This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Best Emergency Gear for Summer Driving Trips

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- You won't freeze to death if your car breaks down during a summer driving vacation the way you might in winter, but other dangers abound -- so here are some key emergency items to carry on your trip.

"A severe breakdown during the summer can be an inconvenience at the very least, and a risk to your life at the worst," says Mike Calkins, an ASE-certified master auto technician and national technical-services manager for AAA. He says that while you won't get stuck in a snowbank or skid on ice this time of year, hot summer weather can do a number on plenty of your car's systems, from the radiator to the tires.

"If you take a car with underinflated tires, load it up with family members and all of the stuff that you take on vacation and drive it on hot pavement in high temperatures, the tires can easily overheat and blow out," Calkins says. "That's not something you tend to see in the winter."

Read on for a look at a few things that the expert recommends everyone take on driving vacations this summer in case of emergencies, along with tips for where to buy them and approximately how much to pay.

Cellphone, car charger and a spare battery
"A cellphone is your No. 1 line of defense today if your car breaks down," says Calkins, who recommends preprograming your phone with the number of a roadside repair service such as AAA's (800-AAA-HELP).

Also see: 5 Family-Friendly Car Features

He also advises carrying an adapter that will allow you to charge your phone's battery via your car's cigarette lighter. These cost as little as a dollar or so, and you can find them everywhere from big-box retailers to drugstores these days.

Calkins also suggests buying an a spare external battery pack for your phone and throwing it in the glove box for emergencies. These widely available devices typically cost between $10 and $80 and will power up your phone or other electronic devices for an hour or more.

Emergency food and water

Carrying water can literally mean the difference between life and death if your car breaks down in a remote area during summer heat.

"You definitely need to have enough water on hand for you and your passengers -- and if you're traveling with a pet, keep them in mind too," Calkins says.

The expert says how much water to carry depends on how far off the beaten path you plan to go.

"You can probably get by with nothing if if you're traveling from one side of Los Angeles to another -- but if you're going from L.A. to Bakersfield, that's a different story because you're going to be in the middle of nowhere for a while," Calkins says.

He also recommends having some dried fruit, packaged nuts and/or energy bars on hand to provide food in case you're stranded on the roadside for a while.

Tools

Calkins suggests drivers with enough do-it-yourself know-how to change tires carry a tool kit, tire-pressure gauge and/or x-bar lug wrench (those four-pronged tools that look like big crucifixes).

Also see: How to Keep Seniors Safe When They Drive

"The lug wrenches that come with [cars' spare tires] aren't that big or strong, so I like the big x-bar wrenches," he says. "There's really no substitute for them when you have a flat tire."

X-bar wrenches typically cost around $10 to $30, while emergency toolkits run about $15 to $50 and tire-pressure gauges range from roughly $2 to $20. 

While many consumers can change flat tires, Calkins recommends calling for help rather than trying to fix an overheated engine yourself, as those who try to add coolant to hot radiators run the risk of serious scalding.

He says overheated engines can also suffer permanent damage if not addressed quickly and properly. "Today's engines have got a lot of aluminum components that are built to very tight tolerances and can warp pretty easily," Calkins says.

Emergency flares and reflective triangles

Flares or reflective triangles cost almost nothing to put down on the road when your car breaks down, but can save you and your family from potentially fatal accidents.

"It can really ruin your whole day if you have a breakdown by the side of the road and someone plows into you," Calkins says.

Most emergency-repair kits come with flares and/or reflective triangles in addition to tools. You can also buy flares as stand-alone items for around $3 to $5 for a three pack, while triangles cost about $10 apiece (although they're often sold in multi-packs).

 

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,160.00 +185.69 1.09%
S&P 500 0.00 -2.75 -0.14%
NASDAQ 4,552.3250 +3.0990 0.07%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs