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If you’ve been behind the wheel long enough, you know unfortunate events can happen in a split second. From car accidents and medical emergencies to flat tires and dead batteries, you can’t guarantee a perfect drive every time. However, you can guarantee that you’ll be prepared for whatever goes wrong when you have a car emergency kit.
Driving should never be taken lightly, but when you’re a rideshare driver, being prepared becomes an even greater necessity. Day in and day out, your responsibility is to take care of your riders in addition to yourself. Just as you always keep a first-aid kit at home, you need to have a complete emergency kit ready in your trunk just in case.
In this article, we’ll explain what you should look for in a car emergency kit and suggest three pre-made kits that can make your job easier.
3 Best Car Emergency Kits
Most auto emergency kits are packed with a long list of items that can save you time (and even save your life) in a variety of situations. Choosing the right bundle will ensure you’re adequately prepared for all the events that can occur in your moving vehicle.
Below, we’ve narrowed down some of the most useful products that won’t take up more space than needed in your trunk.
1. Lifeline AAA Premium Road Emergency Kit
Created in partnership with the highly trusted American Automobile Association (AAA), this 42-piece road emergency kit is easily one of the leading products on the market. It comes packed with your jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, and plenty of first aid supplies, in addition to a screwdriver.
While it doesn’t include any further handy tools, it does go well beyond the basic must-haves. It also comes with duct tape, an emergency poncho, cable ties, and a AAA booklet containing guidelines on what to do during accidents.
For a little over $10, you can upgrade to a 103-piece car emergency kit that adds on a portable air compressor, more essential toolkit components, a utility knife, and even an emergency warning triangle. However, the 42-piece kit contains a strong selection of emergency items that will remain compact in its high-quality case.
You can purchase the Lifeline AAA Premium Road Emergency Kit on Amazon for $33.52.
2. Kolo Sports Roadside Emergency Kit
The largest kit on our list, the 156-piece Kolo Sports Roadside Emergency Kit is also the most complete. It goes above and beyond for basic necessities, with 25 pieces in the toolkit and 90 first aid items.
This car emergency kit also includes plenty of special safety items — like a reflective safety vest, a seat belt cutter, a whistle, and a window breaker — and tools to help in a bind, like heavy-duty tow rope, PVC tape, and a multipurpose tool. Another unique item this product includes is a tire pressure gauge, which will save you money on your car maintenance investments if you don’t already have this necessary tool.
All of this fits into a fairly compact product that measures 14 x 6 x 6 inches, which can easily fit in the trunk of a standard car.
You can purchase the Kolo Sports Roadside Emergency Kit on Amazon for $42.79.
3. First Secure Car Emergency Kit
If you live in a state with particularly bad weather or you own a larger vehicle, investing in this 90-piece emergency car kit will be the best choice. This product is equipped with some of the most high-quality tools — including a tow strap that can pull up to 10,000 pounds.
While pricier than our other options, the First Secure Car Emergency Kit does come with a 250 PSI air compressor and a tire pressure gauge that could already make up for more than a third of the cost. It also comes with a tire repair kit, a useful multi-tool, and electrical tape for the most convenient repairs away from home.
Altogether, even including the air compressor, this safety kit weighs just over 8 pounds, making it easily manageable by any driver.
You can purchase the First Secure Car Emergency Kit on Amazon for $64.95.
6 Must-Have Items for Car Emergency Kits
Every car emergency kit is made differently, so it’s rare that you’ll ever see two products with the exact combination of items. However, there are extremely important emergency supplies that should never be left behind when you’re spending hours on the road. If any of the following items are missing from your selected kit, make sure to add it on your own.
1. Jumper Cables
Jumper cables can be a lifesaver when a dead battery strikes and are a non-negotiable tool for any driver’s toolkit. When you know how to jump a car with this tool, you can get your vehicle back up and running in less than 30 minutes. Without it, you’ll have to wait for roadside assistance or a generous driver to stop by and help.
2. First-Aid Kit
When packing for a vehicular emergency, many drivers focus on what can happen to a car and forget what can happen to the people in it. With basic medical supplies like bandages and antiseptic wipes, you can be prepared for minor injuries that can happen at any time.
3. Basic Tool Kit
Even a small homeowner’s tool kit can really come in handy in a variety of car emergencies. A good screwdriver, wrench, or pliers are often needed in auto repair processes, so having those basic tools readily available can prove to be worth it.
If something goes wrong at night, you can’t necessarily diagnose it without being able to see. Having a flashlight, preferably with extra batteries, will help you catch and resolve issues quickly, so you don’t miss out on an hour of earnings. A reliable flashlight is especially helpful when your car breaks down on a dimly lit road.
5. Portable Cell Phone Charger
Your smartphone is an essential part of your gig, so when your charging port isn’t working, it’s an emergency to you. Having a fully charged portable cell phone charger at all times can help you stay signed onto your rideshare or delivery app in case you still have a full day ahead of you.
If your entire car battery breaks down, having a portable charger will also ensure that your phone battery doesn’t drain before you can get help.
6. Spare Tire and Car Jack
Spare tires and car jacks aren’t technically a part of any kit, but it’s always a good reminder to have one of each stored at all times. The spare can be a basic donut tire or a fifth full-matching tire — whichever one is easiest for you to get your hands on. Flat tires are extremely common and can occur due to a simple nail on the road, and not having a backup plan will leave you waiting for a tow truck.
Frequently Asked Questions
When an unfortunate event occurs on the road, your car emergency kit is your ultimate security against a bad day getting worse. Here are our answers to a few common questions to help you learn more about what you’re packing:
1. Can I create my own car emergency kit instead of purchasing one?
You can definitely create your own car emergency kit if you wish, but we do highly recommend purchasing one and customizing if you don’t readily have all the supplies at home. This is because purchasing the many parts of a solid emergency kit individually can actually be far more expensive than purchasing a bundle at once. Plus, it may not be as compact as you’d want for your car when you may be transporting a full car and luggage once in a while.
2. Can I purchase a survival kit in place of a car emergency kit?
Survival kits can be great starting points, but rarely provide enough car emergency essentials to be adequate replacements. This is because survival kits are usually limited to handy tools and medical supplies, and don’t offer any specialty auto supplies. However, you can take note from survival kits and keep some drinking water and non-perishables in your car in case you’re caught in an area or storm that requires you to wait a long time for assistance.
3. Is my car emergency kit purchase tax deductible?
Your car emergency kit purchase can qualify for a tax deduction, since it’s a supply purchased for your line of work. However, we recommend consulting your accountant to find out what percentage of the purchase is actually tax deductible.
Drive With Peace of Mind
Being prepared for any emergency that can occur in your vehicle — even a minor bee sting — can help you keep your passengers safe and satisfied, while keeping you on the road. Roadside assistance and tow trucks can cost you time and money, so you’ll be thankful that you have a compact solution stowed in your trunk when you’re stuck on the side of the road.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.