Apart from the mandatory emergency gear that should be in cars (early warning devices, fire extinguishers, visibility vest, first aid kit) what other tools should I get?

  • Flashlight
  • Gas Container

Should I get a tire pressure gauge or something? Are there tools which could help me diagnose problems?

  • 4
    Is this truly answerable? It seems to be a list question.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:26
  • 1
    I probably missed seeing it but the item I have used almost more then any others listed is a folding shovel (GI type). Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:00
  • 4
    I hope you have a big car with the number of answers. :)
    – anonymous2
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:12
  • 4
    I wish I had seen this question earlier. Do you have any specific situational encounters in mind, such as off-roading, driving in snow, etc? That would have helped keep the scope of the answer reasonable
    – Zaid
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:38
  • 3
    Where: Alaska? The Amazon? The Sahara? Or just a mile to the shops and back? Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 18:49

11 Answers 11


Aside from what you mentioned, I always carry:

  • Portable air compressor (12v)

  • Small tool set (common wrenches, screwdriver, grips, electrical tape and zip ties).

  • A good flashlight

  • Spare cellphone charger (both DC and AC if car does not have USB plug)

  • List with emergency contacts in glove box.

  • Rope in case I need to be removed from a ditch or towed (happens more than I'd like to admit).

  • Copy of keys to open trunk and doors on wallet.

  • Money in trunk inside plastic bag ($100 is good).

  • Jumper cables that are are at least 3 meters long.

  • Towel

  • Spare change of clothes (includes shoes and socks)

  • A bat or something to defend yourself in case of zombie apocalypse (or anyone tries to hurt you and you can't run).

I'm a bit obsessive about this, but these are things I've needed over the years (including the bat).

  • 2
    $100, and not in one bill. I remember having a gas clerk look really fishy at me when I paid a 100 dollar bill for 20 dollars of gas.
    – anonymous2
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 14:25
  • 5
    Road flares, flashing red light -- something to alert oncoming Farmville players when you're broken down on a narrow shoulder on a rainy night. Knife, in case you lose the one in your pocket and the one on your keychain. Contractor bags and shovel in case festivities with the bat get out of hand. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 18:56
  • 2
    No first aid kit? No food?
    – Freiheit
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:09
  • 10
    Do not carry just a bat in the UK if it's seen by the police it could be considered a weapon. If you really feel you need one, carry ball and glove or other complete set of sports kit along with it.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 8:50
  • 2
    @Freiheit (also R.) in some countries automobile is legally recognised as a source of increased danger and must have a medkit and fire extinguisher to be street legal, so some people may not list those because they're basically a part of automobile. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:39

To be a little more pragmatic than the other suggestions... what classifies as an emergency can be subjective.

To me the emergencies I have experienced in a motor vehicle typically come in the form of flat/blown tire or running out of gas. Because of those experiences I keep the following in my car at all times:

Tire Changes

  • Small Sledge Hammer- if you don't rotate your tires as often as you should, the hub can rust to the wheel studs and the tire won't come off unless you give it a good whack. Without the appropriate tool it makes it hard to change a tire.
  • Foot long length of solid pipe - if you've ever let an auto-shop do work on your tires, they'll usually use a pneumatic wrench (with compressed air). Every now and then some mechanic will decide it's his personal responsibility to tighten those bolts down hard enough that no living creature could unscrew them by hand. Having some pipe that you can use on the end of your tire iron for leverage in those situations is an absolute must.

Out of Fuel/Dead Car

  • Poncho and or a coat - Anyone who has had to hoof it a few miles down the road to a gas station will recognize the wisdom in always having something in your car for adverse weather just in case you find yourself forced to brave the elements.

  • Emergency Blanket - I've fortunately never had to use mine but I've always kept a survival blanket in my glovebox on the off chance I ever have to spend an impromptu night in my car when its cold outside. These blankets are cheap, very small but could save your life in the right situation. I've also known (male) friends to pack Panty Hose in their trunk for the same purpose as hose helps to trap body heat.

  • 4
    You can avoid the over-tightened lugs problem just by loosening and re-torquing them appropriately after getting home from service at a shop. That avoids the need to carry bulky/heavy tools just for this. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 5:11

A friend gave a really good advice, since most smartphones are quite fragile these days (just look at the number of shattered displays), it is a risk that they break if you are in an accident. He always keeps a "dumbphone" that has a long battery life in the glove compartment or in his motorbike (think Nokia 3310, basically indestructible).

This way if you do break your smartphone and need to call for ambulance you have a spare one (no need for a sim-card in most countries, so no extra cost there).

  • 4
    I just wanted to add that in my country (Italy) the emergency number is not callable from a cellphone without sim-card: Way too many people just used this to make false alarms
    – Martin
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:18
  • Make sure you have a way to charge the dumb phone after an accident (e.g. powerbank). Chances are that the battery is dead when you need it. Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 7:43
  • @GeraldSchneider, good point, I think he charges it once in a while, and if kept switched off they can hold battery for quite a long time. Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 8:24
  • I keep a piece of outdoor carpet (I cut it to cover my cargo deck) so I can drop it on the ground and protect my clothing/knees when I jack the car up.
  • Flashlight.
  • Glowstick - to tie to me so I'm more visible.
  • Reflective vest/belt/sash would also work.
  • Flares/reflective triangle.
  • The triangles are preferred, but very bulky.
  • Battery booster/inflator (jumpers make me reliant on someone else).
  • Very few tools these days - less and less able to do repairs on the newer cars and really - you'd probably need parts and lots of time anyway. (Try and change a serpentine belt on the side of the road.)
  • Small FAK, blanket, small bills/change.
  • Paper/pencil, cell charger or batteries.
  • 1
    That piece of carpet could also help you out if your car gets stuck in a muddy or snowy road. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 18:37
  • Why would triangles be very bulky? In my country, they're a part of mandatory equipment and we have countless models that are very small when folded and stowed and can be quickly deployed out for use. Amazon.com also seems to be familiar with similar models.
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 8:58
  • US DOT approved triangles have sand or something like that inside to weight them which makes them heavy and large. Non DOT approved ones are small and light, but may blow away in wind/rain. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 20:10
  • The reason triangles are preferred is that the chemicals in roadflares are some REALLY nasty stuff. Very toxic to the environment. Also - flame near possible leaking flammable liquids - not really the best solution. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 20:11

I usually carry something I can use to break the windows in case of emergency. This can be a life hammer. I also have either a small knife or a dedicated tool to cut the seatbelt if needed. Both window breaker and knife I place strategically in the car so that I can access them quickly in most situation, including when the car is flipped upside down. Finally, I always have an emergency/space blanket in the car.


I would add

  • A first aid kit
  • A hi-vis jacket
  • A pair of warning triangles, preferably folding.
  • 2
    All three of these are mandatory in most jurisdictions.
    – vsz
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 18:48
  • 1
    @vsz Not in the USA Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 21:30
  • @vsz Not in Australia either.
    – user207421
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 21:32
  • 1
    I'll have to correct myself to "some jurisdictions". I've been to several countires in continental Europe, where it was the case.
    – vsz
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 3:58
  • 1
    It is mandatory in France to have 1, and in Spain you must have 2!
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 15:51

My equipment:


  • Set of tools (screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches and a full 3/8" socket set)
  • Tire change equipment (lift, spare tire, lug wrench)
  • Multitool knife
  • Jumper cables
  • Cellphone charger (both 12V car and 230V AC)
  • Thick leather gloves
  • Paracord


  • H7 bulp
  • Bottle of engine oil

Clothes / hygiene

  • Set of clothes, inclusive underwear, in a trolley bag
  • Fully equipped sponge bag
  • Blanket
  • A weatherproof jacket
  • Bathroom Slippers


  • Umbrella
  • Pampers/cleaning tissues for the baby
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Empty garbage bag
  • ~100€ in different notes
  • Folding triangle
  • Warning vests
  • First aid kit
  • Pen and paper
  • Bottled water

Seasonal stuff

  • Snow chains
  • Insulating gloves
  • Sturdy boots (only when there is much snow)

Stuff I'd recommend carrying (some of which is required in certain jurisdictions, other things are optional everywhere)

In the car:

  • Hi-Vis vest (some places require one per passenger)
  • Warm Jacket - this can be hi-vis to combine two things
  • Phone charger
  • Torch/Flashlight
  • Lifehammer/other window breaking & seatbelt cutting device
  • Pen and paper
  • Fire Extinguisher

In the boot/trunk/load-space:

  • Tow Rope
  • Warning triangle (or two)
  • Spare wheel (some cars don't have one by default...)
  • Jack + handle
  • Wheelbrace/Tyre Iron - Get a decent one, most supplied ones are useless. Mine's telescopic, to give more leverage on a stuck bolt. When I used to drive a Land Rover, it was a 3-foot bar with an appropriate size socket, to give even more leverage.
  • 3lb club hammer
  • tyre pump - either a decent footpump or a 12v one.
  • Duct Tape/Gaffer Tape
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare bulbs, at least for the headlamps and tail/brake lights. Some places mandate a full set.

Where I live - snow chains can be helpful. Check local rules.

If you can't have chains, a piece of carpet can help you give your tires some grip when your wheels slip. Or (non-clumping) cat litter.

In winter - some "emergency" food (Clif bars etc), and a sleeping bag.

  • 2
    Handy tip that shouldn't be needed: When people say "kitty litter", they mean the cheap clay litter. Using the handy "clumping" kind will give you a whole new problem to deal with.
    – TMN
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 17:41
  • @TMN - good point. I took the liberty of editing that into my answer. Thanks.
    – Floris
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 17:42

It depends on usage but in rural or forested/swamped areas — a winch (kind of manual) is probably a good idea.

Also I'd like to install amber flashing lights activated by shock sensor/gyroscope (in case of flip over) but not sure if it's legal.


Measuring tape

This is something I learned from my uncle. Every once in a while you buy stuffs on boxes. Vehicles aren't that plain-ish compared to boxes.

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