Keep Calm and Wheel On

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Vehicle damage and mechanical breakdowns are part of the off-road experience. Seasoned Jeeper lists the essential spare parts and equipment you need to hit the trail and make it home safely.

By: John Ryzowicz

Question: I have noticed some Jeepers carry spare parts with them on the trail. Is that really necessary, and if so, what are the “must-haves”?

Answer: Murphy’s Law tells us that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and Jeepin’ is no exception. Experienced off-roaders tend to carry a lot of equipment and a number of spare parts whenever they hit the trails. They do so because they have learned the first rule of wheeling: Always go prepared and expect the unexpected!

Making it home safely should always be your top priority. A fully stocked first aid kit is a must, but vehicles need TLC too. Jeep people are some of savviest trail mechanics around, and it helps that many parts work for multiple models and model-years.

Onboard Parts Store

Depending on your level of wheeling experience or the distance you travel, your “must-have” spare parts could include U-joint strap kits or bolts for axle ends and driveshafts, a spare drive belt for your engine, and a spare tire. Repair kits are useful, but some tire damage can’t be fixed with a plug.

Some Jeepers carry extra front-end linkage pieces, such as tie rod ends or drag link ends. Also, consider stocking unit bearings — which are non-serviceable wheel bearings for front axles — as well as assorted fuses and varying lengths of wire to bypass shortages caused by water damage or trail damage.

“Advanced” Jeepers may also choose to carry an extra fuel filter, gearbox oil, a short section of tubing that will fit inside radiator hoses, spark plugs and a spare axle shaft. If your Jeep is equipped with a stick shift, a spare manual hub assembly could come in handy someday.
Finally, every Jeeper should carry the basics: water, flashlight, towels, engine oil, a toolkit, zip ties, a jack, duct tape and electrical tape, assorted nuts, bolts and hose clamps, a JB weld, a silicone gasket maker, valve stems and a valve core tool, and a small air compressor (unless you have onboard air).

Keep Your Cool

Most importantly, when trouble arises, don’t lose your cool. The most reliable Jeepers are those who remain calm under pressure and are able to think outside the box to come up with a solution to any problem.

With a good head on your shoulders and the proper equipment, you can complete every journey and be an asset to your fellow wheelers.


John Ryzowicz is an experienced mechanic and trail leader and the owner of Trinity Auto Worx in Odessa, Fla. He advises Jeepers to take a number of key supplies and spare parts on every off-road adventure.