The tire announces the end of its existence with a dreaded pop. Or you glance steam escaping over the hood. Or you turn the ignition key far from home and nothing happens. A breakdown doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Whether it’s a minor repair you can fix yourself on the side of the road, or you just need to call for help and hang tight until it arrives, keep these WIRED-tested items handy in your trunk and you’ll be back on the road in no time. Everything here can be used by anyone, but it doesn’t hurt to open the car’s manual or look up a how-to on YouTube.
Be sure to check out our many other guides, including the Essential Home Tool Kit and the Best Emergency Gear to Keep at Home.
Updated May 2023: We’ve added new picks, such as the Anker USB-C phone charging cable, Fast Orange textured hand wipes, Element fire extinguisher, and updated pricing and availability throughout.