Whether you’re on a long-distance journey or just the commute to work, you never know when a breakdown might happen. Keeping your car well-stocked with these 10 essential items will help you stay safe and get back on the road as quickly as possible.
It never hurts to have a hard copy of your breakdown details tucked away in the glove box. In an emergency, this will save you the time and added stress of scrolling through your emails to find the details you need.
Some breakdown providers make this super easy by providing membership cards with your personal ID number and the emergency number you need to call.
Your car manual isn’t just for telling you how to work the radio. It’s full of important information unique to your vehicle, including how to change your bulbs, your car’s recommended fuel and PSI levels. If an unexpected warning light appears on your dashboard, it can even help you figure out what the problem is.
If you find yourself needing to look something up, your car manual is no use in a drawer at home. That’s why we recommend keeping it stowed safely in the glove compartment, so you always have it to hand.
Topping up your coolant, oil and windscreen fluids is essential for keeping your car healthy. Technically, you should be checking your vehicle fluids weekly – particularly if you’re regularly taking long journeys.
Keep spare supplies in the car so you can top up even when you’re out and about.
If you’re unfortunate enough to break down, the two things you’ll definitely need are a reflective triangle and a high vis. If it’s safe to do so, put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres behind your broken-down vehicle (unless you’re on a motorway) on the same side of the road, to help alert other drivers that you are stationary in the road.
It’s usually recommended that you wait for your breakdown service outside your vehicle. Wearing florescent coloured clothing will keep you visible to other road users while you wait – and hopefully give you an extra layer of warmth.
Flat tyres are more common that you think. That’s why we always recommend carrying a spare – even if the spare is only good enough to get you to the garage.
You’ll notice we’ve grouped the spare tyre up with your jack and wrench. That’s because any one of these items is useless without the others. It’s all very well having a tyre, but if you can’t swap it in, you’re still not going anywhere.
There’s nothing worse than coming out to a frosted windscreen and having to chip away at it with whatever random items you have in your car. Not only will this take a while, but you could also cause some expensive damage to your windscreen.
Having an ice scraper and some de-icer stored in the boot will mean you can clear that ice quickly and easily, so you can get on your way with full visibility.
Not all breakdowns are down to punctured tyres and dead batteries. Running out of fuel can also leave you high and dry.
While we don’t recommend keeping spare fuel in your car – as this can increase the risk of fire in an accident – it can be a smart idea to carry an empty fuel can. This gives you the option of making your way to the nearest petrol station to top up.
Dead battery? No problem – if you’ve got jump leads. These are fairly cheap and always handy to keep on board. They’ll even help you be a Samaritan if someone else is stuck!
If you’ve never jump-started your car before, don’t panic. Your car manual should have some general advice on how to do it, including some tips and techniques that are specific to your car make and model.
It never hurts to carry a basic first aid kit, whether you catch your finger while topping up oil, or are involved in a more serious accident.
Make sure your first aid kit is well stocked with plasters, bandages, tape, and gauze. A bottle of antiseptic spray probably wouldn’t go a-miss either.
Breaking down is a hassle at the best of times but breaking down in the dark is a whole different ball game.
If you happen to be stranded at night on a road without any street lights, a torch will at least give you the chance of performing a quick fix, especially if you’re wanting to save a bit of your phone battery.
Need a little extra guidance? Check out our DIY guide to checking and repairing your car.