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Detonation: Be Prepared

Be Prepared

John Lehenbauer
Dec 9, 2016
Photographers: John Lehenbauer
Have you ever had to sit on the side of the road in a broken truck? Were you prepared to make repairs or did you just call a tow truck? A lot of people don’t put much thought into breaking down on the road, assuming some kind of catastrophic failure will never happen. Maybe they believe their truck won’t break down. Or, it’s possible they’ve just been lucky. My experiences with all sorts of vehicles have shown me that breakdowns are inevitable. Although you’re bound to eventually have one, being prepared for it goes a long way.
Most people do their day-to-day driving in urban areas, which affords them the luxury of having tow trucks and roadside assistance readily available if a mishap occurs. Having these services makes getting broken vehicles towed to repair shops and/or back on the road again easy. But, what happens when your ride breaks down in an area that seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere—a place with no phone service that is 50 miles or more away from any type of civilization? I can assure you based on my own firsthand experiences, there are areas of this country that lack services, phone or otherwise, and then you’re on your own.
Don’t think that simply because you just bought a new truck, you don’t have to worry about breaking down. Any type of truck—new or old—can have an issue, no matter how well it’s maintained. As vehicles age, their tendency to have problems increases. So, it is a good idea to know something about your vehicle and to do a little research. Having an awareness about the types of problems you may run into (like brackets that loosen or turbocharger boots that blow out) can better prepare you for those instances when something actually happens. The parts and tools you have will allow you to make repairs and get rolling. If you are unable to make repairs, carrying tools and spare parts is still a good idea, because many times it’s possible to find someone who can help. Being prepared helps make their job easier, too.
Photo 2/2   |   Carrying tools in your truck allows you to make repairs on the road, when or if the need arises. The handy, organized tool kits that are packaged in molded-plastic storage cases typically include standard and metric wrenches, sockets, drivers, and such that are commonly used for small, large, and emergency repairs. I also carry a bag stocked with miscellaneous tools and an assortment of spare parts.
I understand it is impossible to be prepared for every breakdown scenario, but having some basic tools, spare parts, and a little ingenuity can go a long way toward getting going again. Personally, I start by always making sure everything needed to change a tire is in my truck (including a good spare). This is especially important if you’re running aftermarket tires and wheels. Many times, a factory lug wrench won’t work with such road gear due to its incompatibility with custom lug nuts or tight fit in the lug nut bore of the wheel. So, having the correct socket and a breaker bar with you to remove lugs and change a tire is important.
I also outfit my vehicle with a tool kit. I like to buy the kits that come in plastic storage cases for general repairs, because they include a fair amount of tools, are easy to store, and come pre-organized. Any other tools I may need (locking pliers, an adjustable wrench, specialized tools, and so on) are added to a tool bag that supports the full kit. Having specialized tools can be particularly important, because many times a unique tool is the only thing that will work for a specific job.
I can honestly say I have “been there, done that.” I have been in trucks that have broken down so many times in so many different places, both on- and off-road, and more than once did not have the equipment I needed (or had no tools at all). So, for me, taking the time to make sure I’m prepared is a conscious decision. There is nothing worse than being in a broken rig with no tools and no one to help.
I know there are some of you who don’t carry a single tool and there are some who have enough tools and parts in your truck to fill a small workshop. Figure out what works for you, because being able to get home safely is the most important thing.
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