It’s often the simple things in life that cause the most issues. And when it comes to four-wheel drives and four-wheel driving, this couldn’t ring truer. Ask anyone who has been left stranded on the side of the road with a flat tyre or something as simple as a blown fuse and no doubt he or she will agree.
While modern four-wheel drives are becoming increasingly complicated, there are still plenty of simple items you can fix yourself, or will need to check while out touring. This is especially true if you have aftermarket accessories such as a roof rack installed that might just need a simple adjustment or tweak after days of corrugations. Are you going to call the accessory manufacturer or get on with the job yourself?
Many vehicles come with basic toolkits, which might help in a pinch but there really is a recommended minimum amount of gear you should carry in the car on every trip. This is our guide to the top ten tools we wouldn’t leave home without… ever again.
SILICONE RESCUE TAPE
If we told you there was a product that you could use in an emergency to repair radiator hoses, electrical connectors, create O-rings or even build a fan belt out of, you would say we are mad. But it is true; Rescue Tape is a self-fusing silicon tape that creates a permanent air and watertight seal in just seconds. Rescue tape will resist fuels, oils, acids, solvents, salt water and even UV light! It works on wet surfaces, and has an unbelievably long shelf life. If it saves you once, a roll of Rescue Tape will more than pay for itself, which is why we always have a roll or two of this in our or toolbox box.
Priced from $19
KINCROME FLEX HEAD RATCHET SPANNERS
A good set of spanners is, well… good. A good set of ratchet spanners is even better. A set of ratchet spanners with a flexible head? Welcome to the pinnacle of spanner design my friends! With modern vehicles cramming more and more gear on-board, access space can be limited. Which is why having a flexible head ratchet spanner just makes sense. Not only will the ratchet mechanism save you time, the flexible head will make getting to these hard-to-reach nuts and bots a walk in the park. It sure beats fumbling with an old ring spanner only to realise you have actually loosened the bolt you were supposed to be tightening… Doh!
Priced from $190
There are so many ‘high lift jacks’ or ‘farm jacks’ on the market these days, which is why I wanted to take things back to the original Hi-Lift jack. This is still the best high lift jack on the market in my opinion, thanks to the strong and proven design as well as the versatility offered by the product with a myriad of accessories available to suit. In saying that, the real reason why I included the Hi-Lift is because the handle is removable and makes for an extremely useful breaker bar or extension to loosen stubborn bolts. The current cheaper high lift jacks you see around the traps have the handle welded on which makes them far less useful as an off-road tool. We wont even mention the dubious quality of those units either… stick with the innovators not imitators!
Priced from: $170
PUNCTURE REPAIR KIT
Punctures are an inevitable fact of life; it doesn’t matter if you are on a pushbike or driving a four-wheel drive, they can and will happen. So what are you going to do, try and call roadside assist and wait two hours for someone to turn up (with the Speedy Seal tyre repair kit most likely), or spend the $70 yourself and have the problem fixed in minutes? Pretty simple really. And that’s the joy of this kit, it is easy to use and will get you on your way towards a tyre shop where they can perform a permanent repair. Everything packs up neatly inside the sturdy carry case, and if you need spares parts or top-ups, everything can be purchased separately too.
Priced from $70
I don’t know about you, but this is not like any other multi-tool I have seen before. The Leatherman Crunch will clamp a pipe up to one inch in diameter making it handy for repairs on the road. No need to carry separate smaller pliers, wire strippers and vice grips anymore, the crunch covers all these bases. In typical Leatherman style, the adjusting screw can be removed to access a hex-bit adaptor, and the locking pliers even fold away. There are actually fifteen tools built into this one unit that weighs just 196 grams, and the whole package is covered by a generous 25-year warranty.
Priced from $230
SIDCHROME 64 PIECE SOCKET SET
A good socket set is a must for any four-wheel driver, so what makes the Sidchrome 64 piece socket set the one I’d spend my money on? Well, for starters Sidchrome offers a lifetime warranty on the kit, which is important for someone with two left thumbs such as myself. Secondly, you get a ½”, ¼” and 3/8” square drive ratchets, meaning all popular driver sizes are covered. Thirdly, it comes with a breaker bar that is just the thing for stubborn rusted nuts and bolts (especially when combined with the aforementioned Hi-Lift jack handle for additional leverage). Another benefit of this kit is he fact it covers both imperial and metric sockets.
Priced from $90
PROJECTA PREMIUM BOOSTER CABLES
Considering all new vehicles feature electronically injected and controlled engines, the jump or booster cables of yesterday are extremely lacking. So we all know you need a set of jumper leads, but why the Projecta Premium Heavy Duty booster cables? Well, you see, not only are the Projecta units quite beefy construction wise, but they all feature the very clever Spikeguard system to protect your electrical system. This device eliminates electrical spikes or surges, which are known to kill vehicle computers. They are also extremely simple to use thanks to four built-in LED indicator lights. The first highlights if there is a good connection between vehicles meaning you are ready to jumpstart. The other LEDs (red, orange and green) highlight the battery level, so if there is a problem you will know about it before any damage occurs.
Priced from $300
COGHLAN’S PACK AXE
You weren’t going to leave you’re axe at home because it is too bulky… were you? It’s okay; we aren’t here to judge and it’s something we have all been guilty of it. But the reality is, having a decent axe or tomahawk will come in pretty darn handy every time you head out camping or four-wheel driving. They aren’t just for cutting wood either; a decent axe makes for a great hammer too! The Coghlan’s Pack Axe is a bit of a game changer in this regard, as it is not only very sturdily constructed, but it is extremely compact in size. So small in fact, it will happily sit at the bottom of your toolbox just waiting to be belted through the nearest piece of wood. The Coghlan’s Pack Axe even comes with its own storage sheath that can be attached to your belt for bushwalks or solo firewood collections.
Priced from $45
SCREW DRIVER SET
Just like ratchet spanners, a set of Snap-on ratcheting screwdrivers will save you time, effort and endless frustration. Rather than having to take the screwdriver out of the fixture for each revolution, simply twist the screwdriver back in the opposite direction, and the ratchet mechanism will do the rest. This will actually preserve screw heads from being rounded and damaged as the screwdriver wont need to be lifted in-and-out of position. Best of all, you can simply change the end bit to suit each required screw you encounter. No more spending hours looking for one specific screwdriver, you have all you need in one unit.
Priced from $147
DUTY LIQUID LANOLIN
If all else fails, break out the lubricant and corrosion inhibitor spray. What I like about Lanotec Heavy Duty Lanolin is the fact it is easier to say than lubricant and inhibitor spray, and it is a natural and biodegradable product that offers all round metal surface protection. It is moisture, salt and acid resistant and not only helps with getting stubborn fasteners loose, it will prevent them rusting in the first place. Think about it like preventative maintenance in a can. A spray of your vehicle before and after a big trip will have it looking fresh and rust free for longer, while protecting under body components including chassis rails.
Priced from $22
CABLE TIES: A jack of all trades in your toolbox with a million-and-one uses
NASHUA 357 GAFFER TAPE: The best gaff tape around, every concert in the world is held together with Nashua 357
COAT HANGERS/FENCING WIRE: Perfect for hanging up broken exhaust pipes or anything that has rattled loose
FEW METRES OF ROPE: Can be used for everything from creating a clothesline to securing a tarp
A BOX OF RANDOM NUTS AND BOLTS: If I had a dollar for every time a random nut or bolt had saved my backside I’d be a rich man
FLARE SPANNERS: Keep a 10-12-14mm flair spanner handy for brake lines or any soft nut that could strip easily