Most cars break down at the most inconvenient of times; usually when you are late for work or it’s pouring down with rain and you left your umbrella at home. Often the problem is simple – perhaps you forgot to fill up on fuel at the last gas station you passed and now the car is running on fumes – but whatever the problem, it is helpful to carry a basic breakdown kit in your car, just in case you are caught out.
Photo by David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos
Unless you are a trained mechanic, it pays to be a member of a breakdown club. That way if you do breakdown, all you have to do is make one phone call and then wait for roadside assistance to come to the rescue. The service isn’t free, but it will give you peace of mind.
A flashlight is a handy piece of kit to have in the event you break down at night. Do make sure the batteries are fully charged and that it is waterproof; otherwise it won’t be much use.
Hopefully you won’t need a first aid kit, but it is sensible to keep one in the glove compartment just in case. And if you have kids, make sure you supplement the basics with antiseptic cream, antihistamine and insect bite ointment.
A vehicle fire is probably the worst case scenario, but stranger things have happened, so it is a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. A small fire extinguisher can be put to good use in the event of an electrical fire in the engine, and if you are fast enough, it could just prevent a minor problem from turning into a major disaster.
Reflective warning triangles are very useful if you are unfortunate enough to break down on a busy highway. They warn other drivers of a potential hazard, so if you do break down, make sure you display your warning triangles a few meters up the road.
Duct tape is a universal fix-it solution. You can use duct tape to fix lots of minor problems, from broken glass in head lamps to cracked exhaust pipes. Always carry a roll of duct tape in your emergency breakdown kit.
Breaking down in freezing cold weather could be potentially life threatening. Car heaters stop working the moment the engine is switched off, and if you have run out of fuel on the coldest night of the year, it won’t be long before hypothermia sets in if you don’t have a warm blanket to hand.
If you are taking a trip and bad weather is forecast, pack a snow shovel in the trunk, just in case you end up stuck in a snow drift.
There are lots of other useful things you may wish to carry, including car jump starters and jump leads, but remember, prevention is always better than cure and if you have your car serviced regularly, it should prevent any unexpected breakdowns from occurring.