On the road

8 essentials you need in a car emergency kit

Nothing can ruin your day (or a road trip holiday) quite like a broken-down vehicle. And while there are some things you can do to avoid a breakdown, there’s always the chance of something unexpectedly going wrong. There’s the risk of a punctured tyre, a traffic standstill or even an extreme weather event. In each of those cases, having an emergency kit in your car can avert disaster – or at least keep you safe until roadside assistance arrives. Here are some suggested items to pack before setting off on your next trip.

Spare tyre and the tools to change it

While having a spare tyre in your car isn’t a legal requirement in Australia, it is a good idea, especially if you’re travelling long distances through remote areas. Many new cars are now fitted with space-saver spare tyres rather than full-size ones. However, these tyres should only be used for a short distance, and typically at a maximum speed of 80km/h. If you’ve never changed a tyre before, brush up on the seven easy steps to change a car tyre before you set off.

Water and non-perishable food

When driving through remote locations, you’ll need to have plenty of supplies on hand in case of a breakdown. But even if you’re not venturing far from urban areas it’s a good idea to carry some water and non-perishable food with you. Imagine a road is unexpectedly closed and traffic comes to a standstill when you’ve got kids in the car. Having plenty of snacks to offer them might help the time pass more quickly. It’s important to stay hydrated when driving long distances too, so keep that water bottle topped up.

A dedicated car first aid kit

A first aid kit is the best way to be prepared for any emergency. You can purchase pre-packed vehicle first aid kits that fit in your glovebox or boot. Some feature reflective safety triangles and high-vis vests, which are good to have on hand in the event of a flat tyre or breakdown. Most auto supplies stores and camping and outdoors suppliers will have a complete first aid kit you can buy specifically for your car.

Portable phone charger

Whether you need your smartphone to call for help, access navigation or entertain the kids, your phone could be a lifesaver in an emergency. Keep a powerbank in your glovebox so you’re not caught with a dead battery, or have a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) handy. These beacons are particularly important when preparing for road trips through the outback and remote places, and are available to hire from local information tourist centres. We highly recommend these for anyone off-roading, hiking, camping, and generally in out-of-service areas. Be sure to never use your phone while driving; instead pull over, pop your hazards on and take the time you need to place your phone on charge, make a call, or do what is needed.

An owner’s manual for your vehicle

When you suddenly see unfamiliar lights flashing on your dash, your best bet is to pull over and consult your owner’s manual. Check that it’s in your car before you set off.

An umbrella

What’s worse than changing a flat tyre? Changing a tyre in the rain. Keep an umbrella in the car in case your emergency coincides with bad weather – it might come in handy even for an emergency toilet stop.

Tissues, wipes and sanitiser

Speaking of emergency toilet stops, pack some tissues or toilet paper for long drives. Baby wipes can also be useful for dealing with unexpected spills or cleaning up after a tyre change.

Jumper leads

It’s not hard to drain a car battery by forgetting to turn your lights off and jump-starting your car could be the quickest way to get back on the road (consult your owner’s manual for instructions). If your battery is completely dead, it’s a good idea to have roadside assistance so you can call for help and have it replaced.

Roadside assistance Australia-wide

Preparing for your next road trip doesn’t need to be a headache, and you don’t have to go it alone. GIO Roadside Assist is a simple and affordable way to ensure you’re covered for an emergency 24/7* on roads Australia-wide, and it’s available as an optional extra with platinum or comprehensive car insurance.

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Registered Office, Level 23, 80 Ann Street, Brisbane QLD 4000. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination is also available. 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.

*GIO Roadside Assist is an optional extra only available in conjunction with GIO Platinum or Comprehensive car insurance. We don’t provide GIO Roadside Assist services within the first 24 hours of you purchasing or adding this cover to your policy. For full coverage details, please see the Terms and Conditions.