tools of life car hammer and seatbelt cutter
Price: $5.50 | Buy it at Amazon
File this one under something you hope you'll never need. The seatbelt cutter has a steel blade that can help you free yourself if you're trapped after a crash, while the hammer can help break out the car window in case of fire or flooding.
aaa emergency warning triangles
Price: $18.07 | Buy it at Amazon
If your car is disabled on a busy road, these 17-inch reflective triangles can warn other drivers to give you plenty of room. They fold down for easy storage and have non-skid bases that can withstand even strong winds up to 40 mph.
ektos wool blanket
Price: $23 | Buy it at Amazon
Once winter rolls around again, a sturdy blanket is one of the most important things you can have in your vehicle. The fire-retardant, non-scratchy wool can provide invaluable warmth if your car breaks down in subfreezing temperatures.
milton s-921 tire gauge
Price: $7 | Buy it at Amazon
That tire looks a little low – or does it? Ditch the guessing game by tucking this reliable pencil-style gauge in your glove compartment. Made of plated brass, it has a built-in deflator valve and a white nylon indicator that will measure 5-50 PSI.
wawa auto foldable emergency traction mat
Price: $25.32 | Buy it at Walmart
Though they may be most valuable when there's snow or ice on the ground, these emergency mats can also provide much-needed traction in mud or sand, too. You can adjust the angle depending on your tires' position, and they won't take up too much trunk space since they fold flat for storage.
ingear 3-in-1 car safety flashlight
Price: $19.97 | Buy it at Amazon
A reliable flashlight can be a big help during a nighttime breakdown. This one has a magnetized base so it can attach to the side of your car, keeping your hands free, and can even function as an attention-getting strobe light.
pure protein bar variety pack
Price: $16.98 | Buy it at Amazon
Keeping some food in the car is a good idea, just in case of a prolonged emergency. Protein bars like these are an ideal pick since they have a long shelf life and can provide a good energy boost despite their small size.
nestle pure life purified water
Price: $2.48 | Buy it at Walmart
Don't forget the water to wash down those protein bars. You'll probably want to keep water in the trunk, away from the sun – and remember to put it in the warmer passenger cabin when temperatures are below freezing.
galeton repel rainwear poncho
Price: $12.25 | Buy it at Amazon
Accidents and breakdowns don't always wait for a sunny day. Stay dry while changing a tire or checking a fender-bender with this large, reusable hooded poncho. It includes reflective striping to help you stay visible at night or during poor weather conditions.
hopkins quick-lock pivoting snowbroom
Price: $30.58 | Buy it at Amazon
A sturdy snow brush and ice scraper is a winter must-have for any motorist. This one boasts an extra-wide blade, lockable 60-inch extension pole, a squeegee and two cushy hand grips.
wet ones antibacterial hand wipes
Price: $28 | Buy it at Amazon
Whether it's a breakdown or a fast-food value meal that leaves you with smelly, greasy hands, you'll be glad to dig out a pack of antibacterial wipes from the center console. These travel packs come with an easy-to-reseal flap that help keep the wipes from drying out.
surviveware first aid kit
Price: $33.95 | Buy it at Surviveware
Your car is the perfect place to stash a small first-aid kit. This one comes in a water-resistant polyester bag that's small enough for the glove compartment, but contains 100 items from alcohol wipes and bandages to a CPR mask and an emergency whistle.
dbpower portable car jump starter
Price: $70 | Buy it at Amazon
Dead battery? You won't need to wait for AAA or other roadside crews if you have this portable jump starter, good for up to 20 starts on a single charge. It even includes an LED light with strobe and SOS modes, a compass, and a USB port to charge your phone.
duck brand duct tape
Price: $6 | Buy it at Amazon
Duct tape can fix a lot of things in a pinch before you can get your car to the shop. For instance, use it to stop that windshield crack from getting worse, or tape that dangling mirror back on after a parking-lot hit-and-run.
first alert auto5 auto fire extinguisher
Price: $16 | Buy it at Target
Compact enough not to hog valuable space, this auto fire extinguisher comes with a mounting bracket to keep it from rolling around while you're driving. It's effective against flammable liquid and electrical fires and is backed by a 10-year warranty.
leatherman wingman multitool
Price: $49.95 | Buy it at Amazon
A multitool is handy to have for any quick-fix situation, and it will take up next to no space in the glove compartment or center console. This one has 14 tools, including a knife, pliers, a screwdriver, and a wire cutter.
aaa sport utility shovel
Price: $22.90 | Buy it at Amazon
This cold-weather must-have can help you clear snow away from your tires if you get stuck in a wintery mess. It only weighs a little over a pound, and the handle adjusts from 25 to 32 inches. It breaks down into three pieces for easy storage, too.
fix-a-flat tire inflator
Price: $7.87 | Buy it at Amazon
Sure, everyone should know how to use their spare tire, but Fix-a-Flat can seal up many run-of-the-mill punctures and re-inflate your tire long enough for you to get to a tire shop for a permanent fix. It's also safe for cars with tire pressure monitoring systems.
rand mcnally road atlas
Price: $13.46 | Buy it at Amazon
When your phone dies or your GPS goes on the fritz, a paper map can be an invaluable back-up when you're in an unfamiliar area. This one includes maps of every state and Canadian province, and includes more detailed maps for 350 cities and even 20 national parks.
hot hands hand warmers
Price: $24.17 | Buy it at Amazon
Keeping your extremities warm can be a matter of life and death if you're stuck in a cold car for a long time. These disposable air-activated hand warmers easily do the trick: Just shake them to activate, and they'll warm up for up to 10 hours.
sangean mmr-88 emergency radio
Price: $44.95 | Buy it at Amazon
This emergency radio can do a little bit of everything. Aside from receiving weather alerts and AM/FM stations, it has a built-in LED flashlight with blinking and SOS modes, a clock, an emergency buzzer, and a USB charging port. Best of all, you can charge it up with a hand crank or solar power.
presa heavy duty tow strap
Price: $9.13 | Buy it at Amazon
Keeping a tow strap on hand can allow generous Good Samaritans to help pull you out of that drift or muddy mess, or at least get you to a safer spot before checking out your car. This heavy-duty 20-foot polyester strap can tow up to 10,000 pounds in a pinch.
slimk led road flares
Price: $23.98 | Buy it at Amazon
At night, or when weather conditions are poor, road flares might be the most conspicuous way to warn oncoming drivers that you need some space. These magnetic LEDs are visible for up to a mile; they're also shatterproof, crushproof, and rainproof.
wd-40 multipurpose lubricant
Price: $3.88 | Buy it at Amazon
If something is rusty and it shouldn't be, WD-40 can come to the rescue; it can even de-grease your hands or easily clean splattered bugs off your windshield. Though it's available in larger quantities, an 8-ounce can is small enough for the glove box or center console.
se 3-wick survival candle
Price: $6.43 | Buy it at Amazon
A multiwick candle can give off a surprising amount of heat and light if you're stranded in cold weather (just don't forget the matches). This soy-wax candle can burn for 36 hours and comes in a reusable aluminum tin.