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How to Make an Emergency Roadside Kit

Everything you need ... just in case.

Cars sputter and overheat in the summer, and engines get choked up and freeze in the winter -- no matter how far you are from home. While it might be tempting to think that emergency supplies are only necessary for long road trips, most accidents and breakdowns happen when you’re going just a few miles down the road.

If you drive a car, whether it’s the commute to work or a trip down Route 66, having an emergency auto kit can mean the difference between getting back on the road safely and being left stranded on the roadside for hours. Get prepared with this easy-to-assemble emergency kit.

Keep these essentials handy in the glove compartment:

  • Auto manual (your owner’s manual should be your bible when it comes to upkeep, repairs, emergencies, and model-specific information about your car)
  • AAA or roadside emergency card
  • Cell phone and charger (if you don’t have a cell phone, consider getting a prepaid phone for emergencies)
  • Local maps
  • Pen and paper
  • Registration and insurance information
Then pack a nylon bag or plastic box with the following items and place it in the trunk:
  • Antifreeze
  • Blanket
  • Car jack
  • Duct tape
  • Energy bars, supplement drinks, or other imperishable snacks
  • First-aid kit
  • Flares (at least four)
  • Flashlight (and extra batteries)
  • Funnel (for gas)
  • Fuses (check the fuse box cover for types)
  • Ice scraper
  • Hazard triangle (for wrecks)
  • Jumper cables (8 to 12 feet)
  • Oil (two quarts)
  • Radio (battery-powered or hand-crack model)
  • Rags
  • Reflectors
  • Tire pressure gauge (like Fix-A-Flat)
  • Toolkit (wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.)
  • Warm clothing (gloves and hats for winter months)
  • Water (a gallon or individual bottles)
If you’re a slacker, consider investing in a store-bought emergency kit, such as the AAA Emergency Roadside Kit, sold by a local or online retailer. It may not cover your butt in every situation, but it will get you out of a jam or two when you need it.

>> Get more car-buying tips from the experts

-- Margaret O'Malley

See More: Buying a Car , Buying Guides