Piston Slap: Prudent Tool Packing or Junk in the Trunk?
It’s the time of year to start tossing out little-used items so we can get more to replace them. One place I’m looking at is the car. I recall my stash of trunk tools back in the dinosaur years while driving the kind of cars I could afford then:
- Duct tape for interior tears, dropped ceiling linings, fixing plastic over windows that dropped off tracks, etc
- Pack of “L’eggs” panty hose as temporary water pump belt
- Wire clothes hanger as spare exhaust pipe clamp or antenna
- Can of WD-40
- Long Craftsman slot screwdriver to pop off distributor cap, prying tires, etc
- Lug wrench and two-foot pipe as lever (also as protection device)
- Couple of flashlights with huge 6V batteries
- Visegrips as combination wrench, hammer, and spare window crank for when your little brother yanks the handles off
- Bottle radiator leak stop
- Tire repair kit with rubber plugs
- Blankets and food in winter (since without cell phones it could be a while until rescue)
It’s been years since I’ve thrown a belt or had a flat tire, which makes me think it’s time to update what I keep on hand in the car on cross-country trips. What’s prudent nowadays?
Let’s assume you are no longer driving the unnamed vehicle referenced here, instead driving its modern counterpart: a clean sled with enough age/mileage for extended warranty exemption. Now some answers:
- KEEP: needed in a pinch. Will duct tape work on damaged, flapping bumper covers and lower chassis covers?
- TRASH: carry a spare serpentine belt. Install a new one, trunk the old one?
- TRASH: considering external antennas are less common and exhaust systems last longer these days (even in the rust belt?)…
- KEEP: always a good idea if wrenching on a rusty undercarriage.
- KEEP: who knows what will need extra leverage at times!
- KEEP: many factory wrenches (collapsible ones) cannot hold a candle to a proper 4-pointed wrench with a leverage pipe.
- TRASH: time for cheap (or free with coupon) LED eye catchers from Harbor Freight.
- KEEP: window crank tool aside, I am down with such a multipurpose tool in one’s cargo area.
- TRASH: not worth clogging an older, weaker heater core to save a radiator. Radiators are still easy(ish) to replace, heater cores are now buried deep inside complicated dashboards!
- KEEP: good idea, especially when a new set of tires are out of the budget. Or maybe a can of fix-a-flat?
- KEEP: cell phone reception is limited, still necessary in many parts of the country.
I will add a few items I keep in my vehicles:
- Phone charging cable(s) and a 12V cigarette lighter USB adapter if not so equipped, but not the leather-wrapped one.
- 1/2 Drive wrench for the belt tensioner to change a serpentine belt, or is that just an old Ford thing?
- 1-gallon gas jug. (Get a bigger one and fill it up if your travels go farther than mine.)
- Cheapy socket set, no worries if it gets stolen.
- Cheapy multipurpose tool, same idea as #4.
- Philips head screwdriver to match your blade screwdriver.
- Silicone repair tape for busted hoses.
- Jumper cables, preferably thicker gauge units.
- Hand towel, sometimes with pumice-based hand cleaner.
Now off to you, oh dear Best and Brightest.
[Image: Shutterstock user Multirole designer]
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