Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Transportation

Tools for the car

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I was trying to find a thread on what tools people keep in the car for repairs/emergencies.  Couldn't find anything specific (my search terms probably sucked).

I have four cars, and was looking to duplicate whatever I get in each car.  What tools would you consider "absolutes"?  I was thinking mainly a set of 3/8" sockets (SAE & Metric, do I bother with deep sockets or just make sure I have every size in 3/8 available?), standard set of wrenches (SAE & Metric), real screwdrivers (no jewelry size or big), 1 or 2 crescent wrenches, pliers, needle nose with wire cutter, 1/2" breaker bar with lug nut sockets.

What do you think?  Any big holes?  I know I can't cover everything; trying to be reasonable about it.  I want to keep the toolkit budget right around $100 if I can for each car.  Prefer 6pt tools, but I can't seem to find any cheap ones like Harbor Freight to keep my cost down if anything is stolen.  Recommendations on kits that come with all this?  I am trying to avoid having too many pieces/tools in the car.  Do I really need a kit that comes with both 1/4 and 3/8, and tons of little bits that I can lose?

You should be able to piece meal a kit from Harbor Freight for under a 100 bucks. They always have some tools on sale. I would go with 3/8 and 1/2 sockets regular and deep well. Buy a decent ratchet to use with the sockets. As for plyers and screwdrivers they dont have to be anything fancy. Just something that will work on the roadside to get you going again. I would add a couple of nut drivers in 1/4 and 5/16 to tighten hose clamps and such. I would also get a pair of vise grips. To top it off thrown in your bag some bailing wire, duct tape and zip ties.

Vise-grip pliers
Vise-grip pliers
Pry bar
Channel lock/slip groove pliers
Headlamp and gloves

I like to customize my kits specifically to each vehicle. I know which sizes the cars use and which tools I need to complete most tasks that will leave me stranded. Most of the tools in my car kits came from Northern tool or Fleet Farm. Nothing fancy for sure.$100 is a very reasonable budget for a tool kit.

As important as tools, is the repair supplies you carry with them.

Hose clamps
Zip ties
Duct tape
Bungee cords
Mechanics wire (I really like wire for tying rebar instead of "mechanics wire")
Electrical tape
Fuses (get ones that fit your vehicle)
Electrical wire

While I took enough shop in high school to rebuild a carburetor on the side of a road (and I've done it with my older vehicles), these newer vehicles are #1, more reliable, and #2, more difficult to fix.  That's why I focus on the most likely things to go wrong and my tool kit is pretty minimal (screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, small vice-grip).  What I do carry is spares for what I can fix:

Fix-a-flat (in case it goes flat some place that would be dangerous to change, I have multiple flats, or discover a flat spare)
Jumper cables or a jumpstarter/inverter/compressor/usb charger (cables in the car, jumpstarter in the truck)
Duct tape, electrical tape, bailing wire
Tow strap (even in my little car, because that guy in the big truck might not have one, but he's always willing to show off how hard his truck can pull on things)
Insulated wire (10-12 ga)
Breaker bar for tire wrench (handy for some other things, too ;))
Spare wiper blades (at least the driver's side)
Spare headlamps (at least the low beams)
Windshield washer fluid
Quart of oil and ATF
Tire chains (I keep mine with my spare year-round)

Also useful:
High visibility vest (not only for the side of the road, but serves as an all-access pass in many emergencies)
Rain gear you can work and walk in (and enough disposable ponchos or garbage bags for every occupant of the car)
Get Home Bag (similar to a BOB, but be sure to include good walking footware, winter clothing and keep it light and portable)
Latex/Nitryl gloves
Rags or paper towels
Cheap, disposable wool gloves (army surplus liners) (thin enough to work in, thick enough to keep your hands off cold tools)
Ratchet straps (the 10,000 pound rated ones can work as a come-along in a pinch)

Simplest way to kit your toolbox is to keep any tools you use to work on a particular car in one bag, container, roll etc. If you find yourself needing any of those tools for any other purpose, duplicate them so the car kit can stay in the car. Remember to have some duplicates in the form of sockets, a couple of adjustables and a visegrip or two.

Other handy things to have the newer cars are ignition modules, switches and sensors.


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