No one ever plans on their car breaking down, but it happens to all of us. When something does go wrong, the difference between it being a bump in the road versus a catastrophe largely depends on how prepared you are. You probably carry cables, a jack and tire iron already, but having a few extra tools with you whenever you're on the road can ensure your car gets you where you're headed. Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, these essentials will give you peace of mind and help you respond to most automotive mishaps.
1: Tire Pressure Gauge
Many cars on the road today have tire pressure monitoring systems. These use sensors to alert you when tire pressure gets too low. It's a great system for protecting you and your tires, but it's not foolproof. For one, most basic tire pressure monitoring systems only tell you that tire pressure is low somewhere and don't specify which tire, or if there's an issue with multiple tires. Also, some systems don't alert you when your tires are overinflated, which can potentially be dangerous. Finally, sometimes one or more of the sensors can be faulty and indicate that tire pressure is low when it's really not.
That's why you should always carry a tire pressure gauge to make sure your tires are properly inflated. It's an inexpensive and small tool, about the size of an ordinary pen.
2: Duct Tape
Keep a roll of duct tape in your car for emergency repairs after a fender bender. We're not talking about long-term fixes, but if your bumper cover is dragging on the ground, some well-positioned duct tape can hold it in place while you drive to the body shop. For extra safety, reflective duct tape can be used to increase your visibility to other drivers if you’re changing a tire or otherwise stuck by the side of the road at night.
3: Telescoping Magnetic Pickup Tool
A jack and a tire iron are must-haves for any car, but they won't really help you if you drop your lug nuts while changing a flat. You should never
crawl under a car that's on a portable jack, so carry a telescoping magnetic pickup tool, which is essentially a magnet on a collapsible stick. It allows you to safely reach under the car and get what you need. It's also handy if you drop tools or small parts (like nuts or screws) in tall grass or on a gravel roadway shoulder. Just sweep the magnet over the area and voila! Whatever it was that you dropped (as long as it's metal) jumps right up.
4: A Multi-tool
No one wants to devote trunk space to a giant tool box, and frankly, few people should. Unless you're a mechanic, most of the situations in which you're going to be able to fix your car on the roadside can be dealt with using a multi-tool. The typical multi-tool includes several sizes and types of screwdrivers, wire cutters, and pliers. Some even include knives, bottle openers, and bit drivers. Having all the tools in one saves you space while at the same time keeping you prepared for whatever's out there.
Along with your first-aid kit and flares, these tools will keep you and your family a little safer on the road.