You’ve doubtless heard, especially in the depths of winter, that it’s a great idea to carry what some automotive experts call trunk treasures. These are the small items you never think you need until you suddenly find you do.
Think about the last time you had to change your license plate! It does happen from time to time, if you buy a car in a private sale and have to transfer the plate over. Did you need a flat-headed screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver or a 3/8s-inch wrench or a 10-millimeter (MM)?
It’s at those times that your trunk treasure box will come in handy because if you are careful you’ll find everything you need to help you out of a pickle. It won’t let you do major mechanical work, because it is not designed for that type of work. Instead, you’ll be able to change a light bulb, reset a childproof door lock, even just pop off a tire cover so that you can get to the lug nuts underneath.
Speaking of those lug nuts, a good addition to your trunk treasure box should be a four-way spinner-type of lug wrench. In this way, you not only have four differently sized heads, just in case you run into a car that uses something slightly off the norm, but – and here’s the interesting part – you’ll be able to exert a lot more pressure to get the lug nuts to loosen and turn. (If you’ve ever watched a mechanic with an air gun, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Rather than just use a torque type of wrench, where you tighten the lug to a prescribed figure, most mechanics just put the right head on their air guns and zoom, it’s done. It’s quick on, but on the other side, it’s slow off.
To help with this situation , a can of WD40 is a great help because you can spray the nut quickly, wait a couple of minutes and it should turn right off. I’d dry each lug with a cloth or paper towel because WD40 not only displaces water, but it also sits in the grooves of your lug nut and sometimes no matter how tightly you spin it, they come loose quickly.
Don’t get rid of the standard lug wrench that came with your car, either, because the chances are good it has a flat end that will just pop off the wheel cover and you may even be able to start to remove things (be careful of your back, whatever you do). It also serves as the handle for the factory jack.
Speaking of jacks, you might want to invest in a small pneumatic/hydraulic jack. This is the type of jack that uses both air and an oil reservoir to push the bar up against the pressure point, although you will have to find a different spot to use for this than the point that is advised in the factory manual because it is meant to work against a flat surface, not a curved one.
This may see like a pretty good set of tools to this point, but you’ve really only scratched the surface. Don’t forget that for every flat-bladed screwdriver, you are likely to need a Phillips screwdriver at another point. Two of them would be best to keep, both long-handled for extra purchase. One of them should be able to handle very narrow screws, while the other should be able to handle standard screws.
And, while we’re still on the topic of things that help turn, you might want to think about a couple of deep-socket ratchet wrenches because they give you extra purchase and an extra-long handle drive for more purchase on tough nuts or bolts. Be careful, though, not to exert too much pressure as you can easily snap the bolt and then you’ll be back there drilling things out again and hoping you can find a tap-and-die kit that won’t cost a fortune so that you can put a new groove back on the snapped screw or bolt.
One thing that is de rigueur (wanted to work that phrase in for so long) for your trunk treasure box is a good air gauge. You can find both digital and analog at places like AutoZone or Pep Boys inexpensively. Be sure you take any readings with your tires totally cold in the morning, before you have driven anywhere (or the afternoon, if that’s your habit). A mile of driving can drive the air pressure up in a tire quickly as the tire heats up and generates a phony pressure.
And, since it’s always a good idea to fill your tires where your car is standing – just after you’ve taken the reading, a good idea is to have a battery-powered compressor handy so that you can get your tires up to the proper pressure quickly. (If your tires are yo-yoing up and down, chances are good you have a problem with either tire or the wheel, if it’s an alloy) so have your tire specialist take a good close look.
Another good idea to keep in your box of trunk treasures is one of those cans of tire inflator. They contain a chemical that finds a leak from inside and quickly fills the leak. The rest of the charge fills the tire. This isn’t a permanent fix, but it should get you to a tire specialist for proper repair.
This is only our first look at your trunk treasure box. We’ve got some more goodies to put back there that will help you out.