When your full-time living space is on wheels, your whole life is an adventure. (That’s kind of the point, right?)
And what makes a journey into an adventure? Why, unexpected surprises, of course. And not all of those surprises are going to be sunshine and rainbows.
Mechanical maintenance and repair issues are going to happen — it’s just a fact of life on the road. But fortunately, many of these problems are small and simple enough to take care of yourself… provided you have the right tools for the job.
If you’ve got a standard, pre-built household toolbox kit, like this 65-piece set by Stanley, you’re probably doing pretty well in this regard. You don’t need too many fancy gadgets to keep up with the care of your average RV.
But there are a few items you might want to double check. After all, nothing ruins an RV camping trip like having to interrupt the s’mores session to pop out to the hardware store — or worse, pay a professional to do a job you totally could have handled on your own!
Tools to Keep in Your RV
So, what tools are absolutely essential to have in an RV or motorhome?
Most of the ones that make our must-have tool box list are probably already in your garage. While you’re on the road, you may need to reinsert a towel bar screw or re-mount a cabinet door, which means having a decent set of screwdrivers is important. You’ll want to ensure you have at least one Phillips head and one flathead so you’ll be able to take on any kind of screw you meet.
Of course, in an RV, space is at a premium, so all-in-one tools can be really helpful. For instance, this 6-way screwdriver includes fittings for #1 and #2 Phillips heads, 1/4 and 3/16 slotted heads, and 1/4 and 5/16 nut driver heads. Everything you need in one easy package!
It’s also helpful to have an adjustable wrench around, as well as a decent hammer — which can actually double as an emergency tool in case you should need to break your windows. And don’t forget about a pair of pliers or three, just in case you need to unstick some stuck-down nut or bolt! This seven-piece set by FASTPRO includes combination pliers, two lengths of slip-off pliers, an adjustable wrench and more, so you’ll be well prepared to take on minor electrical or mechanical issues.
RV Repair Tools
Unfortunately, if you encounter any really serious issues, you may have to shell out for professional help unless you’re exceptionally handy. That’s especially true in the case of tow vehicle issues like blown transmissions or leaking radiators — and besides, most campgrounds won’t allow you to perform major mechanical repairs or upgrades on the property.
But there are minor operations you could totally do yourself, which can save you a heap of money. Dealing with repairs and performing regular maintenance is one of the biggest expenses of RVing, second only perhaps to gas and campground accommodations. (Psst: You can save 50% on those pesky campsite fees at almost 1900 campgrounds nationwide by becoming a member of Passport America!)
Here’s our guide to finding a great, trustworthy mechanic when you need one. But what about something simply, like, say, changing your RV’s tire? What tools do you need for the job?
What to Put in Your RV Toolbox
A lug or socket wrench is essential for changing tires, and can help with many other tasks as well. This universal socket wrench set not only includes multiple adjustable pieces, but is also lightweight, which is always a bonus for an RVer.
You may also want to add a set of Allen wrenches to your RV tool box checklist. They’re really affordable — this industrial-grade set of ten Allen wrenches will set you back less than $20. And as you probably have discovered in your own home already, Allen wrenches are one of those things that you don’t know you need until you need it. You’ll be glad you thought of them ahead of time!
Another thing you might not have thought about, but should totally have a place in your toolbox: a flashlight! Any RV should really have multiple flashlights onboard, which are always helpful whether you’re boondocking or trying to repair something in the nighttime. They’re also valuable in case of a roadside emergency.
We like this 250-lumen Maglite flashlight because it’s high-powered, affordable, and has a good, long life, but you might also consider keeping crankable version on board just in case you find yourself without access to batteries. With this $10 set of four, you’ll have enough for the whole family!
Finally, keep in mind any extra, specific tools you might need for the “toys” and gear you bring along for your trip. For example, if you’re a cycler and you’ve got your trusty bike strapped to the back of your RV, you’ll want to make sure you have all the equipment you need to keep it in sound, working order. Same goes for ATVs, golf carts, kayaks, canoes, or any other outdoor gear you need to take on your next adventure!
RV Diagnostic Tools
Now that we’ve talked about the tools needed for your RV toolbox, let’s move on to the next part of the guide: RV tool storage.
How do you keep all this stuff neat and ready to use at a moment’s notice?
In even the largest RV, space is a limited resource. That’s why it’s important to maintain a high level of organization, both on external surfaces and inside drawers and cabinets.
We recommend you purchase a separate toolbox specifically for your RV, and keep it in a place inside the motorcoach that’s accessible. (It might be tempting to store it in your under-deck storage, but that means whenever you need those tools, you’re going to have to take a little journey outside… not always so convenient!)
Want to know our best advice for an RV toolbox upgrade?
Get something soft-sided, and even consider sticking a few rags in there. You can always use them, anyway.
That way, all those chunky metal parts won’t be clang-clang-clanging together all the way down the road, which would be enough to drive anyone batty.
There you have it — you’re prepared to take on the road! Doesn’t that peace of mind feel wonderful?
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