17 emergency items you should have in your car

What items do you need to keep in your car so that you're safe in the event of a breakdown? From a map to jump leads to breakdown cover, we've listed 17 things that should have a home in your boot or glove box


There are 187,913 car breakdowns on British roads every year. That’s over 500 a day! Therefore, as well as making efforts to drive safely come rain or shine, it is important to make sure you’re prepared if things don’t go to plan. Packing a few essential items in your car can make the whole process a lot easier. 

1.    A high visibility jacket

Particularly important if you break down in an area of low visibility, a high vis jacket can alert passing road users of your presence. Unlike in some European countries, there's no legal requirement to store a jacket in a car in Britain but it is a useful item to have stowed away in case of emergencies. 

2.    Sturdy shoes

A spare pair of shoes are useful to keep, especially in the winter or in periods of bad weather. Warm, durable footwear such as boots are recommended so you’re able to walk to find help if you get stuck in a rural area, or if you’re cold while waiting for the recovery vehicle to arrive.

3. & 4.   Coat or blanket

It is always safer to leave your vehicle if you break down - especially if you are on a motorway or dual carriageway. Therefore, it can be useful to have a coat or blanket to hand so you can be protected from the wind and cold. A blanket can also be a handy item to have if you have children, or have a spontaneous picnic in the summer months. 

5. & 6.  Dry food and water

Non-perishable food items can come in useful in case of emergencies, long traffic queues or long-distance journeys. These could include cereal bars or nuts. Bottles of water are great in the event that you get stranded, but can also be used to top up your radiator. 

7.    Torch 

A torch can be useful in so many situations. Don’t rely on your mobile phone flashlight, and instead make sure you’ve got a torch and spare batteries. You never know when they come in handy!

8.    Hazard triangle

Many new cars will come with a hazard triangle as standard, but if yours doesn’t, they can be picked up online at an affordable price. While you shouldn’t use them on motorways, they can be particularly useful on urban or rural roads to alert oncoming traffic that you have broken down.

The Highway Code states that you should place the triangle no less than 45 metres behind your vehicle, and on the same side of the road. For more advice on what to do if your car breaks down, check out our guide. 

9.    Money

Whether it be for toll charges or a coffee break, remembering to keep a few coins in your car can get you out of tricky situations. However, don’t leave too much money in your car overnight and make sure it’s not visible to passers-by, as you could then be a target of car theft. 

10.    First aid kit

A basic first-aid kit is always useful to have stored away in case of emergency. Make sure to include headache tablets too in the event that your passengers are too noisy!  

11.    Portable phone charger

This can be a life-saver if you’re relying on Google maps to give your directions or your passenger needs to make an urgent call. While you can buy power-packs, you can also purchase phone chargers which connect directly to your cigarette lighter port. However, remember that it is illegal to use a hand-held phone when driving, and you could get six penalty points and a £200 fine. 

12.    Ice scraper

Ice scrapers are extremely cheap, and can a great tool to keep in your boot if your windscreen gets frozen over. 

13.    Map

You can’t always rely on technology, so keeping a good old-fashioned map in your car can give you peace of mind when setting off on a long road trip. Make sure it’s up-to-date though, as the UK’s roads have developed since 1999!

14.    A spare tyre

A spare tyre previously came as standard with all new cars- but this is increasingly becoming less common. When searching for a new car, research into whether it comes with a spare tyre, as this can be useful should you find yourself in a tricky situation at the roadside. Saving you time and money, a spare tyre is a handy item to have, now you’ll just need to learn how to change it(!)

15.    Jump leads

Jump-starting a car can be a quicker alternative to calling in a professional if your battery dies unexpectedly. These can be bought online or from all good motoring retailers. All you’ll need to jump-start your car is another vehicle with approximately the same engine size and jump leads- and you’re good to go!

16.    Car manual

Despite the majority of car manuals having an online version, owning a physical copy can make identifying problems easier when you’re on a long journey. Your manual will help you to identify the cause of warning lights as well as specific information like tyre pressure. 

17.    Breakdown cover

It’s essential that you are covered for every eventuality when you set off on a long journey. With Admiral Breakdown Cover, you can choose from three different levels, which all include benefits such as named drivers cover, message services, caravan and trailer cover and roadside assistance.

For more information, call our customer service team or add it to your car insurance policy.