Until a flat tire, mechanical trouble, or some unexpected event occurs, some vehicle owners rarely think about what is in the trunk that may help make a bad day go as well as possible. We at Torque News are not that type of owner. We have thought about what we should put in our vehicle for emergencies. We would like to run down the list for our readers, but even more immortality, ask our readers what we missed. Bear in mind, we don’t traverse a tundra or find ourselves more than a few hours from help in our daily drives. If that were the case, we’d boost this bill of materials a bit. Here is our breakdown (get it?) of the items we keep in our trunk categorized by calamity:
If you own a family vehicle of a daily-driver vehicle without a spare tire, shame on you. Your purchase helped automakers justify a bad decision to steal your spare. Our 2016 Subaru Forester has a compact spare, and our ‘07 Toyota Highlander has a full-size matching spare on a matching rim. We had owned a BMW X3 with run flats, but we found that they came with many drawbacks and our replacement for that, a Mazda CX-5, has a compact spare. In addition to our spare, all three of our vehicles have tools for changing the flat. We have augmented that with a better tire wrench in the Highlander because it fit and because we had one. In our ‘16 Forester, the cargo area has a large storage area under the cargo floor, but above the spare. We love that feature.
We also have a high-quality tire pressure gauge. It is helpful not just in spring and fall when we re-adjust the pressure in the tires, but if a TPMS light comes on. Cheap ones a couple of bucks, great ones are about $10. Why skimp?
We have tire-repair tools including a plug-kit in our trunk, but those are unlikely to be actually used. We have used our portable pump powered by the 12V socket on a few occasions. Most punctures leak slowly and a pump like this can get you to a repair shop or tire store sometimes. It is also great for adjusting pressures and will pump up any bike tire with a Schrader valve.
Tools, Lights and Gadgets
We don’t plan to try to do any major repairs on our Forester, so our tool kit is simple. A multi-purpose screwdriver is the backbone of it. It has multiple size bits and can be a big help in any minor job vehicle-related or not.
We also have a good three-inch pocket knife. We’re not planning to defend ourselves with a knife in an under-cargo floor storage area. The knife is a tool, not a weapon. We do also have a multi-use knife in the cabin that has a center-punch for breaking glass, a seatbelt cutter, and a decent blade. It may come in handy in a crash or if we ever assist someone in a crash.
Black electrical tape is an important tool. It helps with emergency hose repair, can seal up a broken part or window, and may even be used as electrical tape in rare cases! We also keep multiple zip-ties and bungee cords. These have so many uses it is impossible to list them, but they are handy when you haul stuff. A roll of rubber matting is also in our truck. This stuff is great as a cushion or to add friction when using the roof racks.
Although our Suby is not set up for towing (the Highlander is), we keep a tow strap and some steel carabiners on hand anyway. You never know how bad a storm might be and you may have to pull debris off the road or another car. Or, you could lend this to a person with a pickup who may pull you out of a ditch. It gives you options in a bad situation.
We will admit to a flashlight fetish. In the cargo area, we have a few. One is magnetic and can stick to the inside of an open hood. One is a hand-held compact flashlight. A couple more are part of hats we have in the back. One is a headlight you wear. Another is a safety flasher in case we have to leave the car, or if we have to walk on a road in the dark. You can’t fix what you can’t see.
On that note, we also keep a pair of cheap Dollar Store reading glasses in the trunk along with our manual. If you are over 45, you know what this is all about.
In addition to an emergency EPI Pen that we keep in the cabin (our third backup for that life-saving medical device), we have some common and uncommon medical supplies. After 911 and the wildfires in California and Florida, it became clear that air-born dust is no joke. So we have some dust masks. We also have neoprene surgical gloves. These are good to protect oneself if assisting others medically, but they also help keep your hands clean if you end up doing any sort of repairs.
One unusual medical item we keep is Nuke Pills. A.K.A. potassium iodide pills. These are for use when a powerplant accident happens. They prevent the first and most common ailment suffered by those near a power plant emergency, thyroid cancer. If you watched Chernobyl, you may have seen them mentioned. We live near and also vacation near nuclear power plants. Maybe you don’t, but if you do, get some. They are cheap and they last years.
The rest of our medical kit is basically one tourniquet, a bunch of Band-Aids, some anti-infection cream and some simple meds like Benadryl and Tylenol.
Oil - It’s A Subaru
As much as we are huge fans of Subaru, they have a reputation for consuming oil. Lots of, and often all of a sudden. So I carry two quarts of synthetic oil in the trunk in case that “low oil” light ever appears. That oil will hopefully keep me going until I can get to a service area.
We keep an extra layer and a couple of baseball caps in our truck along with warm gloves and a warm (lighted) hat. All the time. In winter, we have a cheap Walmart winter coat and boots in the car all the time. Depending on your local climate, you may need to adjust your list here.
Maps & Fire
We are Google Maps geeks through and through, and the Fozzie has built-in nav. Still, we keep paper maps in the car and they have proven helpful a few times. You can also burn them to start a campfire if need be. And, yes, you may notice a Bear Grylls brand flint fire starter in back.
We are sure we are forgetting something important. Please tell us in the comments under the story what we have missed to help us and other readers make their kit better.