5. Tire gauge. Crosby says motorists should use the tire gauge in their car emergency kit to periodically check the air pressure in their spare tire. "Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated," he says. "A lot of the time people ignore it until they have a flat, and then discover the spare is flat, too."
6. Foam tire sealant. A quick, inexpensive way to repair many flats without changing the tire.
7. Jumper cables. They should be at least 10 feet in length and coated with at least 8-gauge rubber.
8. Flashlight and extra batteries. The flashlight should be waterproof.
11. Duct tape. It is the universal fix-it solution. Carry at least 10 feet of it.
12. Tow strap or tow rope. It should be strong enough to tow 6,000 pounds.
13. Multipurpose utility tool. This can be something like a Leatherman Tool or a Swiss Army Knife.
14. Rain poncho. Even an inexpensive plastic poncho is better than nothing when changing a tire in the pouring rain.
15. Drinking water.
16. Nonperishable snacks. Protein bars are a good choice.
According to Crosby, during the winter you should add a few other items if you might encounter snow and ice:
17. Warm blanket.
18. Snow shovel.
19. Cat litter. It works as well as sand beneath the tires for traction and weighs less.
20. Windshield ice scraper.
Although many prepackaged car emergency kits contain a few tools like pliers and a screwdriver, Crosby advises that these aren't must-have items. "In the old days," he says, "you could do some roadside repairs yourself, but today's cars are too complicated for that. The tools you do need to be concerned about are those that came with the car, along with the jack, to change a tire. Make sure those tools are there."
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