Modern Car Emergency Kit

car emergency kit

What is the modern car emergency kit?  Undoubtedly, a DIY car emergency kit that you alone put into the car is your smartest choice. The modern car emergency kit combines the essential items everyone should have and additional items more tailored to your needs.

What should be in the best car emergency kit list? Well thought out and previously prepared items that will serve you best in any type of emergency situation.

Remember that your car emergency kit is not a BOB. You are not prepared for an evacuation with a car EDC.

Also, at this point, I don’t want to give you instructions on how to turn your car into a Bug Out Vehicle. We’ll leave it for another day.

Any more questions? I’m sure you’ll find all the answers in the article.

Read on.

Why prepare a Car Emergency kit in advance

With the modern car emergency kit ready and in place, you can always count on getting to your destination safely and in time.

You will need your car EDC if you get stranded somewhere in nature where there is no cellphone coverage. You will have to be able to help yourself because there’s no one around.

You will need your car emergency kit when you get into a car accident. Sometimes it takes hours for AAA or law enforcement to arrive.

The same goes for natural disasters that can hit you without warning.

Without the car EDC, you can be stranded for hours, waiting for help. In this day and age, be aware that a car emergency can easily turn into a scary dangerous scenario.

Other times, you can be a Good Samaritan and help other fellow drivers in need of assistance. It can be a simple tire change, but it can also mean medical assistance.

Related post: Six SHTF Events That You Should Be Aware Of And Plan For

How to build the Smartest Car Emergency Kit that will serve you best

A car emergency is a situation that can happen to anyone at any time and place. It usually comes as a surprise, unless you’ve been ignoring the check engine light for too long.

We all spend way too much time in our cars. The daily commute can take big chunks out of our day. So, it shouldn’t shock you when an emergency happens on the road.

Car emergency can be as simple and innocent as a flat tire, but it can also turn into an unplanned overnight stay in your car if you don’t have the right tools to solve it.

The best way to prepare for surprises is by covering all the bases. Imagine what can go wrong, and find the antidote.

Only you and you alone know best what emergency situations should be considered.

For example, if you live in Texas, you do not need to prepare items for winter conditions. You have to adjust to your needs, and budget, of course. Think smart.

As always, I recommend starting small. Not because I only want you to save money.

Focus and spend a certain period of time thinking about the items you really need and then testing out your car emergency kit.

The safest traveler is the well-informed traveler.

Where to put the car emergency kit?

Ideally, you will put the car EDC where it is easy to reach. So, I keep the items I use almost every day in the glove compartment and in the door compartments. This is up to you to decide which items you want by your side.

The smartest car EDC is one, relatively small, sturdy, and waterproof container. It fits in vehicles of all sizes, in the trunk where it can’t be seen from the outside, and won’t take up too much precious cargo space.

I also keep one smaller container in my car that fits under the front seat. It is just low enough to fit comfortably. It doesn’t take up any space I would normally use, so this is a great solution.

If you have more than one vehicle, you can transport the car emergency kit from one car to another. A lot of the items are not cheap, so you don’t want to build more than one good car emergency kit.

With all that said, remember that it is important to have all your most important stuff in one container, bag, or backpack.

jumper cables
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Essential Car Emergency Kit Items

These items should be in every car. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, if you’re driving with children, elderly, pets, or live in a desert climate.

If you have the means to buy a car, maintain it and keep it fueled, you should have enough room in your budget and knowledge to build a basic car EDC.

A basic car EDC is a small, durable backpack with just a few essential items. Put it in your trunk and let it sit somewhere at the back. It is a good idea to keep it on the light side if you have to move it from one vehicle to another.

Safety vest — I keep a high-visibility mesh safety vest in the door compartment on the driver’s side and one on the passenger’s side.

Phone charger — not just for you, it is handy for your passengers as well. Keep it out where it’s easy to reach.

Jumper cables — extremely useful item that I needed more times than I can remember, for my own car and to help other drivers.

Tow rope or chain — you should always have a tow rope in your ready, just in case.

Gas can (2-5 gal.) — when you forget to fill up the gas tank or in situations where you just can’t find a gas station for a long time, you need to have a certified gas canister.

Flashlight or a headlamp — it is especially useful when you have to change a tire at night.

First aid kit — you can make your own, or buy a prepackaged one, and then add items that you need like ChapStick or a bug repellant. First aid kits can have a million items, but it all comes down to how trained you are to use those items and how confident you feel about your medical assistance.

Bottled water (2-3 gal.). Water is important for many reasons. It’s not just preppers who emphasize the fact that humans can’t survive 3 days without water. Also, you can use water when your car is overheating. Water is useful when you need to clean your windshield. An extremely muddy windshield is best cleaned with pure water.

Small tool kit — you don’t need the whole toolbox, but a set of screwdrivers, a wrench, and a ply bar can really come in handy.

Car escape tools (seatbelt cutter and window breaker) — they are exceptionally useful in dangerous situations, so it’s good to have them near your seat, and always inform your passengers where they are.

Duct tape — is a true savior in many different situations, from mechanical to medical emergencies. If you have a leak, you can easily fix that yourself.

Gloves — a good pair of heavy-duty leather gloves will save your hands from cold, dirt, or fire. Put them on when you’re changing a tire, or simply looking under the hood.

Trash bags — they don’t take up too much space. They are obviously for trash collection but can also be used as a tarp when you’re changing the tire, or as a rain poncho.

road map
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Additional Car Emergency Kit Items

I will list additional must-have items for your car emergency kit. It is up to you to make smart choices and DIY your best car emergency kit.

Ideally, you should take them all into consideration. You never know which items you’ll need. Prepare a big EDC container and have the car emergency kit always ready in your car.

List of emergency contacts

Road maps — it is easy to get lost without navigation. When your GPS is out, there’s no signal, you should have local road maps available.

Small shovel

Small ax — it is particularly handy for fallen trees blocking the road or for unplanned camping trips.


Sand or cat-litter — this is a pretty good traction agent when you’re stuck on ice, for example.

Extra clothes (if you get caught in the rain, or get dirty while changing a tire or you have to spend the night in your car)

Paper towels/rags — they are useful for cleaning your hands, your car, and in improvised toilet situations.

Pen and paper

Blanket — mini pocket blankets are great to spread out anywhere, for hikes, or if you don’t want to sit on wet ground. Buy some that easy to clean and fold up.

Related post: Survival Lighters: Do You Need One?

mechanical car emergency kit
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Mechanical CAR emergency kit

We have all seen broken down vehicles and always think that couldn’t happen to us. But, even with the best maintenance, you could get a flat tire, or simply run out of gas.

In that case, these items in your car emergency kit will come in handy.

Radiator Stop Leak — this will take care of smaller radiator holes and leaks. This stuff will save the day.

Tire sealant like Slime or Fix a Flat — get the biggest can you can find.


Set of Tools

Related post: How To Sharpen Your Multi-Tool

Disaster emergency (fire, earthquake, riot, etc.)

Fire extinguisher

Road flares — come in handy when you are alone in nature and there is no other way to signal for help or let others know your location. They also have a dual purpose because they are great fire starters.

Whistle — to signal your location, or to call for help. It can also be used to discourage personal attacks.

Rain jacket — a large rain jacket with a hood can help you if you need to wait outside your car.

Space blanket — in a state of shock, this helps you keep warm.

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How To Successfully Prepare For An Earthquake [Best Advice 4 Before, During And After]

Best Ways To Prepare For Wildfire 2020 [Prevention & Evacuation Tips]

Should You Get A Military Survival Radio?

car emergency kit - food
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Car Emergency Food kit

Prepare a few non-perishable items. Preppers advise preparing for 72 hours in advance. Count the calories you expect you’ll need and prepare in advance.

If you decide to put food in your car EDC, make sure to check the expiry dates. Also, mark in your calendar when you will rotate your supplies.

Energy bars



Water filter straw

Coffee, Tea

Sugar, salt, pepper — in small packets.

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Nine Foods That Last For Decades

Solar Cookers: What Can You Cook In A Solar Oven?

Best Foods For Your Bug Out Bag

How much cash should you have in your car emergency kit

No more than 20 dollars extra cash in smaller bills will suffice. It is enough to tip a valet, or for unplanned shopping.

I don’t recommend preparing large amounts of cash because if your car gets stolen, so will your fortune.

Car emergency kit for Long trips

Longer trips always require additional equipment, especially for emergencies. Think about doubling or even tripling some of the supplies.

Air compressor — to fill up your tires. It can be connected to the USB plug. Make sure to check that your spare tire is filled up before you embark on your trip.


Extra batteries

Sleeping bag

Portable gas stove

Cups, plates, cutlery

winter car emergency
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What items you should include in your winter car emergency kit

Snow and ice storms may surprise you on your way home and keep you stranded for more days.

Space blanket

Winter clothing (Extra warm gloves, boots, wool socks, cap)


Ice scraper — doesn’t take up too much space in the driver’s door


car emergency kit for women
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Car emergency kit for women

What every girl should keep in her car doesn’t differ much from a man’s needs. It is a well-known fact that women like to drive smaller and easier to maneuver cars, so a car emergency kit for women should be more compact and basic.

I certainly recommend keeping some kind of self-defense item close to you but hidden.

Women drivers are usually less mechanically inclined than men. So, women don’t need to keep a lot of handy tools inside their car emergency kit.

I see a lot of women drivers doing make-up re-touching while waiting at the stoplights. I don’t support having makeup in your car because I believe that drivers should be focused on driving alone.

Extra clothes — in case you have to walk home, it would be great if you have a spare pair of old jeans and walking shoes all ready and waiting in your car EDC.

children in car
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Car emergency kit for children

If you have children, your car emergency kit should accommodate their needs. You must anticipate what can go wrong. Life gets a lot easier when you think ahead and plan ahead.

In addition to your basic car emergency kit, you should consider putting in your car:

Booster seats


Games like Bingo

Extra Food, especially fun snacks

Paper towels

Special medication

pet in a car
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Car emergency kit for pets

Medication — extra pills if your pet needs to take every day, should be with you at all times.

Paper towels — some pets can’t tolerate the drive and motion sickness can have nasty consequences.

Wet wipes

Collapsible cups

Pet food — prepare for three days maximum. Keep track of expiry dates.

Copies of your pets certificates, and medical documents.

Related post: Prepare Your Dog For Coronavirus [Must-Read 2020 Guide]


In unexpected car emergency situations, it is highly likely that your emergency supplies are safe at home, cozy, and warm.

Well, isn’t that nice, you will be thinking to yourself while freezing on the side of a road.

ASIRT (Association for safe international road travel) issues valuable road safety information that can be life-saving.

Uncomfortable and dangerous emergencies can be successfully dealt with items from your car emergency kit.

Spend some time and money to build a unique car EDC that will serve you well when the time comes.

Having a little treasure chest of goodies will ease your mind on your next trip.

Greg - Prepping Insider

Hey, I'm a prepping enthusiast. Prepping for me is simply something of a passion. I have personally lived in many different rural properties that have given me a wealth of knoweldge and experience in practically living out survival and preparation situations. It’s not about getting the latest survival gadgets or buckets of food as its more of a lifestyle.

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