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Last night we were out and about. I stopped to gas up wife's PT Cruiser and noticed that her right rear tire was really low. I never even looked to see if they had an air machine at the station, because those things are usually $1 to use and loud and noisy. I just drove over to a safe area and whipped out my trusty little Harbor Freight air compressor and plugged it into the rear 12V outlet and it has a built in pressure gauge. I got the tire up to 35 PSI and unplugged it.

I keep those in both cars. They are only about $9 at Harbor Freight. I have used it on a few other people's cars over the last couple of years, not just my own.

also I have:
air pressure gauge (slightly more accurate than the one built into the compressor)
jumper cables
Phillips and regular screw drivers, a pair of pliers
blanket (kept on the rear shelf/divider thing that all PT's have).
Tomtom GPS (better than a smart phone GPS and use of phones while driving is illegal in most areas)
potable water and some basic food like energy bars, candy, and peanuts (wife is diabetic)

What else would be wise to include in an emergency car kit?
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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I have my good ole trusty tool box in my Ram. Also a flashlight, jumper cables, rope, various straps and a handy multi tool.

Only have jumper cables in the Journey. For long trips I throw my toolbox in as well.

And I always have my cell phone (and charger) with me just in case.

I would also advise some sort of auto club membership (AAA, Amoco Motor Club, etc) - never know when you might need a tow.

For long trips we usually have our Tom Tom, but maps are advisable as well. I always like to know just where the heck I am. GPS units can be inaccurate at times. On our last trip, the address was correct, but it led us to a spot about 3-5 miles away. And not being familiar with the area had me thrown for a loop.

We've bought car kits (jumper cables, flares, small tool kit) for the kids to keep in their various vehicles. Also bought them quality flashlights one year for Christmas.

In the winter I try to keep extra blankets in both vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, we have AAA -- a must have. I also carry a flashlight (LED). As for the GPS, I usually look at a Google Map on my laptop before we leave on a long trip to make sure the Tomtom's directions are in the ballpark/area. Or if there's a discrepancy, I can check my wife's smartphone which has Google maps, Waze GPS, and the internet. Tomtoms use TeleAtlas maps, and Garmins use Navteq maps, so carrying both brands might be a good idea, too.

Maps are great for getting the "big picture" of an area, though. They are usually free at DMV's and rest areas. If you don't have a map, you may not know where things are in relation to each other, so even if I don't really need a paper map, they are nice. But I guess you can zoom out on a Google Map to get the lay of the land.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Depends on the age of the car really.

I don't keep a compressor because QuikTrip has free air and it usually works, and there are lots of those stations around here.

In the Impala I keep the tool needed to change the serpentine belt, an old bedsheet, a pair of rough leather gloves, the draw bar and ball for the tow hitch, an old parasol, a couple of pads to use for kneelers or padding between items in the trunk, a serpentine belt, and replacement radiator hoses. There's probably a small block of wood too. I keep the hoses and belt because the ones on the car are original and now eighteen years old.

In my wife's Integra there's a length of black pipe to act as a cheater bar, a block of wood, jumper cables, a "safety kit" which has some first aid stuff and some gloves and some probably useless tools, an umbrella.

In the Nissan Hardbody there are some regular mechanic's tools because it's also the vehicle that ends up at the junkyard if I go parts hunting. It also has heavy duty jumper cables and some other miscellaneous stuff, and lots of gloves as it's used as a truck often and the loads are often hot or dirty.

All of the cars have flashlights.
 

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A wrench that will fit the bolts to the engine's thermostat housing. I learned this the hard way; when while driving, the thermostat failed and stuck in the closed position, and the engine got hot. I had no wrench to remove the thermostat; and was reduced to filling the radiator with water every 1/2 mile till I got the car home. No permanent damage to the engine...

An older cell phone that is "not on a plan" can still dial 911.

A can of fix-a-flat.

A container of water and emergency meals in case you drive over a cliff.

In my state you can carry a gun in the vehicle, don't leave home without this tool.
 
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