A breakdown kit is one of those things you may shrug off as not important – breakdowns happen to other people, not you!
No matter if your journey is short or long, breaking down is a real possibility and just like having breakdown cover, it is a good idea to have an emergency kit for peace of mind in case you do find yourself in a roadside emergency.
We understand that it can be overwhelming knowing exactly what you will need if you break down, so we’ve created this breakdown checklist to cover everything you’ll need, no matter the breakdown situation.
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Without further ado, let’s discover what you need for a complete breakdown kit for your vehicle.
Breakdown kit essentials: What do I need?
Breaking down can be frustrating, scary, and can quickly become a dangerous position, depending where you break down – like on a busy road, for example. Therefore, it’s important to have supplies on hand to help you feel more calm and in control of the situation.
This list of breakdown essentials will make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality, but, of course, if there is anything specific you need for your lifestyle – such as medication(s) – be sure to include them!
Of course, if you do have breakdown cover, be sure to also contact your breakdown provider as they can send a specialist out to help you.
We understand this may sound redundant – in these modern times who doesn’t have a phone on them? – but it is essential if you find yourself stranded and don’t know where the nearest emergency phone is. This is especially true if you have broken down on a country road.
You can alert your breakdown provider, loved ones, and – if needed – emergency services of your situation. To make things easier for others, why not download an app like what3words or FixPhrase so people know your precise location and can find you quicker.
Tip: Don’t forget your mobile phone charger to be sure you don’t run out of battery!
Spare tyre and accessories
In 2021, more than 20% of all breakdowns were due to tyre issues which highlights just how important it is to have what it takes to change a tyre with you, specifically:
- A spare tyre that is legally allowed to be on the road
- A jack
- A wheel nut wrench (sometimes referred to as a wheel lug wrench)
If you’re unsure how to change a tyre, there are guides and videos available online. Although, if you’d rather not have to do it yourself, your breakdown cover provider can send someone out to help you.
It’s no secret that the British weather can be all four seasons in the space of an afternoon! For this reason, we recommend keeping some form of waterproof coat with you at all times – no matter the season.
If you break down on the motorway, it is best practice to get out of your car and wait behind the crash barrier. The weather can quickly change and you don’t want to expose yourself to rain, hail, or even snow, whilst waiting for help.
Empty fuel carrier
We’ve all done it – thought we could make just one more journey on that last bit of fuel we have left! If you find that all your luck has run out and you break down because of it, having an empty carrier ready to go and fill up with fuel is one way to make sure you can get back to your journey, sooner rather than later.
Tip: Always keep an eye on where the last petrol station was or simply use your maps on your phone to find the nearest one.
We all know that when it’s dark, it can be hard to see things on the road, especially on a country road or the motorway. For that reason, we recommend wearing a hi-vis safety vest to ensure you can be easily seen by others.
For a similar reason to above, if you break down at night or in badly-lit areas, having a torch on hand can allow you to make any jobs you attempt to do yourself easier, or you could simply use it as a beacon for others to see you.
Most kits include either an LED or wind-up torch, so that the batteries do not run out.
Tip: If you prefer to use a battery-powered torch, make sure you have spare batteries in case they run out.
First aid kit
Hopefully you wouldn’t have to use this, but it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand, just in case.
We recommend having the following in your kit:
- Sterile cleaning wipes – to easily clean a wound and prevent infection
- Washproof plasters – as we mentioned, the weather can quickly change, so making sure your plasters are waterproof will prevent them from unsticking
- A triangular bandage – this shape can have multiple uses, for example, it can be used as a sling or to secure dressings
- Burn dressings – these specific dressings tend to provide quick, soothing relief
- A foil blanket – effectively reduces shock symptoms
- Blunt-ended scissors – for if you need to remove clothing or attach bandages
Reflective warning triangle
A hazard warning triangle is used to alert other drivers that there is an unexpected stationary vehicle in the road. Some people tend to just use their hazard warning lights but these aren’t always visible near bends or bumps.
Warning triangles should be placed, at a minimum, 45 metres (147ft) behind your vehicle to give other drivers plenty of warning about your situation. There are apps you can download that allow you to measure this distance.
They can be used on standard roads and dual carriageways, but be careful when you place and retrieve your warning triangle, especially at night.
Tip: It is not advised to use them on motorways as they have been known to blow into the motorway, potentially putting other drivers in danger.
Food and water
Of course, we do not recommend keeping anything perishable in your vehicle. However, items that have long shelf dates and are ready-to-eat are best in case you find yourself stranded for long periods of time whilst waiting for help from your breakdown provider or loved ones.
Also known as booster cables, jump leads can help if you find yourself with a flat battery. This can be an issue in the winter specifically, or if you are someone who only drives short distances.
We recommend investing in your own set of jump start cables so that you can quickly get back to your journey – that is if a fellow driver is willing to help you!
If you are unsure about jump-starting your car, you can always call your breakdown cover provider and ask them to send someone out to help you.
Spare screen wash
We all know just how fast your windscreen can get dirty – whether it be from mud, splashes from other cars, or simple day-to-day driving. Have some spare screen wash in your car just in case you need to top up as a clear screen can easily make your onward journey a safer one.
Sometimes, certain breakdowns prevent you from getting to the side of the road and out of people’s way. Tow ropes allow your vehicle to be attached to another and moved to a safer and more convenient place. Plus, if your car won’t start, they can be used to tow it to your chosen garage.
Foot pump with tyre pressure gauge
A foot pump is an easy way to inflate a flat tyre yourself. We recommend a tyre inflator with a pressure gauge so you don’t under or over inflate your tyres as both of these can create dangerous conditions for driving.
Your car’s recommended tyre pressure should be in the car’s handbook (typically found in your glove compartment) or on the inside of the driver’s door.
Hi-grip cotton gloves
If you are trying to repair your car yourself, a pair of gloves with a high grip are important. This is an easy way to prevent injuries, especially if you are working in cold or wet conditions.
Window hammer with a seatbelt cutter
Vehicle breakdowns can quickly become dangerous, depending on how you break down. Of course, you should call the emergency services and your breakdown cover provider immediately, but having a window hammer and seatbelt cutter – you can now get these as a 2-in-1 product – could potentially be life-saving if you’re trapped in your vehicle following a collision.
Bag to store everything
It’s all well and good having these items, but if you don’t have somewhere dry and safe to store them, when you do need to use them they may not be suitable! We recommend a bag or case that is waterproof and hard-shelled to prevent any damage to your kit.
Winter driving checklist
We all know that driving in winter is in a league of its own. The driving conditions can be treacherous and because of this we recommend some specific kit items for breakdowns in winter.
You may already be bundled in jumpers, coats, and scarves, but we recommend keeping some thicker garments in your car, especially if you have to stay outside of your car at the side of the road.
Your first aid kit should already include emergency blankets, but we also recommend some more generic blankets for the same reasons mentioned above.
De-icer and an ice scraper
UK drivers are legally required to keep their front and rear windscreens clear of ice and snow before driving. Therefore, it is best to keep a bottle of de-icer and a spare scraper on hand so you can easily clean your windscreens if you find yourself in these conditions.
Your car breakdown kit at a glance
Hopefully you agree that all of the items we recommended for your car breakdown kit are essentials that could help you no matter where – or when – you break down.
Tip: Don’t forget, if you do have specific necessities for your lifestyle, please add them to your kit!
We understand that the above is a lot of information, so we thought it might be helpful for you to have a quick checklist you can refer to when shopping for your ultimate car breakdown kit.
The essentials you’ll need are:
|Mobile phone (and a charger)
|Spare tyre and accessories (jack and wheel nut wrench)
|Empty fuel carrier
|First aid kit
|Reflective warning triangle
|Food and water
|Jump lead cables
|Foot pump (ideally with a gauge)
|A pair of gloves with high grip
|Window hammer with seatbelt cutter
|De-icer and scraper
|Waterproof and hard-shelled case
|Any personal items
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