New motorcycles usually come with a pretty decent set of basic/emergency tools with which you can handle almost any minor breakdown — and even a few not-so-minor ones.
But with cars, it’s different.
Only a few come with anything more than a jack and lug nut wrench to change a tire. Apparently, motorcyclists, as a group, are deemed by the motorcycle manufacturers to be more self-sufficient; it’s assumed they’ll want to have the basic necessities on hand in the event of a problem. With cars, not so much. But that doesn’t mean you have to be helpless — just that you need to exercise some initiative.
One way to do that is to put together a small tool kit of your own for those “just in case” times we all inevitably run into and keep it with the vehicle at all times, just like bikers do.
The kit should include the following:
Socket-style screwdriver with driver and multiple “bits” in various Phillips and standard-style sizes: This tool is far more versatile than a regular screwdriver because you can pick the bit type and size that exactly fits the fastener you’re trying to remove — as opposed to trying to make a too-small (or too large) screwdriver fit — because that’s all you’ve got to work with. Some kits come with a small selection of sockets and drivers for those Torx (star-shaped head) screws that are increasingly commonplace as fasteners for trim pieces and so on. It’s an essential tool to have on hand and keep with you in the car.
A roll of duct tape/roll electrical tape: Duct tape has been the emergency mechanic’s best friend for years; with it, you can temporarily bind a leaking radiator hose — or make a “parking lot side window” (along with some cardboard, etc.) to deal with a power window that won’t go up — or shattered glass. Electrical tape is great to have on hand when you need to keep a pigtail or other exposed electrical connection from touching something it shouldn’t, like exposed metal (or other wiring). Toss a roll of each into your tool kit.
A pair of medium-size vise-grip pliers: These can be used to remove things or hold them together in an emergency. Vise-grip pliers can temporarily hold up an exhaust system that’s about to fall off. They’re also great for working out bolts (or screws, etc.) that have been rounded off or stripped. They can be used in lieu of a bulky socket set because they’ll fit almost any bolt and have the grip strength to remove most fasteners (without rounding off their heads in the process, too). Get two — so you can use one to keep a locknut from turning with the bolt you’re trying to remove.
Pen magnet: This handy tool can help you dig out keys that fell between the seats, or retrieve a tiny screw you dropped someplace that’s inaccessible to your hand. Get the telescoping type that looks and functions just like a radio antenna. There are also flexible models that can be bent to work around obstacles. Both are great friends to have in certain circumstances where almost nothing else will do the job.
Pry bar: If you’ve ever been in a minor fender-bender where the fender rubs the tire, you’ll know the value of a pry bar. It can turn an otherwise inoperable car into one you can gimp home – and save you some bucks on towing charges.
Mini-compressor: You can buy a small, hand-held air compressor that runs off the car’s cigarette lighter/power point for less than $30. These compact, lightweight units can be a godsend if you find a tire’s low on air and can’t find a gas station with an air pump. They’re also great for inflating kids’ toys and air mattresses. Get one that has a built-in emergency flashlight that you can use to see what you’re doing. It will also make you more visible to other drivers if you have to work on your car by the side of the road.
Emergency cell phone: Not all of us have cell phones, but everyone should have an emergency-use cell phone tucked away in the glovebox. These phone are inexpensive (the plans call for a very limited number of calls per month or even just 911) but can literally be life-savers if you have or witness a serious accident. You can also use them to report possible drunk drivers and other emergency situations.
Other stuff that’s nice to have in the trunk when you’re dealing with a breakdown includes a pair of gloves (get the kind that allow your fingers to move freely, not heavy mittens, etc.), a hooded pullover (to keep your nice shirt from being ruined and the hood will keep gravel/dirt out of your hair if you have to lie on your back on the ground), a heavy blanket (lie on it instead of the gravel/dirt) and if your car doesn’t have them already, some flares to draw the attention of cell phone-addled drivers to the presence of your car on the shoulder. (Source: AOL Autos)
What else do you carry in your emergency kit? Any ideas to share? Leave us a comment.