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Published Feb. 8, 2022

While it may be impossible to predict when you’ll face an emergency while driving, you can make sure you’ll be ready when it happens with an emergency car kit. These kits come equipped with jumper cables, tire repair kits, air compressors, and other tools that will help you get back on the road. In addition to tools, these kits also come with first aid essentials for treating minor injuries and even gear for surviving extreme weather, such as solar blankets, heat packs, and flashlights. Knowing what type of supplies you might need if you become stranded is crucial to buying the right kit. This guide will review what factors to consider when shopping for an emergency car kit and point you toward some of the top offerings on the market. 

How We Picked The Best Emergency Car Kits

Methodology

Like many people, at one time or another I’ve found myself stranded at the side of the road while traveling by car. How long I remained there largely depended on the supplies I had in the trunk of my car. Using those unfortunate experiences as a guide, I came up with criteria to evaluate about two dozen different emergency car kits for this review. 

In making my picks I considered two main criteria: the kit’s ability to facilitate roadside repairs safely and the inclusion of basic first aid supplies. With the former in mind, I selected kits that included such tools as air compressors, tire repair kits, jumper cables, and small tool sets. Safety while performing repairs is also crucial, so I leaned toward kits that included gear such as reflective vests, orange road markers, and flashlights. Although first aid wasn’t as crucial in my selection process as tools, I leaned toward kits that included first aid essentials such as bandages, antiseptics, and gauze. Depending on the weather, being stranded in a car could be a life threatening situation, so I also favored kits with solar blankets and hand warmers.

The Best Emergency Car Kits: Reviews & Recommendations

 Best Overall: Lifeline AAA Destination Road Emergency Car Kit

LIFELINE

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Why It Made The Cut: Lifeline’s Destination is one of a handful of car emergency kits that offers a robust collection of both basic repair tools and first aid supplies, making it the top pick. 

Specs:

  • Number of Pieces: 68
  • Air Compressor: Yes
  • Size: 12 inches L x 6 inches W x 8 inches H

Pros:

  • Includes air compressor 
  • Comes with jumper cables
  • Basic first aid supplies

 Cons: 

  • Expensive 
  • No tire puncture repair kit

A truly robust emergency car kit should come equipped with two things — tools that can get your car moving again and first aid supplies for treating minor injuries that might occur while out on the road. While many emergency kits capably do one or the other, the Lifeline AAA Destination kit covers both. On the first aid side, it includes the essentials for treating cuts — two different sizes of bandages, antiseptic towelettes, adhesive tape, and gauze pads. 

The other half of the kit’s 68 pieces focus on getting your broken-down car back in action. An electric air compressor with an integrated pressure gauge that’s powered by your car’s 12-volt outlet will re-inflate a flat tire, while a sturdy set of jumper cables can get a car with a dead battery started off another vehicle’s battery. 

There are also tools to keep you safe, including a window mount reflective triangle that makes your car more visible to passing motorists, and other handy tools, such as a headlamp, poncho, nitrile gloves, and utility knife. All of the pieces fit nicely into a hard-shell foam case that measures just 12 by 6 by 8 inches and weighs 5 pounds, so it won’t hog space in the trunk. 

Although this is one of the more comprehensive kits we reviewed, there is one notable omission. We wish it included a puncture repair kit to go with the compressor. Aside from that, AAA’s kit is worthy of a spot in your car’s trunk.

Best Budget: Lianxin Roadside Assistance Emergency Kit

LIANXIN

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Why It Made The Cut: Few emergency kits offer the broad range of tools Liaxin does for such an affordable price. 

Specs:

  • Number of Pieces: 142
  • Air Compressor: No
  • Size: 13 inches L x 6 inches W x 5 inches H

Pros:

  • Includes small tool kit 
  • Durable heavy-gauge jumper cables
  • Affordably priced

Cons:

  • No air compressor or tire repair kit
  • Includes some odd tools and supplies

If your goal with a car emergency kit is to help you get back on the road, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than Lianxin’s Roadside Assistance Emergency kit. Its collection of tools includes the essentials–a set of jumper cables for overcoming a dead battery and a tow line should you end up in a ditch–along with features you won’t normally find in an emergency repair kit, including a small tool kit for making repairs under the hood and a set of replacements for blown fuses. 

Since working on a car that’s at the side of the road can be dangerous, the kit also comes equipped with some basic safety gear, including reflective triangles and vests, and gloves. Lianxin also throws in some survival gear, including a distress whistle, saber card, hand-crank flashlight, and an emergency blanket.  There are also tools designed for auto accidents, including a windshield breaker and a cutting tool for seatbelts. 

While its collection of tools and safety gear is robust, the same cannot be said for its first aid supplies, which only include cotton swabs. If you want a supply of bandages, you’ll need to buy a separate first aid kit. The Roadside Assistance Emergency kit also includes a few tools that aren’t necessary for roadside emergencies and omits a couple of important ones. For example, it’s difficult to imagine a repair scenario in which the kit’s tape measure would be useful. Also, there’s no air compressor or tire repair kit included. Despite those gripes, this kit still offers plenty of useful tools at an affordable price to make it a worthy choice. 

Best For Roadside Repairs: First Secure Car Emergency Safety Kit

First Secure

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Why It Made The Cut: Of the kits we reviewed, none had the quantity and quality of roadside repair tools that this kit offers.  

Specs:

  • Number of Pieces: 90
  • Air Compressor: Yes
  • Size: 14.25 inches L x 4.75 inches W x 11 inches H

Pros:

  • Includes heavy-duty air compressor
  • Heavy gauge jumper cables. 
  • Broad range of gear, including first aid kit and tire repair kit

Cons: 

  • Expensive
  • Bulkier and heavier than other emergency roadside kits

The First Secure Car Emergency Safety Kit is among the most expensive you can buy, but for those who want a high-quality set of tools for getting back on the road, it’s worth the price. While most kits include a set of jumper cables, tow straps, and even air compressors, you’d be hard-pressed to find the quality First Secure offers. Beefy 8-gauge wires make the jumper cables capable of carrying up to 300 amps. While some kits include wimpy tow straps, the First Secure nylon tow line can pull up 10,000 pounds. And rather than a plastic air compressor, this kit includes a 250-PSI compressor made from durable metal. 

Also included is gear that makes it easier and safer to conduct roadside repairs. A bright orange cone makes you more visible to passing motorists while a headlamp provides visibility for fixing flats. A pair of gloves is useful for protecting your hands while fixing a flat or applying jumper cables. In addition to repair tools, there’s also a small first aid kit that includes bandaids, bandages, antiseptic wipes, and gauze. Other useful components in this kit include a multi-tool, bungee cords, and electrical tape. All of this gear loads into a storage bag that measures about 14 inches by 5×11 inches and weighs just over 8 pounds. 

Best For Winter Travel: Justin Case All-Weather Auto Safety Kit

Why It Made The Cut: This was the only kit we could find that offered a suitable collapsible snow shovel, a crucial tool when traveling in winter weather.

Specs:

  • Number of Pieces: N/A
  • Air Compressor: No
  • Size: 13.5 inches L x 9 inches W x 7.75 inches H

Pros: 

  • Includes a large snow shovel
  • Comes with heavy-gauge jumper cables. 
  • Comes with a poly blanket and gloves for keeping warm. 

Cons:  

  • No first aid supplies
  • No air compressor or tire repair kit

Snowfall that sends cars careening into ditches and sub-freezing temperatures that challenge a battery’s ability to start the engine are pitfalls motorists face when traveling in winter weather. Though Justin Case’s lacks some of the emergency supplies other kits after — most notably an air compressor and first aid kit — it was the only model we could find with an honest to goodness snow shovel capable of actually digging a car out of a sizable drift.  Yes, there are other kits that include short military-style spades, but those small shovels aren’t particularly useful for snow. 

Keeping warm is crucial when stranded on the side of a snow-covered highway, so we also like the emergency poly blanket and set of gloves that come with this kit. Like most roadside emergency kits, unp C’s kit offers jumper cables, an absolute necessity when traveling in sub-freezing temperatures. Other useful features on this kit include a tow strap, first aid kit, flashlight, and a reflective triangle. Bonus: Included in the price of the kit is a year of 24/7 roadside assistance.

Best First Aid: First Aid Only All-Purpose Essentials First Aid Kit

First Aid Only

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Why It Made The Cut: A variety of bandages and gauze pads coupled with supplies to meet a variety of injuries, these kits top the list for first supplies. 

Specs:

  • Number of Pieces: 299
  • Air Compressor?: No
  • Size: 9.25 inches L x 3 inches W x 7 inches H

Pros: 

  • Includes a large snow shovel
  • Comes with heavy-gauge jumper cables. 
  • Comes with a poly blanket and gloves for keeping warm. 

Cons:  

  • No first aid supplies
  • No air compressor or tire repair kit

While this kit doesn’t include the emergency gear that others on this list have, it’s a great supplement to those repair kits that either offer meager first aid supplies or none at all. The First Aid Only All-Purpose Essentials kit includes a comprehensive collection of supplies to treat a host of maladies and injuries thanks to a variety of plastic and fabric bandages, alcohol wipes for disinfecting, and various sizes of gauze pads. It also includes supplies not commonly found in the first aid supplies that come with emergency car kits, including cold packs, burn gel, aspirin and ibuprofen tablets, finger splints, trauma pads, and first aid cream. In all, there are nearly 300 pieces of first aid supplies in this kit, making it one of the most comprehensive options you can have in a car. And, despite all those supplies it measures a compact 9 inches long by 3 inches wide by 7 inches high in size, making it suitable for a spot in the trunk or under the passenger seat. 

Things to Consider Before Buying an Emergency Car Kit

Repair Equipment

Emergency car kits come with tools designed to take care of two of the most common car problems travelers face: dead batteries and flat tires. Kits with air compressors and tire repair kits can provide a temporary fix for a flat tire, allowing you to get to your destination or a repair shop. A set of jumper cables can be invaluable if you come out of the grocery store and find your car won’t start due to a dead battery.

First Aid

You should have a first aid kit in your home, and you should have one at the ready in your car, too. These kits should have the essentials–various sizes of bandaids, gauze bandages, antiseptic, medical tape, and a pair of scissors. While some emergency car kits have a variety of first aid supplies, others may only have a few basic supplies or none at all. If you purchase an emergency car kit without first aid supplies, you’ll want to add a first aid kit to go with it.

Size

Since car emergency kits are designed to stay in your automobile, they shouldn’t be so large that they take up a sizable chunk of your car’s trunk space. A good emergency car kit can hold all the essential supplies and still be compact enough to fit easily in the trunk or under a passenger seat.

FAQs

Q: What should be in a car emergency kit?

The main supplies you should have in a car emergency kit are jumper cables, a tire inflator and tire repair kit, towing strap, a basic tool kit, a first-aid kit, gloves, and a flashlight. If you’re traveling in cold weather, add a solar blanket or fleece blanket to that list. These items should be enough to get you off the side of the road or keep you comfortable until help arrives.

Q: Which car emergency kit is best?

With a full complement of repair tools and first aid supplies, the Lifeline AAA Destination Road Emergency Car Kit is one of the best emergency car kits on the market.

Q: What should the first aid kit in the car contain?

A first aid kit for your car should at least have the essentials, including bandages, gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, and adhesive tape. It’s also a good idea to have a first aid manual at the ready inside the car to provide guidance in dealing with medical emergencies.

Final Thoughts

Having an emergency car kit in your trunk or under a passenger seat is vital for any motorist. While many of these repair kits are similar, they do vary in the supplies they offer. Kits such as the Lifeline AAA Destination Road Emergency Car Kit include not only the main tools you need to conduct roadside repairs but also a full assortment of first aid supplies. For those traveling during the winter, it’s crucial to have survival supplies and tools that can handle extreme cold and snow, such as those offered in the Justin Case All Weather Auto Safety Kit.

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