspection and repair and are critical in rescue situations. A headlamp allows for hands-free lighting, making repairs on dark roadways less of a challenge. For road trips especially, having multiple lighting options can make all the difference.
Traction aides are often overlooked but you’ll be glad to have them after just one use. Keep a small or collapsible shovel in your trunk to help free your car from ice, snow and mud. Sand or cat litter is also helpful if you become stuck in snow or ice. Keep a small bucket or bag handy during the winter months and you might never need a push again.
Old or dead batteries are the most common reason drivers get stuck. Never leave home without a set of jumper cables to help bring your dead battery back to life. You can even invest in a jump starter to help revive your old battery without the need of another vehicle. These starters are explicitly designed for jumping a car and won’t take up much room in your trunk.
There are also many small, valuable items to add to your kit or even your center console. Tire pressure gauges are crucial for monitoring your wheels, and even if your vehicle has a monitoring system, it’s helpful to have in case of malfunctions. Towing straps can fit almost anywhere in your ride and can save your day in inclement weather. Small tools like pliers, screwdrivers and wrenches will be clutch if any minor repairs are needed to get back on the road. These little add-ons will save you from being stranded on the shoulder ever again.
Without taking up much trunk space, you can have the ultimate vehicle tool kit and never get stuck on the side of the road again. Consider typical road hazards in your area and plan your gear accordingly. With some planning and preparation, you’ll be able to hit the road knowing you’re ready for anything.
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