LAST UPDATED: June 28, 2019
Best Car Emergency Kits: Be Ready for the Road
Stay prepared with these top kits
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON June 28, 2019
Being on the open road during an emergency can be dangerous if you aren't well-prepared. Break downs, flat tires, medical issues, or nearly anything can come up and derail your plans, putting you or passengers potentially in harm's way at the same time. That is why a good auto emergency kit is good to keep around in a vehicle for when you need it the most. Best of all, you don't have to make your own kit to stay safe. Instead, there are plenty of options out there to consider if you want something you can easily stick in your trunk or under a seat for the next time you are stuck on the side of the road. Here's a look at some of the best car emergency kits available today.
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Why Buy a Car Emergency Kit
- Be prepared. The whole point of an emergency kit is to have the tools and supplies needed to make repairs or address injuries right then and there. Emergency kits are really beneficial when you have small issues that can quickly grow in severity if you don't attend to them quickly.
- Save time on the road. Good preparation means you can handle issues more quickly. If you experience a breakdown, for example, you may find a quick fix in your emergency kit instead of having to call roadside assistance and waiting for someone to come help. While you can't prepare for every potential issue, you can get a good head start with the right kit.
- Keep others safe. The real benefit of an emergency kit is the number of people you can help with a single case. In other words, emergency kits benefit everyone in a vehicle. If you have a family or carpool regularly, it's a smart idea to have even a small kit around to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Types of Car Emergency Kits
A general-use emergency kit is one that combines enough supplies and tools to handle the most common issues that can come up while driving. In general, these kits will include some basic tools, automotive-specific supplies, and basic medical supplies to cover a range of potential issues.
Also known as a first-aid kit, medical emergency kits pack more supplies meant to treat minor injuries and issues. Supplies can include basic bandages, medicines, disinfectants, and other things you're likely to find at a local pharmacy. Individual-specific supplies like inhalers or medications can also be included in this type of kit.
While you can't carry an entire garage around with you, some basic automotive tools can get you out of a roadside pinch. Automotive-specific kits may include things like jumper cables, air compressors, tire pressure gauges, flat tire kits, and other supplies or tools you are likely to need in a typical automotive emergency.
Top Brands of Car Emergency Kits
The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a collection of automotive clubs all around North America. As a non-profit, the association offers a lot of roadside assistance services to members and has become synonymous with fixing roadside emergencies. As a result, it's only natural that the company offers basic emergency kits like the 64-Piece Premium Kit.
Lacking the broad product selection of other competitors, P21S has largely focused on automotive detailing products since starting production in 1984. Based on the roots of the German automotive industry, P21S is largely known for making high-quality waxes that many purists enjoy over quick and simple waxing solutions. The P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax is one example of the company's dedicated waxing products.
Car Emergency Kit Pricing
- $25 and under: Most emergency kits under $25 tend to be limited to only automotive or medical supplies. These are good to consider if you want a little boost in automotive preparation.
- $25-$50: There are plenty of combination emergency kits in this range that includes automotive and medical supplies. Smaller kits that are under 50 pieces are also common.
- $50 and above: In the premium range, emergency kits include more pieces and more advanced tools like air compressors. If you are willing to spend the extra money, this is a great range to consider to have everything you may need for an emergency.
Tools and Supplies
Arguably, the most important thing in any emergency kit is what it carries. The contents, made up of various tools and supplies, will determine how versatile the kit is in an emergency situation. The range of tools and supplies will depend on the type of the kit and any additional accessories you may purchase for it. It's important to find the right kit for your needs, so pay attention to what each option offers.
With many pieces comes the need for storage and organization. A good case needs to be small, portable, and durable enough to protect everything inside. Emergency kit cases vary in size, but most are small enough to fit in a truck or other cargo space. Soft cases are the best for a lightweight, portable option, but if you need something that can survive a few falls, check out some hard case options as well.
- Size: The size of a kit is usually dependent on the number of tools and supplies it offers. Small kits tend to have around 25 pieces, usually focused on either automotive or medical use.
- Storage: A car emergency kit is not useful if you can't actually keep it in a vehicle. Storability comes down to the size of the case and needs to be balanced with the number of accessories it offers. If you have a small vehicle, it's smart to buy one or two smaller kits that can easily fit underneath a seat. Larger vehicles can fit larger cases.
Best Car Emergency Kits Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This auto emergency safety kit is licensed by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and meets strict testing requirements for safety. The Excursion Road Kit has 76 components, including an air compressor/tire inflator, booster cable, LED flashlight, an emergency warning triangle, screwdrivers and pliers, a utility knife, gloves, bungee cord, and bandages and other first-aid kit essentials.
The mini compressor is very handy, especially with the built-in pressure gauge. The fabric carrying bag is durable with a solid handle. Overall, it covers the basic necessities for long-distance driving and is very convenient and worth the price. It's small enough so it doesn't take up too much space but still provides most of the items you'd need in an emergency.
However, there have been some complaints that the jumper cables are not that good. Also, the utility knife is not the best quality, and the whistle isn't very loud. The pliers are also a little low-quality.
This car survival kit comes in a poly-canvas duffel bag with extra space, so you can add extra items. It features 110 components, including a 64-piece first aid kit, heavy-duty jump cables, a tow strap, emergency blanket, a 12-in-1 multitool, flashlight, fire starter, bungee cords, and roadside warning sign.
The jumper cables are easy to use, and they fit back into the bag without any hassle. The bag and all the items are high-quality. The kit doesn't take up that much space, keeps your stuff organized, and comes with nearly everything you would need if you find yourself in a bind. Customer service is also really good.
However, the first aid kit largely includes just generic items, and the flashlight is low-quality. Also, the zipper on the bag isn't that great.
This Performance Tool Roadside Emergency Kit is one simple yet beneficial kit that will pull you through a roadside emergency in case it’s raining or snowing. It comes with a rain poncho and a snow scraper to help get the ice from your windshield. This kit will also come in handy if you need to jumpstart your battery or tow your vehicle. That’s all thanks to the 8-foot jumpstart cables and bungee cords included in the package. You also get a pair of mechanic gloves.
Every tool is pretty straightforward to use, including the portable tire inflator, which features an easy-to-read tire pressure gauge. If you happen to get stranded at night, you can use the free-standing reflective triangle to alert other drivers of your position, as well as the provided flashlight to maneuver your way through the darkness. Other useful tools that could help you with light mechanic work are slip joint pliers, a screwdriver, electrical tape, cable ties, and a snap blade knife.
The downside of this kit is that it doesn’t come with medical or first aid supplies. It also doesn’t come with adequate survival equipment for an off-road driver or camper. Some of the tools provided, including the flashlight, are of poor quality. The carry case, however, provides enough room to add a few extra supplies such as band-aids, medicine, water, and duct tape.
This is an all-around kit you'll want to have in your vehicle, especially if you're a new driver. It includes everything you need for different roadside situations, and it comes at a competitive price. You'll get a convenient and easy-to-use kit without spending a fortune.
The collection includes a first aid kit with adhesive bandages, antiseptic towelettes, gauze pads, and much more. In case of an accident, you'll be able to use it for treating most minor injuries. There's also a kit with assistance tools such as triangles, battery booster cables, window breakers, and seatbelt cutters. This will allow you to handle dangerous situations immediately. You'll even get a bonus tool kit and a tire repair kit. All in all, you'll get 156 pieces to help you on the road at all times.
Although very helpful in emergencies, the included tools are not of the best quality. If you need a sturdy high-end set, the Kolo Sports one may not be the best choice for you. We also noticed that the jumper cables are of low quality. They are good enough to transfer charge from a full battery to a dead one, but not for jump-starting your vehicle.
Offering premium tools at a reasonable price, this car emergency kit is hard to beat. What we like the most about it is the quality of items included in the collection. From tools to bandages, the kit includes everything you need for emergencies, and all of those items are well-made and durable. You can pack them back in the bag after applications and use them over and over again.
We especially love the top-notch jumper cables made from durable copper-clad aluminum. There's also a quality tow rope, an air compressor, tire repair accessories, and much more. Because the package includes a 90-piece roadside set and a 48-piece first aid kit, it's unlikely that you'll lack something when on the road. You can use the First Secure emergency kit from winter to summer without replacing or adding anything to it.
The two things you might not like about this kit, however, are the included multi-tool and the headlight. The multi-tool is poorly made and difficult to open, which is inconvenient for emergencies when you need to react quickly. When it comes to the headlight, we feel that the flashlight would be better suited for roadside situations. The headlight is not that powerful to illuminate wide areas.
A multipurpose emergency pack is always good to keep within hand's reach during long rides. This particular one from Lianxin includes everything you might need when an accident occurs. Whether your tire goes flat or your car unexpectedly stops in the middle of nowhere, you'll have tools and supplies to fix the issue or handle the situation before help arrives.
One of the great things about this kit is its compact and lightweight design. You can carry and transport it without much effort yet still have the necessary emergency items. The kit contains a flashlight, a reflective warning triangle, a jumper cable, a tow rope, and many other things. There is even a snow shovel and a raincoat, so you can definitely use this kit during the winter.
However, the kit is still not perfect. The included tools are not of the best quality, especially the warning triangle and the included knife. They are fragile and prone to damage. Another thing to keep in mind is that the first aid kit lacks some essentials such as bandages. It's good to keep a regular first aid kit along with this bag in your vehicle.
If you already have car emergency tools and accessories, the next step would be getting a kit with food and water to sustain you for 72 hours. The Ready America one includes protein bars, water packs, emergency blankets, and other things you might need when alone.
Overall, the kit includes 33 pieces, including two safety light sticks and a poncho. There are also two 2400-calorie food bars and 12 water packs, which should be enough for three days. With the shelf life of five years, the Ready America emergency kit is great to have in your home, office, and car.
The one thing to consider with this pack is that it doesn't make a one-time purchase. You'll probably need to replace or add some extra items over time, especially because the included ones might expire if you don't use them. Also, the backpack is rather small. If you want to transport the items frequently, you might want to get a more convenient backpack.
Here comes another kit that contains all the items you might need in emergencies. Kitgo made sure to include a flashlight, a warning triangle, a tire repair tool, an insulation tape, a tow rope, and much more. With all these tools and accessories in your vehicle, you'll be ready to handle difficult and unexpected situations on the road.
All these items come in a compact yellow bag. The color is highly visible in the dark, and the bag proves to be completely waterproof. It will keep the stored items safe in all weather conditions and help you transport emergency items as needed. Because the included items prove to be so useful, most people keep them in their homes, offices, and vehicles.
However, you'll need to settle with lower quality items for the price. Such an inexpensive kit doesn't include top-notch tools and accessories you can use several times in a row. The jumper cables are especially flimsy, although you'll be able to use them in emergencies.
The last car emergency kit on our list is by no means less worthy of your attention. It's a little pricier than some of the other options, but it also proves to be of better quality. Because it contains many useful items, the kit is perfect for a variety of situations and can be used repeatedly.
The Inex Life kit contains a tow rope, a warning triangle, a flashlight, a window breaker, and many other tools and accessories. You'll find it incredibly useful when stuck in deep snow or pulled to the roadside by a dead battery. There's also a full first aid kit in case of injuries, so you'll have it all in one convenient bag stored in your vehicle.
As we mentioned above, you'll have to add a few more bucks to get this emergency kit. It won't break the bank but might be unsuitable for those looking for inexpensive options. Those who do opt for the Inex Life emergency kit might also want to get several extra items such as blankets and ponchos.
- If you want to add your own automotive tools to a preexisting emergency kit, but something with medical supplies to expand. This will give you everything you need for basic medical emergencies.
- You can always use your own case for an emergency kit. This will let you pick the case that has the space you need for the items you want to bring with you while driving.
- The best emergency kits are tailored to your personal needs. Don't hesitate to add and remove different things from a kit you purchase, especially if you have issues you are likely to come across while driving.
- Choose a large case if you want to carry large items like tow ropes, ice scrapers, safety vests, large pliers, fire extinguishers, large rolls of duct tape, or an emergency blanket.
- You can also pack personal items like a jacket or a rain poncho to be ready for bad weather. An extra charger is also a good addition for electronic devices.
Q. What is the best place to keep an emergency kit?
A. The interior of your car is the most accessible place. While a trunk has more room, you can reach a kit in your car more quickly.
Q. Can I add extra accessories to an emergency kit?
A. Of course. The only limitation is the amount of space the case offers. If you have the room, add specific accessories you think will be most useful to you and other passengers.
Q. What's the difference between a first-aid kit and a car emergency kit?
A. In general, the only difference is the automotive-specific tools a car emergency kit may include. First-aid kits tend to be general-use (not specific to a car) and focused on medical supplies.
A good general-use emergency kit you can add to your vehicle setup today is the Lifeline Excursion Road 76-Piece Car Kit since it mixes a little bit of everything.
You can also check out the Roadside Emergency Assistance Kit as a value purchase.