The adage states that a man is only as good as his tools. Although I’m more likely to make do with whatever is at hand, there are some jobs that require specific equipment to adequately handle them. Plus, it seems like any time we’ve found ourselves on the side of the road with vehicular problems, the tool we need is the one we don’t have. That’s why it is essential to keep and carry a complete set of basic and RV specific tools when you travel.Basic Tools
Every RV, travel trailer, fifth wheel, and camper should have a decent tool set for quick (hopefully) repair on the go. Make sure that it’s comprehensive enough to get most jobs done, but not so all-inclusive as to be unwieldy and add unnecessary weight to your rig.
It should have a good assortment of the following items. Feel free to add to it as needed.
- Bungee cords
- Duct tape
- Electrical pliers
- Electrical tape
- Portable tool box or caddy for quick repairs
- Professional grade tool box for storage
- Screwdriver (multi-headed with Phillips, flat and torx bits)
- Socket set
- Utility knife
- Vise grips
- WD 40
- Work gloves
- Wrench set
- Zip ties
Either keep an assortment of the most frequently-used tools in a small, portable tool box, caddy, or even in a utility drawer in the RV’s kitchen. This keeps them handy for day to day uses.
RV Specific Tools
There are several less common tools that are extremely helpful to keep in your motorhome. These are partly determined by what types of repairs you’re capable of—or comfortable with—making. The following are used routinely:
Additional RV specific tools would include those used for plumbing and more elaborate electrical work. Feel free to add them as needed or when you’re ready to try your hand at these repairs; there are some great how-to videos on YouTube.
- Battery terminal post cleaner
- Digital voltmeter
- Fix a Flat
- Fuse kit
- Hydraulic jack
- Lug wrench
- Portable air compressor (if your rig isn’t already equipped with one)
- Roadside emergency kit
- RV tire repair kit
- Tire gauge (for truck and RV tires)
The spare parts you choose to carry with you depends on several things. First, what replacements do you find yourself making frequently (or which ones have you ascertained are common for your make and year of RV)? Second, which ones are difficult to find or typically must be ordered? Third, are they on sale (we usually buy extras when the price is discounted)?
- Generator air filter
- Generator fuel filter
- Generator oil filter
- Water pump
These are just a few of the parts we regularly keep on hand. Of course, as I mentioned, your list may vary.
Three Storage Ideas
Aside from a few of the more commonly-used items, you should store the rest in a heavy-duty tool chest in a cargo area. Here are some of the most popular ways to organize and store your tools:
Carefully measure the dimensions of the area you intend to mount it before investing in a tool chest. Make sure to get a heavy-duty one with multiple drawers to better organize and securely contain your tools while driving. Verify that it locks so the drawers don’t open during transit. Then properly mount it before traveling.
- Build or Install an Exterior Storage Platform – Use the space on the back of the motorhome, near where a bike rack might be mounted and above your tow bar. Choose a manufactured tool box that easily fits in the allotted area and make sure to securely bolt it to the platform before traveling.
- Install a Tool Box in Your Basement Storage - With a bit of measuring and a few bolts, you can convert one section of your underneath cargo area into a slide-out tool chest.
- Utilize Your Tow Vehicle - We pull a 24-foot cargo trailer, which afford plenty of space for an extensive tool collection. If, however, you tow a car or pickup truck, you can still fill some of the unused space with your RV tools and spare parts. You can easily install one of the many types of truck tool boxes in the bed or organize the space in your car’s trunk.
It’s a good idea to keep a thorough tool set conveniently placed to be accessible but not in the way. I am a firm believer in the policy that it’s better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it, and this is especially true of tools. Happy travels!