Tuesday, October 3, 2023


RV toolbox essentials–Don’t leave home without them!

If you’ve been on the road at all, you’ve experienced it: Something on your rig broke. You can’t always get help with the fixing—you need to do it yourself. Being prepared with a few tools and some of the essential “emergency supplies” can go a long way to making it easier. What toolbox essentials should you have on hand?

Screwed up without these

Clutch screws. Photo: Adam LaMee on wikimedia commons

Absolute toolbox essentials are screwdrivers of both the slotted and Phillips variety, in various sizes. Look around your rig, too, and see if the manufacturer has used specialized fittings that “normal” screwdrivers won’t fit. Clutch screws (which look like little bow-ties) and Torx (star-shaped) aren’t uncommon. Wrenches are necessary, too, for tightening bolts. While you can maybe “get by” with a couple of adjustable Crescent wrenches, having combination wrenches that won’t slip off the nut and bang up your knuckles is a help. They don’t call those things “knuckle-busters” for nothing! A hammer is a versatile tool, even though you’ll find few nails in most RVs. A sharp utility knife is invaluable. And don’t forget the lowly tape measure.

Specialty stuff

Some specialty items: A good tire gauge—not a cheap, two-dollar “stick type.” That’s better than nothing, but a dial gauge is better. We’ve found that an electronic gauge, though more spendy, is an easier read and stays accurate. Have dual tires? You’ll need the crow-foot tire gauge to access all tire stems. Here’s one from Amazon. A bottle of soapy-water solution is handy to check for LP leaks. Use a 50/50 liquid dish detergent and water solution either in a spray bottle or use a little paintbrush to dab the solution on any suspect joints or cracks.

Don’t neglect the electrics!

Electrical issues hit every RVer, so toolbox essentials mean an electrical multimeter. These devices measure both DC (battery) and AC (shore power) voltage and are invaluable for tracking down issues. If you’re willing to learn more about running down problems, look for one that measures current (amps), as well. While you’re dealing with electrics, get yourself a good wire cutter/stripper. And we highly recommend an electrical crimping tool along with an assortment of crimp fittings. A pair of needle-nose pliers make electrical work much easier. Don’t forget a couple of rolls of electrical tape. Find out what sorts of fuses your RV (and tow vehicle) use, and carry spares. The same holds true for extra light bulbs or fluorescent tubes.

Stick it to it!

Also helpful to have on hand: duct tape. Buy the best you can afford. “Gorilla tape” is really great. It sticks well and wears well. Get a short roll of EternaBond tape, too. This stuff will fix a tear on almost any type of RV roof, siding and other stuff, too. It’s pricier than duct tape, but duct tape won’t fix a roof leak. A short roll of “mending wire” or a coil of baling wire will help you “jury-rig” a variety of fixes. Teflon tape, from the plumbing supply area, will help you fix leaky pipe joints, and don’t forget a roll of the “yellow” pipe tape for gas joints.

Power up!

A rechargeable, cordless electric drill is at the top of our list for non-hand tools. We can drill holes, drive screws, even stir paint (with the right attachment). And we even keep a “corded” 3/8-inch electric drill on hand. With the right socket fitting, we use it to jack up and down our travel trailer stabilizer jacks. Works a whole lot faster than bending over and hand-cranking them. Also, it’s always available when a big drill job comes along that’s too much for the cordless unit.

Where to keep it?

Keep screwdrivers, a utility knife and a tape measure in the “junk drawer” in the kitchen. It makes it easier for both of us to get what we often need in a hurry. For the regular repair guy, I find having two different tool bags useful. One keeps the heavy-duty repair tools like wrenches and assorted drivers together. The other is strictly “electrical,” with the voltmeter, specific electrical repair tools and supplies. It’s nice for just grabbing and going to the “scene of the crime.”

Stock up your toolbox essentials. Set yourself a budget, hit the stores and don’t forget pawn shops. They’re often a great place to pick up bargains that can help you make fixes on the road.

What would you add? Drop us a comment below.



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Calvin Wing
1 month ago

Hydraulic and/or 12 volt electric jack for tire and wheel service. 20 volt impact wrench for checking lug nuts & changing tires. 110V hand held stick welder for ( available on Amazon) for temporary or permanent repairs. Electrical tape, spare wire nuts, wire strippers, zip tie assortment, 1/2” & 1/4” socket set in metric and SAE &. extension bar, impact sockets, 20 V drill driver & impact driver with adapters for your sockets. Assortment of pliers, wire cutters, adjustable jaw pliers. Spare interior & exterior light bulbs, Pipe wrench, pry bar. Box knife, camp & hacksaws, adjustable jaw wrenches 2”-12”. Just to name a few.

Michael Martinez
2 months ago

Baling wire or rebar tie wire, plumbers strap, assortment of machine screws with nuts and flat washers, assortment of sheet metal screws, dog poop bags,(even if you don’t have a dog), jumper cables, gardeners kneeling pad.

2 months ago

Carry the minimum needs. Wonder how many just thought is a credit card a tool

Calvin Wing
1 month ago
Reply to  Rusty

Hard to find cell service everywhere?

Bob Amoroso
2 months ago

I too, carry a lot of the tools mentioned here. But if I may add a couple I haven’t heard anyone mention is; 1st is a 12 or 20 ton bottle jack. I have the 12 because most motorhomes and some trailers do not give you a jack. They don’t give you one because lifting a large RV is rather scary for some folks. I’m well aware of the hazards of jacking up an RV and use very safe methods. The 2nd is a Cordless 1/2″ impact driver. I use a DeWalt 20volt Impact driver because trying to break free the 8 lug nuts is very difficult. The impact gun does easily and does all 8 in less then two minutes.

2 months ago

I’m thinking you can’t have enough tools in the RV, Its the one you don’t have is the one you need! So I’ve had a set of those clutch drive bits since 1970 & never used them. If they were in any of my RV’s I’ve never seen them! Also I agree with Robinson square head as being the most popular, but stand by for the Vega DOUBLE square head, found them on my tail light lenses on my 2017 Forest River 34QS pusher!

2 months ago

I also carry SAE & Metric 3/8″ dr. sockets, a telescoping magnet in addition to the wrenches and items listed in the article. On one trip out in N. Mn. we were in a torrential downpour when the driver side WS wiper broke at the center joint. Fortunately, we were just leaving US 2 and going onto the state road to a forest campground. Some ingenuity and some scrap parts fixed it to get home with – after the rain stopped! Always something needs attention or adjusting. Hard to carry tools and stay in the weight limits too – but essential!

Neal Davis
2 months ago

Thank you!

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago

I used to laugh at the lazy old men who used electric drills to put the stabilizers down. Somewhere along the line I became a lazy old man who ALWAYS uses an electric drill to put the stabilizers down.

2 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar


2 months ago

Over the years my collection of tools and left-over repair supplies have built up to a kitchen-sink version. I find carrying tapes and glues in insulated containers lengthens their shelf life.

2 months ago

Easier to tell you what tools I don’t carry . Also any part that has failed in the last 30 years we carry spares , quite a few & the list continues to grow

John Cook
2 months ago

Good tool list, but add: pen, marker, scissors, flashlight, bottle & can openers, beer.

Last edited 2 months ago by John Cook
2 months ago
Reply to  John Cook

“Beer”…best tool next to duct tape.

George Pennington
2 months ago

I disagree about the screwdrivers, slotted and Phillips head are the least used the Robertson square heads are now the most used then Phillips and torx , I suggest a stubby and regular length multibit .

2 months ago

When was the last time anybody used a clutch screwdriver? For me, it was in the ’60s working on a ’40 Plymouth! I know I still have the tool somewhere! Still got the ’40 Plymouth.

Jim Johnson
2 months ago

I keep tapes & adhesives in a plastic bag. I have a 3/8″ cordless drill/driver with 2 batteries/charger in its own case. I have a folding case with a wide variety of drill & driver bits. And all my other hand tools all fit into 14X10X12 tool bag. Those tools cover a wide variety of mechanical, wood, metal and electric repairs. While I have borrowed tools for projects, and sometimes wish for one of my speciality tools from my home workshop, I can accomplish about 95% of any repair I might need. When I carefully assembled my kit in 2017, the whole thing was under $300. Very rarely have I added tools since.

Steve H
2 months ago

I keep all the items mentioned above (except the drill) in two lightweight plastic containers with locking lids. The drill/battery has its own box. One essential repair item not mentioned is a small bottle of Lock-Tite. It is invaluable for those interior and exterior screws that seem to shake loose on every rough road. My go-to store for all those tools, tape, multimeter, glue, tape measure, utility knife, and scissors is Harbor Freight. Yes, the tools are Chinese-made and not the highest quality, but they are cheap and work well enough for items that are only being used a few times a year!

2 months ago

Silicone tape. When stretched, will stop any leak. Sticks only to itself. An assortment of plastic ties. Wire nuts for electrical connections. Small roll of electrical wire. Spare water hose washers.

Tom H.
2 months ago

A utility knife, PEX crimper, pliers, hammer- to name a few

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