If you’ve just gotten a 4WD, and want to take it away to explore this magic country, you should be taking a 4WD Tool Kit with you. What is in that kit should depend entirely on what 4WD you own, where you are going, your mechanical and electrical ability and what you intend on doing with the vehicle.
Generally speaking, the older the 4WD, the more difficult the track and the more remote you are going the greater number of items that should be in your tool kit, but its not always that simple, and space/weight factors play a big role.
Common failure points
Every single vehicle has a list of weak points, and it generally doesn’t take too much effort to find out what that is. 79 Series Land Cruisers like to eat alternators if you are doing mud driving, Dmax’s will snap CV’s if you push them too hard and Rangers like to split intercooler hoses.
Knowing what is likely to fail isn’t a sign of weakness; its smart as it allows you to take parts and tools required to fix the issue when it arises, instead of it being one big headache. Of course, you have to pick and choose what is worth carrying; taking a a spare transfer case is probably overkill, but there are plenty of people who take a spare alternator or CV for long, difficult trips away from nearby parts.
How long would it take you to get a part?
About half way through our Flinders Ranges adventure, I started to get a nasty squeaking noise from the engine bay of our Dmax. I eventually traced it back to the alternator, and jumped on getting a replacement as soon as I had phone reception. This proved to be quite difficult, with the only place that had stock nearby being Isuzu in Port Pirie, who had one for $1750!
Everyone else had to order them in, and we were looking at a week minimum to get it from Queensland, or a few days from Adelaide. If the component is hard to get, its more likely to be something you’d want in your box of spares. For mud driving, alternators are a common failure point and a lot of people do carry a spare (even an older, second hand one).
What should you have in a 4WD Tool Kit?
You’d be surprised how few people carry a couple of spare fuses, and that can be one big show stopper. It takes 5 minutes to find out what fuses your vehicle takes, and to pick a couple up at the local auto shop.
From there, having some spare cabling is a good idea, a terminal kit and plenty of electrical tape. Some people carry soldering irons, spare Anderson plugs and the list can really go on as long as you’d like it to.
There are some staple items that should live in your tool kit from a mechanical perspective. WD40, 5 minute araldite, duct tape, self amalgamating tape, gloves, grease, engine oil, diff oil, transmission oil, a front and rear wheel bearing set, fuel filters, engine oil filter, oil seals, an assortment of nuts, bolts and screws and a few bits of steel.
Make sure you throw some rags in too, as they’re hugely helpful.
On top of this, critical belts are a must. That means a serpentine belt if you run one, or vee belts to suit the different pulleys. You can live without an aircon, but not if it also drives your viscous fan!
Spanners and other mechanical tools
A good socket set, with ring spanners is hugely important. Take only the spanners that suit your vehicle, and having a couple of the more common sizes is worth while. I’ve got a small number of 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2″ drives, with extensions and then a basic metric spanner set.
I take a huge variety of pliers along with knives, Allen keys, screwdrivers, vice grips, drill bits and so on and so forth. I did do a big cull prior to our lap of Australia as the tool bag was getting incredibly heavy.
Emergency repair items
A Tyre repair kit should be a must for anyone heading away, as they are cheap, work really well and you can use them on your other vehicles as needed too. We purchased a bottle of radiator leak as an emergency, and also have some Devcon, araldite and superglue.
A test light or multimeter is hugely useful, and having a way to clear any fault codes (plus read what they are) is getting really important with today’s vehicles.
What other items do you carry in your 4WD tool kit?