Top Items You Should Have In Your Vehicle's Summer Emergency Kit

Buying Tips & Tricks July 30, 2021

As we are currently at the peak of summer and may yet experience another heatwave, it’s important that your vehicle is prepped with the basic summer essentials. Us Western Canadians usually ensure that we have our winter car emergency kit ready come October, but it’s substantial to remember that summer months do not come without their own risks and . So before you head out on your next road trip, here’s our list of must-have items to put in your vehicle summer emergency kit.

Maintenance/Auto Supplies

It’s likely that you already have most of these items in your roadside emergency kit to keep you prepared for any mishaps or issues in the winter, but it’s a good idea to give them a permanent home in your car for any summer incidents as well. If you don’t have some of these items already, we have provided you with links to some of our favorites things to keep in your car for summer. 

  • Jumper cables ($12 Canadian Tire): Your basic red and black cables probably never leave your vehicle but here’s a gentle reminder to pick some up if you don’t have them yet. Or, jump into the future and buy an electric battery booster ($135 Amazon).
  • Mini tools ($8-$25): Be prepared for anything with a mini 8-in-1 screwdriver ($8 Miniso), a folding pocket knife/pliers ($13 Amazon), mini ratchet set ($14 Amazon), and a mini socket set ($23 Canadian Tire) are great tools to start with. 
  • Tire patch kit ($8 Canadian Tire): Definitely not a long-term solution, but great to have in your summer car kit when you need a quick fix until you can get to your local shop.
  • Battery voltmeter ($20 Canadian Tire): An essential tool to have in your roadside emergency kit to use after boosting your battery and detect if it’s defective or deteriorating. 
  • Washer fluid ($3 Canadian Tire): Refill as needed to combat not only that winter freeze, but muddy, rainy drives through the mountains, for instance. 
  • Oil ($8-$25 Canadian Tire): Top up your vehicle’s oil as needed and get an oil change before your road trip if you’ve been putting it off. 
  • Flashlight ($4-$8): No survival kit is complete without one! Pack a flashlight, with extra batteries ($4.50 Rona), or invest in a crank flashlight ($8 Cabela’s)
  • Engine coolant ($15-$30 Walmart): A must-have in case your car overheats and you’re at a vacation destination (or en route to one) where there is a scarcity of auto shops. (2014 NAPA). Check your vehicle manual if you’re unsure what kind of coolant your car needs. 
  • Tire pressure gauge ($4 Canadian Tire): A basic necessity for your summer road trip to double check your tires before you leave or if your tire pressure warning indicator lights up.
  • Wheel lock key for tires ($ - varies): If your vehicle has a specific wheel lock key to remove the lug nuts from the tires, then this is a fundamental item that should remain with you or in your vehicle. You may find yourself in a small town with a shop that does not have the proper wheel lock key for your tires and would be unable to remove the lug nuts in any case of repair. If you need a new key, contact your manufacturer to purchase a replacement.
  • Spare tire ($ - varies): A temporary “band-aid” fix until you are able to get to a repair shop. Most vehicles come equipped with a spare but you may be able to purchase one. Remember to drive no more than about 100km with a spare and no faster than 80km/hour. (2020, Roadway Ready)
  • Windshield sunshades ($ - varies): Your eyes aren’t the only ones that need shades in the summer! To help minimize the work of your car’s A/C system, pack a windshield sunshade ($5 Shein). Additionally, you can purchase retractable side window sunshades, which can help keep the sun out of your passengers’ eyes as well. ($3 Romwe and $7 Shein) (2014, NAPA)

Seasonal Supplies

Have you ever taken the kids out for a picnic in the park and realize that you forgot sunscreen? We’ve been there before, too. Use this list to stash away summer supplies for those inevitable forgetful moments. 

  • Blanket ($6 Walmart): Handy if you are stranded somewhere, need an extra blanket for a friend while you watch the Stampede’s Grandstand fireworks, or if you have an impromptu picnic.
  • 2-3 full water bottles: Stay hydrated, folks. Western Canada has had some scorching heat waves lately and you never know when you might be feeling thirsty. 
  • Sunscreen ($9 For Kids Amazon, $13 Adults Amazon): Skin health is a priority! Pack the highest SPF you can and re-apply every two hours. But remember to only store sunscreen sticks in your car. Storing liquid sunscreens in extreme heat can decrease its effectiveness and shorten its lifespan. Aerosol spray sunscreens should never be kept in a hot vehicle as the pressure can build and potentially explode. (Autoweek, 2019)
  • Sunglasses and/or hat ($20 Aldo): It never hurts to have a back-up pair of shades. 
  • Non-perishable snacks ($1.50 Walmart): Beneficial to have if you run out of road trip snacks, get stranded, or to satisfy your hungry toddler. Pack snacks like unsalted, dried fruits, granola, hard candy - anything that won’t expire quickly or melt and make a mess. (NSC)
  • Umbrella ($8 Mountain Warehouse) and/or rain poncho or rain jacket ($8 Amazon): Summer weather is inherently unpredictable with the rage of climate change. Pack some rainproof gear to keep you dry during those random mid-afternoon showers. 
  • Bugspray ($9 Walmart): Keep mosquitoes and other pests away in a pinch and pack a bottle of (non-aerosol) repellent.

Personal Supplies

These supplies are more customizable and based on your own lifestyle. Personal supplies can range from extra infant diapers, to medications, or backup makeup products. Whatever your lifestyle is, keep extra stock in your emergency car kit to avoid future stress. 

  • First aid kit ($4 Shopper Drug Mart): Safety, first!
  • Phone charging cable ($7 Best Buy) or external charger ($7 Walmart): Essential items to keep your phone charged for road trip tunes or to avoid a low battery while stranded.
  • Earphones ($4 Best Buy)
  • Infant supplies ($ - varies): There’s no such thing as over-prepared when it comes to little ones! Pack an extra bottle, some diapers, wipes, etc. (2020 SGI Canada)
  • Extra glasses and/or contact lenses/solution ($6.50 Shoppers Drug Mart): 
  • Extra makeup ($ - varies): Pack balms and powders if you can ($5 Walmart)! Lipsticks and other cream-based makeup may melt if left in a hot vehicle. 
  • If you are bringing a furry friend along for the trip, consider bringing these items:
  1. Dog treats/food ($ - varies): Avoid freeze-dried food or baked goods that may melt or expire in extreme heat. Think of packing kibble, a chew, or hard treats instead. Always read the storage directions on the back of the product! 
  2. Dog collapsible water bowl ($3 Shein): You’re not the only one facing the wrath of recent heat waves.
  3. Dog bags ($1.50/pack Dollarama): If he’s gotta go, he’s gotta go!
  4. Dog chew toy: Keep your dog occupied to ward off anxiety and motion sickness. 
  5. Lint roller ($1 Ikea): Catch any stray dog hairs, whether you’re about to step into a big meeting or attending a friend’s wedding at the next town over. 
  • 1 warm weather outfit, 1 cold weather outfit: Canada’s weather loves to switch from day to day! It’s great to have an extra sweater for a cold afternoon or a change of clothes in the vehicle if needed. 
  • Hobbies/Sports gear ($ - varies): Our favorites to pack are a frisbee and a good book!
  • Toiletries and hygiene products ($ - varies): Think toothbrush, floss, gum, comb, deodorant, feminine products, etc. 
  • Travel-size hair products ($3-$10): Avoid aerosol products that may explode under extreme temperatures. Try a powder dry-shampoo or a spray gel instead of the standard aerosol versions of such products.