What do you recommend I include in a toolbox that I'll keep in my car in case of breakdowns?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am involved in bird research during the spring and summer in western Oregon
that has several times left me in the middle of nowhere with a car problem
(usually a flat tire). I drive over extremely crummy roads and am often 20-plus
miles away from the nearest town (or two people, as the case may be). What would
you guys suggest as the catch-all tool-kit/emergency-repair stuff that I need to
take with me? A first-aid kit for the car, you might say. I don't want to carry
6 tons of equipment, but I want the stuff to fix small problems on my own. What
should I have and know how to use in case of a breakdown? -- Jenny

RAY: A cellular phone.

TOM: But in case you're really out in the boondocks where a cell phone doesn't
work (or you run your battery down by spending six hours talking to the Psychic
Friends Network), I'd also pack the following:

RAY: An inflated spare tire. And make sure your lug nuts aren't rusted tight by
loosening and tightening them back up every six months or so.

TOM: I'd also carry a can of that "Fix-a-Flat" type stuff. That's the goop in a
can that will fix a small puncture hole in your tire and inflate it, at least

RAY: I'd also bring a roll of duct tape. It's good for lots of things, like when
parts fall off, when a hose breaks and you need to temporarily patch it up, or
when you're tired of listening to a particularly verbose in-law.

TOM: I'd also carry a gallon or two of spring water. Why spring water? Because
you can use it in your radiator or use it to mix cocktails if you break down and
are going to be stuck overnight.

RAY: I'd carry one of those plastic, temporary replacement belts that can be
adjusted to any size by adding or removing links. That'll help if a belt breaks.
Then I'd throw in two screwdrivers (one of each kind), and a pair of Vise Grips,
and call it a day.

TOM: These things will enable you to fix the most common 10 percent of the
problems you may encounter on the road.

RAY: And to fix the other 90 percent of the problems, you'd need a Sears Best
63,000-piece tool kit and a trailer to haul it. Happy birding, Jenny.

* * *

If you want to ruin your car, we have 10 ways for you to do it. If you don't
want to ruin your car, we have "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without
Even Knowing It!" You can order this booklet by sending $3 and a stamped (55
cents), self-addressed No.10 envelope to Ruin No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ

Get the Car Talk Newsletter