Quite recently I came upon an unfortunate situation (in the middle of nowhere I might add) where I had a leaking transfer case, and needed to top it up. I crawled under the vehicle with a bottle of oil, feeling quite proud of myself for being so prepared. A split second later, the good feelings turned sour as I realised I’d left the tool to open the filler plug at home! Had I not been lucky enough to find a fellow traveller who had one on board, I would have been faced with a two hour drive back the way I came to purchase a $20 tool.
After that I compiled a list. A list of tools and spare parts which should get me out of most mechanical issues that come my way, without dragging the entire tool box with me! Read on to see my ultimate 4WD tool kit!
Combination Spanner Set:
That’s a ring spanner on one end, open on the other. You may need only metric, or only imperial sizing depending on your vehicle. Having only one type saves you the extra cost, weight and space.
This is for those times when you buy metric spanners but it turns out your vehicle is imperial. Haha! But seriously; this one is a last resort when your regular spanners won’t fit.
As with the spanners, you may only need metric or imperial sizes for your vehicle. Your socket set should include a ratchet, breaker bar, wobble bit and some different sized extensions. Half inch drive is probably the most useful set, followed closely by 3/8th drive. Grab the half inch set if your budget and space doesn’t quite stretch for both.
You’ll want Philips head and flat head screwdrivers, preferably with good rubber grips and a go-thru handle which allows you to get a hammer onto the end if need be. Screwdrivers are relatively cheap which is great!
Grab a few types of pliers for different jobs. Bull nose, long nose, vice grips and multi grips. Vice grips are great when things turn really bad and you round nuts or bolts off, or have the wrong size spanner for the job and you really need to undo something.
Probably the first tool that man invented, although then it was more likely used for grinding seeds or making spears than repairing motor vehicles. Grab a decent sized hammer that’s going to be able to bend broken parts, but not so big that it drives your tent pegs through to china in a single swing.
Allen keys, or hex keys don’t seem to be used so much these days, but they are cheap enough and take up so little space that you may as well carry some. Torx keys on the other hand, they seem to be used on just about every modern vehicle! Luckily they too are cheap enough and don’t take up too much room.
Tyre Repair Kit:
Don’t get the regular old tyre repair kit, get a comprehensive and heavy duty kit like the Ridge Ryder 4WD Tyre Repair Kit. You’ll need the tough metal handles that won’t snap off in your hand, and there’s more tyre plugs in there than you’re likely to ever need.
In the bush, these are more versatile than other types of jacks. Not only good for lifting the vehicle, but can also be used to straighten bent components, break tyres from beads or even assist a recovery effort.
You could take an entire set like I do, or just get away with a small one and a large one. Keep it nice and sharp and you’ll be able to cut through metal with a hammer and chisel, or of you’ve got an impossibly stuck or rounded bolt; a chisel might really help you out.
Hacksaw & Stanley Knife:
For cutting a variety of materials. Be sure to carry spare blades too! View the range of saws, knives & blades!
Multimeter & Test Light:
Absolutely essential bits of gear, especially with our modern and mostly electronic vehicles. Combined with a workshop manual and a bit of know-how on the use of these tools, you can diagnose most problems and even make a lot of track-side repairs. There is a huge range of diagnostic tools available at Supercheap Auto, you never know when you’ll need one!
There are a multitude of excellent products for patch up jobs. Spare fuses, electrical tape, lengths of wire, solder, soldering irons, and cable ties. That last point, cable ties; don’t be shy on how many you carry. They can fix absolutely EVERYTHING!
For fixing leaks, cracks and holes in tanks, radiators hoses or gearboxes; I always have a tube of metal putty on hand, as well as SOS repair tape for patching leaky hoses. Some bearing grease, engine oil, coolant and maybe some diff and gearbox oil is probably not a bad idea either, depending on how much space you have; and of course there HAS to be some WD40 and duct tape on board!
A spare set of belts and hoses is the first thing you should carry. Replace them all before they let go, and shove the old ones in the vehicle somewhere to use as spares. A new air filter, and a new fuel filter are always a good idea to carry along as well. Like the belts and hoses, I have changed the wheel bearings on my vehicle, and kept the old ones as spares. It might be a wise idea to gather a list of common faults for your vehicle, and if they are a simple enough fix; carry along the parts and tools to do the job should you need to.
I know I’m not the most experienced out there when it comes to bush mechanics, and I reckon you guys could teach us all a thing or two. What makes up your vehicle tool kit? Maybe you’ve got a handy tip or two? Do share with us in the comments below!