Like everything else, emergency automotive tools and equipment get better over time, and every driver should be knowledgeable about the available options. Time moves fast, and what may have been a complicated operation a few years ago, could be as simple as the switch of a button today.
First-time drivers, and teenagers especially, are too often oblivious to the hazards of the road, having not experienced them yet. For this reason, some people like to outfit new drivers with a care-package containing emergency equipment and tools. Knowing the tools which are most effective and easiest to use is essential for gifting novices.
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, we’ve compiled a list of the best available automotive tools and accessories all drivers should have in case of emergency.
Car Battery Charger
Unlike jumper cables, which depend on another car to jump a dead battery, car battery chargers are self-contained units which can charge your car battery in a couple minutes, start to finish.
Most car battery chargers are very simple to use, and similar to using jumper cables. In most units, you will attach the positive cable to the positive battery terminal, and the negative cable to the negative battery terminal. The positive and negative cables are usually red and black respectively.
All car battery chargers are different, so be sure to leave the instructions with the unit, to be referenced in case of emergency. Shop around for the best car battery charger in your budget and individual needs.
Even timeless inventions like the jack have been improved upon in recent years. The basic principles are the same, but manufacturers have begun to focus on customer experience, making it easier and safer to jack a car than every before.
Everyday drivers need a service jack, which typically cost between $30-$100. Price varies depending on how heavy your vehicle is (weigh limit), and how much space in the trunk you want to sacrifice (portability). Torin and Pro-Lift are favored manufacturers for quality personal service jacks.
Carrying an entire tool box is unnecessary for most drivers. Instead, focus on a multi-tool which has most of the functionality of a fully-stocked tool box, but that can fit comfortably in your glove compartment.
Important tools for automotive repair and maintenance include:
The ideal multi-tool has all these and more, including a hammer to break through glass in case of emergency. Models of multi-tool are made especially for automobiles, so do some research on the right tool for you.
We’re not all mechanically inclined, and even if we were, changing a tire is never convenient or easy. Tire inflators offer the perfect one-time solution to a flat, requiring very little automotive or mechanical knowledge to use.
Most tire inflation brands simply require you to roll the tire to where the hole is touching the ground, then attach the applicator from the product to the tire’s valve stem. Make sure to get a tire inflator which uses a chemical solution to temporarily patch the hole, as tire inflators which only pump air will not fix a flat.
Emergency beacons have come a long way from old-fashioned flares. Instead of using dangerous combustion to alert other drivers and emergency vehicles to your accident, modern drivers use vibrant, reusable and affordable LED lights.
These beacons come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and are especially useful at night when visibility is limited. Some models provide enough light to keep your work area well-lit, and the surrounding roadside alert to your position. FlareAlert makes a battery-powered LED beacon for under $10, so you can purchase multiples.
You can never be too careful on the road. While you may be secure in your abilities, other drivers and the environment can be unpredictable, and we should all be prepared for an emergency. Keeping the right tools will help you turn a bad situation into a minor inconvenience if you’re properly prepared.