When it comes to your vehicle and making daily trips to and from wherever it may be that you need to go, you can never be too prepared for what may happen. Even though many people go years or even a whole lifetime without getting in an accident or having the unfortunate occurrence of breaking down or being stranded.
Being stranded or broke down because of an accident or vehicle failure is not a pleasant experience in most cases. There are a number of people who don’t even know how to change their tires in the event of a blowout. This is where being prepared comes into play. Even though you may have to good fortune to not experience one of these mishaps, you always want to have the knowledge and proper tools on hand just in case.
If you are a mechanic, or familiar with cars at all this part is a no brainer, but for those of us that don’t know our way around a shop I would like to go over the Five tools it is absolutely necessary to have on hand in your vehicle at all times. This handful of simple and effective tools are absolute must-haves, and they should make you capable of dealing with any minor mishaps you may encounter such as flat tires or dead batteries.
When you have all five of these tools in your vehicle, you are definitely a few steps in the right direction. However, the right tools can be useless if you have no understanding of what they are or how to use them correctly and safely. In this article, my goal is to get you familiar enough with these tools that you will be able to confidently get yourself out of a sticky situation if necessary.
Even if it isn’t in an emergency situation each one of the tools I am about to mention is a must-have for any mechanic. Having all of these tools accessible to you will save you countless hours and endless frustration. If you are lacking these necessities you will find it very difficult to complete even the simplest of tasks while working on your vehicle. Someone once said work smarter, not harder, and that is precisely why tools like these exist. All mechanics know that if you spend the majority of your time working on cars, you don’t want to waste time doing things the old-fashioned way or the hard way. If there is a tool out there that will make your job easier you should be using it. If you’re not utilizing these resources then you are really missing out on what fun it can actually be to work on cars and trucks.
All it takes is the right tools and a little know-how, and you can be your own mechanic if you have the drive to do so. Hopefully, this information will give you the knowledge you need to become self-reliant when it comes to your car or truck. A little research will go a long way if you still have questions after this. It may seem difficult at the time, but with a little bit of work, you could save yourself many hours and thousands of dollars in mechanic bills.
2 Ton Scissor Jack
In the event of a flat tire or a blowout, or any other malfunction that may be related to the underneath of your vehicle. it is vital that you have a jack on hand. If you don’t keep a Jack readily available it is needless to say you won’t be changing a tire very effectively at all unless you can pick a car up by hand.
A scissor jack doesn’t look like much but they are incredibly strong for their compact size. The compact structure of a scissor jack makes it much easier to pack in the trunk of your vehicle or under the seats. Most vehicles come equipped with a spare tire and scissor jack for emergency purposes.
It is also important that you know the difference between a scissor jack and a bottle jack. Bottle jacks are also compact in size, but they are shaped like a bottle and they lift straight up from the top with a thick metal rod. While these jacks are useful and will work if there is nothing else available, they are a bit less safe than the scissor jack because if not set up correctly under your vehicle, your car can easily slip off the small round surface of a bottle jack. They are also less stable because of their narrow base. Scissor Jacks resemble a diamond shape, and they are usually operated by a long crank-like handle. The part of the jack that comes in contact with your vehicle is usually wider and has bends in the metal that acts as the traction that prevents your vehicle from slipping.
It is important that you make sure the jack you are carrying is in proper working condition. When a jack is jacked up and under pressure, it should hold its position and not gradually drop its load. Before using a scissor jack make sure that the pressure screw is tight in order to ensure that your jack will hold the weight without dropping on its own.
One last thing you will want to check on your scissor jack is its max lifting limit. It is recommended that you have a 2-ton scissor jack available at all times. Cars and trucks weigh on average about 1500 lbs, so a 2-ton jack is just enough to feel safe when jacking up almost any vehicle. If your jack has a lighter lift limit you could cause potential injury or even death should something go wrong and the jack gives out while you are under the car.
When it comes to jacks I can’t say this enough. It is better to be safe than sorry. Always be careful when raising a vehicle. Make sure that you are on solid level ground and you are using the proper jack point on the frame of your vehicle to avoid slipping.
I’m almost positive the majority of people have seen one of these must-have tools at least once in their lifetime, even if they don’t know what it is actually called. If you aren’t familiar with what a lug wrench is, that is okay. A lug wrench is typically a cross-shaped iron bar with sockets on each of the four ends. Each socket is usually a different size, which allows it to accommodate different sized vehicles without having to buy a new tool for each vehicle. Some lug wrenches are singular bars with a joint and a socket at the end.
Now that we are familiar with what a lug wrench is, let me explain a little bit about what it is for and how to use it. If it isn’t completely obvious, a lug wrench is a tool that you are going to need to loosen your lug nuts. Your lug nuts are the bolts that secure your rims and tires to your wheel. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to change a tire or remove the tire and rim you will need a lug wrench in order to be successful. You will need a lug wrench for a wide variety of projects from flat tires to brake maintenance and repair.
Using a lug wrench is pretty simple, and as long as you have the muscle to break the lug nuts loose then you are totally capable of using this tool. You will need to pick the correct size and end of the lug wrench for your vehicle. Once you have the right fit you simply need to turn the wrench counterclockwise. Most of the time it will require quite a bit of effort to break the lug nuts loose, but once they give just a little bit it is relatively easy to get them the rest of the way off.
Spare Tire (Donut)
We have all seen cars driving around with that one sketchy-looking tire. The one that looks way too small to be supporting the vehicle it’s on, but somehow it is getting the job done. These oddly small, and strange-looking tires are spare tires. These tires are commonly referred to as donut tires for obvious reasons.
It is incredibly important that you always have one of these spare tires in your vehicle in case of a flat tire or tire damage. The majority of vehicles come with one of these funky little tires, and they are usually located in a compartment or underneath your vehicle with your scissor jack. If you don’t keep a spare tire on hand, you will be literally stuck if you ever encounter the problem of a flat tire. Flat tires happen without warning, and quite often in the most unfortunate places.
The simple step of keeping a spare in your vehicle could save you hours of sitting and a monster towing bill if you get stranded as the result of a flat tire or blowout;
When you find yourself in need of these strange little spare tire, it is important to be sure it is in good condition before attempting to drive anywhere with them. It isn’t uncommon for the rims on these temporary tires to become rusted and weak due to exposure to the weather. especially if your space is located on the underside of your vehicle like many are. YOu will also want to check the tire for fraying. or extensive cracks due to the rubber drying out over time. Of course, all of these spare tire issues are more common in older vehicles, so if you are driving something newer you don’t have to worry about that as much.
A core drill is a very handy tool to have if you are a bit more familiar with mechanics and you are doing most of the maintenance and repairs on your vehicle yourself. This particular tool is not one that you will need to carry around with you at all times like the others listed, but they are just as beneficial.
A core drill is a tool used to drill out existing holes making them wider if necessary, as well as giving them a smooth finish. Core drills are used in multiple fields, but when they are used in auto mechanics they are most commonly used to remove a broken off or stripped bolt that you cannot remove with any other attempted method. Core drills can also be used to bore out and smooth the cylinder walls in your engine if you are modifying your vehicle or repairing internal motor damage done by throwing rods and pistons.
There is the manual method of tap and dye and re-threading which can also solve problems related to broken off or stripped bolts that can’t be removed. The process of doing this by hand is long and frustrating. You will thank yourself later if you get your hands on a core drill for these tedious tasks. So even if it isn’t something you need to constantly have on hand, this tool could save you countless hours of struggling and frustration, and it definitely belongs on the list of must-have car tools.
Jumper Cables (Battery Cables)
One thing we all despise equally is getting in your car and turning the key, just to find that you have a dead battery. This situation is especially frustrating if you are running late to work or are stuck somewhere far from home. You can easily avert the crisis of a dead battery by being prepared for it and carrying at least one set of working jumper cables in your vehicle at all times.
Jumper cables are typically long, thick black cables with two clamps for the positive and negative terminal at either end. Jumper cables are relatively cheap to purchase if you don’t already own a set. This is definitely one of those items that you don’t want to go without.
If you find yourself in a situation where your battery has died, it is more than likely you could find someone near you that would be willing to give you a jump. To jump your vehicle you simply need to connect one side of the cables to your dead battery, and the other to the battery of a running vehicle. Make sure that you have the positive and negative hooked up correctly or you could potentially destroy your battery and cause some other damage as well. Once you have everything hooked up and you are sure you have the proper connection let your car seat with the battery being charged by the running vehicle for a few minutes before trying to turn it over. Once you have let your battery charge for a few minutes you can attempt to start it. In most cases, your car should start pretty easily.
If your vehicle is reluctant to start, even after being left to charge for a few minutes you should first check the connections of the jumper cables to the Battery terminals. If the cables are connected correctly and securely but your car still isn’t wanting to start then you may have to have someone slightly rev the engine of the running car while you turn your key. This will push a little extra charge to your battery and it usually does the trick.
I know there are some people who really aren’t comfortable asking a stranger in public for a jump but rest assured most people are happy to help. On many occasions, I have given people a jump when their battery died at places like the local gas station or grocery store. I’m sure you would rather stomach asking for help than swallow the two bills you would end up with later if you didn’t ask for help.
So whether you are dealing with something as simple as a flat tire or a dead battery, or something more complex like broken bolts in your exhaust manifold, it is always better to be prepared. If you obtain these five tools and develop a good understanding of how to use them when working on your vehicle, then you should be ready to handle pretty much anything that could happen to you unexpectedly. You can obtain all of these tools at your local parts store, and if you need some instruction you can always ask someone at the parts store or a trusted mechanic.
Having the proper knowledge and tools to deal with unexpected issues can save you a ton of time and money. Not to mention that the tasks associated with these five handy tools are relatively basic and with a little determination I am confident you can handle whatever life throws at you. If that doesn’t provide you with some peace of mind, then I don’t know what will. Regardless, all of these tools are must-haves, because no one enjoys being stranded or without transportation any longer than absolutely necessary.