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10 Hot Rod Must Have Tools for Car Shows & Road Trips

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It is vital to be prepared for anything we may come across in life. No matter what it is, being prepared only increases your chances of success and helps to keep the blood pressure in check. Now I understand it can be tough to be prepared for all the wild scenarios that life likes to throw at us when we least expect it, but you can try to think ahead and minimize the number of headaches when out on the open road or attending your next big car show.

Whenever I am preparing for anything really in life, I constantly hear my Dad’s voice echoing in my head. You see, growing up he used to always tell us boys, “It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”. I will be honest, as a young kid I really had no idea what he meant by this, but as I got older and found myself dealing with some big headaches in my adult life, I started to understand what he was trying to tell us all along.

In this article, I want to briefly go over a list of must-have items to take along with you when travelling to your next car show, out for a weekend rod run with your local car club, or just a casual Friday night cruise down main street. This list isn’t the end all, be all list and you are more than welcome to consider your specific vehicle needs, but this is a solid list to get you thinking about the types of situations that can end a weekend of fun out on the open road!

The first few things you should always carry in the trunk of your hot rod are the type of things you would probably find in any vehicle going down the highway. It is vital to make sure that you are carrying along your spare tire. I know it can be tough. It’s heavy and doesn’t match your wicked wheel and tire setup, however just keep it in the trunk. Trust me. There will be a day you wish you hadn’t taken it out to shave off a few pounds.

The next thing that needs to be right alongside that spare tire is a good scissor jack and lug nut wrench. Make sure you test out the jack you plan on carrying with you to ensure it will fit up underneath any modified ride height and can be used effectively.

As far as lug nut wrenches go, I strongly recommend a space-saving design such as the Gorilla Automotive Power Wrench. This thing not only takes up less space, but it also uses thin wall sockets to ensure that it will reach any lug nut holding down OEM or aftermarket wheels. The shape of this lug nut wrench allows you to get after those hard to break free lug nuts without running the risk of damaging your wheel studs or hurting yourself trying to free a seized lug nut!

Now, another item I like to consider carrying with me is a small air bubble. It is one of the larger items but can be really useful in a variety of situations, especially if you have decided to throw out the spare or never had one to begin with. I have had a small 3 gallon air tank for many years that was handed down to me from my father and I constantly find myself throwing it in the trunk of the Mustang when going on extended trips.

There are all kinds of shapes and sizes to choose from if you are looking for something, but I recommend considering a lightweight aluminum option such as the Speedway Small Lightweight Aluminum Air Tank 2 Gallon. It saves weight, looks really slick, and does a fine job of holding a few pounds of air to help out when needed.

I also make sure to carry one or more quality tire pressure gauges. I know many guys will just pick up the standard stick style tire pressure gauge for a couple bucks and let it float around the trunk. However, for the serious enthusiast, you should understand how vital proper tire pressures can be for maximum traction or to achieve the best fuel mileage while rolling down the highway.

Upgrading to a true gauge style tire pressure gauge will provide you with much more accurate tire pressure readouts, along with simplified ease of use and the ability to deflate the tire by a simple push of a button valve. For me specifically, I found that I had to upgrade to the gauge and hose style because the forged wheels that I put on my Mustang have the valve stems on the backsides of the wheel.

The length of hose allowed me to easily pass through the wheel to check tire pressures. I highly recommend spending a little more when making a choice for a new tire pressure gauge. A great bang for the buck option is the Longacre 50345 Economy Digital Tire Gauge w/ Active Display, P#47550345. The digital display allows for a quick and easy readout of your tire pressure.

Most of these “must haves” have taken care of issues with wheels and tires out on the road, but you are probably asking, “what about all the other stuff that can happen?”. The truth is, no matter how hard we try, there is no way to prepare for every situation that arises. I do think there are a few other essential pieces to your road kit that you should always carry along with you.

I like to make sure I am carrying along some kind of battery jump pack, such as the Allstart 560 Horizon Boost Max Battery Charger. It takes up very little space and can save you from having to skip out on that weekend road trip or car show.

I also take along a decent sized socket and wrench set. I have found that the ones that come all together in a hard carry case work best for keeping things organized and from rolling around in the trunk. It is nice to know that if needed you have the basics covered if the need arises to do some maintenance on the go.

Tucked right in there with my tool kit, I make sure to carry a good set of mechanic gloves and shop rags or towels. I have had a few instances of a having to work around hot headers or brakes and having a set of gloves to protect you is worth buying an extra pair to keep in the car. Shop rags always come in handy to clean up quick before jumping back into your clean interior!

Last on my list of must haves is every bit as important as the rest of these items. Making sure your ride stays clean and looking its best is just as important as keeping it performing under all circumstances. Most serious show car guys already have duffle bags full of car care and cleaning products that they have to tote along with them all the time. That makes sense for the serious show worthy cars, but for the average guy like myself, that is just a bit over kill.

I only need a few essentials to keep my car looking showroom fresh while rolling into my local meet. Luckily, the Lucas Oil 10558 Slick Mist Car Care Detailing Kit, is just what you need. It packs only the essentials – speed wax to keep your paint protected and fresh, a simple interior detailer suitable for all sorts of materials, and an easy to use trim and tire shine. This kit even comes with a nice microfiber towel and tire scrubber to round out just what you need to keep things looking fresh!

Hopefully this article will inspire you to put together your own version of a “rainy day” car kit to keep in the trunk of the car. It can make the difference between enjoying that show you have been waiting for all year and staying home, stuck doing housework or watching the car sit in the garage!

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