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How to make a car emergency toolkit

While car safety and manufacturing are always improving, we’re all susceptible to common road issues like flat tyres, breakdowns and lost car keys. By preparing an emergency toolkit for your car, you can be better prepared next time you hit a speed bump.

Whether you’re driving around Australia, visiting friends for the weekend, or just grabbing groceries, use the list below to put together your own roadside emergency toolkit.

Must-have items

Emergency contact numbers

If you happen to get stranded somewhere, it’s really useful to have a list of emergency contact numbers in your car. Useful contacts to have include:

  • the local police department
  • your insurance company
  • your roadside assist provider, and
  • any trusted family members or friends who live nearby.

Better yet, store these numbers in your mobile phone for quick access.

Car user manual

Perhaps you’ve been driving your car for years and never had to refer to the user manual. But it’s still important to keep it in your car at all times. While you may know the ins and outs of your trusty vehicle, it’s useful to have the user manual on hand for any surprises that might come up.

Spare tyre

This is an obvious one, and probably something you’re used to reminding your kids about — Always keep a spare tyre in your car in case you get a flat! Just make sure you check the tyre pressure every few months to keep it in good condition. If you opt for space saver tyres, just know that many limit you to driving under 80km/hr.

Spare cash

While your car isn’t the best place to store your life savings, it can be useful to hide $20-$50 somewhere in case of emergencies. If you ever lose your debit card and need an emergency top up of fuel, you’ll be thankful for it!

Umbrella or poncho

Having your car break down is nuisance enough; having your car break down while it’s bucketing down with rain can quickly turn into a nightmare. Be prepared for all conditions with some form of weather protection.

Good-to-have items

First aid kit

While it may seem a bit over the top, it’s a great idea to store a first aid kit in your car so you’ve got access to basic medical equipment if the nearest hospital or pharmacy is far away. Useful for treating cuts, burns or minor injuries, you can buy a fully stocked first aid kit with all the essentials at your local chemist or hardware store. Even if you don’t have first aid training, most first aid kits come with a handy guide to help you help yourself.

Road map

While your kids probably don’t remember the days before GPS, you’ve probably tried to navigate with the lone guidance of road signs. Even with the technology we have now, it pays to keep a road map in your emergency toolkit, particularly if you’re going on long drives in remote areas where there may be no GPS or phone reception.

Emergency water

It can be useful to have a couple of litres of water stored in your car in case your vehicle needs water on your trip. It’s especially helpful if your car breaks down and you need to stay hydrated while waiting for help to arrive.

High visibility vest or a hazard triangle

If your car has broken down or been in an accident, put on a safety vest or set up a reflective hazard triangle by the roadside to help keep you safe while you deal with it. This will alert other drivers that there’s a hazard and help to avoid another accident.

For remote areas or long drives

Emergency food

Add some non-perishable food to your car emergency kit in case of misadventure. This way you’ve got something to eat if you have to wait a while for help to arrive.


A spare blanket can be used to keep warm if you’re stuck in cold weather, or to provide shade if you’re in the scorching heat. It can also be used to make those rest stop power naps just a little bit more comfortable.

Snow chains

If you’ll be passing through snowy areas, snow chains can make your journey safer by ensuring your tyres don’t slip. Snow chains can be tricky, so make sure you know how to correctly fit them before you actually need to do it.

Glass cleaner

A dirty windscreen can be distracting in bright sunlight, which emphasises marks and smudges. The solution? A quick wipe down with some glass cleaner and an old rag or newspaper. Better yet, pick up a handy pack of window cleaning wipes from your local hardware, automotive or grocery store.

Backup never hurts

While having your own car emergency toolkit can help in many tricky situations, sometimes emergency car assistance needs to be left to the professionals. You can add Apia Roadside Assistance to your Apia Comprehensive Car Insurance policy for less than $7/month to get unlimited callouts for minor breakdown related repairs 24/7.

We can help you with:

  • Changing a tyre
  • Towing your car (or caravan if it was connected to your car at the time) to the nearest repairer
  • Jump starting your car or replacing the battery if required
  • Minor breakdown related repairs
  • Emergency fuel
  • Lost or locked-in keys.

Apia Roadside Assist is available 24 hours after taking out, or adding this optional cover, to your policy. For full coverage details, please see the Terms and Conditions.

Explore Apia Comprehensive Car Insurance

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Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency Pty Limited ABN 14 099 650 996 is an authorised representative of AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807, the product issuer. Limits, exclusions and conditions apply. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Go to for a copy. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.

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