The kickoff of back to school can sometimes mean a new (or new to them) vehicle for some lucky students. Every parent imagines the same scenarios – a blinding blizzard or a breakdown in the worst area with no cell service. A few preventative measures will go a long way regardless of whether a full factory warranty and roadside assistance come with a new ride, or the new-to-you beater.

A full roadside assistance coverage auto membership would be the first tool to purchase, especially for your student drive travelling from far away. Some memberships like CAA or AAA offer many more services than just battery boosts and tows – their memberships can cover emergency fuel delivery, flat tire changes, recommendations to approved and verified repair centres and associated retailer discount plans.

A washer-fluid jug tray is a must to avoid liquid spills and stains if your vehicle is not equipped with a cargo storage pocket for that purpose. Booster cables at least 8-guage wires – they get thinner as the gauge number increases – and at least 16 feet long will be invaluable, but ensure the driver/owner knows how to use them.

Some battery cable kits come with easy-to-follow instructions. Many now even have LED correct-circuit indicators to make connection fool-proof, that being said personal instruction is always the best. Done incorrectly could cost you in engine wiring repairs.

Close-up of a man rolling a spare wheel

Be sure to check for a jack and tire wrench kit. A traditional cross design wheel wrench is still touted as the best hand-operated wrench on the market for wheel nuts. Although it may take up more room it will work regardless what your upper body strength is. Some wheel wrenches that comes with vehicles few professional weight-lifters can easily use. Battery-operated impact wrenches are highly recommended by many DIYers, but are of little use in a roadside emergency unless they are kept fully charged.

A small, 12-inch square piece of strong thick wood would also be handy used as a jack plate when working on soft ground. A 12-volt air compressor and emergency combo can be a valuable asset to avoid changing a flat tire in many cases. Another consideration is a can of tire sealant, although few will reinflate a flat tire with the weight of the vehicle on it, but it can be used in conjunction with an air-compressor to stop a minor puncture leak.

A fully stocked wrench bag isn’t necessary unless your student driver is mechanically proficient. A small kit with a multi-headed screwdriver, medium weight hammer, a few metric hand wrenches, and both locking and non-locking pliers are great items to be stocked in the vehicle for most roadside emergencies.

Not to be forgotten are a flashlight or emergency flasher unit and a good quality utility knife. Last but not least are work gloves, paper towels, first aid kit and duct tape.

Encourage your driver to do a quick check every time they enter their vehicle to ensure tires are not flat and always make sure they are on top half of fuel in the fuel tank.