AFRICA 4X4 CAFE: Expert advice on Self Drive Overland Expeditions in East and Southern Africa.

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1 Socket Set

As a basic starting block, aim for a standard metric 1/2" (the size of the connection with the sockets) Flank Drive or Wall-Drive (they grip the walls od the nuts/bolts as opposed to the corners and work better with rusty or awkward nuts/bolts) socket set that includes extension bars, ratchet, etc.  Aim for a set that provides sockets ranging from 8mm through to 32mm if possible.  I actually prefer using a combination of a 3/8" set and 1/4" because they are lighter and more comfortable to use, but would only recommend these ranges if you are getting top quallity professional tools from the likes of Snap-On or Sealey.  A good compromise is a combination set that contains all three sizes.


2 Torque Wrench

It is essential that you don't over or under tighten bolts when working on your truck so get a Torque wrench.  Aim for a reasonable quality 1/2" one with a range of 0-150Ft-lbs - this should cover you for most requirements.


3 Breaker Bar

Occasionally you will come across a really stubborn nut or bolt or a situation where you need some gentle pressure - aim for a 1/2" breaker that is at least 2 foot long.


4 Spanners

Aim for a set of ring/open ended metric spanners extending from 6 or 8mm through to 19mm.  It is also worth additionally getting a 22mm, 24mm, and 27mm spanners for some of the suspension arms.  Halfords do a great set or spanners with flexible ratchets on the end - these are great tools, but aren't cheap and I wouldn't take them on their own, some times the flexi head can be more of a hinderence than a help.


5 Screwdrivers

You can usually get sets of around half a dozen assorted flat blade and phillips screwdrivers that will do most jobs.  If they aren't in the kit, make sure you get a large heavy duty flat blade screwdriver that can double as a lever.


6 Pliers/wire cutters

Again you can often get sets of these - aim for a set with at least standard pliers, long nosed pliers and some wire cutters.


7 Allen Keys

You can pickup standard sets of metric allen keys - don't aim for cheap ones that might break or bend easily.


8 Punches/Cold Chisel

You can usually pick up a set containing several punches and a couple of cold chisels - aim for the best quality you can


9 Hammers

One of the most useful tools I use is a copper faced mallet/hammer - with one of these you seldom need another hammer.  The only downside is that you will need to get these from a Motor Factors or online.


10 54mm Hub Socket

Most bush mechanics won't use these, preferring to use a hammer and cold chisel, however if you want the job done properly you really need to get one of these.  Currently the best source of these is Snap-On here and then you can modify it with an angle grinder so that it will also fit the rear hub nuts.


11 Head Torch

Head torches are invaluable whilst overlanding anyway, but also pretty useful when working under your truck or in poor light.  So far I have had the best success with the Energiser range of LED based head torches.


12 Electrical Crimp Kit

You are highly unlikey to get many electrical problems that can't be solved with a bit of insulating tape, but if you are inclined get youself one of the small crimp connector kits, with the crimp tool and some spare connectors


13 Stanley Knife

It's always handy to have either a very sharp ppenknife or a stanley knife. Don't forget a set of spare blades


14 Wire Brushes

It's always worth having at least one wire brush for cleaning bolts and other components.


15 Gas Soldering Iron

Possibly a little overboard for most people a small gas soldering iron with solder and spare gas is always handy for electrical joints and heat shrinking.


16 Heavy Duty Jump Leads

A decent set of heavy duty jump leads are one of those essential pieces of kit you shouldn't do without, howevr be warned they are heavy!


17 Files

Get yourself at least one hand file, or a set of different shaped ones, younever know when you will need it.


18 Seal Puller

If you have the space, get yourself a seal puller, it's very handy for pulling out the Inner Axle Seals or stubborn hub seals.


19 Snap Ring Pliers

Only really available from Motor Factors, these are pretty usefull if you have to work on the wheel bearings, like tightening them up.


20 Grease Gun

Essential for regularly greasing the Universal Joints on the prop shafts. Ideally aim for one with a flexible end and a decent quality connector on the end for getting at awkward nipples. Oh, and don't forget to get some grease for it.


21 Multi-Meter

These are essential for diagnosing electrical problems. You can pick one up from most places for not much money. If you can, get one that is also clamp meter which is useful for tracing odd battery drain issues and the condition of the alternator.


22 Workshop Manual

Probably one of the most essential things to have is a half decent manual. If you look hard enough you can probably download most of the factory manuals from the web in PDF format. But if you can't the Haynes manuals are good enough to get you out of most situations - you can order these either direct from the Haynes website ( or via eBay.


23 A bit of old Carpet

A few people have questioned me about this, however if you have to work on your truck in a muddy field, in the desert or beside a rocky track, laying down a carpet first will give you a bit oof comfort under your knees as well a surface to put down the bits of the car you take off without getting them covered in dirt or lost in the sand.


24 Hacksaw

It is always worth taking along a normal sized hacksaw and also what is generally termed a 'junior' hacksaw and don't forget to take some spare blades with you.



The AFRICA 4X4 CAFE: a self-drive safari to the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa.