car emergency kit content list

Must Have Items for Your Car Emergency Kit (A Checklist)

In Emergency Preparedness, General Topics by M.D. Creekmore12 Comments

car emergency kit content list

Most of us spend a lot of time in our cars, and this being a concealed carry and personal defense website, I feel that it’s necessary to have an emergency auto kit aka auto survival kit in every automobile we drive in addition to our every day carry kits (EDC) and concealed carry handguns.

A handgun won’t be of much use when you need to change a tire, get you unstuck, or change a burnt-out fuse for a new one so that you can get your lights or wipers working and get back on the road and to your intended location.

One of the worst on the road breakdowns that I can remember is having a flat tire in winter with the temperature setting right a freezing with a mixture of freezing rain and sleet pouring down as I changed the tire.

By the time I had finished loosening the lugnuts, jacking up the car, finishing taking off the lug nuts, and then removing the flat tire, and putting the inflated spare tire on and snugging the lug nuts, unjacking and then finished tightening the lug nuts. I was soaked through and miserably cold.

It was, an awful (and dangerous with all the ice and uneven footing) experience… mainly because that happened years ago and I wasn’t properly prepared and didn’t have anything but a jack and spare tire.

Granted even now I’d not want to have to change a flat tire again in those weather conditions but even so, it would be a better experience if I do because now I’m more prepared and would at least stay dry because I have a poncho in my auto emergency kit and a change of clothes.

Below are lists of items for two different kits: the deluxe and basic. Choose the one that best fits your needs and budget also feel free to modify the contents list below to match your location and personal driving habits.

Basic Auto Preparedness KIT

❏ Duct tape
❏ EDC kit (your phone, knife, handgun, lighter etc.)
❏ Fire extinguisher
❏ First aid kit
❏ Fix-a-Flat
❏ Folding shovel (I love this one that’s on
❏ Hand cleaner, waterless (e.g., GoJo)
❏ Jack and lug wrench
❏ Jumper cables
❏ Spare tire
❏ Toilet paper
❏ Water (drinking), 1 gallon

Deluxe Auto Preparedness KIT

❏ Change of clothes, depending on the season
❏ Rain Poncho
❏ Duct tape
❏ EDC kit  (your phone, knife, handgun, lighter etc.)
❏ Energy bars or similar food
❏ Fire extinguisher
❏ First aid kit
❏ Fix-a-Flat can
❏ Flashlight and extra batteries
❏ Folding shovel (I love this one that’s on
❏ Fuses for your vehicle
❏ Hand cleaner, waterless (e.g., GoJo)
❏ Hose clamps
❏ Ice scraper
❏ Jack and lug wrench
❏ Jumper cables
❏ Light sticks, two or three are enough
❏ Matches
❏ Motor oil, windshield washer fluid, engine coolant; 1 gallon each
❏ Road flares
❏ Sleeping bag or wool blanket (weight appropriate for the season)
❏ Socket set
❏ Spare tire
❏ 12-volt portable air compressor
❏ Special needs items: prescription medications, eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries, and items for infants if applicable (e.g., formula, diapers, bottles, pacifiers)
❏ Tire chains for snowy climates
❏ Tire plug kit (this one on is nice)
❏ Toilet paper
❏ Tools: flat-head and Phillip’s head screwdrivers, pliers, vise grips, and adjustable wrench
❏ Tow chain or rope
❏ Water (for drinking), 1 gallon
❏ Whistle
❏ Wire

Finding a place to store all of this gear inside your vehicle yet out-of-the-way can be a bit tricky depending on the type of automobile. My truck is a double cab with several different storage compartments including storage areas under and behind the seats, so it’s just a matter of placing items where they will fit (and remembering where each item is so I can get to it quickly if needed).

If you drive a car with a trunk then it’s easy… just organize everything neatly in a plastic tote (get one with a tight-fitting lid and preferably one that locks down) and secure it in the trunk of your car.

Vehicle Safety Tips (from

  • Keep your gas tank full in case of evacuation or power outages. A full tank will also keep the fuel line from freezing
  • Install good winter tires and ensure they have adequate tread or any jurisdiction-required chains or studs
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control or possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
  • If there is an explosion or other factors that make it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
  • If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards

Also Read:

Well, folks, that’s it. If you have any questions, comments, and or suggestions then please post those in the comments section below…


  1. Good kit. I keep a flint striker instead of matches in mine just in case of flooding.

  2. I would add:
    A bottle each of automatic transmission and power steering fluid.
    Small tire inflater that plugs into vehicle power (inflates air mattress, inflatable boat, etc).
    Spare windshield whippers.
    14 x 14 x 3/4-inch square of plywood for jack stand on soft ground.

    1. Author

      Gordon Rottman,

      Good additions… thanks for commenting.

    2. All/Rottman- G1 on spare windshield wiper! One of mine blew off in one of those on again/off again downpours common in Florida. Luckily, I was close to a reststop, so I pulled in, but no spare. Proceeded to a nearby town, the wipers were $18/ea @ an auto supply store. Didn’t see WalMart sign… Got a spare , too.
      Stopped @ McD’s for a bite w/my son. Rain had knocked out telephone svc, so we had to pay cash. Line was horribly slow as a result, humidity way high, but didn’t want to overheat car by running A/C in the line @ drive thru. I seldom use A/C in my vehicles. occasionally it’s necessary.
      Luckily no more rain, but traffic was SLOW till near Atlanta. Trip delayed about 7hrs total.
      Consider bringing a small cooler when travelling. Extra Popeyes can go in cooler & make the trek less of a bummer. Ice packs & ice combo will keep it cool for a longer time. Always get a room w/a fridge/freezer to recharge the ice packs.
      I do recommend bringing powdered Gatorade; it will make the water taste better. Creature comforts are great stress reducers in emergencies.

  3. Paper towels! I have found them useful a number of times. – Probably more important to have than TP, and can be used for TP as well. Use the paper towels for cleaning hands, wiping spills, stanching blood from a cut or scrape – my own or others. I came across a roll over accident once and a person was bleeding from her forehead. The paper towels helped staunch the flow and she could hold pressure on the wound. While on that subject, I also always carry several pair of Nitrile gloves in my first aid kit. A pocket mask is also good to have should one ever need to do CPR. I started that as a scuba diver and carried that 1st aid kit along on dives ( I became a Dive Master, so I ran into more emergencies than as a just a diver).

    1. I talke several sheets of paper towels and cut them in quarter pieces and keep them in a zip-loc bag. Great toilet in an outside condition, plus the paper towels are durable enough to use to wipe grease off your hands, wipe your windshield inside etc. etc.

  4. MD, a wonderful list of supplies vehicle operators should keep on board at all times. Knowing how to use the items is, naturally, a huge plus. One caution I will add, for those who may not know, concerning the tire plug kit. NEVER plug the sidewall and attempt to use the tire at hi-way speed. The plugs are NOT designed for sidewall application, there is too much flexing in the tire at this point. I have done this in the deep woods to avoid calling for a tow but the tire was not used off my property. Also, it is a good idea to have a steel belted tire broken down and repaired from the inside when you get to a service area. The steel belts, over time, may cut the plug material. I caution folk that you get away with the repair for a limited amount of time.

    1. Author


      Thank you. You are 100 percent correct the plugs are meant as a short-term fix.

  5. Excellent list. I would add hand warmers, foot warmers and a ski type head covering. Don’t forget the tin can for candles. Check state laws for using chains. Not all state allow chains on their roads.

  6. I would add large 50 gallon contractor bags to make shelter cover broken window carry water sand etc and a makeshift rain coat

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