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  • Writer's picturePaul Wegweiser

Did Louis Pasteur drive a 2002?

I'm still thinking about road trips…. in fact, it's often the only thing I think about. Before I discuss the ephemeral magic of long distance old car hauls (a topic upon which I could yammer endlessly) I thought it best to address a common question often asked by members of my BMW 2002 tribe:

"I'm going to drive 700 miles to that awesome event I hear about every year. What should I include in my emergency road trip kit?" 

Woah! Easy there, friends! BABY STEPS! 

Start with just focusing on what kind of implements you want to have with you on those daily 20-40 mile drives, because let's face it: even the most well-maintained and prepared old car can push up daisies and make you look like a sentimental dork (aka: sucker) on the side of the highway at a moment's notice. Luckily you can assemble your own "German Swiss Army Knife" of 2002 tools on a budget and keep them contained in something smaller than a 1977 Sampsonite-sized suitcase or Grand Dad's 300lb rusty tool box. (You know the one - it also has plumbing tools and rusty vise-grips that 'sorta' work, if you use a second set of vise grips to keep them tight)  After all, a 2002 can be nearly completely disassembled and rebuilt with about 4 wrenches and a couple hose clamps. This is a good use for your duplicate and cheap tools, while the good stuff stays in your garage or home. 

I've often said that filling the trunk of a classic old car with piles of greasy and heavy obscure tools and parts steals all the romance from the driving experience. If you've ever heaved your car in to a fun fast twistie and heard the contents of the trunk shift or chatter across the quarter panel and paint… you know what I mean. It's a complete bummer. 

Herein, I hope to offer my advice on the what and how to maintain a reasonable daily travel tool kit, while refraining from filling your car with items that sound like two garbage trucks screwing each other in your trunk. And please: resist the urge to put that giant yet awesome 300pc SAE / standard sized tool kit in the car. You don't need it. 



Find a suitable container to hold your tools and repair bits. I prefer soft shaving kit bags or plastic boxes often left over from computer or power tool equipment. Sears and similar retailers sell all kinds of containers that do the job. When all else fails, a plastic tackle box works well, too…though I've found in recent years that this can be a little overkill. I stick with containers no larger than the average shoe box. Smaller if I can help it. Maybe 1/2 shoe box sized. Also - I'm a big fan of cheap clear plastic compartment boxes. Those are good for holding fasteners, bulbs, electrical connectors, and razor blades. I put one of those boxes in my "to go" tool kits. Roughly 3" x 5" x 1" in size.


If you're new to working on your 2002, you'll find yourself test fitting every imaginable sized wrench on every nut and bolt, until you find the one that fits. This is maddening and so completely avoidable. On the side of the interstate, this wastes time and adds to the very REAL danger of the roadside fix. 

Bury that 15mm wrench. You will never need it. 

You only need a few sizes to fix just about anything on a 2002:










I carry wrenches in the above sizes and a neat, self contained 1/4" drive socket/ratchet set. For the bigger 17mm and 19mm stuff, I get 3/8" sockets and a 1/4" to 3/8" adapter, so that I don't have to carry any larger ratchets. With a 1/4" ratchet, you can usually get things tight enough to get you home or to your destination or to a parts store. Remember: We're talking about daily drive distances. For longer road trips, there are other items you'll want on hand. 

Other hand tools I carry:

vise grips and / or adjustable wrench

razor blades (good for stripping wire, in a pinch - smaller than pliers)

fine (220 grit?)sand paper (for cleaning ignition parts - cap/rotor/points/sparkplugs)

assorted coarse metric fasteners (6mm/8mm/10mm nuts, bolts, washers)

6mm allen head "hex bit" (for the few allen bolts you may encounter, such as axles and sway bar brackets)

2" and 6" extensions for the 1/4" drive ratchet

feeler gauge set (for plug gap and ignition points)

electrical tape old bakelite spark plug ends (I harvest these every time I replace plug wires - simply unscrew)

zip ties (not so good for holding up broken exhausts…but people do it…sigh)

assorted fuses

flat and phillips screwdrivers

ignition points

ignition condenser

ignition rotor

spare fan belt

extra 4mm screw for ignition points / condenser (because, you know… gravity)

6-10" of medium gauge wire

male and female crimp style electrical connectors (2-4 of each)

test light

spark plug socket (the factory 2002 one takes up less room and doesn't require a 3/8" ratchet or extensions… That's why I love those things! Easily sourced from junk yards or BMW

Efficient. Small. Dialed in. The Essentials:

My thinking is: "If I can't fix it with these things….I ain't gonna fix it on the side of the road anyway."

Now… how do you keep all this "fun in a bag" stuff from moving around in your trunk? Soft bungee cords, wedging it in to the rear shock tower gap, hiding it under the rear seat…. all of those are viable options. I keep a spare injection pump belt in the rear seat side pocket of my tii… it's good for confusing rear passengers. 



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