Who doesn’t love going on a road trip? Long drives, new scenery, your car breaking down hundreds of miles from home. Okay, so maybe that last part isn’t so great. If you’re prepared though, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare that ruins your trip.

Jump for joy: Jumper cables
~$15-$20

Nothing ruins a trip quite like a dead battery. If you’re going to be somewhere that help may be easy to find then make sure to keep a set of jumper cables like these handy. For $16, it’s a relatively cheap piece of mind in keeping you going and although it may not 100% remedy an issue it may be enough to at least get you to the closest parts store.

Pump it up: Tire inflator
$15-$30

Getting a flat sucks, especially when you’re a long way from home. It leaves you stranded miles from anywhere with no way of getting where you need to be. A cheap inflator like this Campbell Hausfeld model will plug right in to your 12-volt outlet in your car and pump air into your tires. A couple of good accessories to keep with the inflator are a tire plug kit in case something pierces the tire and a tire pressure gauge to make sure your tire is correctly inflated.

Shed some light on the issue: A flashlight
$5-$10

Chances are if something goes wrong while you’re miles from home, it’s going to happen while it’s dark. If you keep a a small LED flashlight in your car it will make figuring out what’s wrong much easier. While you don’t need to spend this much for a single flashlight, it makes a lot of sense to buy something that is durable and will last a long time. If you don’t want to spend that much you can buy a 10 pack for less than $10 and when one goes bad, you can just toss it out.

Keep it together: a tool bag
$10-$20

Having a bunch of tools with you doesn’t do any good if you can’t locate them. Using a tool bag like this Harbor Freight model is a cheap way to make sure you can find the tool you need to make a repair in a timely manner. I highly suggest identifying the tools that you use the most on your car and taking them with you in your tool bag when you go on a trip. I keep a basic metric socket set, a small metric wrench set, a couple of screwdrivers, some Torx bits, a small knife, and a couple different pairs of pliers/vice grips in my tool bag. Knowing exactly what you do and don’t need will cut down on the weight and size of your bag.

That does it for this week’s installment of the Tuesday Toolbox. I hope you found it useful. If you liked (or even disliked) it, or have any comments, concerns or ideas for other topics feel free to leave comment below. I always appreciate feedback!

Good news! I’ve finally got the tool cost breakdown list completed!

Thanks for reading and happy wrenching.


Wilson Oberholzer is  a full time mechanical designer with a very heavy background in manufacturing and tinkering. He’s done everything from the basics like changing oil all the way up to advanced stuff like rebuilding engines and wiring in new engine management equipment.