I was at lunch with my coworkers the other day, most of whom are also industrial designers. The topic of cars inevitably came up and we got to talking about the last car each of us owned in which we carried some sort of supplemental tool kit. Several guys had *never* owned a car for which they felt they needed emergency tools, but others of us had at some point carried enough kit to overhaul the engine right on the side of the road.
That’s my old ’64 in the pic above, and the tan bin contained enough spare parts and select tools to be able to handle most typical issues a vintage VW might experience (note the Idiot manual). I carried my whole toolbox in my ’71 VW ‘bus, and sometimes a floor jack and stands if I was on a longer road trip (had to use ’em once or twice, too!).
So what’s the last car in which you regularly carried a tool kit, and what’s the most interesting roadside repair you’ve had to make?
The last car in which I carried tools was my ’66 Beetle. I also had the John Muir book, an extra bottle of oil, paper towels, a small rug on which to lie down and hand cleaner. The most interesting repair? Probably when I swapped out the carb right in the parking lot of a car parts store so I could get my core charge back to buy gas. Beetles are insanely easy to work on, which is great because I had to do it a lot.
Used to carry my entire toolbox in the trunk in my Fury III and Chevelle days…and a n extra ballast resistor for the Fury that I never did need. When I switched to Chevettes I only carried the tools on long trips since it was a hatchback.
These days I usually keep a spare serpentine belt and the tools to change it in my cars. Long trips I take the tool box, but mostly to insure that I don’t need it, figure if I have it, I won’t need it and visa-versa.
Usually have jumper cables with me as well…I’ve only needed them when I haven’t had them don’t you know.
1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16. Basic belts, fluids, oil, hand tools (sockets, extensions, wrenches, and screwdrivers, mostly), cap and rotor, fuses, relays, bulbs, hand pump and tubing. It’s pretty much what I’ve carried in every car I’ve had with the exceptions being changing out the distributor rotor for points and adding feeler gauges depending on the ignition system.
Best (and worst) roadside repair: swapping out the fuel pump on my Rover P6. This was literally at the side of the road at 2am in pouring rain; I knew that the pump was on its way out, but never had the time to change it so just tossed it in the trunk until the time came. The car decided that for me, and the only light I had to do the job by was a Bic lighter. Survived the experience and decided that wilfully postponing repair of known issues was a no-no after that point.
1988 Pontiac Fiero Formula. I carry enough tools in my frunk (front trunk) to fill it up. I shouldn’t have a problem with the car (and I haven’t in 30,000 miles) but you never know what you’ll need to do and where you’ll need to do it at.
In my Mercury I carry the tool box I built in high school metal shop (which was built to the same high standards of a St. Regis). It only contains the bare essentials; screwdrivers, pliars, and the like.
It’s not so much for the car as it is for trips to the junkyard.
I think we both had identical kits for vw van ownership Ed. It took me quite a few road trips in my Toyota previa to leave the big toolbox at home. Now I have some extra space for camping gear. I don’t miss the roadside breakdowns or lack of passing power but some of the “adventure” is missing. Guess I am getting older and wiser (or lazy).
Duct tape, surgical scissors, jump cables, little air compressor and a Leatherman’s tool. I need to get another flashlight.
If I can’t fix a problem with that and all the fluids I carry (premix antifreeze, ps fluid, brake fluid, oil, Fix a Flat), I call AAA. Then I cry.
In a car, jumper cables. Period. Motorcycles? I’ll carry a fair tool kit, although that’s more a habit from my patch holding club days (it was a requirement in every M/C I belonged to, and more than a few of my brothers were riding shovelhead Harleys). Just the same, the last bikes I’ve owned that I could comfortably work on roadside was my ’69 Triumph Bonneville.
Most interesting repair? 2008 Indianapolis MotoGP weekend. Friday night Patti and I roll into town (full rocker kit, no less), and as I pull into the club section of town where all the riders are partying, my clutch cable snaps. No problem. I loosen the tank, pull the spare clutch cable out from under the seat (I’ve never ridden a Meriden Triumph without carrying a spare clutch cable), pull out the tools, and proceed to change it to the amazement of the crowd gathered around me. Some stranger pops into the closest bar and gets me a beer while I’m working, which the Indianapolis police on duty kindly fails to notice (open carry laws, of course). People are amazed that you can fix a motorcycle on the side of the road.
Best comment of the evening: An oilhead BMW owner comes up and says, “Wish I could do that with my bike.” Which hurts, because the old airhead opposed twins could be virtually field stripped on the side of the road. Even my K75 brick was simple enough to allow a lot of field maintenance.
“How Many Tools Do You Carry With You?”
just the one in the driver’s seat 😉
Last vehicle I carried a tool kit around in was my 95 Voyager when I drove across the country. I had oil, tranny fluid, funnel, jack stands, plywood squares to put under the jack stands, and other parts as well. Also had the factory service manual. I replaced a worn out AC Belt Pulley at a car parts store in KY or TN.
With my current vehicle I just have some fuses, vaccum system caps, bungee cords, and the spare tire getup. Also have a flashlight and some fuses/flares. If I was driving further distances and or in a more remote area I would have more supplies. At least with this vehicle I can do the key dance when the check engine light comes on.
My dad kept his one and only toolbox in the trunks of his Ramblers, Buicks, and Dodges until his death in 84. I STILL carry basic wrenches and screwdrivers and pliers in my GMC Safari and girlfriend’s Corolla.
I recently thought I was going to spend a few seconds replacing a rear turn signal bulb on my eleven year old Safari on the side of the road. Turned out moisture had caused the bulb’s base to become bonded to the socket, and I needed several tools to rip it out piece by piece and clean out the socket.
I used to drive one of my Classic Cadillacs to the PCS International Car Show every year, and always brought along some hand tools and spares such as radiator hoses, belts, bulbs, and fuses. I once had a water pump fail half-way on a trip, and it took longer to get the pump than it did to get it replaced once located. After that, I bought a truck and trailer for the job of going to car shows – except that now I take two cars when I can. I drive one and keep the second vehicle on the trailer. On a ride and drive one year to Richmond, VA on Amtrak to bring home a ’73 Miller-Meteor Cadillac Landau Traditional that I bought on EBay I had an overheating problem that I fixed at a gas station with a multi-tool. The cooling system had been overfilled due to the hose clamp that secured the siphon hose to the reservoir cap rusting off, with the whole works falling into the reservoir. With this connection lost, hot coolant had filled the overflow up completely and then couldn’t return to the radiator when everything cooled off. Not understanding how the system functioned the previous owner had thoughtfully filled up the radiator, thus setting events in motion. After I picked up the car and hit the road and we got it nice and warm on the highway the next morning, the cap popped off the overflow reservoir at the first stop for gas! I should have noticed this when I checked under the hood at the purchase, but it was dark and after two days on a train we wanted nothing more than to get to the hotel. so I ended up removing the reservoir and cleaning it out, re-installing the original siphon hose onto the cap with a new hose clamp, and after 2 gallons of RTU coolant we were back on the road. On that trip we also lost a rear brake line at Fontana Villiage, SC, after driving the Caddy on the Tail of the Deagon, and I had that fixed in Robbinsville before we drive over the Cherohala Skyway. The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful.
I’ve stayed at that hotel many times and rode those roads, all under the posted speed limit!!!
I carry all my small tools; socket set, screwdrivers, breaker bar, pliers etc. in my Hyundai. They came in handy when the valve cover gasket leaked hot oil over the radiator hose.
Despite working as a technician and technical trainer for many years, I’m remarkably cavalier about taking tools on long trips. I do try to toss in a good breaker bar and socket for the lug nuts (since most factory lug wrenches suck), but that’s it.
I have considered the issue, and decided a tool box that covers all possibilities is simply too much to pack. In addition, I don’t really want to do any major mechanical work on the side of the road. I do inspect belt and hoses prior to departure, so I don’t see the need to carry spares. If the car has electronic ignition and fuel injection, a box full of screwdrivers and crescent wrenches won’t help me anyway.
Two years ago I made a run in my 1974 Mustang II from LA to Steamboat Springs, CO. At that point, the car still had the carburetor and point ignition system, and I had not owned the car long enough to know all it’s weaknesses. Despite that I packed no tools, but did need to do some work en route-
On the outbound trip, the air pump began to squeal, so I bought a $12.00 socket set and shorter v-belt at Walmart and took the pup off once I reached my destination.
On the return trip, the shift lever linkage came apart an hour before I arrived at my overnight stop. Since it was well after dark, I nursed it to a hotel (stuck in second gear), and went to bed. In the morning, I pulled the lever out, diagnosed the problem and applied a temporary fix. The permanent fix required a 13 mm combination wrench and lock nut, which I picked up at Lowes for $ 6.50.
Now that I’ve upgraded the Mustang’s driveline with a new (fuel injected) engine and transmission, I have every confidence the driveline will hold together for the entire trip, and won’t pack any tools for my trip this June.
I understand this approach isn’t for everyone, but if I’m on a road trip in a classic car, managing mechanical problems is part of the fun. The travel schedule should remain flexile enough to manage any problems along the way. For minor issues, you may make an unscheduled layover. Major driveline problems may force you to leave the car in a shop (usually waiting for parts), for pick up at a later date.
Although I’ve had a good many cars in which I should have carried a complete tool kit, I generally don’t. I did prepare a small box with tools I would need for scrounging license plates in wrecking yards, and carried that on quite a few trips to other states.
I have a toolbox in each car, and I swap socket wrench kits among them when I drive them. One time I forgot to bring them and ended up on a flatbed. Oops. It would have happened even if I had the tools, so no big deal.
I have a low profile tool box I used to carry in my ’90 Jetta at all times, and needed it often. I haven’t regularly carried it in any car I’ve owned since, and haven’t needed it. I carry a quart of oil, and jumper cables if it’s really cold. It’s nice to drive reliable vehicles. On the bike I go with the factory-supplied tool kit.
I brought a small tool bag with some generic tools with me in the Isuzu Pickup on the drive to Auburn, Indiana. Turned out I had to replace a clogged fuel filter on the road.
Only on longer trips do I carry tools and that is regardless of what vehicle I am driving.
The most unusual repair….I’m thinking replacing the blower motor in my ’01 Crown Vic while in the parts store parking lot. We had been in Branson with an appointment in St. Louis. It was a July morning when we left Branson and the motor was dead upon startup. 3.5 hours with two females in a hot car can get tedious. The store just happened to have the one socket size I needed to replace the blower motor – a twenty or so minute job.
Probably the strangest roadside repair happened in ’75 when I had driven from Ponca to Shawnee to visit friends. The throttle cable on my ’69 Squareback decided to break. Luckily I always carried a full toolbox and spare cables and belts. Unluckily the weather had suddenly turned cold (10 degrees) and I hadn’t bothered to bring a coat. So I worked entirely inside the car, after removing the engine lid and one of the front seats. Squirmed back and forth between the engine compartment and the front floorboard, running the engine often to get a little warmth. Successful but NOT fun.
Depends on the condition of the car. In the old days, I carried close to a full tool box in my ’67 Sport Fury which seemed to be used more on other people’s cars than mine though I did need it from time to time. These days, in my ’68 Fury VIP, I carry one of those socket/driver tool sets in the pre packaged plastic case, some fluids, a floor jack, one jack stand and a spare ballast resistor. So far, I’ve only needed the floor jack and the jack stand to change a flat. I have the original bumper jack but I don’t trust it in the slightest. Anything worse than that can handle, I have my Hagerty’s roadside assistance card and a cell phone. If I’m going on a long trip in the St. Regis, I transfer this stuff to its trunk. Everything is stored in an old travel bag with lots of pockets.
Not tools, technically, but I keep jumper cables in my car…along with an air compressor. I became a member of AAA after my last car died on me and in the past few years they have had to jump my battery twice, though as it turned out the 1st time was a “false alarm” as my car had died when my neutral safety switch died and the 2nd time was when my 6 year old battery hit 5 years 10 months.
Before that, I started carrying a few tools in my 15 year old 280Z when it started dying while being driven around town. Bless it’s mechanical “heart” it never really stranded me.
I carried my complete set of tools in my 77 Chevelle when I did the powertour in 13, wound up using some of them, the floor jack and a jackstand to replace the starter on the beach at Biloxi, MS on the way back.
Otherwise there are no tools in the car, on shorter trips. My view is if you bring them, the car will invent a reason to use them, if you don’t bring it, then you don’t need them.
Simple – what the car came with plus a tyre pump, decent spider wheelbrace (lug nut socket?) and jump leads.
Whenever I’ve had more, something breaks, like the head gasket in Peugeot 104 on top of the Pennines, so therefore, tools cause breakdowns……..
You just learned me a new British term, Roger – spider wheelbrace. Gonna file that one away for future use. (c:
Since my old car is a Lotus I have to maintain lightness. Some pliers, tape, extra wire, adjustable wrench, screw driver, a test light, a few electrical pieces, it all fits in a canvas roll. I also have scissor jace and knoch off hammer for tire repairs. Probably the most important tool these days is a cell phone.
Agree on the cell phone. That alone has been my savior tool several times, including when my diesel fuel gelled coming home one late afternoon in -20*F temps. I was not dressed for a several mile hike to someone’s house, but was able to reach a friend who was there inside 20 minutes (and I was frigid even inside the car by that point).
The only tools I carry now are a cell phone and my AAA card. Back in the day I would carry a small tool box with assorted wrenches, pliers, cutters, etc. but now cars are mostly too complicated for me to work on. Fortunately cars now are generally much more reliable than before so it is much less likely they will cause problems. Knock on wood, the last car I had quit on a road trip was nearly 30 years ago. I have had a couple of flat tires since then but no mechanical failures.
Vice grips, a large adjustable wrench, a 1/2″ breaker bar and 3/8″ reducer drive, a few combination wrenches, an assortment of cheap sockets on on a rail only in sizes I know my car uses(same with the combo wrenches), a couple screwdrivers, a roll of duct tape, a roll of electric tape, a butane torch, a roll of thin rosin core solder, and a razor knife. I keep them all in a duffelbag.
It’s primarily my junkyard carry bag but in the time I’ve carried these tools with me I only had to use them on my car on the fly once, which was, believe it or not, the event that required me to use the butane torch. The crank position sensor wires got frayed on the AC compressor pulley due to a broken clip(I broke it the previous day during an oil change where I pushed the harness out of the way wiping up the oil and grime on the crossmember), luckly I wasn’t stuck on the side of the road too long before I figured out why it suddenly died, so I unplugged the harness from the sensor, spliced the broken wires back together and soldered them right there with the butane torch on a side road off Lake street(US20). Someone was nice enough to help me push my car away from the busy street where it died which I’m still grateful for.
Daily modern driver: Air pump, jumper cables. Older car: Air pump, Jumper cables, a jug of oil, a jug of antifreeze (if applicable), couple three screwdrivers, cutting pliers, vicegrip, sometimes a small floor jack, fire extinguisher, cell phone charger, change of clothes. My Subaru has an emergency number decal on the driver’s side glass.
When I drove old Beetles in the early 70s, my trunk looked similar to that. I carried my tools in my Dodge van, and maybe a very small tool set in my Peugeots. But that was the end of that until I bought the ’77 Dodge Chinook and we hit the road. I had a decent tool box with me, and on the first trip, I had to replace the water pump, so it came in handy. But no more tool carrying, at least for now.
In all my cars in my 20’s, a complete tool box – came in handy when i had to change my alternator in my college car, for example. later, i lived in an apartment and didn’t want to clutter it up when i needed them by my car anyways. Now? My jumper cables and fuses. Not that i need those either.
I now carry a portable tool box in the trunk for longer trips….I learned my lesson when my car broke down 300 miles from home several years ago on a weekend trip would not stay running and belched out black smoke when trying to start it …had it flatbedded to a Chevy dealer and stayed overnight at a motel….turned out to be a bad mass air flow sensor…After that expensive experience of extra hotel expenses plus towing and dealer labor charges, I bought a code reader and began taking my tools with me on trips……This paid off as a few years later, my mass air flow sensor started going bad again on a trip…but this time I had my code reader when the check engine light came on and the code pointed to the MAF sensor…….I stopped at an AutoZone during the trip and picked up a new MAF sensor and changed it out in their parking lot….took about three or four minutes to swap out the sensor with the proper tools I had with me.
A 1971 Plymouth Cricket. I was always breaking down in the piece of s…. It was the biggest pile of junk I ever owned. I junked the thing after about 9 months.
The most interesting roadside repair though was in a friends 64 VW Squareback. We changed the engine alongside I-75 just North of Cordele, GA. We had gone to Atlanta in the car and bought a couple of engines for a couple other VWs he owned. On our way home the engine in the Squareback blew a head gasket. We put the engine he was going to put in his 65 bus in the car and went home.
You win this thread (wow!)
The last vehicle for which I felt the need to carry tools was my BMW R100/7. Like Syke stated earlier, there wasn’t a lot you couldn’t do on the side of the road on these old girls. I loved the design philosophy on these bikes: every fastener was of very high quality, and there were very few different sizes. If memory serves me correctly (it is a long time ago) there were only 17mm, 14 mm, 10 mm and 8 mm nuts on them, so two spanners was all you needed to take the bike down. That and a set of allen wrenches. The synch the carbs, you pulled off one plug and watched the rpm drop, and duplicated it on the other side. A ten minute job. Valve adjustments were rare in temperate Victoria, especially with me the oil change freak, but could be done, both sides, in fifteen minutes once you got used to it.
But it did break down more than a few times, so tools were needed. The worse quirk it had was frying the positive alternator terminal. I replaced the whole shabag, battery, regulator, alternator and it still did it every couple of months. I kept spare leads made up. One sunny early fall afternoon, my girlfriend were buzzing down US 101, just south of Fortuna. The Beemer did its battery light on thing and I stopped to change the lead, fifteen minutes tops. I am taking the front cover off and a group of like a dozen Angels motor up, love the old BMW, and do everything they can to help out. They even invited us to their clubhouse for dinner. We camped out at their place, and it was really nice.
One of the greatest secrets of the road: If you’re broke down and being real about it, a 1%er club will usually be glad to help out. And, if you’re invited to the clubhouse, expect excellent hospitality.
A ’74 Ford Cortina was the last car I carried tools in. As well as the usual spanners, sockets, pliers, screwdrivers, I also carried a bottle of water and some oil. They all came in handy from time to time, but usually for driveway repairs. It had a few interesting failures, like the throttle linkage coming adrift from the carby at the bottom of my steep driveway, a broken heater cable (yes, in Australia there are times when you want a heater). and a persistent ping that I could never fully tune out.
Oddest was the coil failing one night when my fiancée and I were meeting the minister at church to plan our wedding. I couldn’t fix it. A mechanic got the car running – misfiring badly – and I drove it five miles home, keeping it above about 3000 rpm, with lots of people staring at the noise the car was making. The mechanic who fixed it was adamant that NO WAY could I have driven the car five miles like that!
Back in the mid 70s I made several trips from New Orleans to Houston (@350 miles), in my 71 VW Fastback. On one of the trips I heard a loud pop and then the engine lost power and was running very rough. I pulled off to the side of I-10, opened the engine cover to find that the forward (if you are standing in the the rear of the car looking to the front) pass. side spark plug was dangling still attached to the ignition cable. Lucky for me I had my very small tool kit with me which enabled me to screw the plug back in and off we went.
On one of those many trips we made a pit stop at Mickey Ds in Sulfur, LA. When we got back in the car it wouldn’t start. The starter had overheated and it wouldn’t crank. After 15-20 minutes the starter came back to life. From then on whenever we made a pit stop we would lock the car idling. We had a second set of keys so we could get back into the car. Several months later after resettling in Houston the starter finally died.
Three cars on the road at the moment.
2015 FIT very few tools, it will get more soon.
2003 Civic 265,000 miles, Lots of tools cause it will break someday, but so far
it has never had a problem.
2000 Saturn SC1 (three door coupe) everything but the welder. If anyone has
a small welder just pm me, eh?
I am getting too old to do heavy repairs, cell phone is a comfort.
I recommend making small sacrifices out behind the garage.
Ah, another GK Fit owner! Just about to hit 10K miles on mine… I rebadged it as a Jazz with JDM tail lights. No extra tools, but I do have a couple warm blankets in the back.
I keep my “Junkyard Briefcase” in my 05 Silverado, not for concern about roadside repairs, but I like to hit the Pick n Pull yards every few weeks, kinda like hunting or fishing, if I spot a score, the tools I need to liberate it are out in the truck. In my 87 MB 300E, I carry a small tool kit in a blowmold case, and a few spare electrical components. Spare Fuel Pump Relay, OVP, Fuses etc.
In my wife’s car nothing besides whatever it came with which I will discover when I need it…
In the Chrysler, nothing.
In the 911, normally nothing, however for example when I took it to Auburn last fall, I packed a bag containing a few screwdrivers, a couple of pairs of pliers and a few assorted wrenches and sockets in common metric sizes along with a quart of oil just in case. And then unpacked it all when I got back home.
Back in the day when I drove the old Audi S4 to Colorado the first time I literally carried a huge plastic bin filled with tools including a torque wrench and had various spare parts including spark plugs, Pentosin hydraulic fluid as well as various hose clamps along with spare (the original ones) boost hoses in case the aftermarket ones failed. Of course I didn’t end up needing any of that. What I did need was replacement windshield washer fluid piping, mine (CA car) cracked the first night it was exposed to freezing temperatures with not-low-enough-freezing-point fluid in the lines and I re-piped the system in a parking lot in Glenwood Springs using ten feet of hose that the Audi dealer there gave me for free. Winter in a snowy climate is not to be attempted without a working washer system with correct washer fluid.
These days a cell phone and a credit card are the two most important roadside tools with a folded up $100 bill in the back of the wallet a close third for those areas with poor cell coverage.
A small canvas tool bag loaded to the gills; weighs approximately 10-15 lbs. Also is a set of jumper cables and electrical tape (temporary repair for a busted radiator hose).
These items of insecurity date back to a ’63 VW Beetle of my youth.
Since I have only owned older cars, no matter how infrequently I drive I carry some tools : jack, tire iron, socket wrench and set, screw drivers of many varieties, several pairs of pliers, hammer, trim adhesive, jumper cables, flashlight. I always carry coolant and one quart each of oil and transmission fluid.
And yes, the AAA Plus card and cell phone help, too.
I too often carried waayyy too many tools in my youth , nowadayze in my Mercedes’ I carry the most excellent and comprehensive factory tool kit with a very few spares as I can do most anything with it , the open ended wrenches look cheap but they’re vanadium steel and I’ve never had one slip yet , I’ve had a few road side repairs , alternators and so on .
My Met has a small zippered tool bag , I can take almost anything apart with it , the last failure was when the Japanese starter failed early in 2014 when I was just out of the hospital from my neck surgery , I figured my Brother could change it but we couldn’t find a 1980 Datsun B210 starter to save our lives so that time it came home on the flat bed truck .
Replaced the generator in the burger joint parking lot this Spring as the high Dollar Hot Rod (mostly ’32 Ford Highboys) Guys all looked on in amazement . I *do* carry spare generator because well , it’s a _generator_ .
In general , as long as you take good care of your ride , it won’t strand you so carrying many tools is asking for it to break down IMO =8-) .
I also carry a clean long sleeve shirt and some heavy folded up plastic sheets so i can easily slide under the car I’m tinkering on by the road side , quite often I arrive at an event or Rally and wind up working on others’ vehicles .
Agreed , BMW AirHead Motos are dead simple and super reliable .
I like to do the routine servicing of each vehicle with the basic tools I carry in it’s trunk this way I only carry tool I know it will need and that will fit , not much extra as I don’t carry socket sets etc. , just the handful that particular vehicle might need .
I try to keep one of those $20 cheapo cigarette-lighter tire inflators and a set of jumper cables in whatever car I’m driving. The toolbox rides with me when I’m driving one of the trucks.
Two of my interesting roadside repairs were u-joint related.
The first one occurred on my 1978 GMC 1/2 ton “repo truck” about 500 miles from home. I was towing my ’87 Ciera (Brougham 🙂 ) to its future owner’s house in Birmingham, AL and right as I was pulling onto their street I heard a loud KLUNK and then scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch… i eased the car down the street, unloaded it, & ended up having to limp my empty truck approximately 30 minutes through Birmingham to the closest AutoZone that had the u-joint I needed. I ended up replacing the u-joint in the parking lot in a rough part of town because it was about to let go. Thankfully I had a hammer to pound the steaming hot one out & new one in without damaging the driveshaft.
The ’78 donated its repo lift to my current tow truck, an ’86 C20. A few years ago, I found a ’73 Buick GS on Craigslist about 100 miles away & went to check it out after getting off work one night. I got about ten miles away from the guy’s house with my new prize when the exact same driveshaft issue occurred.
The nearest town was Greensboro and was 40 miles away — it was late, dark, and the shrieking was getting louder each mile. I came up on an intersection with a gas station & Dollar General Store which was still open. I bought a flashlight, roll of paper towels, two kitchen latex gloves and can of WD-40 and trotted across the street & dropped the driveshaft. Both ujoint caps just fell off scattering the needle bearings everywhere. The cross was dry, heavily damaged, and had chewed up several needle bearings..
I cleaned the shards out the caps, found as many needle bearings as I could and had to use that nasty chassis grease that had accumulated on the truck’s spindles to repack the u-joint before putting it back together. it took over two hours to get home as I was too scared to top 40 mph but I made it. Sorry, that was long-winded.
It depends on the vehicle.
In my Audi, I carry a set of jumper cables, the factory toolkit, oil, antifreeze, washer fluid, a jack, and the spare tire.
In my trucks, I add a full socket set with breaker bar, a hammer, two jacks (Floor and bottle) and jack stands.
When towing a trailer, I carry a farm jack. I can raise the trailer by the side and easily change a tire.
Now in my Audi, I’m getting a real scissor jack. It’s no wonder they call the OEM VAG jacks the windowmaker. My car dropped off it, ruining my spare tire and causing a call to the Motor Club.
In -15 degrees, I was ticked off!
Last CAR in which I carried tools was a ’76 Celica, which I owned in the mid ’80s.
But a couple of years ago we got a travel trailer. It’s 3 years old, and I pull it with an 8 year old Toyota Sequoia. And I won’t leave town for a minute without my VERY LARGE tool box and kit of spares I have collected already. For the trailer…the truck’s nigh on bulletproof (seems I have more faith in old Toyotas than I once had!).
Most interesting repair…not exactly roadside, but in a campground following a 500 km drive over some pretty bumpy roads, I found the sewer outlet pipe dangling, hanging on by just the ABS glue back at the black water tank. The support strap had snapped from metal fatigue somewhere back there… So while the kids went swimming, I went to Canadian Tire and bought…some MORE parts, and used a few of those tools to fab a repair. (Rest assured there are now TWO straps on that sewer pipe!)
In my ’65 Chrysler I keep a small toolbox with the essentials (yes there’s a ballast resistor in there 🙂 ) and a milk crate with the bigger essentials (flashlight, wheel chock, bottle jack, jumper cables, extra fluids, and most importantly a roll of paper towels! )
I had pretty much the same setup in my Dart, and it all got transferred over to the Olds, but I suspect in the Spring a lot of it will get cleaned out.
I figure bare minimum is a good flashlight, a set of jumper cables, and decent lugwrench.
Most memorable repair is probably bypassing the Dart’s dying headlamp switch in a friend’s driveway, in a snowstorm, on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago.
In my truck I carry the usual large lug wrench, a multi-bit screwdriver, extra bottle jack, jumper cables, fix-a-flat, air compressor, many ratchet straps, a tow strap, a hammer, and of course, duct tape.
I’m honestly more concerned about breaking down in the middle of nowhere on my UTV, so I have a lot more tools in that then in my truck. Where we ride, there is no cell service and we are miles from anywhere. The hood is large enough for a fully stocked tool box with extra tools that came with the vehicle under the passenger seat. Add to that an air compressor, zip ties, booster pack, multi-meter, fix-a-flat, and a large 12V spotlight, and I’m pretty prepared. Having an extra 5 gal jug of gas and a nice shovel in the back makes it more enjoyable too.
I carry a 1/4-3/8 cheapo socket set from Lowes, an assortment of screwdrivers, and a small sledge in my trunk. One never knows when they’ll need a good hammer 🙂 .
Nothing other than jack/jumper cables in the Kia (it’s only three years old). Crown Vic gets those plus spare fluids, a roll of duct tape, and a good pocket knife. However, once I start driving the Volvo on any trips farther than around town (which is all it does currently, and those infrequently) its factory tool kit will be supplemented with a secondary tool bag, plus a PDF copy of the factory service manuals stored on my phone. Yes, Volvos are reliable, but after 27 years and 160K+ miles, you never know…
Knock on wood, the worst roadside repair I had to do was to diagnose a bad vacuum leak that cropped up on the Marauder and made the car virtually undriveable. Limped the car into an autozone parking lot and finally discovered the culprit (a non-obvious tear in the bottom of the pcv breather tube). Easy fix with a length of heater hose, but nerve-wracking to get it there with the car trying to cut off constantly.
Keep my “junkyard briefcase” (as someone above so eloquently put it) in my daily driver, then throw it in whatever we take on a long trip.
I’ve removed a stuck thermostat on my 72 F-100 on the side of the interstate before and had to tighten up a locknut on a (borrowed) trailer hub once due to vibration. I always carried a good amount of tools in that truck.
My Father and I lost an entire hub off of a trailer that we were using to haul a Farmall F-20 from Iowa back to Florida. I noticed a vibration, then all of the sudden, it was gone as the trailer lurched a little. Pulled over on the side of I-65 near Columbia, TN to find one of the 4 wheels was gone… only thing left was the spindle. We unhooked the trailer on the side of I-65 and found a tractor supply store with everything we needed. Put the new parts and the spare tire on and headed home.
I watched my Dad replace a bad fuel pump in the middle of Nowhere, Mississippi (I mean there was nothing around but a boat ramp and a neighborhood consisting of 3 or 4 houses) on a hot summer day. I was probably 13 then. He went to pass a slower driver and the 82 Crown Vic sputtered and died. He always brought tools and I saw then why. He figured out what is was about the time a couple of guys from a street over walked up. They said their family had a bunch of junked cars. Fortunately, one of those had a fuel pump for a Ford 302, so $40 later, we were on our way!
In the trunk of my 1996 4Runner:
basic hand tools (socket set, screw drivers, vise grips, adjustable wrench, breaker bar)
chicken wire, duct tape, flash light, wd40, gloves, jumper cables
extra oil, extra coolant
spare fuel injector, spare ignition coil, 2 spare spark plugs
spare accessory belts
small camp shovel
car battery powered air compressor
Drive the truck all over including Indiana to NY and back, down to the Outer Banks (including a lot of fun beach driving). I bought a spare injector and coil after an injector quit on me last christmas, thankfully I was close to my gf’s parents place so my brother and I ordered a new one and replaced it in about an hour a few days later.
Up to the point where I got my own house with a garage, my full toolbox lived in my car. Then, when I got my garage, I bought a new roll away tool chest and have not carried tools in a car since.
Actually, I did keep some basic tools under the seat of my Model A. And, I had a coil fail on me once. As luck would have it, the former owner had a spare coil under the seat too, which I changed out and then continued the drive.
The # 1 failure on ‘ A-Bones ‘ is the condenser , I learned 50 years ago that squeezing it with a pair of pliers , often makes it work again for a while .
Once you know this you begin to look at other A-Bones and discover lots and lots of old dented in condensers…
The _one_ time I bought a (!$!) Motorcraft condenser , it was bad right out of the box .
trunk of the 68 Electra
200 pc kobalt auto tool set
various vice grips
wire stripper crimper
tire patch kit
duct tape electrical tape
4 different sizes of vacuum hose about 20ft total
14 12 10 and 6ga primary wire
various eletrical connectors
3 spare bosch style relays
head mounted light with spare aaa batteries
about 6 ft of rubber heater hose and fuel line
3 qts oil
1 qt dex XI
2 qts distilled water
butane pen torch
4 spare spark plugs plus gap tool
emergency spare points set in case electronic ignition quits
spare vacuum advance
3 different rtv sealants
things I removed from the trunk
no more spare tire
no more 80lb floor jack
no more motorcycle battery
im positive there are things I am forgetting
Depends on the vehicle, my motorcycle has a standard BMW airhead tool kit with a few extra pieces capable of any minor maintenance job, but not cylinder head or alternator removal. My car has basic hand tools, wrenches screwdrivers, socket set and because the “doughnut” spares keep failing I carry a trie plug kit and a can of sealer.
A coworker said he used to have a VW Beetle. It was very simple to work on and parts available anywhere. Also carried a lot of tools and parts under the bonnet for contingencies. One day he was driving on the freeway and noticed the engine wasn’t running right. He pulled over to the curb, opened the engine lid, looked around and ended up doing a complete tuneup, changing sparkplugs, points, condenser, adjusted timing, etc. while cars whizzed by him.
My stepfather and I rebuilt a ’74 Mazda rotary engine in the street in the middle of winter back in ’83. This was outside our apartment building, not really roadside, but I certainly grew up knowing to always carry a trunk full of tools.
Since my first car, I have always carried a small tool bag with what I consider a bare minimum: a set of socket wrenches, 4-way screwdriver, pliers, razor knife, tape, flashlight, etc. Plus an old jacket and sweatpants to crawl under the car in, and a sleeping bag and a toothbrush for those occasions when one of my old junkers would really strand me. And, of course, jumper cables. All of it has proven useful on numerous occasions over the years. The only difference is that as time goes by, these things are used less and less often.
Back in the ’80s, I also used to carry a crate full of all the spare fluids, parts such as belts, hoses, fuses and bulbs and a towing rope. Not anymore.
The last time I had a roadside repair was when my ’01 Forester blew a radiator hose three years ago. Pretty basic stuff. Cars are just vastly more reliable now.
Used to carry coolant, fuses, selection of screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, air pump and jumpers.
Drove a Mazda GLC for 12 years never used any of it on the Mazda, though used the jumpers on a couple of other people’s cars.
Drove a Civic for 15 years. Never used anything but the air pump.
Now I have a VW (cue Dragnet dum-de-dum-dum music), but since it looks like this under the hood, probably would not use anything on it anyway, so don’t carry the stuff anymore.
For you young’uns, “dum de dum dum” is the trademark opening of the series, and the music also played as Sgt Friday put the clinks on the perp at the end of each episode.
Thanx Steve ;
If you’re old enough , you used to listen to Dragnet on CBS Radio stations….
Thank you for reminding me. And making me feel VERY old.
Gunsmoke and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (the latter was my favorite).
I really miss Radio Serials , they allowed your mind to create the pictures , said pictures always being better than the ones on TV or at the movies .
Plus of course , listening to the radio warm up….
My Metropolitan Nash’s tube radio still uses a vibrator for power .
I keep saying I’ll replace it but they’re so easy to service…
Too bad AM radio went to the dogs .
Ive changed a gearbox roadside over a drain actually on a MK3 Zephyr the spare box and tools were there because we’d just gone to get it and removed it from a crashed car on the way home we lost 3rd then 4th so the decision was taken to do it now. I carry few tools these days preferring to make sure the car is up to scratch before leaving on any trips,