Car Maintenance: 5 Essential Tools to Always Keep in Your Car
If you’ve been driving for many years, you would know that road emergencies can happen when you least expect them. A flat tyre, a loose belt, or a dead battery can be inconvenient to deal with but can also be easy to fix if you’re prepared.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional mechanic to give yourself a much better chance of getting home or to the nearest repair shop. But with a small kit of essential car maintenance tools, you’ll certainly increase your safety odds.
To get started, here are the best 5 tools to keep in your car should you ever face trouble or danger on the road.
1. Spare Tyre and Jack
A major cause of vehicle breakdown is due to common car tyre problems. It could be a worn out, cracked or punctured tyre – either way, you shouldn’t be driving. With that said, if your car tyres give way while you’re driving, it’s good to be prepared with the tools you need to change it.
Most newer cars come with a spare tyre and jack but this may not be the case if you own an inherited or second hand vehicle. You should also check your spare tyre regularly to ensure it’s in usable condition should you need it.
2. Jumper Cables/Automatic Battery Charger
Another common reason for break downs is a flat battery. In this case, jumper cables can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re stranded on the side of the road. Although jump starting a car with jumper cables is pretty straightforward and a process all drivers should know, you must be careful when attaching the red and black clamps to either vehicles. Remember, red is the positive charge and black is negative. You would also have to get another helpful driver to stop, so that you can connect the jumper cables to the other car’s battery.
Choose durable, heavy-gauge cables with high-quality clamps on each end instead of the smaller, cheaper sort. Avoid jumper cables that plug into the cigarette lighter outlet altogether. A good set of jumper cables should also work with a wider array of cars.
However nowadays, you can give yourself extra protection against a dead battery by keeping a portable, automatic battery charger (as shown above) in your car. This handy car device allows you to get the battery running again without having to rely on another vehicle. Just be sure to familiarise yourself on how to properly use it.
It’s also important to note that jumper cables or a battery charger can only breathe temporary life into your car’s battery. Enough to get you back on the road and to the nearest authorised workshop.
3. Basic Toolkit
As part of this list of essential car tools, it’s wise to also keep a full set of basic tools like screwdrivers, pliers and a hammer, which could come in handy if you face car problems, or if you need to help another driver. Get a set of screwdrivers with multiple socket sizes and tips for flexibility and store them away in your trunk or glove compartment for easy access.
It may seem unlikely but parts of your car could come loose due to vibration, age, or other reasons. It could be a loose battery terminal connection, a slipped hose clamp, or other simple and obvious problems under the hood. Even if you aren’t an automotive whiz, popping the hood and looking for obvious problems like this is easy – you just have to use your sense of sight to detect something amiss!
4. Tyre Pressure Gauge
Ensuring the air pressure in your car’s tyres are always at the correct level is vital for a few reasons:
- It ensures you can brake easily and control the car at all times
- Helps maximise gas mileage
- Prolongs the life of the tyre’s threads
So, having a tyre pressure gauge accessible at all times makes it easy to check your tyres and to know when they need inflating. If you find your tyres low in air, head to the closest petrol station to use the air pump. Try to set a routine and make it a part of your weekly car maintenance check.
Buy a dial-faced gauge rather than the cheap stick-type ones. You may spend a little more, but you’ll get a much more accurate and reliable reading.
And if you’re planning to go on a long road trip, check your tyre pressure before setting out. You don’t want to be 100 miles from home when that slow leak turns into a flat tyre!
This is the simplest tool that you must have in your car at all times. Yes, most smartphones have a flashlight function but what if you’re stranded on a dark highway and your mobile phone is dead?
These days, proper flashlights come with multiple functions including a flashing strobe light that you can use to alert other drivers for help. Or you could opt for a headlamp for easier hands-free use. Just be sure to check the batteries and keep spares in the car too.
We also recommend keeping your flashlight in the glove compartment, along with your basic toolkit, for easy access.
Be Prepared with the Right Tools
It’s better to expect the unexpected and be prepared to manage difficult situations should they arise. Having these essential tools in your car could save your life. When you’re prepared and not worrying about the “what ifs” that could happen on the road, you’ll be able to enjoy your drive whether it be the commute to work or a fun-filled road trip.
Of course, you should also invest in good car insurance. Consider adding on the 24-hour breakdown assistance Optional Benefit should anything give way while you’re driving, so you’ll never be stranded again.