Motorhome toolkit – Essential tools for Classic motorhome travel
There is no doubt about it if you have a motorhome you are going to need a toolkit. Having an older motorhome can mean that there are slightly more things to deal with than you may have in a motorhome of a lesser age. I like to be prepared for most eventualities.
Obviously, you cannot cover everything but I take the tools for dealing with the problems I would be disappointed if we lost a holiday just because I had forgotten to bring a simple tool. Tools are heavy and take up valuable space. Fortunately, we have plenty of space for such things by leaving behind clothing and other unnecessary items. Only joking.
I have just about every oil and fluid that goes into the motorhome. We have socket sets, spanners electrical tools, some basic plumbing tools. This is not a comprehensive list of the tools I have for the motorhome as that list seems to grow but it is most of them. Very rarely the list shortens, it’s not often but sometimes there may be a tool that’s just along for the ride.
I will probably take out some of the oils, like gearbox oil and ATF fluid, eventually once I am confident that the leaks are fixed. Most oils can be picked up if required, I am slowly learning to trust the motorhome. When you first get your new, or old, motorhome there is a process of getting to know your motorhome. Once you have a good grasp of what’s going on you can probably let some tools go. Although this list is long there are not many tools that I would like to give up.
I have split the tools into three sections;
- Mechanical – these are mainly engine based for working on the engine and running gear of the motorhome. Some will have uses in the habitation side but in general, these will be used for the engine.
- Electrical – This is for the electrical system. I have found I work mainly on the 12-volt system. You will probably be using these mostly in the habitation area of the motorhome.
- Accessories – these are the crossover products that you will use inside and outside. Not necessarily tools but very useful to have.
Motorhome Mechanical Tools
Spanners are essential – the open type. They can get into really tight spots where you may not be able to use your ratchet spanners.
I have picked up these sets relatively cheaply over the past few years and they have been invaluable. This is a good beginner set and will be useful for most tasks.
An adjustable spanner is great to have. I just have a small adjustable spanner but with a slim jaw that goes up to 36mm. It’s really useful and can fit into tight spaces. Not cheap but is an excellent tool that I have had for years and is now part of the motorhome toolkit. Check it here.
Cheap socket set with screwdriver attachments
A cheap socket set is good to have with you. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy you just need to be able to take various nuts or bolt apart or tighten. I have another good set for doing the serious work at home. You just want to be able to do some basic tasks so they don’t have to be incredibly expensive. This is along the lines of what I have and has been very useful.
Set of ratchet spanners
Ratchet spanners are amazing and are getting cheaper all the time. Great for tight spaces and getting a nut off quickly when only a spanner will get into the space. Not really essential but good time savers if you can use them. Here is a cheap set for general light use. If you need brute force then bring out the standard spanners.
This might seem excessive but I have a 1 m (3 foot) breaker bar in the back of the motorhome. Having an ancient motorhome presents various problems which include bolts seizing. The breaker bar takes care of that. It is especially useful if you have to change a tyre, those bolts are on solid and still take an incredible force to get off even with the breaker bar. If you need it you will be so glad it’s there.
This is the breaker bar I use. It’s a cheap one but has not failed yet.
Tube of sealant with a sealant gun
Don’t leave home without a sealant gun and some sealant. When you are in the motorhome for any time at all you will notice areas that might need a little sealant to keep the water out. You may even get a proper leak and you need a way to deal with that until you get back from your trip and repair it properly.
Silicone sealant is not a permanent repair for a leak – it just buys you some time. It is, however, essential for tour travels. Remember once you have opened the tube you will only have a couple of months or so before it’s useless and the shelf life is, at max, a couple of years. So make sure the silicone is still usable before you head off on your trip. I always have a tube, just in case.
Good sealant gun.
Sealant to use on the motorhome – Silkaflex 221
Pliers – square jaw and long-nosed
Pliers are so good for grabbing and manipulating. Square jaw pliers are good for the tougher tasks and the long nose type are good for the nimbler type of work. Always a good idea to have both types of pliers as both will be useful.
I tend to take a claw hammer with us. It can be used as a hammer and a lever if required. Seems to work well for us and is always in the toolbox.
This is like my old hammer – last forever.
I have a large screwdriver that is about 45cm (18 inches) long. This is good for larger screws but is mainly used as a lever. Something like this would be handy.
Set of Mole Grips
Mole grips are almost like having a mini vice. Very good if you want to hold things in place and your fingers are not strong enough then get a set of mole grips.
A Decent Jack
A good jack is invaluable if you get a puncture. The jack that came with our motorhome is quite good and did the job when we had to change a tyre. The only problem we had was the tyre wrench was ridiculously short. We ended up using the rear table leg, which is like a piece of scaffolding tube except stronger, to extend the tyre wrench. Hence we now have the breaker bar.
Make sure you have a good jack, tyre wrench and anything else you may need to change a tyre before you set off. The problem with a motorhome jack is that it has to travel a long way to get the tyre off the ground.
This Jack will do the job.
To be super safe you may want an axle stand with you. I have one in the motorhome now as changing a motorhome tyre at the side of the road is a scary thing to do. An axle stand will give you peace of mind in case the jack fails or slips and they are relatively cheap.
This is good to have to check and blow up your tyres. It is a very good idea to check your tyres regularly and top them up as required. This saves the faffing about in a petrol station. It also allows you to reduce the tyre pressure if you find you are stuck in the mud. Reducing the pressure will give you better grip and may get you out of a hole nut you want the tyres pumped back up to pressure before you go back on the road.
I use this one which works well and will blow up the tyres to 60 psi quite quickly. The cable could do with being a couple of feet longer but I can get it to reach through windows etc but you may want to buy an extension for ease of use.
I always carry a small bottle of gearbox oil for the motorhome. These old gearboxes have a funny set up and the fifth gear is high up in the gearbox. If the oil runs a little low then the fifth gear gets it and will start jumping out whenever the gear is engaged. I don’t really want to have to refurbish the gearbox so I carry some gearbox oil. You should check the gearbox oil every so often. Double-check the type of gearbox oil your motorhome requires.
This is what I use.
You never know when you might need a top up so I carry some engine oil as well, only a litre or so just to top us. If any more is required I would look for a garage as there would be something going on that needs repaired.
Our motorhome uses 15W-40
ATF fluid (Automatic Transmission Fluid)
We had a leak in the power steering system that took a while to track down and ever since I have had some of this fluid (used in the power steering system).
This is a useful oil to have at home as it is a really thin oil that can be mixed with some acetone to make an excellent penetrating oil.
This is the ATF I used in the power steering.
I have a bit of antifreeze for when the coolant needs topping up. I don’t like using water so, keep a little antifreeze in the motorhome.
WD40 or an equivalent oil is just so useful for freeing, cleaning and some short-term lubrication. I always have a tin of this and it gets used frequently. It’s amazing just how often a seemingly huge problem can be solved with a little application of WD40.
This is one of the motorhome owners staples. It can get you out of a lot of difficult situations if something breaks unexpectedly. It’s very sticky and it’s strong. I can’t even begin to list the things I have done with this but at the moment there is a bit of gaffer tape holding the fridge shelf in place until I come up with a better solution. The only downside is if you leave it stuck to something for any length of time the glue goes hard and is a real pain to get off of things.
Just choose one they are all pretty good and essential for the motorhome.
I use this a lot with an activator. Super Glue will glue your hands in seconds, it loves to stick skin. With almost everything else it can take a while to harden. With the activator, the glue will go hard in ten seconds on any surface. It works a treat and is good for most glue situations.
Mighty Grab Adhesive
This type of glue is astonishing. It’s like silicone but way stronger. It has excellent grab and adhesion properties and I have never known it to fail. Once dry it remains flexible.
I have used this on my bathroom cabinet. in the Hymer. The cabinet is made of a 27-year-old plastic and the hinge, which was riveted into the plastic had ripped itself out. There was no way to repair it. I put some of this glue where the rivets would go and set it into position making as much contact with the hinge as possible making sure the hinge would still function. After 12 hours it had hardened and here we are 3 years later and it’s still holding.
I also used it to glue my reversing camera on the back of the motorhome as I wasn’t sure if I would keep it in that position and didn’t want to make another hole in the motorhome until I was sure. Still holding strong a 2 years later.
Used correctly this stuff is amazing.
Some spare bolts and washers
I have a selection of various bolt sizes and lengths, all stainless just in case we need them. I have used them a few times and have been really glad that they were in the motorhome and I could get the repair done and quickly. Check the prices here.
Spare Jubilee Clips / Hose Clips
There are many connections in the motorhome that use jubilee clips both in the habitation area for the plumbing and in the engine bay. I have been surprised how many I have used as most of the old ones were either not stainless and rusted away or just at the end of their life and actually broken. Hose clips are great to have as a spare and can save you a lot of heartache.
Motorhome Electrical Tools
A Multi Meter is essential for any electrical work in your motorhome. If you have a Hymer the cable colours are anti-intuitive, they are the opposite way around. The blue is live and the brown is earth (UK electrical systems are the opposite) I find it very difficult to work on as the areas that have been worked on in the past have had the wiring changed to the correct way (for me) and the older wiring is still round the wrong way. As a result, you have to check and double-check so you don’t wire things up with the wrong polarity.
A multimeter really helps with finding faults and tracing cables. If you don’t know how to use one then you need to learn as it is a fabulous tool that will help you no end. I would not touch the wiring in a motorhome without one.
They are not expensive and there are loads of videos on youtube showing you how to use one safely.
A multimeter is essential if you are doing any electrical work in your motorhome.
For the amount of electrical work, you will probably have to do, a good soldering iron will be very useful. I have used my soldering iron to upgrade the lighting to LED, for repairing the fridge connectors and a multitude of other jobs.
I use the gas type soldering iron. This allows you to use it as a heat gun so you can put a bit of heat-shrink over your work and shrink it down with the same tool. You can also use it when you are not connected to the mains. Very handy.
Electrical snips and wire strippers
Snips and wire strippers are good for all the electrical repairs or additions you may need to do. Every now and then you may want to add new electrical devices such as USB chargers or a screen of some sort you will need a set of snips and wire strippers. These do the job of both and won’t break the bank.
Always good to have some cable. This can be used for all sorts of things other than carrying electricity. I have used it for cleaning out pipes and its good for holding things in place in an emergency. Generally, it’s good to have a small selection of cable in case a quick repair is required
Crimp and crimp set
Most of the connections in our motorhome are crimped. So it’s a good idea to have a crimp set with a variety of sizes. They are not very expensive and I have found that the cheaper crimping tools do a pretty good job. I have found ours invaluable and although I don’t use it when we are away from home it still has its place in the motorhome.
This crimp set works just as well as the expensive ones. Been fine for me.
This means we have to carry both types of fuses. Most modern motorhomes will have the same type fuses throughout. Make sure you have all the fuses you need as it can be a real pain when you lose your hot water or lights.
If you have to make a quick connection when you are on the road and you don’t have time to heat-shrink the joint then the electrical tape will be very handy. You really don’t want your new electrical connections to short together or to the earth. This can be dangerous but electrical tape will make wires and connections good until you make a permanent repair.
Great for cables as you could probably guess. Get yourself an assorted mix of these and you can tie up almost anything. There uses are many and diverse and they are incredibly strong.
I usually have a few terminal blocks just in case I have to connect a cable to something and don’t have the time to do a permanent fix with the crimp tool.
Spare Bulb Kit
Since I am in the process of replacing the bulbs with LED we now don’t require a bulb kit for the habitation space. We do still need a bulb kit for the driving lights like the headlamps and the indicators etc. Just get the kit suitable for your type of base vehicle and you should be fine. Our headlamps are a bit rubbish and the headlights are difficult to upgrade to LED lights so there are specific bulbs that work well in the old Hymers and that’s the Phillips Diamond Vision bulbs. Not cheap but brilliant.
Motorhome Toolkit Accessories
As part of my tools, I use a Dewalt tough system toolbox. I have used many different toolboxes over the years and usually have to replace them after a few years. These toolboxes are very robust, waterproof, dustproof and you can stand on them. I use the mid-range size and that will hold most of the motorhome tools. They are not the cheapest but if you never have to replace them they are worth the money, in my opinion.
I use a few for my work and are lasting a long time. They don’t have a nice new look but they still look and feel very robust and I have no doubt they will last for years yet.
Worth a look but there are cheaper options. Check it here. This one has the tote tray which in my opinion is essential.
Rags and cloths
It’s always good to have plenty of rags to wipe up whatever decides to leak from the motorhome. You can never have too many. I use old rags to clean up spills and such. I use microfiber cloths to clean the windows, surfaces and even the engine.
Start keeping your old clothes for making handy size rags and get some microfibre cloths, you can’t go wrong.
Funnel set and some hose
A Funnel set is really a requirement for a Hymer. The expansion tank for the is right up at the dashboard and really difficult to get anything in there. Also useful for gearbox oil as that is really inconvenient to get to. So you may require some hosepipe as well. The clear hosepipe is best so you can see what is happening.
A freshwater funnel is good to have just in case you can’t use a hosepipe to fill the tank.
This is really a weird thing to have in your motorhome. I have used it for emptying the brake fluid out of the reservoir when we were replacing the brake fluid and it is useful for topping up oil in the gearbox. The clear ones are good for being able to see what’s still in there. Like this one I use, it’s clear and has some measurements on it as well – perfect. I have been surprised by how useful it’s been. Just remember not to use this turkey baster for the Christmas dinner!
Box cutter knife
Or Stanley knife as we would call it in the UK. A great sharp knife that is always ready for action, strong and can cut through almost anything. This is a great tool to have in your motorhome toolbox. A simple one with a retractable blade is good enough.
Each motorhome will be slightly different so try and find any strange tool that you may need like square sockets or Torx bits so you can be prepared for most things.
You can carry all the tools needed for everything that can go wrong in a motorhome but with this list, you will be well prepared for most things.