Is your RV stocked and ready for emergencies, breakdowns and roadside repair needs? Carrying a set of tools and safety equipment is absolutely essential for RV owners. When it comes to tools specifically however, carrying a large number of unnecessary items is not uncommon. Only carry the things that you really need in the field and access specialty tools at repair shops and automotive stores when needed.
Know Your Capabilities First
Before investing in a series of nice tools, know your abilities as a mechanic. Most RV owners are not prepared for serious mechanical repairs, especially while on the road. Basic work on the motor and components however is not uncommon and it helps to have a variety of basic wrenches and emergency repair items.
When specialty tools are needed, many auto part stores or RV mechanic shops will rent out tools. In some cases, they require a deposit and you can simply return the tool when the job is finished. This means carrying bulky specialty items that are rarely needed is simply not necessary. Keep your repair kit simple and focus on carrying the most commonly used tools.
Basic Maintenance and Roadside Repair
Roadside repairs are first priority in your tool kit. Flat tires, blown hoses and other problems of this nature require immediate repair to continue on the road. Invest in a quality roadside assistance program for towing and tire assistance if needed. The ability to change a tire and make temporary repairs however is vital for road warriors.
The first thing needed in every RV is a tire iron. If you have a flat, the iron is used to remove the lug nuts. On lightweight trailers and RV’s a floor jack is adequate for raising the axle to remove the tire. On single axle models, the floor jack is necessary but double axle trailers can benefit from a ramp. You drive one axle over the ramp to remove and replace the flat tire.
Outside of the ramp, jack and tire iron, you only need a few extra items for roadside repairs. Carry a few extra hose clamps and a section of rubber hose that matches your standard sizing. Throw in extra fluids for the radiator, transmission and brakes in case one springs a leak. Any issues requiring a bigger repair job are best done safely at a mechanic shop.
A standard set of tools are useful for mechanical tasks and basic repairs to awnings, interior components and accessories. A set of socket wrenches, screwdrivers, crescent wrench and an oil filter wrench is adequate for most basic repairs. The oil filter wrench is only necessary if you’re changing oil on the road or at home. Otherwise, skip the wrench and have your fluids changed at a service station.
RV engine compartments are large, and a standard set of socket wrenches and screwdrivers is not always enough. Invest in a good set of extensions as well to ensure you have enough reach inside the engine bay. Otherwise, these basic tools will go a long way towards completing simple and in some cases, complex repairs while traveling.
Safety is essential, especially during a breakdown on busy roadways. Carry a safety kit with a flashlight, orange safety cones, flare and a reflective vest. Keep this kit accessible for immediate use in an emergency. It will alert other drivers to your presence and allow for safety space until the RV is moved to a better location.
Always focus on safety first and do not attempt any roadside repairs until the cone is out and a flare is set if needed. In some cases, waiting for a tow truck to relocate off a busy roadway is the best course of action. Take your time and assess the situation before making a decision to repair or relocate.
A few extra resources to keep around include duct tape, a utility knife, tire pressure gauge, pliers, zip ties and a multimeter if you have any electrical knowledge. The multimeter is worth learning because it can read voltage on your motor and interior power and accessories running off your house battery. It can even help resolve issues with solar panel wiring.
The duct tape and zip ties may seem like small things but together, they are capable of repairing and patching an exceptional number of issues. Carry plenty of both because they require very little space and will really come in handy.