Truck Stops

Trick Stops began in the 1940s, though many have been rebranded as Travel Centers. Their main purpose is to provide a secure stopping off point as well as access to fuel.

Although there are supposed to be secure they don’t have the best reputation in the world, especially at night. It’s advisable to drive slow around the premises and not go against the direction of the traffic. When you park it’s best to back in and pull out.

Other pieces of advice…

  • Inspect your vehicle every time you leave
  • To watch out for potential scammers around the place – is someone offering you something which seems too amazing to be true?
  • Keep to the well-lit areas.

Although truck stops will have huge parking spaces it is vital to park your wagon in the right place. Many drivers needlessly crowd the gas station region, so don’t be one of those.

Large chains like Flying J, and Loves often have an app for truckers to help guide you along the correct roads in the truck stop.

A number of truck stops don’t have the best reputation. It’s generally agreed to commit to a specific chain. Some truckers go for places with the best value fuel, either the cheapest base price or through a cash back program.

Other Amenities

Another consideration is access to food. Some truck-drivers could look for specialty diners, especially if they have dietary requisites, while others don’t necessarily want a premium diner, preferring somewhere that is open 24/7 and passes all food hygiene specifications.

Moving onto more detailed attributes, these may include medical services, dental services, even items like churches and casinos, even a cinema. (Some of these are just a TV projector in a rest room though).

You may want someone to wash your truck or deal with repairs and there may be people at the truck stop who can do that. Some may allow you to take advantage of their free showers. As with anything it is vital to shop around.

Some drivers look for something else in their truck stop such as easy access from the freeway and cheap prices. There is something for everyone if you research a bit.

The biggest truck stop in the US is the Iowa 80 which even has things such as a gift shop, museum as well as a truck showroom. It has been in operation since 1964.

Covid Update

Note that some things have changed at truck stops since the advent of the Coronavirus, they are shutting down all but essential business here, that is food and fuel. Some restaurants may close at 9 and they have removed refillable mugs; there may be a limit to the number of customers who enter the cafe and the removal of buffets. Driver’s rooms may also be closed.

At these times you may find the toilet area is dirtier than usual due to lack of cleaners. This is why it is vital to use sanitizers and soap.

Unfortunately, a number of quarantined drivers are still working on the road. If you are still working while quarantining then it is vital that you stay away from public areas as much as possible, for instance taking advantage of drive throughs.

Stay safe and stay healthy during the pandemic—drink plenty of water, vitamin C, D, and Zinc. Get plenty of rest.

Link to article about mask requirements at Truck Stops

How to Prepare for a Road Trip: Holiday Edition

With an end to the pandemic nowhere in sight, families are turning to road trips to give themselves a break from the stress of their daily lives. Vacations involving airports and hotels are not feasible, or even considered safe at the moment. So, families are deciding to pack up their car and drive to a vacation spot that is within reach.

If going on a road trip sounds like just what your stressed out, quarantined family needs, you are in luck. Below, we discuss, in detail, everything you need to do to prepare for a road trip. All you’ll have to do is pick where you want to go (if it’s not to visit family)!

Get Your Car Checked

The first thing you’ll have to do before your road trip, and perhaps the most important, is to take your car in to get checked. Whichever car you choose to take on the trip needs to be strong and reliable. Take your car in to a shop that you trust. Make sure they change your oil and top off your fluids, rotate your tires and check your brakes. Let the mechanic checking your car know that you are going on a road trip and ask him to do a diagnostic check to make sure everything else is running smoothly. If you’re sure your car is well serviced, consider calling a mobile inspection service, who can verify there isn’t anything wrong in a place you wouldn’t normally thing to check.

On your end, make sure to check the dates that your registration and inspection expire. If they are close, consider renewing your car registration papers and getting your car inspected while you are at the shop. Additionally, you will need to make sure your car insurance is updated and active. It may also be helpful to join a roadside assistance service like AAA before you leave in case something goes wrong on the road.

Clean Before and During Your Trip

Since you will be spending a lot of time in your car, it is necessary to clean it well before embarking on your adventure. Before leaving, complete a thorough clean on your whole vehicle, inside and out. Use proper cleaning fluids to wipe down the dashboard and console, removing any little crumbs as best as you can. A different cleaner can be used to wipe down the seats of your car. The right cleaner will both clean and condition the fabric. Driving in a clean car will improve your mental health and have you feeling less overwhelmed or claustrophobic.

Consider hiring a detailer. This sounds a bit much, but they’re not busy in the winter and might be surprisingly affordable. Think of it as a practical Christmas gift to yourself given the amount of time you’ll be inside your car.

Once you get driving, it is vital to try to maintain the cleanliness of your car as much as possible. A lot of people in a confined space tend to make a mess quickly. So, do a clean out of the trash every time you stop at a rest stop or get gas. Try to remind your kids to keep their personal space tidy.  Seat back organizers are great for helping kids to keep their space organized. No matter how you figure it out, try your best to stay on top of the mess in your car. It will help keep you, and your family, sane.

Prepare A Loose Itinerary

Before leaving, take some time to come up with a loose itinerary for your trip. All of your stops do not have to be rest stops and fast-food restaurants. Take the time to do some research and find a few interesting places to stop along the way to your final destination. Beautiful scenic lookouts, delicious diners, and interesting museums my lie along your general route. Plan them into your trip to expand your experiences and give your family a more well-rounded trip.

It’s proven fact that incorporating these kinds of activities to break up the monotony of a drive can allow you to arrive fresher at your destination. As an added bonus, you can arrive at a good time instead of 10 o’clock at night when your in-laws thought you were going to make it for dinner. Just add a day to the itinerary and make each leg of the journey less hectic.

While planning can help your trip run smoothly and be more interesting, there is also a fine line between not enough planning and too much. No plan or itinerary will make your trip seem boring, but over planning and trying too hard to stick to a schedule makes your trip seem hectic and stressful. This is the opposite of what a vacation is supposed to do. So, do yourself a favor and only plan a few extra stops along the way. Keep in mind, if there are more places you’d like to stop, you can always add a few stops on your way home.

The Easiest and Most Common Mistakes

The key mistake most people make when they don’t road trip often, is planning around gas stations or not planning enough around gas stations. Figure out how far your car goes between fill-ups and locate places with gas stations near the road. Don’t plan on running your tank nearly dry because sometimes stations are closed for remodeling. No sense pushing your luck.

Final Thoughts

A road trip may be just the thing you and your family need to escape life for a few days. Often, when you live a ways from family you spend all your vacation time traveling to see them. Consider taking the scenic route to at least give yourself some time off in this high stress year.

While a road trip is less involved than flying or using other types of transportation, a little bit of planning can go a long way to make your trip a success. At the bare minimum, follow the steps above, and you will eliminate a lot of stress and anxiety from your trip to that you can enjoy yourself as much as possible.

How To Cope With Car Judders And Jolts

A car which judders and jolts is not marketable, but then again nor is one which moves in absolute silence. This explains a law in February 2018 which made it illegal for electric and hybrid cars to be silent when traveling at low speed.

Silent Cars

The legislation was needed because there is hardly any engine noise, generally the only sound you hear is the sound of tires against the road. There is still debate on whether to use a pretend engine noise or some beeping sound. Porsche went for a Sports car sound.

Ford at the time wondered if police cars could be excused from the law if they needed to creep up on suspects. Although this may help the police or security services a bit, police cars tend to have a look about them, one which not making a noise wouldn’t disguise. It is not clear who the person at Ford made this suggestion.

Noises

If you hear any noise when driving its advisable to see a mechanic as quickly as possible, but here’s a short guide.

Squeaking, especially high-pitched, when breaking, means that you should inspect the brakes as they may need to be changed.

If there is clunking, or crunching noise, then there is a problem with the suspension. Your car may also feel unstable and tires may wear quicker than usual if not fixed.

If there’s a groaning noise which gets louder and maybe higher pitched it is due to your bearings. It is best to see a mechanic as quickly as possible.

The sound of ticking is not that unusual in cold weather. However, if it continues it may be something in the engine and is worth investigating.

A hissing sound around the engine suggests a leak somewhere; this must be checked as soon as. A shrieking sound meanwhile in the engine may be serpent belt, which could be age?

A click clack in the wheels suggests that the constant velocity joints in the front wheels need replacing.

Hearing rattling is a common complaint, so you need more information in order to diagnose a problem. It may possibly be a combustion problem, if so, it should be heard when accelerating. If it gets worse, it becomes a hammering noise. Look too at the ignition. Try switching to the gasoline to higher octane.

A howling sound is the differential which leads to work gears.

A slapping sound is a flat tire which should be changed.

If your gear stick makes a grinding noise it suggests that it’s worn out and needs to be fixed.

A banging from an exhaust pipe is known as backfiring. It is due to unspent fuel being ejected from the valves only to ignite in the tailpipe. If you hear a similar noise in the engine it may be something burnt there, or it may be due to spark plugs.

Beware especially of any noise that occurs when you turn a corner. There’s certainly axle trouble.

No wonder every driver hates it when a sound occurs, but if you can fix it quickly then all to the good.

Is Your Car Ready For Fall Driving?

Cooler weather is finally here. You’ve brought out your sweaters and jackets and stored your summer attire. Your wardrobe is all set to enjoy the crisp, cool days but what about your vehicle? Is your car ready for cooler-weather driving?

If you’re not sure if your vehicle’s ready or aren’t sure what needs to be done, here are a few things you’ll want to take care of before you hit the open roads this fall.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Fall Driving

1. Give Your Car a Bath

Chances are your summer driving routes took you to a beach, at least once. Whether it’s sand from a freshwater lake or salt from the ocean air, you’ll want to rinse it off before you start any fall road trips. The salt, sand, and other grime from summer drives can collect on the vehicle’s undercarriage. If left on too long, it can cause corrosion.

To prevent this from happening, rinse all of the salt and other grime off your car. A garden hose can be just as effective as a car wash.

2. Check Tire Pressure

Did you know that every time the temperature fluctuates 10 degrees your tire pressure changes as much as one pound per square inch? This means that when the temperature changes you want to check tire pressure.

If you’re not sure what is recommended for your vehicle, optimal tire pressure will be listed in the owner’s manual. You can also look your vehicle up online or ask a mechanic if the manual is lost.

3. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

You might not have to replace the windshield wiper blades if they weren’t used during heavy spring and summer downpours. However, if you spent a lot of time parked at the beach the salt air can corrode the rubber blades.

It is recommended that you change the blades every six months. Drivers in colder climates may want to plan on replacing them every fall. The last thing you want is to find out your windshield wipers aren’t effective in the middle of a rain or snowstorm.

4. Check the Oil and Filter

Checking your oil levels should be a part of your regular car maintenance. Depending on the type of oil used, mileage, and driving conditions, it might not need to be changed. If it’s measuring low and still looks clear, it’s okay to just add to the existing oil.

If it’s time to change the oil, often to a lighter-weight one, you also want to replace the filter. Lighter oils are often recommended for fall driving since it can help the engine perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures. A new filter can do what a dirty one can’t; keep the oil clean and debris out of the engine.

5. Change the Air Filter

The air filter is an important component and it’s often overlooked. It prevents dust and other small impurities from entering the cylinders’ combustion chambers. This can lower fuel efficiency and reduce engine performance. Like your oil filter, it should be changed every six months.

6. Flush the Cooling System

Your vehicle’s cooling system should be flushed and refilled every 2-years or 24,000 miles. It’s part of good car maintenance and an easy item to add to your spring car maintenance checklist.

You will need a radiator cleaning product to flush away oil, grease, and collected sediment. After flushing the radiator, refill with a mixture of water and coolant. The percentage of water and coolant will depend on the climate. Severe climates require a higher mixture of coolant than water.

7. Check the Spark Plugs and Battery

This is something you should already be doing regularly. Checking the battery and connections helps ensure that you won’t be stranded. Make sure that the connections are tight and that there aren’t any signs of corrosion. You also want to make sure that the battery housing is solid.

The final thing you want to do before heading off on your first fall drive of the season is to clean out the car’s interior.

A Curvaceous Road?

To negotiate a curve, you must be aware that you can lose traction and begin to slide. The difficulty with commercial and other top-heavy vehicles is the possibility of rolling over… Yes, that’s why you need to be a bit cautious.

The reason why hairpin bends are so called is because their inner angle is acute meaning you have to turn about 180o. A series of hairpin bends is known as a switchback. You’ll often see a caution sign with a picture that looks like a black snake on a field of yellow to warn you its coming.

But why are there hairpin bends on roads? For one thing it’s easier and cheaper to build following the topography of the land instead of a tunnel. As a bonus the bends cause people to slow down instead of making a direct route that could be dangerous.

Famous examples of hairpin bends include Vermont Street and Lombard Street. Both involve a deep curve to negotiate.

Vermont Street, CA

Some curves have been christened “Dead Man’s Curves” most notably the one-off Sunset Boulevard. This is the one that was featured in the song by Jan & Dean, a Californian rock group.

Should you be negotiating a curve using a motorcycle, you should be especially be aware of hazards when driving to the left. An article published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists in 2012 would suggest a blind spot, where you tend to notice hazards more when driving to the right.

Is the road correctly maintained?

If the road has potholes the curve become more dangerous. Beware too, a lack of warning signs. For this reason, road repairs should be dealt with quickly. Without the warning, traffic is less likely to take evasive action.

It’s important to take the foot off the gas pedal and the brake. Keep both your hands on the steering wheel, don’t make sudden motions. Only apply the brake when it is time to do so and when it is, don’t apply it too strongly.

To help you the traffic safety people add turn arrow signs or “chevrons” just beyond each severe curve. To avoid swerving, it is vital to keep to the speed limit or just below it. A word of warning: Don’t turn the steering wheel too far when you adjust the speed otherwise you may lose control of the vehicle as discussed above.

The rule of thumb is to break going into the curve and give it a little gas coming out of the curve. With a front wheel drive car this will actually pull you into the curve.

It’s hard to regain control if the vehicle skids as the steering wheel doesn’t work as normal. Fortunately, you will be able to cope after a bit of practice.

So it’s a turn of the wheel but not by much; if it’s the curve is to the left move slightly to the left. You should pay attention and don’t attempt to change lanes. If you make a “wide” turn this could put you in danger with cars heading in the opposite direction.

It’s possible that you might start to worry you are traveling too slowly, but you shouldn’t as all vehicles are different. If there are any other vehicles nearby make sure they have enough space so that they can negotiate the curves too.

Once you have dealt with the curve you should be able to accelerate, making sure there isn’t another curve just on the horizon.

Once you have experienced enough curves coping with them becomes second nature, which is just as well.

Power Steering

Power steering helps a vehicle turn or maneuver. If it becomes disabled, you will need a great deal of muscle to steer. It is certainly widespread-90% of all cars on the road use power steering. It is easier to turn if you go over 25mph.

The power steering works by hydraulics, so if the fluid runs out you’re in trouble. Fluid issues include (a leak, a contamination or corrosion).

Power steering uses a rotary (or round) pump which works on a belt and pulley system. A series of gates or “vanes” turn, which forces the hydraulic fluid through an outlet at high speed. It is designed only to give assistance when the driver is placing pressure on the wheel and the car is in motion.

We are aware of the power assistance to steering, but technically what we experience is a quicker steering response and a steering wheel that returns to its original position more swiftly.

Potential changes to power steering:

Hy-wire by General Motors could be the latest upgrade to power steering. It is still based around hydraulic power but works on a fuel cell stack. To put it simply a computer decides how much pressure you need to drive and does the work for you. If this seems a bit like a fighter jet, there’s a good reason for that; such planes also use the technology.

But back to talking about hydraulic fluid…

Hydraulic fluid is a bright, maybe even a shocking pink in color so it very recognizable, pushing the piston and then the steering rack. It is helped by the ECU or Electric Control Unit which monitors direction, speed and effort of the steering wheel, factoring in your actual speed to change the direction of your wheels. So, there is a good reason to change the fluid regularly, if you regularly service your vehicle then there’s no sweat.

If you think there’s a problem with the power steering then check the fluid with a dipstick. It should be pink with a light smell to it. If it goes black that is due to an increase in O 2. If you discover a full reservoir after finding you have a steering problem, there’s not much you can do apart from calling a repair truck! Let them diagnose the problem.

How do you know you have a problem?

The most obvious sign is that it’s suddenly really hard to steer. Another sign of a power steering failure is a whining noise.

There is a liability issue if you don’t fix the problem you are likely to be sued. Unfortunately, the insurance company will not be able to cover the damage. This is why checking your engine is so vital.

What to do when there is a power steering problem:

So, what happens if the fluid does run out suddenly while you’re on the road? Well if you are having difficulty you shouldn’t be afraid to honk your horn or turn on your blinkers to tell other drivers. If you can it’s advisable to drive to a mechanic. Try not to slam on your brakes unless it’s a real emergency.

Strange Loads

Exactly what goes on behind the scenes when someone wants to transport a strange load from points A to B? First, a definition of terms.

An oversized load exceeds the legal load on that specific portion of land. If you exceed the load per axle this is also considered overweight.

An abnormal load has additional problems in that not only does it make the truck too heavy, but it has awkward dimensions. Items such as construction equipment, pre-fabricated homes, bridges, large machines, steel beams, or a huge bundle of lumber qualify as abnormal loads. So, we’re talking about a wide range of items, all traveling in different directions.

Break bulk is anything that must be carried by road or rail as it is too large for ocean liner or air.

Different countries as well as different states of the USA have their own rules. Generally, in the US you will have to apply for a permit to transport the load which probably specifies a date and time. In the US an abnormal load measures more than 2.59m, though different states very with the rules on the height or weight. You will need a permit for each state.

If the permit doesn’t say a date or time, the default is that it’s only valid during daytime hours. Driving these loads during the night is too dangerous, despite perhaps being less disruptive to traffic. It’s important to note that these loads cannot be transported on an American holiday, which may be linked to needing a huge number of personnel.

In addition to the permit you will need a pilot car to escort the truck. The pilot car is easy to spot as it has a sign saying “Oversized Load” in capitals on the roof in addition to amber lights which can be seen 30 meters away. In some state, in some cases, there also needs to be a police escort.

As far as getting the material on and off you may need something like a crane. Even if you don’t, you will almost definitely need the help of dedicated shipping agents and the local authorities need to be informed. It is best to get a number of quotes from competing companies for this service.

The truck should travel in the left lane only, except when turning or overtaking. A specific item that needs to be worked out is the clearance needed for going under a bridge, and, depending on its size, turning left or right.

You can find a freight cost calculator online; due to the danger involved transporting oversized load does get prohibitively expensive.

7% of trucking accidents are due to unsecured loads. It’s vital that the load is impossible to shift. All the people who transport it, including the shipper, driver and the receiver must be sure that it’s completely secure. And as mentioned above safety comes down to money and not cutting corners.

It sometimes seems like excessive caution, but it is vital for other road users that all the laws and regulations are followed. They are just so many things that could go wrong otherwise.

What Bad Steering May Mean

If your car pulls to one side that means that the alignment of the wheels is off-you should get your wheels aligned as soon as you get new tires. This is known as a torque steer. It is rather dangerous so it is important to fix.

A “memory steer” is when the car seems to continue in the same direction when you release the wheel instead of coming back to true. You might be a lack of air in the tires or worn out parts like suspension or steer.

Should the car move forward in reverse on a hill, this is a sign that gravity is more powerful than your car’s idle. The idle is set according to the vehicle’s specs, but as the car ages it can lose power. Having the idle set too high burns extra gas at stop lights so just make sure your mechanic is setting it to factory specs and hold the brake and apply some gas when on a hill. Don’t shift to reverse and then let the car be pulled forward because you might damage the engine.

Side Note: It may seem ridiculous but it’s worth mentioning–You can still drive with the handbrake pulled if you have enough throttle. DON’T! Driving with the brakes on damages your brakes as well as your transmission so it is not recommended.

Steering Rack Issues

A steering rack is another name for the rack and pinion steering system and consists of universal joints, main and intermediate shafts; the central unit is the part that receives information. The steering rack when it wears out can cause a considerable hazard. If you have an older car that seems to always have an alignment issue, have your mechanic check the steering rack.

When the tilt function of the wheel doesn’t work the wheel cannot be positioned correctly. Again, it is because of the steering rack.

Does the wheel seem to wobble to and fro of its own volition? If so, it is impossible to drive as well as highly dangerous—call your mechanic immediately. It takes a few days to replace a steering rack.

When it’s not the Steering Rack:

Another condition to watch out for is needing to make a large turn in order to make the car move forward, it is not safe at all. The power steering or an associated mechanism could be breaking down.

If the steering wheel feels quite tight and is harder to turn than usual it could just be that it needs more power steering fluid. (These are cars without electrical power steering). Other signs to watch out for are groaning sounds, especially while turning and a smell of burning oil, or maybe a squeaking sound. If the fluid is changed constantly this will prevent the problem somewhat.

A clunking or grinding noise may indicate that the steering rack is constantly rubbing against metal. It’s due to the steering rack wearing out, where seeing a mechanic comes in.

It could however be due to “struts” which are connected to the steering rods. Because replacing the steering rack is so expensive it is vital to get it right.

When Steering Problems Occur

After discovering a problem, you should attempt to get off the road as quickly as possible but make sure also it is safe to do so.

Another symptom to keep an eye out for is that the steering wheel feels lose and doesn’t seem to return to the center. The vehicle might seem unstable and you may not be able to keep it in the right lane. With a bad steering system every obstacle such as a pothole becomes twice as hard to negotiate. So take any sound or maneuverability issue as serious and get it to a mechanic ASAP.

Motorbikes – Assembling and Testing.

If you respect motorbikes, generally speaking, you will be all right, but there is anecdotal evidence of people losing their lives in speed trials and other events. If you push your luck too much for too long, you’re asking for trouble?

If you just can’t wait to see what your new ride can do, and you decide to take it out on public roads you’ll have to contend with other forms of traffic. There is evidence that testers tend to ignore the posted speed limit of the roads. To be fair it’s hard to read the sign when you’re going that fast.

Manufacturers test on a closed loop, but not all new motorbike testing is done on a closed loop. Professionals also conduct road tests, which occasionally get out of hand. Although anecdotal reports of bikers testing their vehicles to 235 mph (in that case on a Vincent style motorbike) seem unlikely, it doesn’t stop motorcycle testers getting a reputation as a terror on the road. (Another report suggests the maximum was actually 150 mph but it doesn’t stop the job being a death trap.)

Motorbike Styles and Types

For the bigger names such as BMW the shaft, chain and belts differs between models. The biggest factor is the type of bike–off-road, sporting or a touring version. For those who like a bit of both, dual purpose bikes are available.

It can be a bit complicated for people to understand the various types but put simply the C series are maxi-scooters, the K series are four cylinder engines for the road and the S series are the sports series.

Working on Bikes

If you wish to rebuild an engine yourself you will need to examine its manual in minute detail, though you might need an extra manual such as those published by Clymer or the OEM service manual to get to the nub of the information.

You can only really know if you need something new, say a carburetor by taking it out and examining it. This is where the problems start as, if it’s fine, you’ll still need to know how to put the gaskets and such back.

Another thing to look out for especially with older motorbikes is rust; does it need to be cleaned off? The next mission is to look at the spark plugs and then after that look at doing an electrical check, it’s all a cerebral challenge for the novice.

There are stories of people moving from testing motorbikes to testing cars. So, promotion through survival?

You may have thought that choppers were bikes but there are a number of chopper motorbike enthusiasts who would argue that having two wheels doesn’t make it a motorcycle. To “chop” meant to strip the bike, get rid of the fenders for example.

Examples can be seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.

Nowadays you can buy customized choppers which retail for tens of thousands of dollars. Which is one source of road testing instead of closed loop. Small custom shops are more likely to head out to the desert than rent a closed racetrack.

On your way to the desert you’ll need to navigate some regular roads with regular traffic. Of course, the first issue is if other drivers even see you. When you test on the Californian roads you may be looking at taking your life in your hands.

Aside from issues that all bikers face, there are some troubles that you might not think of. The problems may be due to the differences of bike available. Some are hefty Harleys, other are much lighter such as the Honda Fury. You really need to know your engine in order to be safe.

As well as testing new bikes you can test bikes for emissions and so on at garages. This must be a safer job because you aren’t travelling at speed. It probably doesn’t involve the same sense of thrill though.

Building Up A Car Toolkit and Other Car Equipment.

You know the old adage, there’s two kinds of people in the world…well it seems to be the case when it comes to keeping gear in your car so you’re prepared for a breakdown. Either they keep nothing at all except the number to roadside assistance, or they keep enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.

So, we’re dedicating this post to the middle ground. Honestly what should you keep in your car in case of emergency.

Starting with a car toolkit.

No need to have a second kit for your motorcycle if you only drive one or the other—just adjust the size to fit motorcycle and move it back and forth. Then again you may need different tools and it’s a lot easier to just store this in your vehicle and not have to remember to move it.

A mobile car toolkit should include such items as screwdrivers, hex keys, a socket set, two sets of pliers-both adjustable and locking, wire cutters, ratchet straps, tire gauge, zip ties and duct tape.

  • Hex keys, AKA Allen wrenches, come in a range of sizes, it is vital to find the right hex key for your job. We recommend getting a folding hex key set like the one pictured here because hex keys tend to wander off or fall in tiny cracks.
  • Socket sets are used for the tightening and loosening of fasteners. It should be noted that they come in a range of sizes, but not all sizes are needed.
  • Rachet straps are tie-down straps used to tie down equipment or cargo so as to keep construction materials in place. They need to be both tough and flexible to do their jobs.

Don’t overspend on a mobile tool kit for a couple reasons. First you may want to hand off the kit in a pinch or it could get stollen. Second some expensive kits come with items like a pull handle or swivel castors, which are useful but an expensive kit will include nonessential items which actually makes in harder to find the right item on a dark and rainy night—which when you tend to break down.

You’ll also need miscellaneous items like a first aid kits, work gloves and so on.

A garage automotive toolkit is another story:

One of the best ways to keep your mobile car kit small is to outfit your garage with a larger kit for home repairs. Don’t overspend on this tool kit either. Even modest kits sometimes have two hundred pieces (bit handles, wrenches, hammers, hacksaws and so on). Ask yourself if you really need that much stuff.

To do any serious work you’ll need a floorjack to keep a car in the air. It’s vital that you obtain a jack designed for the specific capacity to the car. If you have a light car you may be able to lift the car with an aluminum jack. It’s advisable to seek help if you are unsure on the weight of your car.

When you do get under a car you will need some jack stands which have a pyramid like shape. To work on the underside of a car you will also need a creeper-an item to rest your back on. Wheel chocks are also needed to keep the automobile in place.

The list seems to go on and on – jump starters, pressure gauges, possibly an oil drain pan to change your oil. It is important to take into account the proper regulations for disposing of chemicals if you’re going to perform many maintenance tasks.

If you want to check the electric current in a car you will also need an item called a multimeter.

Without some kind of budget the amount you will spend could go through the roof. Consider which items you cannot live without, either on safety grounds or to do the work properly.

You can try to stick to one type of tool, but honestly it never seems to go that way. Someone will give you a duplicate for Christmas, or the wrong brand, etc. So if you just let go of the idea of matching tools you’re free to take advantage of our favorite pro tip.

Pro Tip: Go around to all your friends who like to wrench and ask their advice about tools. They’ll often have extra tools they can donate to your cause when they find out you’re just starting out.

In this as with everything else, research is everything.