Right, you've broken down or something's gone wrong again, and you need to do something to your vehicle to make it go again. Something other than drive it or pour petrol into the tank. Yep, you're going to have to get a little dirty for a while and change a tyre, check the oil and/or various other things. But what are you going to do it with? Your teeth? Nope, you'd better have a good selection of tools (and some other things) in your car to deal with what can go wrong, and here's a handy list of what you should have.

  • Tyre Iron: Essential for changing a tyre (duh), but has a plethora of other uses, including but not limited to prying stuff open (if the long end comes to a flat point, which it should, so you can jemmy the tyre off the rim), and smashing things.
  • Jack: This will save you from having to lift the car with your bare hands when changing tyres. Very useful.
  • Pliers: You'll probably find standard pliers more useful than the needle nose variety, unless you're fiddling with the electrics of the car more than the mechanical parts.
  • Screwdrivers: Make sure you have both the flathead and phillips head types. Trust me, they'll definitely be useful.
  • Spanners: I have three in my car; a 8mm/9mm, a 10mm/12mm and a 14mm/17mm. Of course, you should take whatever you need, but I'd say these are good standards. A shifting spanner also comes in handy, but is not essential (unless you want to hit people in the head with it (but then you'd use your tyre iron, wouldn't you)).
  • I also have a small round tube that ends in a hexagon the same size as the wheel nuts, and a piece of metal that goes through it so you can turn it, but this isn't necessary if you have a tyre iron. It really only helps in spinning the nuts really quickly once you have loosened them with the TI.
  • Jumper Cables: If your battery goes flat on a deserted road, and only one car comes along, and they haven't got leads, well then it'd be good if you had them, wouldn't it?
  • Duct Tape/Electrical Tape: Absolutely essential if you own an old car like mine, for temporarily fixing the seats, dash, or almost anything else. Electrical tape is useful for emergency wiring jobs, and Ameoba recommends electrical tape for fixing air hoses.
  • Oilcan: Not needed, but useful to have, especially if your clutch needs to be oiled every couple of days.
  • Shoelaces: No, I'm not joking. If your controls or instrumentation breaks, it is possible, in some cases to fix with them so your car can at least limp to the nearest garage. Example: If your accelerator pedal breaks, it is a relatively simple affair to link up a shoelace out of the bonnet and through the window. (I say shoelaces, because they are generally stronger than string. Also, if you have absolutely *no* knowledge of what goes on under the hood, perhaps it's better you don't try to emulate repairs like the one above).
  • Torch: I can't stress this enough. Even if you can't fix your car, you'll be thankful for it on a dark, stormy night when your lights don't work. There are generally two schools of thought regarding torches and to what size they should be; One says that large torches like the big Maglites or Dolphins are better, because it's easy to light up stuff underneath the hood with them, and they're good for signalling for help. Personally, I have a small torch, because things are always falling out behind my dashboard and space is limited under there, and they're easy to hold in your mouth when you need both your hands free. It's up to you.
  • Napkins: If you're like me (which, god willing, you're not) you'll walk out of fast food establishments etc. with way too many napkins. These are useful to keep in your glove box for wiping down parts of your car, and your hands if you've been working on your car.
  • Beef Jerky (or Lembas for Demeter): If you can't fix your car, and you're stuck for some time, you may get hungry. Personally, I have Kangaroo Jerky (thanks rougevert), but it's up to you.
  • Jasstrong has successfully pushed the benefits of Gasket Goo and a Socket Set to me: "You can fix a blown head gasket by the side of the road".
  • Transitional Man recommends the sealant for fixing thermostats quickly, and has convinced me that everyone needs a socket set.
  • Stupot urges me to have elastic in here, and told me the story of having windscreen wipers operated via a string through the driver's window, and some elastic jammed in the passenger door.

    These things have all helped me, if you disagree with something, or you think I've missed out something important, /msg me.

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