What to put in your car emergency kit: A checklist

9 Feb 2023

Whether it happens on a road trip, on the way to work, or just on a quick trip to the shops, it’s never a convenient time for your car to break down or be involved in an accident.

Regardless of the driving conditions, or the purpose of your trip, it’s a good idea to keep a few essentials handy that might help you out of a difficult situation.

Remember, comprehensive car insurance can help cover accidental loss or damage to your vehicle. GIO Roadside Assist may also come in handy if you unexpectedly break down, or get a flat tyre or battery.

Get a GIO Car Insurance quote 

For short trips

You’re more likely to have something go wrong with your car during shorter, everyday trips because this is how you use it the most. If you break down while you’re not too far from home, you might find the following items useful.

A spare tyre

If you’ve ever experienced a flat tyre, you’ll know they can happen at any (and often the most awkward) time. Making sure that you have a spare, and the tools required to change it, will enable you to get back on the road more quickly.

Newer car tyres may utilise run flat technology, which means that if you get a puncture, your tyre won’t deflate suddenly. It will even support the weight of your car for a short period so you can get to a service station for repair or replacement. Some vehicles may have a space saver tyre in the boot. This is not designed to be a permanent replacement, so if you do get a flat tyre and have to replace it, it’s best to book an appointment with your mechanic or tyre shop.

If you do have a flat tyre, try to avoid driving where you can or pull over to safe area as soon as possible so it can be replaced.

 GIO Roadside assist can help with flat tyres.

Your vehicle’s user manual

If you notice that something’s amiss, such as a warning light on your dashboard, your user manual may be able to help you identify the issue. It should also include information about whether you need to give the issue immediate attention, or if there’s time to get to your mechanic.

A torch

If you need better visibility to make quick roadside repairs, having a torch in your car emergency kit will be helpful. If your torch is battery operated, be sure to have spare batteries.

A poncho or umbrella

If you experience a breakdown in wet weather, a poncho or umbrella will help to keep you dry if you need to make any repairs. If, on the other hand, it’s a hot summer’s day, you could also use an umbrella to provide you with shade from the sun.


Blankets are a useful addition to your car emergency kit for several reasons. You can use one to protect your clothes if you need to change a tyre, to keep warm if you break down during the winter months, or to take a nap if you’re feeling tired.

For a weekend away

In addition to your day-to-day car emergency kit, you might like to consider adding these items if you’re planning on heading away for the weekend.

A large bottle of water

A bottle of water is inexpensive, but it can be a very practical addition to your car emergency kit. Use it to clean your windshield, top up your wiper fluid or to keep hydrated in the event of a breakdown.

Car first aid kit

Having a basic first aid kit in your car can help to prevent small injuries from becoming more serious. A basic first aid kit should include:

  • Sticking plasters
  • Antiseptic
  • Gauze
  • Fabric bandages
  • Pain killers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers

You can purchase first aid kits from most hardware stores and pharmacies – some vehicles are even fitted with them. And, if it’s been a while, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your first aid training. 

A rag

A rag can help you to keep your car clean of dust and bird droppings. Clear windscreens and windows that are obstruction-free, make it safer for you to drive.

For long trips

If you’re hitting the road for a longer trip, you’ll want to make sure it’s memorable for the right reasons. By including these items in your car emergency kit, especially if you’re planning to travel through remote areas, you may be able to help yourself out of a tricky situation.

Car maintenance equipment

When you’re thinking about setting out on any long journey, whether it’s to another city or to the countryside, be sure to check if your vehicle’s fluids (oil and coolant) are at the right level. If either of these fluids is low, top them up before you go to avoid damaging your vehicle.

Once you’re on the road, regularly check that your engine temperature, oil pressure and battery charge are within safe ranges.

A road map

When you’re travelling somewhere new, you need to know you’re heading in the right direction. If you have a smartphone, you should be able to access maps via an app (if you’re using it in your car, you need to be able to use it hands-free and without it obscuring your view of the road). However, if you’re going to be driving through areas with no mobile phone coverage – or if your smartphone runs out of battery – having a current printed road map on hand could save the day.

Flat battery

Some service stations provide jumper cables and battery chargers that can get your battery back in working order in case it goes flat. You can also purchase chargers for car batteries. Don’t forget to read the instructions carefully and consult your vehicle’s user manual so you know this is a suitable option..

GIO Roadside Assistance can also help with jumpstarting your battery.

Cat litter

Surprisingly, cat litter can be a very handy addition to your car emergency kit. It can be used if you find yourself driving through ice, oil or mud – the crystals in cat litter can help the wheels of your car gain traction so that you can move forward more safely.

Non-perishable food

Having extra food available to you if you’re going to be travelling for long distances between amenities, or in the event of a breakdown, will help to keep your hunger at bay and your energy levels up.

Roadside assistance

Even if you’re a safe driver with a good track record and a well-stocked car emergency kit, the unexpected can happen. You may accidentally lock your keys in the car or require a battery charge. This is where GIO Roadside Assist can come in handy.* If your car needs to be towed, we’ll tow it to the nearest repairer, up to 20kms from the breakdown location. If there is no accredited repairer within 20kms, we’ll tow your vehicle to the nearest accredited repairer up to 100kms from the breakdown location. 

Please read our T&Cs, as you may be responsible for paying additional towing and repair costs.

GIO Roadside Assist is an optional extra only available in conjunction with GIO Platinum or Comprehensive Car Insurance. It provides 24/7 roadside assistance support for your car regardless of who’s driving it.*

Find out more about GIO Roadside Assist


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*GIO Roadside Assist is an optional extra only available in conjunction with GIO Platinum or Comprehensive car insurance. Terms, limits and conditions for coverage apply. GIO Roadside Assist services are not provide within the first 24 hours of you purchasing or adding this cover to your policy. 

Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO Insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Go to gio.com.au for a copy. Target Market Determination also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Subject to any rights you may have under any law we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.