What you need in your car’s emergency kit
23 October 2018
It’s never a good time for your car to break down. You may have already experienced this, either on a coastal road trip, on your way to work, or even going to your local shops.
Whatever conditions or environment you’re in, it’s always a good idea to have a few items on hand to get you out of a situation. Here is a list of handy items to keep I your car for whatever situation.
Short road trips
Everyday driving is the most common time for things to go wrong with your car – after all, it’s how you use your car the most. Have these few items in your car at all times to keep you safe and comfortable when things go wrong.
Spare car tyre
Almost anyone who has driven a car for a long time has had a flat tyre at some point. It happens and there’s not much you can do to avoid it.
Make sure you have a spare tyre and the essential tools you’ll need to change it.
Many new cars do not have a spare tyre as they use ‘run flat’ technology. Others will provide you with a ‘space saver’ tyre which is designed to get you home or to the tyre store – not as a permanent replacement.
If you have a flat tyre, try to avoid driving with it and pull over as soon as possible to replace it.
Vehicle user manual
If an unfamiliar warning light appears on your dashboard, your trusty user manual can help you identify the problem. Your manual will also be able to tell you if the problem requires immediate attention, or if you can drive to the nearest garage for assistance.
If your phone has died and your car has broken down, it might be difficult to see if your tyre is flat, or see what you’re doing while making quick roadside repairs. Make sure you pack a flashlight with new batteries or plenty of charge.
Whether you are driving in the city or the suburbs, having a blanket on hand can be extremely handy for numerous reasons.
If you have a flat tyre and don’t want to dirty your trousers, lay the blanket down to protect your clothes. If you’ve broken down in the middle of winter and the heater has stopped working while you wait for assistance, grab a blanket to stop catching a cold.
In the best-case scenario, having a blanket on hand for an impromptu picnic is always a dream come true.
The weekend getaway
There are few things more sacred and loved in Australia than a public holiday, and what better way to spend your long weekend than an out-of-town trip. If you’re heading to the coast or country to relax, pack a few more items in your car to make sure your weekend away is a relaxing one.
A large bottle of water
Having a large bottle of water on hand can have a multitude of uses – whether it be to keep you hydrated in the event of a breakdown, clean your windshield or top up your wiper fluid.
A bottle of water is an inexpensive thing to buy and easy to find, and given the fact of how handy it can be, you shouldn’t have any excuses not to have one on hand.
Poncho or umbrella
It’s almost a cliché to be stranded and caught out in the rain. If you need to change a tyre or inspect your engine for whatever reason, keep a poncho or small umbrella in your glovebox to protect you from a sudden downpour.
Car first aid kit
Having a first aid kit can prevent a problem from becoming a disaster.
For example, changing a tyre is an easy process, but many people have grazed their knuckles while turning the car jack. Being able to bandage a small injury will help prevent infection.
If you’re driving for a few hours, especially if it’s hot or you’re driving in altitude, make sure you have some painkillers in your med kit. Similarly, for your passengers who get car sick, having some motion sickness tablets on hand can help avoid an unfortunate situation.
You can buy a basic first aid kit from most pharmacies and hardware stores. Some vehicles have them fitted as standard.
If you’re headed for the dusty outback, you’ll soon discover that your car will be covered in dust. Alternatively, if you’re in the countryside and park under a tree that many birds call home, you can find your car covered in bird… leftovers.
Don’t underestimate the value of having a rag on hand to clean the mess (and potentially save your car’s paintwork).
Long road trips
If you are hitting the open road for a long drive, whether it be to the outback or along the coast, packing a few additional items can get you out of a bind and keep your car working in perfect order.
Car maintenance equipment
When setting on any long journey, whether it be in the city or country, you should always check your vehicle’s fluid levels (oil and coolant) are at the prescribed levels before setting out.
Once you are on the road, regularly check your gauges to ensure engine temperature, oil pressure and battery charge level are within safe ranges.
If you own a modern car, it should be able to tell you when your car is low on oil. If you’re not sure, the dipstick will indicate your car’s oil level. If the oil level is low, make sure you add oil to avoid causing damage to your vehicle.
Current printed or digital road map
Depending on how old you are, you may have never known a time where finding your way meant using a fat book of maps. If you have a smartphone, that should have a maps app on it, but just in case you run out of battery or you are in an area where you can’t access the internet, this old paper relic will soon become your best friend.
Jump start battery
Even if you have roadside assistance, it could take a while for help to arrive if your car’s battery has gone flat in the middle of nowhere. Many auto shops sell jumper batteries that can kickstart your dead battery in the case of a flat. Read the instructions carefully and check with your car manual to make sure the one you purchase is suitable. Also, make sure you keep it fully charged.
Yes. You read that right. Cat litter.
Cat litter can be extremely helpful getting you out of a muddy bog or an icy road. The rocks in the cat litter will help your wheels gain traction and get your car moving. This tip also works for safely navigating oil spills you may come across. Make sure it’s the crystal variety and not made of soft cardboard which won’t work as well.
Food with a long shelf life
If you are going to be heading into the middle of nowhere for a prolonged period, keep your energy up with a snack. You can purchase non-perishable protein bars from supermarkets, but you may be able to pick up some heavy-duty survival food from some adventure stores.
No matter how safe a driver you are, or how good your track record is, a situation can arise that is of your control. You may accidentally lock your keys in the car, need a tow after an accident or need a new car battery. That’s where reliable roadside assistance cover can help.
Suncorp Roadside Assist can be added onto 1 of the 3 levels of Suncorp Comprehensive Car Insurance.
This extra service will cover you for:
- Towing to the nearest repairer after a break down (up to 20km metro and 100km country)
- Flat tyre assistance
- Battery restart and replacement assistance*
- Emergency fuel
- Help with lost or locked-in keys
- 24/7 support
Read more on Learn About:
- The cost of car ownership in Australia
- Take the Quiz: How well do you know Australian Drivers?
- 5 driving tips to remember before getting behind the wheel
* Battery restart and replacement assistance – this service does not cover the cost of the replacement battery
Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Information provided is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision regarding this product. Suncorp Roadside Assist is provided by Digicall Assist Pty Ltd.