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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vehicle Tool Kits

Okay, someone asked me a while back what they should put in a tool kit for their problematic vehicle.  After some thought, what I have come up with is this:  Buy everything you can fit in the largest tool box you can fit into whatever you drive.  Also include an extra of everything that could break on your vehicle.  There you go!  Have a good weekend and be watching for my next post!

Alright, so that was a pretty lame response. Back to the topic with all kidding aside this time...

For putting together a tool kit for your vehicle you need to assess your vehicle and be realistic about what you intend to accomplish with it.  Every person needs at least the most basic of tool kits in their car or truck (hence forth ALL vehicles will be referred to as cars in this post for simplicity's sake) regardless of your mechanical prowess.  Why?  Because even if you have no idea what is wrong or how to fix it, sooner or later some helpful soul may happen by and say "Well that'd be an easy fix if only I had a ______" and if you have one... no tow truck bill or cold walk home for you!

The most very basic of tool kits for any vehicle should include: a 1/4 x 4 inch flat head screwdriver, a # 2 x 4 Phillips head screwdriver, a 10" adjustable wrench, a set of lineman's pliers, a 10" Channellock pliers, and a 10" Vise-grip pliers.  It should also include a roll of electrical tape, a roll of duct tape, a small ball-peen hammer, and extra fuses.

While I am on the subject of fuses... go by Advanced Auto and get an assortment pack of the type fuses your car uses.  When a fuse blows, replace it with the same size fuse.  If it blows again soon after, you will need to get it checked out by a mechanic.  However, don't assume that you are looking a a trip to the mechanic just because you blew a fuse... sometimes they just go.  If you should happen to find that you do not have the correct size fuse, go up to the next size (larger number) you have, but remember to replace it with the correct size when you can.

After you have put together the basic kit above, start adding to it as you can.  Next in should be two more screwdrivers- the #1 x 4 Phillips and the 3/16 x 4 flat head, an 8" adjustable wrench, a set of needle nose pliers, and a set of diagonal cutters.  Also toss in about a three foot piece of 14 gauge wire.

Additionally, the next time you take your car to get serviced, have the belt replaced regardless of whether or not it needs it "right now" and have them take the old belt and put it into the new belt box wrap and toss your spare into the kit.  You never know when your fancy serpentine belt will go and if it does and you are in the middle of nowhere, you are screwed, even if someone handy happens by and knows how to replace it...UNLESS you have a spare!

Two other items I'd advise you to put in your kit would be a bottle of Slime tire sealant, and a small cigarette lighter plug type compressor.  The slime will come with a valve removal tool.  You simply unscrew the valve from the center of the valve stem, squirt the entire bottle of slime into the tire, then replace the valve and add air.  Drive it for a few miles and then stop and top off your air.  Your tire repair guy will hate you for it, but that's what he gets paid for!  (And for what it's worth, I do every tire on every ATV or mower I own.  Barring a massive failure of the tire, I have NEVER had a flat since starting this practice over eight years ago.  I have actually worn a set of ATV tires out and never put a single plug in them.  Upon removal of the old tires and inspecting the inside I found NUMEROUS mesquite thorns, wire pieces, and nails inside them. NO JOKE, Slime WORKS!)

The last things you'll want to add to have a pretty complete tool kit would be a set of combination wrenches in both metric and standard, a set of Allen wrenches in metric and standard, and a set of Torx bits and a driver.  If you look around at different suppliers you can find a ratcheting driver set with Torx, Allen, both types of  screwdriver bits, and some driver bits, all in one nifty little box.  These are great, but known for failing when you need them.  I'd recommend getting a good set that costs more, or a direct drive (non-ratcheting) set.

So now you have a nice basic kit, but let's say for a minute that you want to go all in on a good vehicle kit and not piece it together.  What now?  Well, it actually gets pretty easy from here.  Simply buy a GOOD, high quality pre-made tool kit.  One with a lifetime warranty and MADE IN THE USA!  Most folks would be amazed to learn that most all quality hand tools are made by one of about three tool makers.  So skip all the rhetoric and get what you can afford as long as it fits the above description.

As an experiment, back in 2001 some friends and I performed a COMPLETE ENGINE SWAP on a front wheel drive, police package Taurus using nothing but a Cresent tool kit purchased at Costco for $79.00.  The only other "tool" we used was an engine hoist, but I don't think that is very practical in an emergency tool kit for your car... but if it'll fit!!!

If you go the pre-made tool kit route you will still want the compressor and Slime, the two types of tape, the wire, the belt, and the hammer. Also toss in a decent tow strap, a good four-way lug wrench, a D-cell LED Maglite, a good set of jumper cables, a tire gauge, and some road flares too.

If nothing else, when you can't fix it, you'll be able to beat on it with your hammer!



Anonymous said...

I also like to have a 10' piece of 16ga. wire, a few butt connectors for wire splice jobs, and a cheap pair of electrical pliers. I also have a fire extinguisher, and a bottle of water. If you want to call the water a TOOL we can say that its for a potentially low radiator. But, I have it available to drink also in an emergency. Oh, and a ninja sword for zombies.

Anonymous said...

I also keep some cash in my bag you never know, I also keep a extra gun and ammo,but this isn't one of my high dollar guns

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