While AAA is a great service, their dispatched local tow truck partners are fairly well known for taking their sweet time in getting to you, wherever you might be stranded. Nevertheless, their experience comes to bear on the emergency kit branded for them.
This 76-piece kit is geared more toward the automotive, including a 250 psi air compressor, heavy duty booster cables, a few tools, and even generic auto accident forms, should you need them. The full list is as follows:
The weakest part of this kit is probably the air compressor, which fills very slowly and has a somewhat inaccurate gauge. You could supplement with a separate air compressor, and you should always have a digital tire gauge on hand, anyway. That said, it’s not a common feature in these kits, so having it on hand for the rare occurrence when you need it is better than nothing.
Lifeline offers several of these AAA-branded car kits, which allows you to customize to your needs and best fit the storage available in your vehicle. Here we’ve featured the 76-piece Excursion kit, which comes in a bag measuring 12.5 by 10 by 6.2 inches. Alternatives include:
Like the Lifeline AAA kit, this set also includes a tire inflator, but also includes a bottle of tire sealant to make the best use of it. Naturally, you could add a bottle of tire sealant to any of these kits, but that’s partially the point – it is, like tire inflator, somewhat rare to see it already in the kit.
This kit offers a higher number of first aid kit pieces than a lot of other options at 63 assorted bandages and gauze pads. It also includes some handy emergency guides to guide you through a variety of scenarios. The full list of contents is:
As with the Lifeline kit, the tire inflator isn’t the world’s greatest, but it will do in a pinch. It does have its own integrated light and a couple of adpators for inflating other items.
Also like the Lifeline kits, there are multiple sizes available. This is the 104-piece Covered kit, but there’s also a 36-Piece Ready Kit and a 57-Piece Prepared Kit.
Winter driving comes with its own hazards and considerations, so if you’re looking for a kit that addresses these, this might be the one for you. It has two stand-out features the other kits don’t: a folding shovel and roadside assistance for one year.
Once enrolled, you’ll get 365 days of roadside assistance with no membership fees, up to three service calls for a flat fee of $60 each. This could really come in handy and save you money in the long run and eliminates the need to sign up elsewhere.
Truthfully, the shovel, an emergency blanket, and the help when you need it are really the only differentiators making this a “winter” kit. The rest of the kit is fairly standard, though it does include a heavy duty tow strap, which is absent from some other kits. To complete the winter readiness, you may wish to add an emergency escape tool, an ice scraper, and maybe hand warmers. The full list of what is included is as follows:
Other kit versions are available from Justin Case, as well, all of which include the roadside assistance offer:
Whether you’ve stuck with Top Gear or moved on with the former hosts to The Grand Tour, a lot of car enthusiasts will know the brand. While that’s not necessarily a reason to buy this kit, it just so happens that it’s reasonably well-rounded and the carrying bag is just that much cooler than a lot of other options.
This takes a couple of novel turns compared to other options on this list. First, a high-visibility vest is included for safer roadside work. It also includes a multitool which has most everything you need in a pinch and a bit more than just a pair of screwdrivers. There’s also a tire gauge, which is nice to have, though you’ll have to supply the air compressor yourself.
Finally, glowsticks and a hand charged flashlight are interesting lighting choices that won’t require batteries to add some illumination and visibility to your unintended stop. The full list of supplies is:
This offering takes the a very different view of car emergencies, aiming to get your car or devices back to operating condition by supplying power above all else. This comes in a form factor reminiscent of car jump starters, though in the case of those devices, the unit is often quite large if it includes a tire inflator or air compressor.
This kit gets around that problem by providing a handheld air compressor that runs off of the portable power pack and is capable of up to 150 PSI. Compared to the inflators included in most emergency car kits, it’s of a higher quality, which goes some way to explaining the price of this kit.
A series of adaptors allow you to use the power pack not only for the air pump, but to jump start cars and charge a variety of devices. A 12-volt cord is also included – both to power 12v devices and to plug into your car to either recharge the power pack or power the compressor.
To round this out, you’ll probably want to pair it with one of the other offerings on this list, or perhaps a standard first aid kit and a bottle of tire sealant.
This kit from Thrive builds on the Top Gear offering, swapping the cool branding for a handful more items and a slightly lower price (at the time of this writing). This has a wide variety of products to suit a wide variety of situations, including a few rarely included pieces.
While there’s no tire inflator or tow strap, this does include rope, a tire gauge, and more tools than the average emergency car kit. Like the Top Gear kit, a vest and poncho are both included, though it lacks the emergency blanket. It trades that off for an ice scraper and a car escape tool for extreme circumstances.
This is billed as having 42 items, though that depends on how you count. There are 33 different types of things, including:
While most people won’t want to patch their own tires, this kit is for those of you who do. Included among the more common items in these sets is a tire plug kit, which will allow you to seal smaller punctures from nails and screws.
It’s true that a lot of shops will plug tires for free, but a lot of them do that service just to be able to tell you that it can’t be repaired and you need new tires. With this kit, you can make that determination – and the repair – yourself. That said, you’ll have to pop on the spare and fill the repaired tire at a gas station or add a 12v air compressor to this to round it out, though a tire pressure gauge is included, as well.
In addition to this, there is an assortment of fuses, as well as a good complement of tools including a socket set, multi-head screwdriver, needle nose pliers, and a utility knife. This also includes an ice scraper and an auto escape tool. The full list of included items is:
The key to this unit is the dedicated compartments for each component. When unfolded, this allows easy visibility of everything inside, yet it can still be folded into a compact bag characteristic of these kits.
When unfolded, the compartments are both labeled and color-coded. The red striped zipper is for first aid, while the yellow striped zippers are for tools. While the components that ship with this are slightly lacking compared to the rest of the options on this list, the novel packaging means you can gradually replace them with the things you’re most likely to use without sacrificing the organization.
Relief Pod International also offers the Traveler Pro Plus Safety Kit and the Emergency Kit, though neither of these are car-focused.
Much like the Top Gear kit, this admittedly comes down more to aesthetics than strict function, but if you have a football superfan, their emergency car kit might as well represent their favorite team. If you were planning to buy one of these sets, anyway, this could be a good way to make it into more of a gift purchase.
This kit is aimed more at roadside repairs than general emergencies like most of the other options on this list. There’s no first aid in this kit, but it does have several tools and an ice scraper to help you make quick repairs. Weirdly, only thirty teams are available at time of this writing; both the Rams and the Chargers are unavailable.
This is another option that comes down more on the aside of aesthetics of the owner than strict functionality. If you know someone obsessed with pink and with a need for a decent roadside kit, this option could be the one for them. It’s marketed to girls and women, but it’s for anyone who prefers their accessories in pink.
This takes an element from many of the other options on this list, making for a generally well-rounded kit. It doesn’t excel in any one area, but it will certainly get the owner out of a pinch.
If you want to take a slightly different approach to the concept of an emergency car kit, you could go the maximum visibility route. Rather than anticipate a wide variety of situations, this kit ensures that passing motorists will see you to enhance your safety or increase your chances of flagging down help.
These LED road flares are visible up to one mile away and with a spread of six of them, you can create a wide area of visibility. Neodymium magnets on the underside of each mean you can attach them to the body work of the car, too, to help define the boundaries of the vehicle. They’re also IP67 waterproof and float in water.
In addition to the flashing red LEDs, there’s a set of three white LEDs on the top which can be used as a signaling light or as a flashlight. These ship with all batteries installed, and take normal AAA batteries as replacement.
In addition to the flares, this kit includes an emergency hammer, a small keyring flashlight, and two screwdriver keys. Certainly nothing on the level of some of the other options on this list, so you may want to pair this with a mechanics tool set and a first aid kit.
Regardless of the season, driving any distance has its inherent risks. The last two years in a row, I drove from New England to the Pacific Northwest and can attest that there are still plenty of miles on both I-80 and I-90 where there is no cell phone reception and the nearest gas station is 40 miles away.
A few years before that, I moved from Michigan to New Hampshire. On that journey, the rental moving truck I had suddenly died. It turned out to be a loose wire, but my tools were buried along with all of my other belongings in the back, so I had to wait for roadside assistance.
If I'd thought ahead and picked up an emergency car kit, I'd have had the one tool — a simple wrench — I needed to rectify the problem and keep driving. Even if you aren't in danger or in the middle of nowhere, having an emergency kit in your car is a good idea.
Roadside assistance response is notoriously slow, which means you can spend hours waiting for them to come fix something relatively simple. Or, for example, if you get a flat and go to install your spare only to find that it is flat, too.
It could be something as simple as needing a jump. Fewer people carry cables these days, but if you are proactive and get a kit to keep in your car, you can be the hero for someone else. Any way you look at it, for a relatively small amount of money, you can give yourself peace of mind with a roadside kit in your car.
According to Edmunds.com, there are 16 items an emergency car kit should contain. Most of these items - including jumper cables, flares or warning triangles, first aid kits, emergency blankets, flashlights, basic tool kits or multitools, tire pressure gauges, tire sealant, and ice scrapers - are common in ready-made kits, as our list indicates.
We've selected kits that focus on the majority of these, with a little variation depending on your specific needs an preferences. Other items you may also wish to have on hand in your vehicle include:
Those items are not usually found in commercially-available kits because they can go bad or because they add a great deal of weight. Also, these sorts of things are better suited to longer jaunts away from home.
Something to fix a flat or jump your car and get you home safely is more likely to be immediately useful closer to your house, especially since AAA counts flat tires and dead batteries among the top two most common roadside assistance calls.
The National Safety Council recommends, in addition to those items, that you ensure your car has a jack, lug wrench, and a properly inflated spare tire in the trunk. Most cars do include these items, but if yours is lacking them, be sure to grab those, too. Also be sure to familiarize yourself with how to change a flat.
Other items recommended by the NSC include instant cold compresses, a fire extinguisher, and something to improve traction, like a car traction mat or even some kitty litter.
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