Tools to keep in your Land Rover
Not everyone is going to cross the Simpson Desert and even if you prepared for an event like that, it is pretty well guaranteed that whatever tools you took they would not include the one you really needed. However, it really does pay to be prepared for some of the more typical automotive problems, even if your driving amounts only to the highway and the odd country trip. Relying on a local service station, if you can find one open, or the NAMN (“Never available when mechanic needed”) can be a trial, especially when so many jobs are well within the ability of most owners.
You do not need to be a mechanic to do many simple jobs and the tools will not be a means of earning your living. What you want is tools that work when you need them and some basic knowledge of how to use them without extensive training. For these reasons, the focus of the recommendations in this article will be on simplicity, practicality and reliability.
Absolutely basic tools
The jack is unquestionably the most essential item required. While the unit that comes with the vehicle might be fine for a wheel change on smooth, level concrete or bitumen, it will be fairly useless if not downright dangerous in many other conditions. (But don’t throw it away – there are times when a second jack is indispensable).
A 250 mm square base plate (the size is not critical) is just a flat piece of 3 mm steel or 12 mm plywood. This accessory will spread the load so a jack will work even on relatively soft ground.
By far the best kind of jack is the “farm” or “high lift” jack that can be purchased for relatively little money and the quality is perfectly reasonable for non-professional use. The merit of these units is that they work in a horizontal as well as vertical situation so can even be used to pull a vehicle out of a ditch (with some ingenuity and a decent strap).
The wheel brace should not be one of those cross devices. A far better investment is a 500 mm long heavy-duty bar with a ¾” drive plus a ½” adapter and good-quality sockets specifically sized to fit the wheel nuts of the vehicle (and trailer). Also remember that sockets for wheel nuts MUST be the correct single-hex type – not the more common ones that can grab and damage the wheel nut. This combination will remove wheel nuts even when fitted by the gorilla at your friendly local tyre dealer.
Leather work-gloves should not be considered a luxury. They will save many a battered hand and in cold weather can mean the difference between working and not working on the job,
Jumper leads are essential because batteries will fail at the worst possible time. Having these does not of course guarantee that another vehicle will come along at the right moment but if one does, at least you will get started again. Avoid the cheap versions with thin cables and dodgy clamps. A good set might cost twice as much as cheap ones but will prove their value even if used just once. An alternative option is the “power cell” that is essentially a small back-up battery with its own jumper leads. These are useful, as long as they are charged and tested regularly.
Towing straps (also called tree protector straps) cost less that $100 and are one of the most useful additions ever introduced to the tool kit. They can pull at virtually any angle and with a breaking strain measured in multiple tons are far more adaptable than steel cables. With a few large shackles and a pulley block or high-lift jack, there are few situations that cannot be overcome with safety and speed.
A pinch bar is about the only tool that can remove a tree branch jammed under the prop shaft, or a body part rubbing a wheel after an encounter with a rock or an animal. Don’t laugh! This happens more that you might think
Spanners & sockets are in the “must have” category. NEVER buy cheap sockets or spanners because they can and do split due to the cheap materials used. “Average” quality” sets from one of the auto chain stores will be quite adequate. Sockets come with ¼. 3/8 and ½ inch drives – the 3/8 is probably the most useful. Get a couple of extension bars to fit the chosen socket size, if they are not already included in the set.
Screwdrivers of fairly good quality also come in sets. Be sure to get a selection of flat and Philips types across a range of sizes.
Multigrips are worth having in any basic toolkit, preferably including one that is adjustable up to a 500 mm grip
A hammer and small cold chisel might sound like overkill, but some jobs are impossible to do without them. One such task is removing the nasty covers from the P38 HSE wheel nuts after they have deformed beyond repair
Self-consolidating tape is a “wonder” material. This tape comes in several colours and sticks to itself. For example, wrapped around a blown hose it will most likely get you home. It can also be used as a tourniquet or bandage.
Fuels & Lubricants should be considered essential for driving anywhere outside the city. Even a 10 litre container of fuel will probably get you somewhere you can get more. An aerosol can of WD40. Rostoff or similar will disperse water, loosen rusted nuts and save many situations. Engine oil, transmission oil, ATF are probably not so essential if the vehicle is checked before taking off on a trip, but it is prudent to have these if space permits.
A Lever chain block is NOT an essential item for most owners, but for off-road situations will extend the capabilities of your straps immeasurably. A decent quality one will cost around $250. A lever block or the high-lift jack with straps will drag a small tree out of the way and/or drag the vehicle away from a road blockage.
An angle grinder, a reversable drill and range of drill bits are also on the “nice to have” list. Fortunately, the latest generation of rechargeable power tools has solved many of the electricity supply problems – up to certain limits. Drilling a hole through 3 mm stainless plate is not the job for the average rechargeable Grunt is needed where grunt is needed! Unfortunately, there is no simple answer – you must decide what is best for your particular circumstances.
Although a small chain saw can be useful, it takes a lot of space and means carrying 2-stroke fuel. A better option might be the “forestry saw” that takes very little room in the vehicle and will cut through branches, or even a small tree trunk across your path. The one illustrated has a 270 mm blade and costs around $50
Maintenance of tools
There is absolutely no point in carrying tools if they are blunt, rusty or broken. The maintenance is, however, quite simple. The most important solution is to dry and oil anything that has been used.
- Wipe every tool with a slightly oily rag before putting it away
- Get any rust off as soon as possible. Caught early, it may come off with an oily rag, progressing to the use of emery cloth or a wire wheel in extreme cases. Why let it get to that stage when it is not necessary?
- Spray each tool with a lubricant after cleaning
- Keep tools in a tool-bag or case
- Sharpen tools before putting them away.
- Drill bits may be sharpened on a grinding wheel, but the cutting angle is important, so a drill guide is recommended. Fortunately, smaller bit sizes are inexpensive and are cheaply replaced.
Getting to know your toolkit
Tools are of little use unless you know how to use them. Better by far to practice in the security of your own carport or shed beforehand. Work on bits of scrap or discarded car parts if necessary. Use the high-lift jack so it becomes second nature to lift the vehicle safely.. Finally, never be afraid to ask how to do something. The Graeme Cooper Forum is there for just that reason.
This article is one of many written by ASPAC Consulting,in collaboration with the technical experts at Graeme Cooper Automotive.
To download it in PDF format, click Tool selection.pdf
Please CONTACT US for help with your particular vehicle OR post a question on the forum.