Top 8 Best Car Escape Tools
By | Last updated: December 21, 2021
best car escape tools

It’s a scenario no one wants to think about: being trapped in a car for some unspeakable reason. Fire is, was, and always has been my  biggest fear. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who’s claustrophobic.

Like car insurance, something we buy but hope to never use, the best car-escape tools are an investment worth making. In situations where seconds matter, whether they’re your seconds or someone else’s, having one of these tools in the glovebox of your car is a solid plan.

And, with that alarmist hyperbole out of the way, your author feels like mentioning these things can be used for much more entertaining purposes, such as knocking the windows out of a $200 Crown Victoria before it is disposed of in a particularly violent demolition derby. Am I the only one on staff who’s been in derbies? Perhaps, though I did talk a former Managing Ed into one.

Here are a few good choices for safety or derby preparedness – your choice.

1. Editor’s Choice: Leatherman Raptor Emergency Response Shears

This versatile product from the boffins at Leatherman is your author’s choice. Why? It’s the one I keep in my own car, of course. This is probably one of the only series of automotive-related commerce posts on the web in which the author actually owns the stuff he recommends. Thank me later (or not, you ungrateful whelps).

Borrowing its name from a creature made famous in Jurassic Park, the Raptor can rip through glass and fabric like Blue ripped through the Indominus. Six tools are packed into this easy-to-use Leatherman, with the carbide-tipped glass breaker residing on the leading edge of a scissor handle. The unit is palm-sized when folded and unfurls into a pair of robust shears. A seatbelt cutter also swings out from the blade and includes an oxygen tank wrench, explaining why they’re carried by fire fighters. Yes, it’s expensive … and totally worth it.

Pros/Easy to use, multiple tools solidly made in America
Cons/Wallet-busting price

2. Lifehammer Brand Safety Hammer

Shown in a myriad of bright and easy-to-see-in-a-panic colors, this appropriately named LifeHammer is affordably priced and has the twin features of window breaker and seatbelt cutter. The hammer is tipped on each of its ends with hardened steel points to break tempered glass.

It spans about nine inches so should fit in most glove boxes, if not flat then at least on a jaunty angle. It is noted that the seatbelt cutter is recommended as a one-time use feature, meaning this is a one-and-done disposable tool. Here’s to hoping you never need a tool like this more than once, dear reader. The seller notes it has been given an award by the German Traffic Council, a presumably dour group not easily impressed.

Pros/Affordable, brightly colors, lightweight
Cons/Single use only

3. resqme Keychain Car Escape Tool

This option from the creatively named resqme brand of car escape tools is designed to dangle from your set of keys. We’ll inject a note of caution that, these days, most cars have a proximity push-to-start feature resulting in many folks having the actual keys to their vehicle buried deep in a purse or pocket, potentially putting this tool far out of reach or in an unpredictable location.

If you’re driving something in which you still need to twist a key, of course, then the tool is very much at hand. Weighing just 0.32 oz, it’s unlikely that this little scamp will place much strain on the ignition tumblers. We’ll still note here that it’s never a good idea to append too many items on one’s set of car keys.

Pros/Purchase price includes a set of two, small size
Cons/May not be at hand depending on where your keys reside

4. BlueSkyBos Emergency Escape Tool

Very similar to the tool listed two options above, this hammer/cutter combo is intended to get a person out of a particularly nasty vehicular fix. Priced at about the going rate of a Pumpkin Spiced Double Soy Venti Triple Whipped Latte (did I get that right?), there’s really little reason not to have one of these things inhabiting the glovebox or center console of your rig.

High-vis orange (despite the word ‘blue’ in its name) means it should be easier to find in a panic. It measures a couple of inches shorter than the other one shown above, meaning it can be stored in a greater variety of places. Pack it away somewhere though, as you definitely don’t want this thing or anything like it flying through the air during a panic stop.

Pros/Compact, light, dead simple to use
Cons/Customer reports of missing seatbelt blade

5. LUXON Emergency Tool 7-in-1 Car Safety Tool

Here’s a neat multi-tool that incorporates a flashlight into its slim frame which can be very handy in dark situations. Taking advantage of the unit having a bit of onboard power, the tool also has a USB port on its anterior side that can provide emergency power to a smartphone or other device.

In an inspired bit of thinking, the tool can be charged using a hand crank, making this thing useful even outside of the car during power outages, for example. The other safety kit – glass breaker and seat belt cutter – are on board as well. There’s also a red indicating light on the handle that flashes in an SOS morse code pattern when activated.

Pros/Features a flashlight and USB charging point
Cons/It’s something else to keep charged up

6. KNGUVHT Car Phone Charger with Emergency Escape Tool

Just about every car on the market is peppered with enough 12V power outlets and USB chargers to keep the entirety of Best Buy equipped in juice from now until the end of this century. Plenty of automakers are even putting them in the third-row seating area, long a space that was as much of an afterthought as a vegan menu at a BBQ joint.

This device plugs into a 12V socket to act as a power bank but, when unholstered, Clark Kent’s its way into action as a window breaker and seat belt ripper. A flashlight and red emergency beacon are also on board, getting its battery juice for these devices while plugged into a cigarette lighter or power outlet.

Pros/Good reviews, incorporates a charger and flashlight
Cons/Blue charging light cannot be extinguished

7. IPOW Car Safety Antiskid Hammer Seatbelt Cutter

Does this look familiar? It should, given that we’ve featured two of them already. The reason we’re consuming column-inches with this option is that the seller is [Billy Mays voice] including four of them with every purchase [/Billy Mays voice]. Like the others, its double-sided head with hardened sharp stainless steel points shatters vehicle windows with ease.

The expected seat belt cutter blade has a plastic leading edge to guide the sharp edge along the webbing. These also come with a mounting bracket, which can be affixed onto seemingly any flat surface. The transmission hump on certain older cars might provide a good spot for that, just make sure the thing is securely fastened so prevent it coming undone and causing the very accident from which you’re now trying to escape.

Pros/Billy Mays style extra units, plastic holder keeps it at hand
Cons/Head is not carbide-tipped

8. Swiss+Tech Bodyguard Auto Emergency Escape Tool

Here’s a spring-loaded glass breaker that is designed to deploy by itself when pressed against a pane of glass. Also built in to the unit is a flashlight and the seat belt cutter, the latter of which is on every option in this list. Recommendation: if you’re not sure how these things work, hit up a junkyard where the crew can surely provide you with tattered seat belts for a bit of practice.

It is very lightweight at just over three ounces but its advertised dimensions are surely incorrect, listing the device as measuring over two feet long and a foot wide. We’ll assume they are centimeter increments, not inches. This is why copy editors are important, folks.

Pros/Flashlight onboard, small size
Cons/Non-rechargeable batteries

Do car escape hammers work?

A short answer would be, yes, they do. A car escape hammer has a spring-loaded pointed metal that hits the glass of your car’s window with a force. As a result, the glass gets shattered, and you get enough room to escape the vehicle in case of emergencies.

Another feature that a car escape tool has is a seatbelt cutter that enables you to cut the seatbelt if it is stuck, and you are unable to unlock it with the button.

What is a car safety tool?

A car safety tool is a piece of equipment that enables you to cut the seatbelt and break the windowpane of your car in case of emergencies. You may need such a tool to make your escape easier, should you feel the need of leaving your car.

For instance, if your car falls in a lake or somewhere else under the water, or if it rolls over due to some reason, it would be cumbersome for you to get out of it due to the tightened seatbelt and strong window glass. A good-quality car safety tool could be a lifesaver in such situations.

How does the car escape tool work?

A typical car escape tool or escape hammer has a spring-loaded pointer made of metal. While using, the spring is released, and the metal pointer hits the glass of the car window with extreme force, thus shattering it completely.

However, if the glass is laminated, it only breaks and doesn’t shatter. In such a situation, you are required to push the broken glass outwards to remove it from the window to make enough room for your escape. In any case, for security reasons, you are strongly advised to use hand-gloves and eye-protection glasses before using a life hammer to break the glass.

Another common feature that a car escape tool has is a seatbelt cutter that enables you to cut the seatbelt if you are stuck in the car in an awkward position. It is a good practice to cut the seatbelt diagonally to make the process effortless and easier.

What is a life hammer?

A life hammer is a small piece of equipment for your car that is mounted at an easily reachable position to the driver. The tool is useful to cut the seatbelt and break the glass of the window, should you feel the need of escaping the vehicle in case of an emergency.

While buying a life hammer, some of the features that you must look for in it include:

  • Grip

Check if the life hammer has a handle that allows a firm grip. This would be useful if you are stuck in the car in an awkward position, and cannot break the windowpane or cut the seatbelt easily. With the firm grip, doing such things could become pretty convenient.

  • Material

Although most life hammers are made of good quality material, it is imperative to double-check the substance used to manufacture your preferred tool before making a purchase. This ensures that the equipment works well even if it has not been used for a while.

  • Mounting Bracket

Make sure that the life hammer that you are planning to buy comes with a mounting bracket as well. This will help you mount the tool at an easily reachable location where the driver can grab it in case of an emergency.

  • Seatbelt Cutter

Even though a seatbelt cutter is present in most life hammers, make sure to check its presence while buying one for your car. This may come in handy when you are stuck in a position where the seatbelt is jammed, and you are unable to unlock it with the button.

  • Fluorescent Visibility

Ensure that the life hammer that you are about to purchase has a fluorescent patch. This will make the tool remain visible even in the absence of proper light or luminance. With a fluorescent patch, it will be easy for you to grab the equipment and use it to safely escape the vehicle.

  • Ceramic Firing Point

Some branded life hammers come with a ceramic firing point that produces comparatively more powerful blow, thus causing more damage to the glass of your car’s window, and making your escape quicker.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: tuttoo / Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

One Comment on “Best Car Escape Tools: Get Me Outta Here...”

  • avatar

    The Leatherman “super scissors” are the only thing here worth buying but you don’t really need them unless you happen to be a paramedic or fire rescue. Any first-aid person should have something like that.

    Any sharp scissors or knife will cut a seatbelt strap. Side windows take little force to break.


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