Graeme Cooper Automotive experts are frequently asked what spares to take on an extended trip. While we certainly could compile a list and supply a kit of the most likely components, there are too many well-documented stories of trips being undertaken with loads of spare parts, only to have the one item for which no part is carried being the cause of a major problem. Additionally, consideration must be given to the tools needed and the mechanical (and increasingly the electronic) knowledge and skill of the driver or crew. The simple question is “where do you stop”?
There is no substitute for a professional pre-trip inspection. A really competent mechanic with extensive experience of the marque will have the specialist knowledge of what to look for on each vehicle type and model.
By identifying when components and systems have failed, or are nearing the end of their effective life, they can be replaced and/or spares provided, thus eliminating many potential problems that otherwise might occur.
Common spares & back-up equipment
Of course, there will always be “common sense” items to carry – mostly those that could fail or be damaged regardless of how well the vehicle is prepared in advance. The following list is by no means complete, but covers most of the basics:
Spare battery: Any battery more than 12 months old is suspect and the workshop should change it before you depart. Either way, a spare is cheap insurance
Air filter: An essential item if you will be driving on dirt/gravel or sand
Oil filter: Depending upon the planned length of the trip, an oil change will be highly desirable and having the correct filter will make things much easier
Fuel filters: Blockages are not as uncommon as many believe, best to be prepared
Silicone “rescue” tape can be used successfully to repair radiator hoses and this will save having to carry all the various hoses that could potentially fail. However, the workshop will inspect the hoses and change any that are defective.
Set of fan belts: Ditto
Spare rims & tyres. Anyone going far from home and/or your regular tyre service should seriously consider carrying TWO spare (full size) wheels. Never assume some rural tyre service will carry your size and brand
Tyre repair kit. Might be overkill if carrying two spare wheels but for serious off-road travel, having a repair kit (and knowing how to use it) can literally save lives.
Engine & gear oil: Take whatever grade your vehicle needs
Transmission & brake fluid: Ditto
Water: As much as you can carry safely
Headlamp & other bulb replacements