Breakdowns happen, and no amount of the preventative maintenance can completely rule them out. Broken axles, snapped wheel studs or bent tie rods can quickly stop you in your tracks.

The right tools, a few spares and a little luck can shift the odds of getting back on the road in your favor.

Until recently, I’ve kept two socket sets and a bag full of tools in my trunk just in case I should run into any trouble down the road.

The problem is deciding which tools to take and which to leave behind. You can fill your trunk with all kinds of specialized tools you may never need, but they’ll take up valuable space.

Just the essentials


In order to downsize my toolset, I decided to focus on the essentials; the tools I know I’ll need when working on the Jeep.

Thinking back to my work on the Jeep’s suspension this summer, I considered which of the dozens of tools in my kit I’d actually used.

With my tools strewn across the floor, I started going through them. The majority of them made more sense in a home toolset, not in the back of the Jeep.

The spanners, screwdrivers, vice grips, wrenches and pliers all made sense, but the claw hammer, level and about a dozen other tools didn’t.

Next, I turned my attention to my socket sets. These, by far, took up the most space, but had proven to be the most useful.

Since the Jeep exclusively uses metric bolts, there was no reason to keep any of my SAE sockets or wrenches.

Sure SAE sockets are nice to have if your buddy breaks down, but they weren’t essential to fixing my vehicle and that’s what this post is all about.

My tool kit


Note: My tool kit is in no way comprehensive. I am probably missing “essential tools.” If you think so, please leave a comment in the comments section below.

This toolkit does not include recovery equipment. I consider recovery equipment to be in a different category altogether.

Tool Roll

  • Sockets: 10mm, 13mm, 15mm, 16mm, 17mm, 18mm, 19mm, 21mm and 24mm (1/2-inch drive)
  • Ratchet (1/2-inch drive)
  • 12-inch breaker bar (1/2-inch drive)
  • Socket extensions: 3-inch & 5-inch
  • Spanners: 10mm, 13mm, 15mm, 17mm
  • Adjustable wrenches: 6-inch & 10-inch
  • Pliers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • 10-inch vice grips
  • Slim multi-bit screwdriver
  • Screwdriver bits: Torx – T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40, T50 Philips – #3, #2, #1 Hex – 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32
  • Cable ties
  • Electrical tape
  • Scissors
  • Multitool (Mine doubles as a small hammer)

Other Tools

  • BFH: 3-pound steel hammer
  • 1/2-inch torque wrench
  • 1/2-inch breaker bar (24-inches doubles as my tire iron.)
  • 12-inch pry bar
  • 5-inch C-Clamp (can be used to change bad u-joints)

Quick fixes

  • Gorilla Tape (Duct tape works too)
  • Bailing Wire
  • Ratchet Straps
  • Epoxy JBweld
  • large (11-inch) black cable ties
  • Red RTV silicone gasket maker

Essential Fluids

Fluids are an unfortunate necessity. There is no way to get around the fact that fluids are heavy and take up space in your vehicle.

Because my vehicle is heavily armored with thick skid plates, I hedge my bets and carry smaller volumes of fluids I am less likely to need (engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant). For longer remote journeys or those over rough terrain, I will carry a full supply of fluids.

  • WD-40
  • Engine oil (6qts 5W-20 or 30 for the Wrangler)
  • Differential oil (3qts)
  • Engine Coolant (10qts)
  • Brake fluid
  • Automatic Transmission Fluid

Basic Spares

  • Wheel studs and lug nuts x4
  • U-Joints 2x
  • Serpentine Belt