Preparing for roadside emergencies may seem like an oxymoron, but having specific materials in your vehicle-before emergencies arise-can help reduce the stress and delay of getting you safely back on the road. “But, just what should I keep in my emergency vehicle kit?” you ask? Without getting too overboard and fanatical about what to have on hand (because the list could include virtually every product in an auto parts store…and your home!), here is a list of items to keep in your emergency vehicle kit:
Let’s start by keeping items that relate to the most frequent types of roadside assistance and breakdown (taken from the AAA):
1. Tire Repair and Flat Tire Breakdown Items: Since flat tires and blown out tires are the most common cause of roadside assistance, have one (or all) of these items in your car or truck:
- Tire pump or electric car adapter air pump (the DC car adapter pumps range from $10-$20 in cost)
- Tire repair kit (patches, glue, repair tools-$5-$10 in cost)
- Instant tire repair in a can (many tire shops say not to use them in a tire, but when you are stranded by the road, priorities change, and the short term benefits outweigh their recommendations at the time!)
2. Dead Battery Items: A dead car battery is the next most common roadside assistance occurrence. For this carry on hand:
- A set of battery jumper cables in your car. Either some Good Samaritan will come by and help you attach the cables to the proper positive and negative posts of your battery from their vehicle’s good battery, or have your family/friends show you how to attach then on your car-as a dry run demonstration;
- Optional: A portable battery charger. These items are usually around $40-$50. If you often travel through the rural Utah roads, this is a pretty good investment.
3. Engine Overheating: Since an overheated engine (caused by either low anti-freeze, leaking radiator, bad thermostat, bad radiator fan or cap, leaking hoses, or broken belt) never seems to happen within one block of your house, these items may help you get that extra mile or two (when you need it the most):
- Gallon of water (or a gallon of pre-mixed anti-freeze coolant). The gallon of water can double as drinking water (and probably will be used more for that reason) and emergency coolant for your engine.
- Towel or rag (to protect your hands when opening the hood, radiator cap or filling tube).
- (Optional) A spare serpentine belt. The next time your auto repair technician replaces your serpentine belt, ask them to keep that old one in the back of your car-it may come in handy (especially when small town auto part stores will almost certainly be out-of-stock of your specific size belt!).
4. Vehicle stuck in snow or mud: If your car insurance does not come with free towing or small deductible towing charge, you may want to have this in your vehicle:
- Tow rope , nylon rope, or metal chain (at least 25 feet long). Again, that Good Samaritan may stop to help (because the towing company may take an hour or so to get to you), and your rope or chain is just the item they need to pull you out of the snow, ditch, or mud-with a minimum of embarrassment!
5. Personal Emergency Items: These common sense items will make your roadside breakdown a little less nerve racking:
- Car charger for your cell phone…enough said;
- Water (see “Engine Overheating” above);
- Energy food bars-easy to store, long shelf life;
- Flashlight or light of some kind (with appropriate batteries);
- Mini Hand sanitizer;
- Small first aid kit;
- Roll of toilet paper (don’t laugh-you’ll be glad this is in your car-when you need it!)
- Survival whistle
6. Small Tool Kit (optional for the really prepared people:
- Duct Tape;
- Screwdriver-(both flat head and phillips);
- Swiss style Army knife;
- Small hammer;
Obviously the best roadside assistance kit is no breakdowns at all-but we all know sooner or later the car breakdown will affect us, too. Be prepared with some or all of these items in your vehicle, and help will soon be on the way!
Take the time to inspect and care for your car or truck, so the harsh extremes of Utah summers and winters do not impact your safety while driving. GT Automotive has ASE certified technicians for car repairs for all make and model vehicles. We can inspect your car during our Express Oil change, and help keep your vehicle operating safely in all seasons. Call us today, 801-302-0912, about auto repairs and service in Salt Lake City.