Car Safety and Roadside Breakdown Kit List
Batteries, wheels and tyres and electrical faults – the most common car issues according to Australian motorists. Even with modern ‘reliable’ cars, breakdowns and other problems are still pretty common. However you look at it, roads are dangerous places. A car breakdown kit can make things that little bit safer… In this article, we go over a few important things they should include.
If you have car problems at night, a torch is obviously a huge must-have in a car breakdown kit. Even in daylight hours, looking under dashboards, engines and other nooks and crannies is difficult without a light source. Pretty much all phones have a ‘flashlight’ but it’s always good to have a backup.
Hi-Vis / Warning Triangle
If you have to perform repairs on the side of a road, high visibility makes things much safer. Imagine standing on the side of a busy highway at night. Make sure you throw in a hi-vis vest as these things come in handy and dramatically increase your safety.
You may have seen warning triangles on the road before – often displayed by emergency services. They are reflective warning signs that alert other drivers to your presence on the side of the road. Most can fold up and don’t take up much room in your car.
The Australian outback coupled and the Australian summers are extremely harsh. Water is sometimes the first thing people think of for a car breakdown kit – or any kit. Getting caught without drinking water can literally be a matter of life and death. Make sure you keep a few litres of bottled water in your car, especially if you enjoy road trips like these cars are perfect for.
Additionally, if your car overheats or suffers from a loss of coolant, clean water can act as a temporary fix – hopefully allowing you to limp home without overheating the engine.
Tip: Coolant is used in radiators due to its non-corrosive properties. If you must use water, make sure it’s as clean as possible.
First Aid Kit
You never know when a first aid kit might come in handy. Think of family picnics or day trips – someone may get an insect bite, scraped knee or similar injury. Or something much worse. These are available from hardware stores, chemists and auto stores, among other places.
Make sure it’s hidden extremely well – taped under the dashboard or under a seat for example. A little extra cash can come in handy if you’re stuck in an unfamiliar place. For example, if your wallet is stolen or lost or maybe you need a taxi to an ATM or service station. Some drivers have found themselves in need of fuel when electronic payment options aren’t working.
Stuck without a working phone is a huge fear for anyone. Carrying a phone power bank solves the dead battery problem. These lose charge over time so you may need to make sure to regularly check the power level. Remember, if your car suffers an electrical problem, you may not be able to charge your phone via the power socket.
Flat batteries are always fear for drivers. With causes ranging from lights left on to a faulty alternator, a lot of motorists can recall being in need of a jump start. Make sure to connect them properly, paying attention to an ‘earth’ and follow the instructions. Positive to positive, negative to ‘earth’ – commonly an unpainted metal surface.
A simple tool kit can come in handy if you’re in need of a quick repair. From electrical issues to wheel problems to general maintenance, these should include:
- Electrical tape and cable ties
- Socket set
- Screwdriver set
Don’t forget to add fuses too. These are cheap, easy to replace and can often remedy lights not working or other electrical problems.
Tyre Change Kit
Standard equipment on cars but make sure yours is in working order and the spare tyre correctly inflated. Some cars come with a brightly coloured space saver which has speed and distance limits. Often a good addition is a flat piece of wood or similar to stabilise under the jack if you’re changing a tyre on sand, mud or soft ground.
Tip: Stick to sealed roads or use run-flat tyres (which have reinforced sidewalls and allow limited driving in the event of a puncture) to limit flat tyres.
Your car’s bible – the owner’s manual. Super useful in countless situations. Tyre pressure, fuse sizes and locations, oil grade, warranty details… the list goes on. Of course, all cars come with one but sometimes they can wander off. If your car is missing your owner’s manual, they can be found online or simply contact your manufacturer.
End of the Day
Depending on your commute and general driving needs, match the items listed above to suit. Rural driving and short city to-and-from work drives require different car break down kits. Knowing some car red flags and general maintenance routines can allow for years of trouble-free motoring.
Car trouble stories…
Amanda 32, Clare, SA
“A few years ago, I hit a kangaroo. It was awful but luckily it wasn’t too hard and it didn’t die. It was at night when I was driving back from Adelaide. One of the headlights got smashed out and the bumper bar was touching the wheel and scraping. I had some pliers and a torch so I was able to cut the bumper bar away and tie the torch onto the car making it look like a headlight. I drove home slowly but safely.”
Gary 41, Canberra, ACT.
“I came across a woman stranded on a country road. Her car had overheated and split a radiator hose. Luckily, I had some duct tape and water. We were able to tape up the split hose and fill the radiator with the water and she got home without damaging the engine. If I didn’t have a breakdown kit, she would have [had to] leave her car and walk to a random farmhouse.”
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