Pulling onto the shoulder is not something any of us enjoy. It usually means one of three things:
- We’re lost and need to consult a map;
- A policeman or policewoman has pulled the vehicle over;
- The vehicle has broken down unexpectedly.
Packing a GPS and abiding by the law can prevent the first two situations. Unfortunately, the third takes a special kind of planning to avoid.
Accidents do happen and how well you’re prepared to cope with them will determine the effect they have on your trip. To brace for the worst, always bring an emergency kit for minor automotive troubles.
What to Include in an Emergency Car Kit
Finding room for luggage can be challenging enough, but you must make space for the following:
- Warranty and insurance documentation,
- Jumper cables,
- Roadside flares,
- A small canister of oil or gas,
- A bottle of anti-freeze,
- Windshield wiper fluid,
- A can of tire inflator,
- Duct tape,
- A flashlight,
- A toolkit,
- Bottled water,
- Light bulbs,
- A spare tire,
- And a car jack.
When Items in Your Emergency Kit Are Insufficient
Most items in your emergency kit are ill-suited for large repairs. In such situations, you will need to call a roadside assistance operative, who will tow you to a mechanic. Depending on your location, your car insurance may not cover the repairs. For example, an Ontario license does not receive the same coverage in the US (and vice versa). Benefits like replacement vehicles and free towing are usually local premiums unless otherwise stipulated.
With car rentals, the temporary policy you buy will determine how big an expense your car troubles will be. If you decide to skip on the insurance, ensure you have at least coverage through your credit card available.
Many road trip disasters are preventable with a little maintenance. Before a big drive, always check your service logs to make sure nothing is overdue (i.e. oil change, brake inspection or filter replacement). Such things can lead to larger complications when ignored. Other parts to check include:
- Tires pressure and integrity;
- The horn;
- Windshield wipers;
- Signals and headlines;
- Oil, power steering, brake and transmission fluid levels;
- The engine battery;
- And more.
When in doubt, ask your local dealership or mechanic to peek under the hood. You never want to leave car troubles to chance.