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  1. #1
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Minneapolis area

    Default Which roadside emergencies can you handle without a tow?

    Well every automotive forum has a "whatz in ur toolbox" thread and they're all boring because everyone just posts their lists and there isn't much discussion.

    So don't do that.

    But let's talk about the kinds of roadside emergencies you anticipate and are prepared for, and how that has shaped the contents of ur toolbox.

    In my experience, minor tire leaks are extremely common so I carry plugs and a little air compressor in addition to the factory tire changing kit and a full size spare.

    Since I often tow a trailer and trailer wiring is flakey I have a bunch of stuff to deal with that.

    Battery and alternator problems being common I carry stuff to deal with those. I need to tweak my tool kit a little but the intent is to have all the tools necessary to replace an alternator on the road. I'm tempted to carry a spare alternator or at least replacement diodes but haven't been. Tool wise the hardest part of an alternator replacement is having something to release the tension on the serpentine belt with.

    I tend to get stuck in the snow and mud from time to time so I carry a tow strap.

    I've been stranded by transmission failures with no advance warning but haven't figured out a way to do a roadside transmission swap so that one requires a tow. Another use for the tow strap.

    Murphy's law being what it is everything tends to go to hell when it's cold and dark so I pack a pair of gloves, an extra coat, a flashlight, and a cyalume stick.

    I used to think cooling system problems were a big deal and statistically they are but nearly always due to a lack of maintenance. So I'm in the habit of checking and replacing cooling hoses more aggressively then I used to, and I pressure test the cooling system every year or so to find any clamps that no longer seal. With that I don't feel like I have to carry spare hoses and clamps.
    Minneapolis area - 1997 K2500 regular cab long bed + 8.5' Western Unimount plow + modified transmission + 2nd battery + modified camper charge circuit + 1971 Cayo camper -and- 2004 4x4 Suburban 2500 8.1 + Maxbrake controller + 2nd battery + modified trailer charge circuit + Reese receiver, pulls 30' Airstream trailer

  2. #2
    Master Mechanic silverhobey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
    Blog Entries


    even though our truck is newer (2010) I still carry items such as yourself.
    Not too many engine parts tools, but gloves, emergency kit, booster cables, shovel,
    blankets, ratchets/sockets, DUCT TAPE ---oh yeah, and usually lots of lfuids if going on
    long trip in the Truck or our Twenty Year old Corolla. I don't ever remember breaking
    down except for blowing the side out of our trailer tire (yeah, and spare had a leakt valve)
    and had no air in it). I have bottle Jacks and some chunks of Wood for ease of use .

    Great idea for this Thread....take care...Merry Christmas...Brian
    Silverado Crew.....4.8 L

    ---Pendaliner BoxLiner and Side Rails....Van and Truck World
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    ---DeeZee TailGate Assist ....Van and Truck World ( now Action Car and Truck Accessories )

    ---Westin Series side steps....Apple Auto Glass
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    ---Better Built rear hitch step .... Lowe's !!!
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    ---AVS tinted License plate covers....Wal-Mart

  3. #3
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Minneapolis area


    Quote Originally Posted by silverhobey View Post
    usually lots of lfuids if going on
    long trip in the Truck or our Twenty Year old Corolla.
    Why the fluids? If they're not for known minor leaks I'm not sure I see what good they do unless you have enough to refill after repairing a hose. And that requires having a spare hose.

  4. #4
    Master Mechanic silverhobey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
    Blog Entries


    Quote Originally Posted by Jamm3r View Post
    Why the fluids? If they're not for known minor leaks I'm not sure I see what good they do unless you have enough to refill after repairing a hose. And that requires having a spare hose.
    I am usually always prepared ' in case ' and often end up helping others with items
    like Rad Fluid, quart of oil, small Air Compressor, jug of water...that's all

  5. #5


    I always keep a quat of oil in the truck. Currently I carry most of my tools in the truck at all times, so replacing something isn't a problem. I also have a air compressor, gloves, and of course my spare and jack. On trips where I know there is a leaking fluid I keep extra and check level at every stop. I also keep a blanket, rope, duct tape, shovel, 2 sets of jumper cables, and a tarp. I have used my tools and jumper cables more on other vehicles then mine, but I still keep them.

    Soon I plan to get a tow strap because I really should keep one on me. I have sevral flash lights in the truck as well as a AAA kit with a full first aid kit. My truck is like a survival kit on wheels. When camping its is called by my friends "The Million Essentials kit".

    1996 Chevy Tahoe LT 5.7L V8 4X4 205,000+ miles. Built proudly at Janesville Assembly in Janesville, Wisconsin
    Basic mods: Lights all over, bunch of electrical work, and a couple cooling mods.

    Check out my other mods in My Garage:

  6. #6


    Great thread. I too, carry almost everything you guys do. I add a shovel in the winter but usually take out what I don't need during the summer.
    -K&N Air Filter

  7. #7


    I carry a bottle jack with a 24" ram height, a pair of jack stands, a full size spare with matching (to my truck's regular shoes) wheel/tire, ratchet straps, a breaker bar and matching socket for my lugs, a tire plug kit, and a 12v inflator in case I need to deal with a flat. (Note: With my 6" lift and 34" tires, special considerations had to be made in order to be able to handle a tire change on the side of the road.)

    I carry a 5 gallon gas can that's never had gas in it -- allowing me to fill it with water in case I need to fill the radiator and limp home -- or gas in case I run out. I also have a siphon kit on board and some JB Weld putty.

    I have electrical supplies (wire, crimps, needle-nose pliers, electical tape, a multi-meter, multiple spares of every fuse type that my truck uses) in case I need to make a quick electrical fix of some kind. I also carry a set of 4ga 25ft jumper cables so that I can jump someone else or, in the event of alternator failure, temporarily connect my auxiliary battery to my primary battery (routing around my dual rectifier/battery isolator) so that i can keep on driving after the primary battery dies.

    I keep a dogbone wrench, crescent wrench, multi-head screwdriver, ball peen hammer, tarp, rope, bunji cords, funnel, knee pads, leather work gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, ice scraper, and a high-visibility (hunter orange) safety vest onboard ... as a general automotive tool and safety kit.

    For winching and/or vehicle towing I have a Warn 9500lb rated winch and a snatch block, 20' tow strap, 10' tree strap, 2 D-shackles, and a high strength receiver pin -- all rated for 30,000 lbs. I have a 10k-rated receiver-based D-shackle for tow or anchor use, and for winch line safety I keep a heavy, quilted moving blanket on board. There's also a folding shovel in case its needed to dig out of mud or snow, a bit.

    A SureFire flashlight and an Energizer magnetic LED puck light are on board if I need to deal with such things in the dark.

    If I am outside of urban areas I also usually have a pistol, a rifle, and a bug out bag on board. The bag has 4 ways to purify water, 3 ways to make fire, a 1.5 liter water bladder (empty but easily filled using purification) with drinking tube, 10 days of rations (more if I stretch it), one folding pocket knife, one survival knife, 50' of paracord, a compass, a signal mirror, aluminum foil, waterproof writing material and a functional pen that writes on it, duct tape, a bivy sack, camoflage ace bandages (for medical or gun wrap use), ammunition for both the rifle and the pistol, a gun-cleaning kit, fishing hooks, fishing line, and a pocket-sized SAS survival handbook -- to name a few items. This has me prepared to handle an emergency that isolates me from supplies or safety ... for a limited time, of course.

    I'm slowly working on an OBA (on board air) project that is compressor-driven and when that's finished I'll add some air tools and inflation capabilities to the truck. I should probably take a lesson from @Conlan Rose and add some engine oil and tranny fluid to my kit.


    P.S. I can still seat 5 comfortably in my cab, as ALL of this is neatly stowed except the bug out bag (when present) ... and there's nothing obstructing leg room, at all.
    Last edited by SurrealOne; 12-20-2012 at 08:44 PM.

  8. #8


    I have most of the tools one would need to do just about any mechanical repair. Not because I feel that I need them, but because I have been working on my truck since I got it 10 months ago. All of my tools have managed to migrate to the truck. I also have my fire turnout gear, medical responder bag, land search pack, fire extinguisher, straps, tarp, blanket, handheld radios, mobile fire radio, cell phone, national incident management guidebook, hazardous materials guide book and a box of exam gloves. I also seem to have a collection of cleaning and detailing products... There's probably some other crap under the seat I haven't accounted for...
    "It went together didn't it? Well then there has to be a way to take it apart!" - Me.

    Check out my image gallery HERE.

    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

  9. #9


    For standard roadside repairs I carry Duck tape (1001 and one uses and more being found every day).
    Lots of zip ties in different sizes that can be used on anything from wrapping a patch around a hose to strapping up wires or any other loose items.
    A small roll of bailing wire to use for strapping up hot exhaust parts if need be and in a pinch it can be used to do minor welding with a battery.
    Assorted lengths and gauge's of electrical wire along with connectors and clips for making temporary connections.
    A 20 year bag of assorted fasteners and odd parts.
    A standard assortment of wrench's, screwdrivers, sockets, hammer, pliers, etc.
    2 collapsable 3 gl bags, one is rated for fuel and the other is for water.
    A 2'x2' flat steel plate to use as a jack plate on soft ground or to help spread the load under the truck if I'm forced to use a jack point I'm not sure of.
    Tire plugs, all my trucks at this point have OBA systems so I carry an assortment of air tools.
    2 2.5 ton bottle jacks along with the factory jack.
    Road flares, 2 10lb Halon fire extinguishers.
    A set of solar/battery operated LED hazard flashers that can also be used as work lights or flash lights and a flourescent light with aligator clip connections that attach's to the battery.
    Folding shovel.

    For my rock crawler since it's purpose is to get out where a tow would be impossible I have almost a full portable machine shop, onboard welder, On board air system, 5 hp generator/hydraulic pump, reciever mounted vice, drill, die grinder, full size grinder, circular saw with metal cutting blades, portable fold-out work/welding bench, 15 ton reciever mounted press, air wratchet, air cut-off tool, air gun, tire inflation kit with rubber pieces for temp patch's on big holes, mobile tire mounting set with tire spoons, lathe able to handle metal upto 5" thick and 6' long, and two 5'x5' pnuematic sand jacks that are rated at 10 tons each.

  10. #10


    I ususally carry my tool kit, spare, also make sure it is aired up, electrical tool kit, oil , antifreeze already mixed, A lil cb radio on the box they called it something weird but it is just an emergency one because all you have to do is plug it into the cigarette lighter. Thats about it
    1994 GMC Yukon, 2 door, Victory Red
    Garage Link:

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