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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

3 handy electronic tools to keep in your modern classic | Hagerty Media

Not everyone wants or needs to carry a tool kit in each vehicle they drive. Your late-model daily-driver that's proved totally reliable shouldn't need more than a spare tire and a jack, if that. Each tool kit should be balanced for the vehicle and its intended purpose.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/3-handy-electronic-tools-to-keep-in-your-modern-classic/
88 REPLIES 88
Padgett
Intermediate Driver

aka racer's tape or gaffer tape. The fiber type is the strongest but won't last long in sunlight (days). Adhesive is very hard to remove when proper repair is begun. Once taped up the back of a Corvette in an endurance race.
larrydh8
Pit Crew

Most folks say 'duct' but it started out as 'duck'--developed by 3M in WWII for mostly waterproofing/repairing  stuff in the field like tents, shoes, uniforms, canvas vehicle tops-you name it...

race911
Pit Crew

Well, there's always just towing the car with basically your whole shop full of gear in an enclosed trailer. Totally overkill is my stacker that contains a lift.
Padgett
Intermediate Driver

Anything for which you have a spare won't break or if it does beak will find the spare already broken the same way. Is often a reason NOS parts were never used.
Padgett
Intermediate Driver

The most common questions I get are about scanners. First is that ODB-II scanners are for 1995 and later American cars. European cars started later.
Second: the only "cheap" answer is a Bluetooth Dongle from Amazon (about $12) and Torque Pro Software for an Android smart phone or tablet (under $10). After that to get a stand-alone scanner that can reach down into a specific manufacturer, they start at about $100. I like the Autel DiagLink but there are many. To be able to actually reprogram a car gets expen$ive but a GM ALDL is pretty easy.
Third: for pre-OBD-II cars (GM began in 1981) it was the wild, wild west and each manufacturer had their own. An OTC-2000 with case, manuals, all cables, and cartridges (watch out for years, I have a 1993 Pathfinder cartridge) appears occasionally in places like E-bay.
Fourth: for evaluating the condition of a 12v battery I like the BT-360 (many clones) mostly under $40. Are some load testers for 6v but not many.
Fifth: Before computers there were timing lights and tach/dwell meters, there was a Heathkit O'scope/ignition analyzer that is probably quite rare now.
Just my opinion.
DBMaverick
New Driver

In the tool box, also have a metal coat hanger. You never know when you might need to unlock a car door--easier on the old cars with the visible door-lock button, also the hanger is good if you need to temporarily secure something like an exhaust pipe or a car battery.

It’s crazy that we have to buy an ODBII tool to read the code the engine is giving! There should just been an instrument panel readout for the code!

uweschmidt
Detailer

Everything in our modern world is arranged so whatever happens we have to buy more STUFF
DT
Detailer

Coat hangers aren't much help for opening locked doors when they are locked in the trunk.

larrydh8
Pit Crew

Locked doors??  What, no spare key in your wallet??

Tinkerah
Technician

Great point I never thought of! While my 2010 daily driver can show me all the radio presets on a single page of the in-dash screen, I'm still driving around with a scanner in the glove box.
2Classics95N72
Intermediate Driver

Well; I'm sure the tools noted in the article can be useful, come in handy but as an "Old Guy"; my classic cars I try to keep running, maintained so breakdowns (understanding they do and will happen); just don't happen. With that said at this point in my life here are my "Cruise-In" tools I carry:
Cell Phone (freshly charged or plugged in)
Fresh, Hot Cup of Coffee and a good set of
Road Flares
With my Hagerty Coverage; a simple call on the phone, set the flares (if on a busy highway) and wait for some help.
I will admit I do have some "Duct Tape", a Schrade Multi Tool and a Flashlight in the glove box; just in case its' a simple "DIY" repair; but if she stops running, won't shift or whatever; "Hello Hagerty"....good article though.
OilChangeDave
New Driver

How 'bout a Portable/Cordless Tire Inflator? Those are pretty handy to have in your trunk.
joefo
Pit Crew

My most important tool...my AAA card.
Historian
Detailer

When shopping for a multi-meter, look for one that reads amperage up to 20 amps. They are hard to find with that capacity, but they are available without spending a fortune. I found a blue one on Amazon at a reasonable price. Being able to handle up to 20A is important when tracing electrical problems in a car, especially when hunting down parasitic drains on your battery. A good OBD2 scanner that also reads transmission codes is a good investment too.
hyperv6
Gearhead

I generally just keep a cell phone as even with tools anymore odds are you will not be near a parts store anyways.

I lost a rad hose a few years ago on a new car. I was also in the largest shopping area of Canton Ohio. I could buy about anything I wanted but car parts. The few gas stations only had gas and lottery tickets.

I recalled the Sears Service center. It was about a 1/2 mile away. So I removed the hose with a screw driver and walked. They did not have a hose so I asked to look at what they had. I found one the right shape just longer. I asked for some shears and said you had the right part!

Some anti freeze and put the hose on I was on my way.

The trouble today is Even with tools much is difficult to repair on the road just because often the parts are not available.

The real key anymore is to just get a car running and bring the wounded bird in.

I lost a lock up clutch solenoid on my Pontiac coming hone from the Pontiac National. Leaving Norwalk I was on long roads with no stops so I was fine. But I had to plot my trip home to avoid stops. I was able to minimize them and only had one stop that I had to do a neutral drop to get the car home where I could tear into the tranny to replace the $18 part.

Back when I wrenched on cars I drove in a number of wounded birds for customers. A little knowledge, skill and innovation you could make it back.

One was a Ford pickup that was stuck in reverse. We went in early on a Saturday and I backed up several miles on empty city streets to bring her in. Even the cop that stopped me was ok with it. He just wondered why.

My father carried tools for years but only a screw driver and plyers really ever got used. I carry these in my Pontiac but everything else I only carry a rubber mallet to beat the aluminum wheels off the hub should it need changed. Also a electric compressor. My Cell phone is my tool box otherwise.
DT
Detailer

Easiest way to get a stuck wheel off the hub is to loosen the lug nuts and move the car a few feet. Works every time. If they are stubborn just turn the wheel a little while sitting still 🙂
larrydh8
Pit Crew

Aluminum wheels, yeah, I once stopped to help a [helpless] guy who couldn't get the wheel off.  He had a mini compressor trying to inflate a tire with a sidewall hole you could stick your finger in.  Finally rassled the wheel off with help from my young son.  

OldRoad
Instructor

3 pound sledge hammer works well for getting wheels off hubs. Give the back side of the tire a wack or two with a least one lug nut loosely threaded.
OldRoad
Instructor

The rubber mallet is good for getting your engine started by giving the gas tank a couple of swats to awaken a tired fuel pump. This trick will get you home or to your favorite repair shop to get the pump replaced.
Ray633driver
New Driver

A voltmeter powered by the cigarette lighter is a handy gadget. Rob Siegel the Hack Mechanic featured this in one his articles. You can buy one online for about thirteen bucks, and if you're having low battery problems, this will tell you quickly if it's your alternator or battery. Here's one:
https://smile.amazon.com/Jebsens-Charger-Battery-Monitor-Voltage/dp/B07K2XL6VX/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=...
Maestro1
Instructor

I carry oil, anti freeze, small tools, and battery cables in case I need to get a jump start. I don't go off road, so if something exciting happens I call AAA. Also I carry a First Aid Kit, small, available at any
chain pharmacy, and I have a cell phone which I ignore, I carry it, and it is there for emergencies. I for
got a tire pressure gauge, which I also carry. Everything is in one place in the car, so I know where it
is when misfortune strikes. I am service conscious, so the cars are taken care of, and the family has
been on multi State trips before the Virus and back to the Left Coast without incident. On one of these trips I had a flat and since I'm not as young as I used to be I let AAA do it for me. The car was
an Olds 98 Regency Sedan, which is one of the better Interstate Cars.
In other news the Impala in the barn just got seat belts front and rear. The next thing is to pull the 283. Because of the Virus I'm having supply and delivery issues but I'm being patient.
Thank you Brendan, well done.
az57chevy
Pit Crew

Zip ties

At a minimum write down all the belt and hose #'s especially if not stock. That way you can tell if a shop has a replacement before you walk to the store. When you replace an older hose/belt keep it as an emergency spare and write the stock number on it.
RSorenson1
Intermediate Driver

Gaffers tape, Vise-Grip, Cable ties, one each small and large Phillips and Bladed screw drivers. And lastly a baseball bat in case the other things don't work.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

On one of their shows Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers said that with a modern car the only tools you need to carry are a couple of screwdrivers, an adjustable Crescent wrench, a pair of Channel Lock pliers, and some duct tape. They said that if you can't fix it with that tool set you need a tow.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

Long ago when I owned a brand-new Fiat 850 Spyder I discovered that among the spare parts you needed to carry were a carburetor, starter motor, distributor cap, and spare convertible top.
BuckeyeOldTimer
New Driver

A couple comments about the items in the article...
BATTERY JUMPER: Unlike jumper cables which you hook up,wait a minute to partially charge the dead battery (you DO wait, right?), and then start the vehicle, Lithium-Ion jump boxes need to be hooked up to the dead battery for 5 minutes before starting. Also, many models have a reverse-polarity safety circuit that must sense some voltage before you can activate the jump function. Translation... they won’t work on a completely dead battery, so carry a set of jumper cables.
METERS- Since you’re working with 6 or 12 volts DC, a cheaper meter will work. But don’t go TOO cheap... low-voltage DC will still cause a nasty arc if the meter shorts internally.
While we’re on the subject of meters, DON’T use the ‘current’ function until you COMETELY understand how to take a current measurement. I’ve seen too many people smoke a meter because they didn’t know what they were doing.
By the way, don’t forget a roll of electrical tape and a spare fuse in your vehicles flavor (round, ATC or ATO).
WRENCH HOLDER: Baling wire is work if all your corralling are small wrenches. Get some steel fencing wire... a bit stiff, but will hold its shape.
SPEAKING OF WIRE: Always have on hand some bailing or electric fence wire for those things which decide to come loos on the road, like exhaust components, running boards, hood latches, and even bumpers. (Had to tie one bumper end up after I got hit on the road once.)
TimK
Detailer

The scanner does not work if your car was built before 1995 using the OBD 1 system. However codes on GM OBD 1 systems are easy to read. On the connector under the dash use a jumper wire between the A & B terminals. If you're looking at the connector you will see 2 tabs at the ends of one row. A & B are on the other row, usually at the top 2 at the right end if those tabs are on the bottom row. Connect the jumper wire and turn the key to the on position without starting and read the codes using the flashing "check engine" light. All codes are 2 digits and the Code 12 flashed 3 times will be the first code signaling it is in the diagnostic mode. It starts with 1 flash, pause and 2 quick flashes. After it flashes 3 times any active codes will be read in a similar manner. For example, code 34 will be 3 quick flashes, pause then 4 quick flashes and repeat 2 more times until going to the next code. When all codes have been displayed Code 12 will repeat. You can then look these codes up in diagnostic charts available online. You can do something similar with Fords but you must use an analog volt/amp meter. I've done it years ago but don't remember how anymore since I have an OBD 1 scanner.
Geok86
Advanced Driver

They made OBD1 scanners also, the more complex display codes like an OBD2, and the basic work the same as the paper clip jumper you mentioned.
manorborn
Pit Crew

A loaded 45 in case your so deep in the wilderness, the wildlife has you on hte menu.
Barracuda68
New Driver

A whiskey flask, so you can drown your sorrows while waiting for air wolf to arrive...
mojojohn2003
New Driver

Since I converted to a Pertronix ignition, I keep a spare set of points and condenser in a small tackle box along with feeler gauges. No need for a scan tool.
larrydh8
Pit Crew

While you can usually 'scare up' a small piece of stiff cardboard, have a piece of it handy for when your carbureted classic's mechanical fuel pump quits.  Remove the air cleaner and partially 'choke off' the carb intake (trial and error to get the right 'setting') allowing the intake suction to draw fuel from the tank.  Car won't run great, but it'll run.  I've done it...

mwmyers91
Detailer

I was thinking a walker, oxygen tank, and a porta potty.
uweschmidt
Detailer

great but thereshould never be any need to take sparkplugs beltsof any kind and all the things that should be taken care of before going into the wilderness also some common sense would be good to take along and a Teddy when all else has failed : the scanner has given you a Code for something that at this Point is an unobtainium your phone wont work in the remote aria you are in Sit on a nice Spot in the Wilderness and Hug your Teddy
Vidocq
Pit Crew

Looks plenty comprehensive. What do you recommend for any pre-'68 Bug? LOL.
Corvair1965
Pit Crew

I bought a small set of tools in Alanta when I bought a 65' Corsa. My wife and drove it home to Phoenix through the tail end of Hurricane Ike. Just as we were coming into Santa Rosa, NM at 9 pm, my gas pedal went to the floor because the splined shaft had stripped. I used a 7 inch vise grip I bought in Atlanta as my pedal to Albuquerque. The next morning I bought two large Stanley Vise Grips as my gas pedal home.
Dan-S
Pit Crew

From having been an auto tech for decades, ofcourse I have all the professional versions of these tools listed. The multi-meter is probably the most useful and can be used in the home as well as in a vehicle. The small jumpstarter can also be lifesaver and help you out of a tight situation. But, the OBD II scanner/code reader is just that, it can't fix anything. It will give you the trough codes and maybe definitions, but it won't tell you how to fix your vehicle. That takes experience, further testing and access to pertinent repair information. At best, it can give you something to do and look at, while you are waiting for a tow truck or roadside service.
One thing you have to remember, in the case of the multi-meter and the jump starters, they are dependent on batteries. Heat and cold affects battery life and charge level. You might find that the battery of your multi-meter may be dead or corroded when you need it most. The lifespan of those jumpstarters may be 2 years at best. And if they are not cycle-charged often, they may not even last that long. Been there done that.
If you never leave major roadways or metropolitan areas, it is important that you have a communication device, and remember, you may not have service out in the "sticks". If you are handy, a few basic hand tools should be carried along with extra oil and water. It is good to carry a roll of electrical tape and a roll of duct tape. Also, it is wise to carry a full set of fuses with multiples of each size specific to your vehicle. All that may wrong is a bad fuse. Fuses don't have to blow to be bad. You don't need to unnecessarily carry spare parts unless you know how to change them and have the proper tools.
The best piece of advice is to make sure your vehicle gets regular maintenance and if you are going on a long trip, have everything checked over before you leave.
OLDERbastard1
Detailer

Too many comments to read thru, so I might repeat something already said....sorry. In my K5 Blazers (the 1's I use for off-roading), I keep a TON of tools/parts because, (as someone already said) I rarely get cell service where I go. Among the many things I take (already said & not), 1 of the things I have found VERY handy (Sick as this may sound) is a starter (complete) that I have re-built. I have found a few times that when using my K5 as a Submarine (can't afford a real 1) I have had starter issues after.(Yes, Yes, when I re-build them I seal them as best as they can be....but SHI. still happens). Rather than re-build it in the bush, it is only a 10 min. job to just replace it (trucks are lifted). Heavy to carry (the truck is doing it, not me), I like to cover ALL the bases. 🙂
macgyverated
New Driver

I also have a 98 XJ Cherokee. I don't take it out very often, or usually go very far from home in it, but I do carry a roll-up tool pouch with an assortment of sockets and wrenches in SAE and Metric, zip ties, spare fuses, a multi-tip screwdriver, and assortment of pliers, a rain poncho, a small multimeter, and some 2-part epoxy.

That pouch stays under my back seat. Also under there is my jack, folding lug wrench, portable jump starter, the control for my winch, a quart of oil, jumper cables, a couple of rags, a tire patch kit, a can of Fix-a-flat, some waterless hand cleaner, and a battery terminal cleaner.

In the cargo area I have an old metal ammo can with some spare sensors and a 12v tire inflator. In the glove box I keep some mechanics gloves, spare bulbs, a print-out of the fuse assignments, and the owners manual. In the center console there is a first-aid kit, a flashlight, and some spare long-life lithium batteries for the light.

I also have this same basic assortment of of items in my 2011 Grand Cherokee, and also in my wife's RAV4. We both like to be prepared. You never know what may happen, or if you'll be able to get a cell signal, or have anyone close by for help.