As a truck driver, keeping your truck rolling, keeping yourself and your cargo safe, and finding loads to avoid deadhead miles are some of your top priorities. To do these things, you need to have the right tools handy at a moment’s notice.
Here are 41 must-have truck driver tools for 2021 and beyond.
1. Load board software
2. A small toolbox
Space is always at a premium in a tractor. Store more urgent or regularly used tools like screwdrivers and vice grips in a small toolbox and save the bulky stuff for the trailer. Or try a fishing tackle box. Most can hold the basics you need and can fit into tighter spots.
3. A good pair of work gloves
You’ll always want to have a good pair of work gloves available for handling chains, or loading and unloading freight. Choose ones that are both protective and durable for various work environments. Mechanix work gloves are known for endurance. Keep a few different kinds on hand for seasonal temperature changes.
4. Multiple ratchet or winch straps
Stock up on multiple ratchet or winch straps of different lengths and strengths for securing pallets in place or keeping them together. Trucking professionals often keep a box or bucket filled with these straps. Roll them carefully and store them properly to ensure they don’t get tangled, damaged, or lost. If you do lose one, replace it right away. You never know when you’ll need every strap available to handle an odd-shaped load or multiple pallets you need to secure.
5. Crescent wrenches
Keep a few different sizes of crescent wrenches in your toolkit. They come in handy for things like odd-shaped bolts or nuts or simple and quick adjustments.
6. Combination wrenches
Make sure to have a basic set of combination wrenches. In addition to the standard sizes, invest in metric bolts and nuts. They’re used in a lot of modern equipment. A set of each will come in handy regularly.
7. Emergency space blanket
Even if you carry freight for Space X, you won’t be stranded in the frigid reaches of the Milky Way. But you might break down in an ice storm or get stuck in a blizzard. Space blankets reflect your body heat back to you and are more effective than other blankets in extreme situations. These lifesaving tools are a must-have in trucking.
8. Corner protectors
When strapping something down, you need corner protectors. These rubber or plastic tools protect your cargo from tie-downs and vice versa. Your tie-downs will last longer, too.
9. Vise grips
Vise grips are incredibly useful to get a tight grip on almost anything. But they have other uses, too. You can hold something in place, pull the release arm with tandem trailers, and more. Keep at least two different sizes on board.
10. Wire cutters
Having a few different wire cutter sizes is also a good idea. Use them to untangle packing wire and other messy hazards. You can also use them with electrical tape or connectors to splice a bad wire long enough to get to the repair shop.
11. Electrical tape
Speaking of electrical tape, it’s super helpful on the road. Not only can it keep those emergency splices together, but it can also bind bundles of wire and other items together. Always have a roll or two with you.
12. Electrical wire
You might need electrical wire to make temporary repairs to a wiring harness, whether for a light fixture or your radio or CB. Make sure to get a variety of colors to help identify one wire from another.
13. Light test kit
It’s not worth the ticket to risk having a light out. Carry a simple light-test kit to determine what lights are good and which ones have failed. Replace dead lights right away, so you don’t get pulled over.
Not only are sledgehammers great for unsticking stuck fifth wheels or other fasteners, but they’re also good for quick tire-pressure checks. Just strike each tire and listen for the same “tone” as a full tire. The longer you’re on the road, the easier it will get to identify. Check trailer tires quickly at each fuel stop.
15. Pressure gauge
When a tire “sounds” different, you need to verify the pressure level with a pressure gauge. NOTE: Only check the tire pressure with a gauge once a day, ideally in the morning. Each time you use a gauge, you release a little pressure, which can cause problems down the road.
Being able to see well around your truck at night can literally be a lifesaver. You need to have a large, bright light, but you also want backups if the batteries die, or one flashlight goes missing. Even better: Add an LED headlamp you can wear on your head to free up your hands.
17. Jumper cables
A dead battery can create huge delays. Always have jumper cables with you. But make sure they’re good quality, heavy-duty cables that will work for your particular truck. Cheap cables often don’t hold up when you need them the most.
18. Tire depth gauge
Tire depth gauges are crucial for ensuring your tires are in good shape, both on your tractor and the trailers you haul. If you’re picking up a trailer, don’t take someone else’s word for it. Always check tire depth and pressure (at least with the hammer method) before starting your run.
19. Aluminum walk ramps
If you pull up to a location without a loading dock or you arrive at a destination and your liftgate malfunctions, you’ll need an easy way to get freight out of your truck. Aluminum walk ramps are the answer. They’re lightweight, easy to store and carry, and can save you a lot of grief.
20. Dog bone wrench
You want one of these on hand for getting into awkward spaces. Get one that comes with a magnet, which can be very helpful if you can’t quite reach a dropped bolt or nut.
21. Multi-head screwdriver
A multi-head screwdriver helps you deal with pretty much any screw, any time. They often come with bits already stored in the handle. Some are magnetic. Keep track of these bits or tips, and be sure to replace any that are lost or become damaged.
22. Metal dowel rod
You’ll want this tool to help free frozen brakes when driving in the winter months. Do be cautious, though: If misused, they can damage your brakes. Learn how to use a metal dowel rod correctly before you need it.
23. Safety glasses
Working with tools always brings the risk that flying debris, chemicals, or other objects can enter your eyes, causing anything from discomfort to permanent damage. Always have safety glasses with you and wear them when you’re working.
24. Heavy-duty box knife
From cutting pallet ties to boxes and cardboard, a heavy-duty utility knife is key. Be sure to keep refill blades, too, because sharp blades are the safest.
25. Socket set
Sometimes you need a socket rather than a wrench. Keep a simple socket set, one with metric and standard sockets, a ratchet handle, and at least a small extension handy all the time.
26. Bungee cords
Like ratchet straps, you never know when a bungee cord will save the day. Keep a variety of sizes, ideally color-coded, in your truck at all times. Some come with metal hooks on black rubber, but include some with plastic- or rubber-coated hooks, as they won’t damage cargo or other items you might hook them to.
27. Zip ties
Nothing beats a good zip tie for a number of tasks, from bundling electrical wires to holding cords or other items out of the way. You should have a variety of these as well, of different lengths and thicknesses. Find variety packs at truck stops or hardware stores.
28. Heat shrink tubing
Heat shrink tubing is another good hack for emergency electrical repairs. Use it to cover two spliced wires and keep them safe from the elements. It’s good to have multiple sizes. The color of the tubing usually indicates the size or gauge.
You might need to melt heat-shrink tubing to make emergency electrical repairs. Keep a lighter (and extra fluid) around for a fast flame. Disposable, stick-style lighters are cheap and easy to find. Or invest in a good Zippo that will last a lifetime.
Carry an extra jug of oil with you. If your tractor springs a serious leak, you’ll want to repair it ASAP. Having an extra gallon of oil can tide you over until you get to a repair station. It can help keep you from being stranded and your engine from seizing. You can also use it to top off between oil changes.
Coolant is as vital to your engine as oil, and having an extra jug with you to top off your fluids or even to keep you going if you have to do an emergency hose repair is critical. Always have an extra gallon with you, and remember to replace it as you use it.
A quick sealant job can get you to the next repair shop or even protect your cargo from small leaks. Always have a tube of general-purpose silicone with you to make small or temporary fixes on the fly.
The road can be a messy place. Have rags and a roll of disposable shop towels ready to quickly clean up spills or grease.
A universal lubricant, WD-40, is good for everything from getting gears moving again to quieting squeaky doors and fixtures. It’s surprisingly useful for cleaning things too, like removing stubborn markers or glue marks from metal surfaces or removing wax from seals that have melted into a wooden floor.
35. Spare fuses
A blown fuse can leave you stranded, but it’s easily avoidable. Carry spare fuses for quick replacement. Two things: Confirm the type of fuses your tractor uses so you have the correct spares. If a fuse keeps blowing, that’s an indicator of a bigger issue you’ll will want to fix ASAP.
36. Spare fuel filters
Fuel filters clog up or get contaminated with bad fuel over time. Being able to replace one on the go keeps you rolling and keeps your fuel mileage high by removing blockages and contaminants from the fuel line.
37. Fuel filter wrench
To replace fuel filters, you need the right wrench. There are adjustable ones, but they usually have a narrow range. Check that you have the proper wrench before you hit the road.
38. Extra belts and hoses
If possible, carry extra belts and hoses so you can quickly replace them on the road if you need to. If you can’t carry the exact replacement hoses, carry universal hose replacements in varying sizes so you can make emergency fixes.
39. Ice scrapers and snow brushes
You’ll definitely need these if you drive in cold or snowy areas. Keep your hood, steps, and other areas clear with a snow brush — preferably a long one. Use the scraper to remove ice and frost much faster than your tractor’s defroster can.
Besides your small sledgehammer for checking tire pressures and other small jobs, have a larger hammer for when you need some extra “oomph” or to get something unstuck.
41. First aid kit
It’s important to pack a basic first-aid kit, just in case. Have antibiotic cream, bandages, Band-Aids, pain killers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, and other common first aid needs. Keep it stocked. You can pick most of these up anywhere and refill them as you use them.
Invest in the right toolset.
As a truck driver, you want to invest in the right toolset, both for efficiency and safety. If you have everything you need, you, your cargo, and your truck will be safer, and you can keep moving down the road. And remember, to put that toolset to good use, you need to have a source for high-paying loads. Find them, along with a ton of other money-making resources, on the Truckstop.com Load Board. Check it out and try a free demo today. The right tools make all the difference.