4WD Tool Kit; what do you actually need?

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.

Sorting through our 4WD tool kit
Sorting through our 4WD tool kit to make it comprehensive, but as light and compact as possible

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.

Isuzu Dmax Alternator
We’ve had some issues with our alternator, and I now have a spare with us

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).

Filthy Reconn R2
We did a heap of mud driving in the Flinders Ranges that I’m quietly confident hurt the alternator

What should you have in a 4WD Tool Kit?

Electrical spares

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.

Electrical connections
Our electrical connection spares, plus heaps of other bits and pieces

Mechanical consumables

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!

Tools and spares
Repairing a broken number plate mount on the Bull Bar

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.

Spanners and sockets for 4WD repairs
I took some of the metric bits out of this kit to ensure we have what we need, and nothing more

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.

Tyre repair kit being used
A tyre repair kit is an absolute must have

Electrical tools

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?

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  1. Hey Lee,

    Good pickup; we have one in the Dmax and it should be on the list. A diagram would be useful as well. We have a Haynes manual which I pull out when needed, but either works.

    All the best

  2. Hi Aaron, I like to also carry a spare serpentine belt as in modern vehicles, if one of these breaks, you’re not going anywhere. I also carry a diagram showing which way the belt goes around the multitude of pulleys.