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Updated:  28-Apr-09


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John Williamson

Tools you should always carry with you if you rely on your vehicle and powerchair to get you home.

Things break. Come undone, get bent and sometimes need changing. The things that can go wrong with both our Power Wheelchairs, our adaptations like ramp systems etc and also with the vehicle itself can often be repaired easily by either yourself, a carer or by a helpful passer by. IF you have the right tools handy!

Being stuck when disabled and relying totally on your Power Wheelchair or Disabled Adapted Vehicle to get you home ISN'T an option. So while its a good plan for everyone to do this for us that cannot walk its essential!

The sort of things you need with you will be pretty simple generally. But you do need some basics!  If you have to swap a front castor wheel on your powerchair, or remove a part to straighten it after a bump, then you need to have some suitable tools. Same with battery terminals and any other bits that may need to be tightened up like wheels or control pod.

With the vehicle itself you need to make sure that you have a bunch of things for repairing annoying things that fall off (the release button on my wheelchair tie down springs to mind!) or fail. 

But also some other spanners and screwdrivers to be able to change a fan belt or swap a wheel or maybe fix a small wiring issue or whatever goes wrong. In my own van I had to adjust the ramp slightly to allow the door to close the other day after lowering it on to a kerb that was too high... I would be stuck without a Posi-drive screwdriver and some imperial Allen keys... But fortunately I had these with me.

These kinds of things are easy to fix if you have the basics. And if we don't look after ourselves nobody else will.

First of all check the tool kit that comes with your vehicle -- if any. No point duplicating what you have already. And check the spare wheel condition, inflation, and the Jack and that it works and is the correct one! (been there...) 

While you are doing that check you have all the right tools such as the locking wheel nut key, the wheel brace and the handle for the jack. Check what tools you need if any to access all the fuses in your vehicle.

Some of these reside in strange places like behind panels and under dashboards which require a screwdriver or Allen key to get to. Some are not in your vehicle handbook as they are additional ones that support your ramps, suspension lowering systems, door openers and wheelchair tie downs. Know where they all are if you want to get home!

A quick list of what I have may help. Customise this list to suit your own situation.
  • A set of metric Allen keys. My entire custom powerchair is built with these things. Some of the adaptations to my van also require them.

  • A set of imperial Allen keys. My van and its adaptations are American/Canadian so there are imperial Allen screws as well. Sets of these are tiny and cheap anyway.

  • Combination Spanners. My powerchairs also have two different sized metric nuts in a few places. A 10mm and a 13mm spanner covers all my wheelchair, its battery terminals etc. Then I had a GOOD look around my van at all the nuts and bolts used on the adapted parts and also the original vehicle parts. Surprisingly a small selection of seven spanners covers almost any eventuality that I could fix or have fixed at the side of the road.

  • Screwdrivers. Obviously you need a medium Posi-drive (no 2) and a small electrical one. After that its best to examine your vehicle and its disabled adaptations carefully. I have a smaller Phillips one too.

  • Pliers, side cutters for cutting cable ties, and general fixing stuff!

  • Cable ties - fix all kinds of issues.

  • Insulation tape - as above...

  • Small adjustable spanner,

  • Duct tape - Fixes bigger stuff like minor accident damage while you get home.

  • Tyre repair cans,

  • Battery chargers,

  • Inverters,

  • Spare bulbs,

  • GOOD jump leads, Cheap thin ones simply do not work. Engines take hundreds of amps to start.

  • Can of fuel (Gallon)

  • A really good Torch. Don't know about you but if it goes wrong its always dark and in the middle of nowhere.

  • A sharp knife.

  • Rags to clean spills or your hands.

  • Tin of RadWeld or Similar. A stone in the radiator can also stop you getting home.

  • A Gallon of Water.

  • A bag to keep everything like the one further up the page. No the water and the fuel wont fit in it. Everything else will and will usually fit inside the spare wheel out of the way.

In addition to the above a cheap small multimeter, and a fault code reader for your vehicle is a really good idea. The multi meters are a few pounds and available online. As is a OBDII fault code reader.

The fault code reader (typical example shown opposite) is available all over the internet very cheaply. For less than the price of a round of drinks.

It lets you see and reset any fault codes that your vehicles computerised system has logged.

Or if you get the dreaded "check engine" light lit up you can plug it in and it will tell you the EXACT problem Trust me there are thousands of them!

Even obscure stuff like the door locks and sensors all over the place. These are almost universal and work on almost every reasonably modern car or van. (Post-1996)

If you look under the dashboard, or under the bonnet occasionally, or in the glove box you will find a socket that the OBDII reader plugs into.

Do it now. 

Buy all the tools and tapes etc that you need. Before its all forgotten. 

Because otherwise you WILL regret it when you break down!




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