I have a teenage son that will be driving soon ( I’m getting old), but as he ventures out into the ever-increasingly busy roads, I want to make sure that he is prepared. So aside from the fact that I want him to be competent behind the wheel, I want to make sure that he is able to take care of himself in case something goes wrong. So what are some car essentials for new drivers?
That depends, what you need and what my son would need for an emergency car kit vary greatly. We live in the flat land of Florida. There are no mountains and the coldest it gets is about 45 in January. My point is you need to build a kit that suits the area that you live in. However, there are basics that every new drive should have in his or her car.
This is assuming of course that your new driver will not be taking any long road trips or anything like that. That would require a much more extensive list. Without further ado; here is an essential list for any new driver.
Cell Phone and Charger
A cell phone is only good, however, if it is charged up. In addition to the phone make sure that he or she has a battery pack or charger that stays in the car. We bought a battery pack several years ago for the hurricane season. As long as it is charged up it will charge our cell phones several time before needing to be charged itself. The battery packs are also nice because they operate independently of the car’s electrical system.
A standard charger is no good if your battery is dead. Either way though, make sure that your new driver has at least one of these in his or her vehicle.
Phone Numbers and/ or Roadside Assitance
All the cell phone battery in the world won’t help if you don’t know who to call. Obviously, a parent or guardian would be programmed into the phone. But also the local police number is good to have on hand. In addition, knowing when to call 911 or local law enforcement.
Your car insurance ID card will have the name of your insurance carrier, so if you get in an accident your new driver will know where to find that. Lastly, if you have a roadside assistance program such as Triple-A, your new driver will need to know where to find that information.
I like to keep all these numbers in a holder in my glove box. Go over with your teen driver where all of this information is before they need it.
Emergency Car Kit
Yes, we are talking about putting an emergency car kit inside a bigger emergency car kit, but some of these kits come well stocked and you may not need anything else. Most emergency car kits have a first aid kit, a few simple tools, warning signals, jumper cables and a slew of other useful tools.
Again, get the size kit that is appropriate for what a new driver will be doing. Does he or she need a shovel or tire traction mats because they will be driving in winter? Every situation is different, here are some excellent recommendations for some ready to go emergency car kits:
Recommended Emergency Car Kits
We should all be carrying a flashlight or two in our car. Some emergency car kits come with a flashlight. However, it may be good to also invest in a high-quality flashlight as well. You can’t do anything if you can’t see what you are working on. In addition, a flashlight will help warn approaching cars if you don’t have any flares.
However, flashlights are not just flashlights anymore. They are strobe lights and emergency escape tools. One day they may even make your coffee, but for now, they are just emergency tools. This Emergency Flashlight and Escape tool from Amazon is an awesome example of the latter. But if you are a little more old fashioned this Goreit Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight from Amazon will do the job nicely and it’s got everything you need.
But back to the matter of road flares…
Road Flares or Emergency Signals
Again, some emergency car kits will come with warning triangles or road flares, others do not. One of the worst things about breaking down is you are at the mercy of other motorists. Finding a safe place to park your car may be difficult, having road flares out will give other drivers a warning that something is wrong. There is a reason emergency vehicles have bright flashing lights.
Please use caution if you are using flares that have an actual flame; serious injury can result if used improperly. If my son is an example of a typical teenager, then I am using something that is not flammable for his car kit. I recommend the HOKENA LED Road Flares Emergency Lights; it comes as a kit that includes 3 high intensity LED lights, an escape tool, and thermal blankets for under $35 at Amazon.
Small Tool Kit or Multi-Tool
You don’t need a 199 piece mechanics toolset here, I am talking a very basic tool kit. One with pliers, screwdrivers, a hammer, and a small ratchet and socket set. We are not disassembling a motor here, we are talking small-time repair.
If you are pretty confident that the new driver will do more harm than good with a tool kit; then a bare minimum to have in the car is some sort of multi-tool. A Leatherman Tool is a good example; it has everything you need in one compact tool.
First Aid Kit
Maybe this should be closer to the top, but oh well. You know what a first aid kit is supposed to do. Again, one may be included with your emergency kit, but if not you will want to pick one up. Look for basic items to be included like bandages, antiseptic spray, burn ointment, more bandages.
Oh and don’t forget to keep it well stocked. Every six months or so go through and make sure that you have all the supplies that you need.
Tow Rope or Chain
Having a rope or chain in your car may seem completely useless…until you need it. Let me tell you, you will never know when you may need it. If you will indulge me. I was leaving an event one evening and talking with a friend of mine in the parking lot. A woman gets in her car to leave and instead of backing up and pulling out she puts the car in drive and goes straight. This would be fine except there was a ditch between her car and the road. Fortunately, my friend had a rope and a truck and he was able to pull the woman out of the ditch.
My point is we all make mistakes, and even if we don’t make a mistake someone around us probably will. Even if you never need the rope you may be in the company of people that will require its services one day. You never know when you or someone else may need to get unstuck; having a rope will make getting unstuck that much easier.
Never underestimate a good pair of gloves. It is very likely that if you have to dig into your emergency kit you are going to be getting dirty. Whether you are changing a tire or going under the hood you will be getting dirty. Not only do gloves keep your hands clean, but they offer a level of protection to your hand.
To a certain extent, the weather will determine which are the best gloves for you to carry. If it’s winter you will want something that is water-resistant and insulated; during the summer you will want something that offers more dexterity. You don’t need a $25 pair of Mechanix gloves for your emergency car kit.
Battery Booster Pack or Jumper Cables
I believe every driver should have one of these regardless of if they are new drivers or not. Like the rope, you may never need it, but you may come across someone who has a dead battery and you will be able to help them out.
Having a battery booster pack eliminates the need for you to call a tow service or find a donor car for jumper cables if your battery dies. You will be able to get yourself going again until you can replace your battery or find a safe place to stay. You can see my selection of recommended battery booster packs over here
Jumper cables may be included with your emergency car kit, but these are often of subpar quality. However, in a pinch, they are better than nothing. If you have to use jumper cables you want to make sure they are going to do the job. Check out my chart on what size jumper cables you need over here.
Along with dead batteries, a flat tire is a common occurrence. However, you can’t fix a flat tire your self if you don’t have the proper tools. A jack kit will allow you to change your flat tire yourself without having to call a tow service or your parents for help. As a new driver, you will have the satisfaction of being able to care of the situation on your own and you may even gain a little credibility with your parents. As the parent of a new driver, you will have peace of mind knowing that your teen driver is prepared for a flat tire.
Tire Repair Kit/ Inflater
As a new driver you may face the unexpected surprise of discovering that you have no spare tire. Many new cars do not come with them. If this is the situation, then you may need to repair and re-inflate your flat tire. Some cars come with a tire repair kit, but as it ages it may not be recommended to use or if you buy a used car the repair kit may not be there anymore. Fortunately, you can purchase an after-market repair kit and tire inflator. Just make sure that you understand the instructions and you get the appropriate kit for your car.
Being a new driver is exciting, it’s a whole new level of freedom. Being the parent of a new driver is also exciting, but for different reasons.
Making sure that your new driver is prepared will bring you peace of mind. As a new driver you should feel empowered to take care of yourself. These tools will help you to do that.
You may not need everything on this list or you may need more. Really, each situation and every driver is different, you prepare the best you can. Familiarize yourself, with whatever you decide to go with, this way you can be roadway ready.