We’ve talked before about keeping an emergency kit in your car, but what about tools? Every driver should have at least a few tools in their car that they, and/or any Good Samaritan who might stop by to help, can use for quick repairs or just to get you to the nearest available mechanic. A good set of tools can easily be stored in a sturdy tool box in your trunk so you won’t have to worry about keeping track of them.
Of course, there’s no limit to the types of tools you might need on the road, but for the purposes of this list, we’re going to keep to a few essential items that can be used by someone who may not be an expert mechanic–that is to say, most car owners. This basic set of tools won’t fix everything, but some of them could make a big difference in an emergency situation.
- Flashlight: If you’ve ever tried to fix a flat on a dark night, you’ll appreciate having a flashlight in your tool kit. A flashlight with a magnet on the side is best; be sure to keep some spare batteries on hand, too (or invest in a pricey, but durable, hand-crank model.)
- Jumper cables: This item is already on our emergency kit list, but we thought it was important enough to include again. Don’t get the kind that plug into your car’s lighter; a good quality set of cables will last longer and be useful for a bigger range of vehicle sizes.
- Roadside reflectors: If you have to pull over on the side of the road at night, roadside reflectors can be literal lifesavers, increasing your visibility to other motorists. And unlike road flares, reflectors won’t burn out, so you can use them as many times as necessary.
- Adjustable wrench: You probably won’t be able to cram a whole socket set into your tool box, but an adjustable wrench can really come in handy when there are bolts to be loosened or tightened.
- Tire pressure gauge: Not just for emergencies–you should be using this tool every week to check the pressure in your tires. Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by your car’s manufacturer, and be sure to check tire pressure before going on any long trips.
- Can of tire inflator and sealer: This goopy substance won’t actually fix your tire, but it can get you to the next available repair shop. Be sure to tell the mechanics that you’ve used it; this stuff is messy and you may have to pay an extra fee for the mechanic to clean it up. Remember, each can is only good for one use.
- Tow strap: A good quality tow strap can mean the difference between getting your car off the side of the road and to a safe place with the help of a friend and paying big money for a tow truck to do the same thing. A tow strap should only be used for short to medium distances. Whether you are being towed or doing the towing, be sure to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see where the strap can be safely attached.
- Duct tape: Okay, it’s not actually a tool, but you can’t underestimate the importance of a good roll of duct tape. Duct tape can re-attach a piece of your car’s bodywork after a fender bender or patch a hose long enough to get you to a repair shop. Get the high quality kind; it sticks better and lasts longer.
- Leatherman or other similar multi-tool: Available in a variety of sizes and types, a good multi-tool can be useful in many different settings. At the minimum, you’ll want one with a flat head screwdriver, pliers, knife blade, and scissors.
- LifeHammer or other similar escape tool: This tool is one you should never keep in the tool box; instead, it should be mounted near the driver’s seat with double-sided tape or Velcro in a place where it can easily be reached by the driver. Designed to help you escape your car in case of flooding or other dangerous situation, this tool features pointed hammerlike ends for breaking through the tempered glass of your car window, as well as a special blade for slicing through your seat belt.
A good tool kit can keep you out of trouble and off the side of the road in case of emergency, but it’s no substitute for proper maintenance of your car. Stop by and see us regularly, and we’ll help you keep your car running well and looking great.