In 1993, a French electrician by the name of Emile Leray found himself stranded in the Moroccan desert. His Citroen car had broken down irreparably and the situation looked desperate. Fortunately, Monsieur Leray had equipped his car with a few essential tools and within days he had built himself a rudimentary motorcycle out of his broken-down car parts and whisked himself back to civilisation.
Whilst M. Leray’s case may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, it does hammer home the message that, being prepared can save the day when you find yourself broken down, assisting another driver or simply lost.
Below are a few essentials that should be tucked away in your boot ready for every eventuality.
An LED head torch should be number one on your hit-list of essential car accessories.
After all, if your vehicle breaks down at night or you are lost, things such as map reading and engine checking for assistance require optimal vision.
A head torch can also be used to signal for help or to flag down other motorists when you are in distress.
The human body can go weeks without food but only a few days without water.
If you live in a warm climate it is best not to store water in a hot car for long periods, especially in plastic bottles. Replace your stock regularly to ensure freshness.
If you use water in your radiator, stock extra in the event of a radiator leak. Never fill a boiling radiator with cold water though, as it can result in a blown head gasket – expensive!
Most cars these days rely on coolant in their radiators to prevent their cars from overheating. A simple split radiator hose can have a devastating effect on your vehicle if you continue to drive it whilst boiling.
Pull your car safely over and let it cool down.
Take a quick look under the hood and check if there is a visible leak from a hose as these can be easily fixed either by trimming or taping (see tools below). Even if you fix the leak, you will still need to replenish lost coolant, so keep a stock handy.
GPS and a Map
An electronic GPS system is an amazing boon and should be a staple accessory or App for everyone driving. That said, having an old school backup such as a map would also be a wise idea.
Spare Tyre and Accessories
A number of luxury cars these days have ‘run flat’ tyres but for the rest of us it’s a DIY job by the side of the road. Even if you have no idea how to change a tyre, carrying a spare tyre, car jack and wheel brace means that someone else will at least be able to assist you.
Even the most unhandy of us can still benefit from a basic tool kit onboard. A few spanners, electrical tape (for temporary leak fixes), a cutting tool and some screwdrivers will go along way to getting you going until you can find a mechanic.
Most of us carry a phone as a matter of course, but for the few Luddites out there who still don’t have one, it is a valuable means of calling for assistance. This is especially true for older drivers or those with children who can’t easily walk to get help.
With the disappearance of the public phone box from our streets and the ready availability of on-call services like RACV, it makes sense to at the very least, keep a phone stored in your car. Many Smartphones now have built-in maps to enable drivers who may be heading to unfamiliar destinations.
The above list may seem to be daunting but most of it would fit into a regular sized backpack, which would easily and unobtrusively tuck into the boot of a car. So start packing – some day, some time, you will be glad you did. Safe motoring!