48 Item Car Emergency Kit Checklist & PDFs for ALL Scenarios

emergency car kit essentials checklist for every car and for winter and summer with pdf downloads

On a bi-monthly basis, my wife and two little boys travel 4 hours across the desert to visit her parents so she can meet with clients. This trip requires her to travel for over 100 miles with no gas stations, stores, or even people’s homes, nothing but desert. It would be devastating if her car broke down in the middle of nowhere leaving my wife and two little boys stranded! This stressful thought got me thinking… I should have an emergency car kit in my cars that are fit for different traveling scenarios such as for summer (high heat), winter (cold and freezing temperatures), short trips, long-distance trips, and a general car traveling kit that should always be in my cars.

Emergency Items that Everyone Should Keep in Their Car

This Article includes 4 checklists and 3 pdf downloads that come to a total of 48 items for your car’s emergency kit.

*I realize that this list totals more than 48 however, the first list of 10 items is repeated in the 28 item list.

So what should be in a car emergency kit?

Every car should, at least, have the following 10 items: 

  • Spare Tire
  • Jack and Lug Wrench
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tow Chain or Strap
  • Emergency roadside kit – Very handy!
  • First Aid Supply Kit
  • Car Escape Tool  (such as seatbelt cutter and window breaker)
  • Extra medication that you can’t be without for more than a day
  • Food (granola, energy, or protein bars)
  • 1 Gallon Water

These 10 items are just the bare necessities for every care emergency kit but you must also consider what your individual needs are.  Ask yourself, “What can’t I live without if I get stuck in my car for one day or more?”

Considering that my wife and two little boys frequently venter across the desert to visit her family, I have felt much more at ease to have AAA’s 76-piece emergency roadside kit (Click here to check the price on Amazon) in our car. It includes a screwdriver, duct tape, zip ties, and a shop cloth, jumper cables, and an aluminum flashlight, safety triangle as well as essential first aid items like bandages (first aid kit is especially handy when you have little boys). It even includes a 250psi tire inflator /air compressor that plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter which is so handy. If you get a flat and you’ve forgotten, as most people do, to check your spare tires air pressor and you find your spare tire is flat… a portable air compressor will be a lifesaver!

As a cheaper backup check out AAA’s smaller 42-piece emergency kit (Click here to check the price on Amazon). Unfortunately, this kit does not include the air compressor.

See below for a 28 item car emergency kit and two additional checklists for driving in winter conditions and summer conditions.

care emergency kit checklist for winter and summer that includes a roadside kit, ice scrapper, tools, straps and more
This is the back storage compartment in our Honda Pilot which has items like a roadside kit, ice scrapper, tools, straps, rags, and more

I have conveniently put together car emergency kit checklists for the following traveling scenarios. Downloadable pdf checklists are also available.

  • 28 items for every car emergency kit 
  • 10 must-have items in every winter (cold temperatures) car emergency kit 
  • 10 Must-have items for every summer (hot temperatures ) car emergency kit  

28 items for every car emergency kit! The Essentials to not leave home without!

Download the printable pdf 28 item checklist here!

  • A spare tire that is regularly checked for correct tire pressure. (I have helped multiple people change a flat tire only to find out that their spare tire has less than 10PSI and is nearly flat… Regularly check your spare tire’s tire pressure!)
  • Jack, and lug wrench  
  • Durable canvas bag to store supplies
  • Jumper Cables (12 – 20 feet and make sure that they are the right gauge for your car, SUV, or truck)
  • Tow Chain or Strap
  • Car Escape Tool  (such as seatbelt cutter and window breaker)
  • Antifreeze (1 gal.)
  • Two Quarts of Oil
  • Paper towels/rags/wet wipes (if you have babies extra diapers/wipes is a must!) 
  • Tire Pressure Gauge 
  • Small tool kit (adjustable wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, vise grips, etc.)
  • Emergency roadside kit (reflective triangle, roadside flares or lights, duck tape, etc.)
  • First Aid Supply Kit
  • Road atlas
  • Coveralls (this may be odd but if you get a flat tire or need to crawl under your car then you will be happy you have them)
  • Hand sanitizer (waterless hand cleaner)
  • A Come Along (come-along, power puller) It is a hand-operated winch with a ratchet used to pull objects. It can be very handy especially if you drive a truck or even an SUV.
  • Battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio. Check out the Kaito Crank, Wind Up Emergency AM/FM/SW/NOAA Weather Alert Radio (Click here to check the Price on Amazon). It also has a Flashlight, Reading Lamp and Cellphone Charger – This little radio works great and can be a lifesaver!
  • USB jump starter/power bank (will also charge your phone). Leave plugged in with long USB cable. (Click here to check the Price on Amazon) Probably my favorite gadget on the list!
  • Poncho and/or umbrella
  • Flashlight 
  • Pain killer (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc) 
  • Extra medication that you can’t be without for more than a day
  • Food (granola, energy, or protein bars)
  • 1 Gallon Water and Water Purification Device
  • Window Cleaner / extra windshield washer fluid
  • *Small Portable Air Compressor

One additional item that isn’t included in the list above that you may want to also consider putting in your vehicle is a fire extinguisher. If you do, treat the fire extinguisher with care and make sure that the hose and connections are regularly checked at least weekly. Additionally, become familiar with your fire extinguisher type and not only how it works but also know when it expires.

Check out this great youtube video for more car emergency kit ideas.

What should be in a winter emergency car kit?

10 must-have items in every winter car emergency kit and PDF Download!

Download the 10 item winter checklist here!

  • Window Ice Scraper 
  • Small Shovel (big enough to clear a snowdrift, small enough to fit sideways in the storage  area of the car)
  • Wool Blankets
  • Coats
  • Gloves and Hand Warmers
  • Stocking Hats
  • Wool Socks
  • Snow Boots 
  • A Large Ziplock bag of Ice Salt
  • Tire chains or snow tires

Check out this great youtube video for more winter car emergency kit ideas.

What should be in a summer emergency car kit?

10 Must-have items for every summer (hot temperatures) car emergency kit and PDF Download!

Download the 10 item summer checklist here!

  • Extra Water (Try a Hydro Flask! Ice water will stay cold all day in a hot car)  
  • Giant wide-brimmed hat
  • Long Sleeve Shirt and Pants (There is a reason roofers and road crew workers completely cover up while in the sun)
  • Sun Block
  • Sunglasses
  • Solar-powered battery pack (I love this one!)
  • Car windshield cover 
  • Pull Down Window Sun Shade (“Mom! The sun’s in my eyes!” Extremely helpful if you have kids)
  • Foldable Miniature Fan (Fit it in your pocket, purse, or glove compartment, letting you keep your cool while you wait for your car’s AC to (finally!) kick in)
  • Antifreeze (1 gal.)

Become Familiar with Your Emergency Car Kit

Once you’ve put together your emergency car kit make sure that you are familiar with the items in your kit so in an emergency situation you know how to use the stuff properly. Always remember that nothing can replace good judgment. If you have car problems on a busy road it may be best to stay in your car and call for emergency help. However, it may be acceptable in other situations to get out of your vehicle and attempt changing a car tire on your own. We do encourage that you have two pairs of eyes in most scenarios because it will help most excersize better judgment in a stressful situation. Always turn on your hazards when broken down on the side of the road to warn other drivers that are passing by to slow down. If your emergency roadside kit includes reflective cones or triangles put them out which also warn oncoming traffic.

Learn How to Change a Car Tire

AAA says that a car with a flat tire is one of the most common calls that their roadside service team gets. To prepare for an unfortunate tire problem, check out this article Steps for Changing a Flat Tire by Edmunds. AAA also mentions that they commonly receive calls that are related to drivers skipping basic maintenance on their cars, so be sure your vehicle is receiving regular maintenance, especially before going on a trip and at the change of seasons.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one tool for all roadside emergencies. However, with some simple planning and taking just a few minutes of organization, you can put together a kit that could dramatically improve an otherwise tragic experience and potentially save your traveling family.

In Conclusion

You may look at these emergency car kit checklists and thinking to yourself, “This is excessive, I will never need half of this stuff… Besides, I don’t have enough room in my car’s small trunk.” The truth is that it is easy to feel this way until something unexpected happens and your car breaks down at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Making sure my family is safe is one of my top priorities! Having a couple of kits for different seasons of the year and for various traveling situations will prove helpful for all who use them. 

Colton Blair

I'm Colton Blair, co-owner of EZ-Prepping with my wife Kaycee. I value the safety, protection, and well-being of my family above all else. Finding easy and practical ways of prepping for emergencies or unexpected disaster has become very important to me.

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