Unless you’ve been involved in the automotive hobby most of your life or you still remember what your ole’ truck driving grandpa had repeatedly told you to never leave the house without, you probably wouldn’t think twice about what’s in your car before pulling out of your driveway for a weekend cruise. These are the top items to always keep in your classic vehicle.
In the toolbox
Philips and flathead screwdrivers are self-explanatory tools, but screwdrivers have so many uses throughout your vehicle that you may not realize the importance of having the right one until it’s too late. Making a carb adjustment, tightening a plate screw, or removing a hose is simplified by carrying a screwdriver set.
We’ve all tried using pliers in a pinch when the right wrench wasn’t on hand, but the last thing you want to do on the side of the road is round off a bolt head or damage your paint. There aren’t many ways around not having a wrench when in need. Depending on the make and vintage of your vehicle, you can pick up either a standard or metric wrench kit, or at the very least pack an adjustable wrench.
Sockets and a good ratchet are needed for most roadside repairs. Buying the highest quality isn’t as significant as having the correct sizes, so make sure you have the correct SAE or Metric set. This next part is vital, perhaps even a motto to live by, keep your 5/16 or 10mm in a safe place! If you lose one from your shop set, never take it out of your emergency stash in your car, because you might need it when you sputter to a halt in the middle of nowhere on Route 66?
A standard hammer is handy to have, especially when you need to tap a starter into remission.
A flashlight is an often-overlooked necessity that can expedite your roadside repair. Remember to check the batteries once in a while because a dead flashlight is just as useful as not having one. Magnetic lights offer hands-free operation, but you don’t need anything expensive. You can even pick one up for free with almost every visit to Harbor Freight.
Other odds and ends that could save the day include Duct Tape, electrical tape, various sizes of black zip ties (clear zip ties are brittle), a good pair of snips, and work gloves and rags.
In the case of an emergency
A simple tire repair kit could help you get back on the road, and reflective warning triangles placed with 10 feet of the front and rear of the vehicle will alert other drivers of your presence if you get stuck in a high-traffic area or blind spot on the road.
A portable jump starter will bring a dead battery back to life without having to depend on others, or if you make friends easily a set of jumper cables will get you by.
Having a first aid kit available will give you peace-of-mind for those unpredictable cuts and scrapes that can happen during vehicle repair.
Always have a fire extinguisher in the car, because if your car is on fire, the rest of the tools won’t be necessary. Many collectors like to mount them on the transmission hump or under the seat, but anywhere that is easily accessible will work. Check the gauge on your extinguisher occasionally, as over time they will lose pressure.
Spare parts and fluids
If you only have space to carry one spare part, drive belts are the way to go. What is typically a simple roadside fix can ruin a cruise if you don’t have a spare. Most vehicles only use one or two belts, a serpentine or V-belt, and they are generally quite affordable.
Depending on the condition of your ride, you may also want to carry oil, coolant, and transmission and brake fluids. Starting fluid can help clean grease but will also help get your classic started.
Hagerty Driver’s Club Card
If all else fails, reach in your wallet or glove box for your Hagerty Drivers Club membership card. The basic package includes unlimited service calls and provides your classic car with guaranteed flatbed towing within a 15-mile radius, as well as $50 towards emergency services like lockouts, battery jumps and tire changes. If you already haven’t taken advantage of this membership, check out at https://www.hagerty.com/drivers-club. Aside from the roadside service, you will also receive $50 off your first DriveShare rental as well as a subscription to Hagerty’s award-winning magazine.