If you drive a car, then having a car emergency kit is common sense.
These days the best piece of emergency kit you’re likely to have is a fully charged up cell phone with plenty of credit. Along with this, the best piece of advice we can give you is to keep on top of all your car’s maintenance, have a spare wheel in usable condition, and know how to use it.
In the unlikely event that you need something more, the best car emergency kits have a good chance of getting you going and back on the road again. If they can’t do this, then they’re at least liable to keep you safe till help arrives.
We’ve reviewed seven popular kits that cater to a variety of different needs and situations. So, let’s go through them and find the best emergency kit for your car…
- 1 Top 7 Best Car Emergency Kits On The Market In 2020 Reviews
- 1.1 1 Top Gear Premium Roadside Assistance Kit (66-piece) – Best All Round Car Emergency Kit
- 1.2 2 Wilmar Corporation W1555 Deluxe Roadside Assistance Kit – Best Basic Car Emergency Kit
- 1.3 3 Lifeline 4388AAA Excursion Road, 76-Piece Car Air Compressor, Jumper Cables, Flashlight and First Aid Kit – Best Car Emergency Kit with Air Compressor
- 1.4 4 Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack – Best Car Emergency Survival Kit
- 1.5 5 Inex’s Roadside Emergency Car Kit – 112 Pieces Safety Assistance – Best Car Emergency First Aid Kit
- 1.6 6 CYECTTR Car Emergency Kit with Jumper Cables, Safety Hammer, Tire Pressure Gauge – Best Value Emergency Car Kit
- 1.7 7 Kolo Sports Roadside Emergency Kit 156-Piece Multipurpose Emergency Pack – Best Car Emergency Tool Kit
- 2 Best Car Emergency Kits Buying Guide
- 3 Safety first…
- 4 So, which of these Best Car Emergency Kits would we choose?
Top 7 Best Car Emergency Kits On The Market In 2020 Reviews
1 Top Gear Premium Roadside Assistance Kit (66-piece) – Best All Round Car Emergency Kit
This is a basic kit that covers the essentials.
To begin with, full marks for including a safety triangle and a safety vest. Whatever situation you find yourself in, your personal safety has to come first. Happily, the quality of both is also decent, so we’re off to a good start.
The jump leads and the Leatherman style knife are the two most useful items that may well get you out of a jam. It looks like they’ve spent a good portion of the money on both items.
What else do you get?
From a practical perspective, we’re happy with the common-sense inclusion of zip ties, some PVC tape, and a bungee cord. However, we’re sure you’ll agree that a single bungee seems a little mean. Why they couldn’t have put in at least another one, we don’t know.
The survival space blanket deserves its place in the kit, but the emergency rain poncho is a complete waste of time. It will keep you dry for 30 seconds if you’re lucky. Another waste of time is the tire pressure gauge. Since when has checking your tire pressure been an emergency?
The rest of the kit falls into the category of filler…
The first aid kit shouldn’t be in the filler category, but a few plasters and a bit of bandage don’t make for the ‘Premium First Aid Kit’ that Top Gear claims it is. What’s more, antibiotic cream in an emergency kit? Dear, oh, dear!
More dubious inclusions are the accident form, the gloves, and the flashlight. The gloves should be silicone and disposable, plus the flashlight is frankly cheap and useless. The accident form is just odd.
It’s got the basis of a good kit but would have been better with fewer better-picked items.
- Good quality jump leads and knife.
- Safety triangle and jacket.
- Emergency space blanket.
- Zip ties and tape included.
- Poor first aid kit.
- A cheap quality flashlight.
- Poor selection of non-essential items.
2 Wilmar Corporation W1555 Deluxe Roadside Assistance Kit – Best Basic Car Emergency Kit
For less than the Top Gear kit we’ve just reviewed, the Wilmar Corporation W1555 Deluxe Roadside Assistance Kit is a more coherent though less extensive package. Other than the lack of an emergency high-viz jacket, it has all the basics.
However, despite having all the basics, the emergency triangle is disappointing. It’s integrated into the case, but it’s sadly not particularly reflective in comparison to most stand-alone alternatives. Frankly, we wouldn’t like to have to rely on this to be seen, which kind of defeats the whole point.
It has an identical set of jump leads, gloves, tape, zip ties, and two bungee cords. It’s good to see that Wilmar is on the same page as ourselves and included two bungees rather than one.
Wilmar provides a few general tools rather than a Leatherman style knife. The tools are a double-headed screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a knife. The quality is low, unfortunately. These are about as cheap as you can go for tools.
But there’s some light at the end of the tunnel…
At least the flashlight is much better. It uses good old-fashioned batteries and puts out enough power so you can see what you’re doing. How important torches are these days, given that most people have one on their smartphone, we don’t know. But on balance, it’s probably still a good idea to have one. After all, you might need all the life in your phone’s battery to make a series of emergency calls.
The first aid kit consists of very little other than a few plasterers, a bit of tape, and a few bandages. That leaves us with the tow-rope. There’s no doubt it’s a useful piece of kit. However, it’s a little short.
- Good value.
- The flashlight is bright.
- Quality jump leads.
- Tow rope included.
- Reflective triangle is not great.
- Tow rope could be longer.
- Poor quality tools.
3 Lifeline 4388AAA Excursion Road, 76-Piece Car Air Compressor, Jumper Cables, Flashlight and First Aid Kit – Best Car Emergency Kit with Air Compressor
One of the most expensive components is the air compressor. So, let’s take a look at that first.
It runs on the power from your cigarette lighter, and it has a rather hard to read gauge. Otherwise, it’s reasonably straightforward to use. Somewhat amusingly, it comes with a bladder and needle valve. Possibly, just in case, you have a football or air-mattress emergency!
Will you ever need it?
No. We don’t think you will. Having a tire low on air is not an emergency. Also, anyone with the presence of mind to buy a car emergency kit will almost certainly have the same presence of mind to have a fully inflated and legal spare wheel.
That’s our view, anyway…
The rest of the kit is well thought out. Plus, other than the knife and the pliers, everything is of good quality. The triangle is highly reflective, and the flashlight is super-bright. Even the first aid kit is more than just a few plasters and a couple of bandages thrown into a plastic bag.
The only thing we’d have liked to see included are a dozen or so zip ties, an extra bungee cord, and rubber rather than what look to be garden gloves. Other than that, it not a bad kit. However, we can’t help thinking that taking out the air compressor and lowering the price would be even better.
- Bright flashlight.
- Well thought out first aid kit.
- Highly reflective emergency triangle.
- Good case.
- Low-quality knife and pliers.
- Garden gloves rather than disposable gloves.
4 Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack – Best Car Emergency Survival Kit
If you regularly drive off the beaten track for days at a time, this could be for you.
The Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit is more to do with personal survival than about an emergency kit to get your car back on the road. The kit mostly consists of food, water, and a first aid kit to keep you going if you get stuck a long way from help. You’ll therefore need to buy tools and an emergency kit for your vehicle separately.
So, what do you get in this two-person, three-day kit?
Interestingly, you get 12 packs of specially sealed water that contain 4.225 oz. Even more interesting is that an average resting adult will need around 35 oz of water per day. Ready America must presume you’re just going to have to stay thirsty for the best part of two and a half days. Anywhere other than a temperate climate, if you rely on this as your sole water source, we think you’d struggle.
You also get emergency food totaling 2,400 calories each. Since a well-hydrated human can live for around 30 days without food, there appears to be something amiss here. Maybe more water and less food would be a better balance. Or perhaps the inclusion of a water filter drinking straw?
What do we like?
The first aid kit looks to be better, though. There are the usual plasters and bandages, but you also get wipes to clean the wound, butterfly strip closures, and surgical gloves.
The whistle, glow sticks, and tissues are all filler. The two space blankets are the last inclusion that we think warrant a place. But, yes, if it’s about survival in the wilderness, this is one of the best car emergency kits to have.
- Two space blankets.
- Some food and water.
- Has means to close/dress wounds.
- Surgical gloves included.
- There’s not enough water.
- Tissues are not an emergency item.
5 Inex’s Roadside Emergency Car Kit – 112 Pieces Safety Assistance – Best Car Emergency First Aid Kit
This has plenty of good stuff in it, but the star of the show is the first aid kit. It includes 13 different items and even has tweezers, scissors, a triangular bandage, and burn creams. This is so much more than a few plasters and bandages lazily put together.
There’s also a survival blanket…
Safety equipment includes not one but two reflective triangles, a high viz jacket, and an all in one seat belt cutter and auto glass hammer breaker.
For emergency repairs, the tool kit is very basic. You can’t achieve a lot with a Leatherman style knife, a cheap socket set, and a set of hex-keys. The simple staples of two bungee cords, a handful of zip ties, and some tape are much more useful.
Nice length of tow rope…
Two items we’re happy to see are the jump leads and tow rope. The tow rope is nice and long, which makes it much more useful than the rather short one in the Wilmar Corporation Kit.
A few things we’d have preferred left out include the gardening gloves, the glow sticks, and the tire gauge.
It won’t brighten up your day…
However, the thing we’re most critical about is the flashlight. They don’t come much cheaper and nastier than these. Overall, not a bad kit, though the price does seem a little on the high side.
- Excellent first aid kit.
- Strong and long tow rope.
- Auto seat belt cutter and glass hammer.
- Two reflective triangles.
- Space blanket.
- Cheap flashlight.
6 CYECTTR Car Emergency Kit with Jumper Cables, Safety Hammer, Tire Pressure Gauge – Best Value Emergency Car Kit
Despite the omission of a first aid kit, this could be the best car emergency kit on our list. The fact is that most of the car emergency kits have poor first aid kits anyway. You may, therefore, need to choose a better alternative as an add-on.
What’s impressed us most is that, despite it being the least expensive on the list, it has all the essential items. Additionally, the quality is every bit as fair, and in some cases better, than the more expensive alternative kits.
Great for those on a budget…
The emergency triangle, high viz jacket, and jump leads are all good quality. The tow rope is nice and long, and this is the only kit that has a rain jacket that looks like it will keep you dry for more than a few seconds.
The inclusion of a seat belt cutter and auto glass hammer is also a surprise. This is something you generally only find in more comprehensive and expensive kits. Only three of the kits in our review include one.
The tool kit?
The tool kit is a bit basic as there are no pliers or knife. Other items that we’d like to see include zip ties and a pair of bungee cords. Still, we can’t complain too much at this kind of price, and at least they put in a roll of black tape.
Despite these omissions, they make up for it all by remembering to include a selection of fuses. It’s the only kit on our list to do this. Even if you don’t buy the CYECTTR Car Emergency Kit, it’s a good reminder to get some for any other kit you decide to buy.
- Great value.
- Auto seat belt cutter and glass hammer.
- Long tow rope.
- Thick raincoat.
- Eight fuses included.
- There’s no first aid kit.
- No zip ties or bungees.
7 Kolo Sports Roadside Emergency Kit 156-Piece Multipurpose Emergency Pack – Best Car Emergency Tool Kit
The last car emergency kit in our review has gone all-in with the tool kit. This is head and shoulders above any of the other kits in terms of functionality and quality. It includes screwdrivers, a socket set, hex keys, two pairs of pliers, and a good-sized adjustable wrench.
It’s a good start…
For your safety at the side of the road, there’s a safety triangle and a high viz safety vest. There are a couple of glow sticks and a flashlight that needs to go in the bin or given to a child. The flashlight just isn’t good enough.
What is good enough includes the long tow rope, together with the jump leads and the auto seat belt cutter and glass breaker. All three are up to the job, and all three fully warrant their inclusion.
The rest of the bits and pieces, like tape, two bungees, and zip ties, are all adequate. The addition of rubber gloves rather than garden gloves is also a great addition. It’s a moan with every other kit. In the event of a breakdown, you’re likely to get oil and dirt on your hands, so rubber gloves are much more the way to go.
The first aid kit?
The first aid kit is small but, rather than putting in 20 or 30 plasters to fill it out, has a wider choice of items. These include antiseptic wound wipes, iodine, and butterfly strip closure items.
One final thing that caught our eye is the tire repair kit. It’s a great idea though it takes a little skill to use and has a limited chance of being effective. We’d go for a fully inflated and maintained spare tire every time. Plus, how do Kolo think you’re going to inflate the tire? Maybe Kolo and Lifeline, with their compressor, need to swap a bit of each other’s kit!
- Excellent tool kit.
- Rubber gloves.
- Useful first aid kit.
- Good value.
- Low-quality flashlight.
Best Car Emergency Kits Buying Guide
In the event of a breakdown or accident, your personal safety, and your passengers’, has to the main priority. For this reason, we place heavy weighting on kits that provide the appropriate safety items.
The three things we believe all the best car emergency kits should contain are a reflective triangle, a high viz vest, and a flashlight. If you and your vehicle can’t be seen or see, there’s a genuine risk of an otherwise avoidable accident.
We could include light sticks as a third essential. However, although most of the kits we’ve reviewed contain them, we’re unsure of their effectiveness. Consequently, they’re good to have, but it’s not a deal-breaker if they’re not in the kit. The
…is the only one to provide two triangles, so this kit would be our first choice for safety reasons.
The chances are that, like most of us, you’re not a trained mechanic. With this being the case, a comprehensive tool kit is not going to be much use. On the other hand, a few essential tools like screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, and some hex keys might just get you out of a jam.
But with tools, it’s more about quality than quantity. And the…
…has easily the best set of quality tools.
Basic Repair Equipment
We’ve included a set of jump leads and a tow rope in this category, although they are not strictly speaking repair equipment. For an all-round car emergency kit, we think they’re must-haves.
Things that can be surprisingly useful, despite their simplicity, are zip ties, bungee cords, and tape. Another simple item that’s only found in the…
…is the fuses. For such a cheap yet potentially handy replacement part, we’re not sure why they’re not in every kit.
A lot of kits include a tire pressure gauge, but we don’t see how this is an emergency item.
First Aid Kits
First aids kits are important enough that some of you might choose to buy a kit separately. We get that. The truth is that once you look at some of the first aid kits included in these kits, you’ll probably do that too.
Most of them are little more than a handful of plasters and bandages thrown into a bag. They are not entirely useless, but they’re not a lot of good either. With a little more thought, the first aid kits could be so much better.
What would we include?
Other than the bandages and plasters, we think every first aid kit should have something that can clean and also close a wound. Something that’s found in the excellent…
This also has scissors, tweezers, triangular bandages, and disposable gloves.
Types of Car Emergency Kits
Emergency Survival Kits
For the more adventurous amongst you, a survival kit should be a serious consideration. If you’re driving out to remote areas with sparse populations and few food and water sources, you’ll need one.
Survival kits should contain a first aid kit and some basic food and water rations. They can be part of a more comprehensive emergency kit or an individual kit to work together with a basic car emergency kit. The…
…would be the natural choice if you intend to go off the grid and need some backup supplies. However, if you choose to buy this, we’d still advise you to take more water, as we don’t think there’s enough in it to survive for three days with two people.
Emergency Car Repair Kits
Car repair kits have enough essential items to get your car up and running after a breakdown or accident. They’re not designed to cater to every emergency but rather for the most common forms of problems. These contain basic tools and necessary repair items that we covered earlier.
These kits don’t contain emergency food and water and may not even include a first aid kit or safety items, though many still do.
Wilmar Corp is a well-known and trusted American brand within the automotive industry. They have a long history and produce a wide range of products. As well as car emergency kits, they also manufacture tools and tire repair accessories.
This Californian company produces a lot of equipment that’s destined for professional workshops worldwide. Their quality tools and equipment are also a firm favorite for amateurs too.
There are plenty of reasons to choose and trust an emergency kit from these guys.
Next up after them…
Ready America are experts in the field of survival kits. This Californian company has a global presence and has over 20 years of expertise in the business of survival. They have an extensive range of products for just about every emergency you can think of.
The emergency kit we featured from Ready America can be tailored for more people or longer durations. However, one of the greatest things about the company is that they have a knowledgeable and accessible online and phone line sales force. This means, if you have a long off the grid expedition planned, they can tailor products specifically for your needs.
Car emergency kits are less expensive than you might think. A basic kit cost as little as $20. This will still contain all the essentials to get you going, and you can, of course, add any missing items as and when you like.
A more comprehensive kit is unlikely to run much over $100, and for this kind of price, you generally won’t need to add much to it. Other than to possibly refine to your personal needs and circumstances.
As mentioned, there’s some quality safety-related equipment we think you should have in your car over and above any kit. Read our reviews for the Best Jack Stands, the Best Jumper Cables, the Best Car Fire Extinguishers, and our Best Winch Reviews.
Cyclist? How about one of the Best Bicycle Tool Kits available in 2020?
Ok, back to car emergency kits…
So, which of these Best Car Emergency Kits would we choose?
The good news is that all of the car emergency kits we’ve reviewed are reasonably priced and will by no means break the bank. In fact, if you have just a single accident or breakdown, and they get you going again, they’ll probably pay for themselves many times over.
We would be happy to have any of these kits in our car. However, if we had to choose just one to rely on in an emergency, it would be the…
This is our top pick because it has the best first aid kit by far. Plus, it also has the essentials like jump leads, a tow rope, two reflective triangles, and an auto seat belt cutter and glass hammer.