If you don’t keep your truck well stocked with everything from screwdrivers to coolant, you may find yourself stranded on the side of the road with nothing to do but wait for assistance. Keeping a few essential tools on hand can keep that from happening. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
However, being a carrier or owner-operator means more than just transporting cargo from one location to another. You need to concentrate on the business side of things as well, which means your toolkit needs more than just physical tools. Success depends on also building a strong collection of digital tools, such as load boards and load trackers. With the help of these tools, you can save time, energy, and money and provide shippers or brokers with the best possible service.
Read on to learn about the truck driver tools we think every carrier needs to be successful on the roads and in the office.
50 best tools that truckers need
1. A tool box
You first need a tool box to hold all your trucker tools so they don’t get lost. However, countless truck tool boxes are out there, and you can’t just pick any old one.
You want to pick a box that’s big enough to hold all your essential tools. It should stay closed when it’s shut — there’s nothing worse than accidentally dropping your tools on the ground! — and be sturdy enough to protect your tools if you hit any bumps in the road. Look for a truck bed tool box with plenty of slots and compartments, or consider buying a truck tool box organizer. However, a fishing tackle box can do the job until you upgrade if you’re on a tight budget.
2. Safety glasses
As a carrier or owner-operator, you need to put safety first. That means investing in high-quality safety glasses to wear whenever you’re working on your truck. After all, you want to do everything you can to protect your eyes — without your sight, you wouldn’t be able to drive!
So, make sure to invest in high-quality safety glasses and to always wear them when working on your truck or with any tools, as there’s always the risk of chemicals and flying debris.
3. A first aid kit
Whether driving to the next town over or across the country, you should always have a first aid kit in your truck.
Stock your first aid kit with bandages, dressings, band-aids, painkillers, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, medical scissors, and antibiotic cream because you never know when you’ll need them on the road and you don’t want to be forced into extra stops simply because you don’t have a bandaid or a painkiller.
4. A 3-lb. sledgehammer
Sledgehammers are perfect for releasing stuck 5th wheels and other fasteners. Plus, they’re great for quick tire pressure checks. All you need to do is hit each tire and ensure they have the same tone as a full tire. Identifying a problem tire by the sound it makes may seem complicated, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
5. A hammer
In addition to a sledgehammer, you’ll want to pack a regular larger hammer. You can use this hammer to do everything from pulling the 5th wheel release up, to releasing frozen brakes, to knocking the ice off of frozen latches and padlocks. Hammers are incredibly versatile — just make sure to be careful whenever you use them.
6. A metal dowel rod
A metal dowel rod is a must-have when it comes to carrier tools, especially if you plan on hauling loads during the winter. Like hammers, metal dowel rods are great tools for breaking ice off frozen brakes. Just don’t hit your brake lining, as it may crack and force you to pay a licensed mechanic for a replacement.
7. Snow brushes and ice scrapers
Snow brushes and ice scrapers are two other tools you need to include in your trucker tools if you plan on driving in cold and snowy conditions. Your snow brush will keep your steps and hood clear of snow, while your scraper can quickly remove frost and ice so you can get on the road faster.
When you think of semi trailer tools, your mind probably doesn’t jump to gloves immediately, but gloves are more than just a fashion item. Not only can they keep your hands warm on a chilly day, but they can also protect you from cuts and scrapes during roadside repairs. That makes gloves a must-have for all truck tool boxes!
However, any old pair of gloves won’t do — and usually just one pair won’t do either. Make sure to have a pair for warmth, a pair of all-purpose canvas work gloves for repairs and inspections, and some leather work gloves for fueling, oil checks, and windshield washing. You might also consider investing in some high-quality mechanic working gloves.
9. Heat shrink tubing or tape
Heat shrink tubing or tape can be handy for emergency electrical repairs, as they can protect spliced wires from the elements.
10. A lighter
If you need to use your heat shrink tubing or tape to make an emergency electrical repair on the road, you’ll also need a lighter to melt it.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to spend much money on one. A disposable lighter will do the job just fine! However, if you have the cash to spare, consider investing in a high-quality Zippo lighter.
11. Jumper cables
There’s nothing worse than having a dead battery, so make sure that jumper cables are on your list of driver tools. Dead batteries can mean frustration, massive delays, and even waiting hours in the cold. On the other hand, if you have high-quality jumper cables and know how to use them, you can jumpstart your vehicle and get back on the road fast.
12. Extra fuses
In addition to jumper cables, you’ll want to keep extra fuses in your truck in case you blow one. The good news is that a spare fuse won’t break the bank, so why not buy a few? It’s always better to have too many fuses than not enough!
13. A lumbar support cushion
Truck drivers spend a lot of time in their trucks, which can lead to pain and injury without the proper support. A lumbar support cushion will take some pressure off your lower back and legs and keep you more comfortable and healthier in the long run, so it’s a must for every semi trailer tools list.
14. A tire air pressure gauge
Ask a roomful of drivers whether they think a tire air gauge is necessary for truck tool boxes, and you’ll hear a resounding, “Yes!” After all, tires are only rated for specific loads at a particular pressure. Plus, tires’ internal pressure will change as the gas heats up and expands, so you need to check that all your tires have the right amount of air with a pressure gauge at least once a day.
15. A tire depth gauge
You should also keep a tire depth gauge with your other trucker tools. This will let you know how long you have left on your tires, so you won’t be blindsided when it’s time to get new tires and you can pass inspections with flying colors.
Trucks have a lot of screws, so you should always have a variety of screwdrivers on hand along with your other truck driver tools. Consider packing Phillips-head screwdrivers, slotted screwdrivers, Torx screwdrivers, and Hex screwdrivers. Or, use a single driver with interchangeable heads to save space in your truck tool box organizer. If you want to save some time (not to mention wrist strain!), purchase a ratcheting screwdriver set.
You should also stock a variety of pliers in your truck bed tool box. Include 5-inch pliers for minor repairs and larger sizes for more demanding jobs. If you have room, you should pack some needle nose pliers with your other trucker tools for tight spaces or tiny objects.
DIY truck repairs can get messy fast, so keep a couple of old rags on hand when you’re on the road. You never know when you’ll need them to clean up spills or grease. If you don’t want rags floating around your truck, have a roll or two of disposable shop towels.
19. Crescent wrenches
Crescent wrenches are another must for all truck tool boxes — and having just one size won’t cut it. You’ll want 6”, 8”, and 10” crescent wrenches for odd-shaped nuts and bolts. A 4” crescent wrench can also come in handy if you work on small items or have a hard-to-reach place, while a 12” or 14” crescent wrench is excellent for working on your trailer or truck hitch.
20. Combination wrenches
You’ll also want to have some combination wrenches in your truck tool box organizer. These wrenches have an open and boxed end, so they’re ready for many jobs. Think about buying the 7/16”, 1/2”, 9/16”, and 5/8” sizes for any bolts that need to be fastened, and don’t forget to purchase extra metric nuts and bolts.
21. Dog bone wrenches
Remember to always throw some dog bone wrenches into your truck box tool organizer. These multi-function wrenches are perfect for large or heavy-duty fasteners and awkward spaces. Since they have eight sockets on each end with inch and metric socket sizes, dog bone wrenches can sometimes replace crescent and combination wrenches, making them a great resource for every toolkit.
22. Extra belts and hoses
Belts and hoses can tear, break, or otherwise stop working on the road, so you need to carry some extras. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait for help to arrive if you have a breakdown, which will cost you time and money.
Try to stock the same hoses as your current setup, but if you can’t find anything, use universal hose replacements in different sizes until you can find the perfect match.
It’s always a good idea to have some WD-40 lubricant along with your other trucker tools. You never know when you’ll need it! After all, it’s great for silencing squeaky hinges, getting gears to move again, removing glue marks from metal surfaces, and much more.
24. An extra gallon of coolant
While an extra jug of coolant won’t necessarily fit in most truck tool boxes, you’ll definitely want to pack some coolant somewhere in your vehicle. After all, your engine can easily overheat and break down without coolant!
25. An extra jug of oil
This should go without saying, but you should always have at least one extra jug of engine oil with you. If you spring a leak, you need to have enough oil to make it to the repair shop. Plus, you can use the extra oil to top your engine oil off between oil changes.
26. Windshield washer fluid
Windshield washer fluid is another must for all truck tool boxes. After all, no one wants to drive with dirty windows. What’s more, windshield washer fluid acts as a lubricant for the mechanical devices behind your wipers, so always keep a healthy supply of it with your heavy duty truck tools to ensure safer driving.
27. Emergency rations
You’ve probably read about people getting stranded on the highway for hours. Remember the I-95 shutdown in Virginia? People got so hungry they turned to bread from a stuck bakery truck.
Unfortunately, there won’t always be a truck stocked with delicious bread nearby whenever there’s an accident, weather delay, or major traffic backup, so you should make sure you always have some emergency food and drink stocked. Pack some non-perishable items along with your semi trailer tools — and don’t forget to bring a jug of water!
28. A spare cell phone
We rely on our cell phones more than ever, so throw an extra phone into your truck. This way, you’ll have a way to text or call if something happens to your primary phone. Just make sure to add all the important numbers to your spare phone and get it charged before you hit the road.
29. Vice grips
Vice grips are versatile tools, so all drivers should toss a few in their truck tool boxes. Not only are they ideal for pulling the release arm in trailer tandems, but they’re also perfect for holding things in place, bending wire, removing broken screws, loosening frozen nuts, and cinching leaky tubes. Whenever you need a tight grip on something, you can count on vice grips to give it to you. Make sure to always pack both curved and straight jaw vice grips in a variety of sizes.
30. A small LED flashlight
Even though most phones come equipped with flashlights, having a real flashlight is always a good idea. After all, your phone won’t always be available, charged, or even practical. You can use a small LED flashlight to check whether your 5th wheel is correctly coupled to your trailer, check under the hood, conduct circle checks at night, and more.
31. An 18” Maglite
You may also want to include an 18” Maglite among your driver tools. A larger light will come in handy for those early morning and late night pre- and post-trip inspections or in places with nonexistent lighting. Plus, a larger flashlight will alert passersby or first responders to your location if you do have to stop on the side of the road.
32. A cranking flashlight
A cranking flashlight is a must for all truck tool boxes. With a cranking flashlight, you’re good to go, even if you don’t have any batteries. All you need to do is crank, and voila! You’ll have all the light you need.
33. A work lamp
Also, don’t forget to pack a work lamp, some carabiners, and a sling so you can quickly mount or hang the light whenever you need to work on something. It may seem like we’re talking about a lot of different lights, but without light, you won’t be able to get back on the road if something goes wrong.
34. A headlamp
If you’ve ever tried fixing something under the hood at night, you know just how important having a headlamp is. Instead of holding a flashlight beneath your chin or between your teeth, you can wear a headlamp on your head and use both hands to get the job done even faster. A headlamp will save you time, energy, and frustration.
35. Extra batteries
Whether you have a small flashlight, a large flashlight, a headlamp, or all of the above, don’t forget to pack battery replacements and to make sure they’re functional!
36. An extra pair of sunglasses
Not only is driving into the sun without sunglasses uncomfortable, but it’s also unsafe — for you and everyone else on the road. So, pack an extra pair of sunglasses in your truck for the next time you lose or break your main pair of sunglasses.
37. Extra medications
If you’re taking any medications, pack a few extras in case you break down or get caught in a storm!
38. Spare headlights
Not only is driving without headlights at night illegal, but it’s also unsafe. Unfortunately, you never know when a headlight will go out, so it’s best to keep some spare headlights in your truck for a quick replacement.
39. Cleaning solutions and disinfectant
It’s always important to keep everything in your truck clean, but it’s essential during a pandemic. So, bring everything you need to tidy up your vehicle and prevent contamination between loads.
40. A heavy-duty box knife
When it comes to box knives, view them as an investment. A good box knife will last you for life, whereas a cheap, flimsy one will break in months.
So, it’s far better to splurge now and purchase a knife that will last you a long time than to skimp now and be forced to buy a brand new knife every few months. If possible, purchase one with a lifetime warranty, and don’t forget to stock up on extra blades.
41. Duct tape
Duct tape is a miracle worker, especially when it comes to trucks. It’s strong and inexpensive, but the best part is that it’s incredibly versatile. For example, you can use clear duct tape as extra protection between your truck’s stickers and snow, wind, and rain. You can even use duct tape to splice damaged wires until you can take them in for repair.
42. Zip ties
Like duct tape, zip ties can come in handy in various situations. Not only are they useful when bundling electrical wires, but they can also hold items out of the way. So, next time you’re at a hardware store, truck stop, or simply browsing online, make sure to add a few packages of zip ties to your cart!
43. A crowbar
Another great item to include in truck tool boxes is a crowbar. With a crowbar, you can easily remove nails from your bed, break down pallets, pry open crates, and more!
44. A wire cutter and some electrical tape
It’s not uncommon for a wire to develop a bald spot, so it’s always good to have a wire cutter and some electrical tape ready. This way, you can cut and splice the damaged wire before continuing to a shop for a full repair.
Another 100% necessary item for your list of semi trailer tools is silicone. It can serve as a sealant when you’re on the go and protect your freight from minor leaks.
46. A load board
In addition to the physical items in truck tool boxes, carriers and owner-operators need digital tools to succeed on the road. Chief among these is a quality load board. Load boards are among the best carrier tools because they make it easy to save time and make a profit. After all, as a carrier or owner-operator, one of your primary responsibilities is finding loads — which is, unfortunately, often easier said than done.
With the right load board, you can filter through available loads to find one that matches your desired route and pay in minutes. If you use the DAT load board, you’ll be able to find the right load every time. With over 448.5 million loads and trucks posted each year, the DAT load board always has something new to meet your needs. Not only is the DAT load board home to countless high-paying loads posted by quality shippers and brokers, but it also offers accurate insights into current rates and market conditions to help you negotiate the best rates possible.
47. A truck parking tool
Finding safe and secure truck parking is a must for every driver. However, it can be a stressful and time-consuming process involving lots of driving, crossing your fingers, and hoping you’ll get lucky. That’s why having a truck parking tool included in your carrier tools is a great idea.
At DAT, we know how difficult finding a parking spot for your truck that’s conveniently located along your route can be. That’s why we’ve partnered with TruckPark, America’s fastest-growing truck parking service. Now, you can reserve parking through the DAT One mobile app with no hidden fees and no need to waste time circling and searching for open spots!
48. A freight factoring service
A freight factoring service should also be at the top of your must-have carrier tools list, especially if you’re still establishing yourself and are struggling to manage your cash flow. With factoring, you can get paid quickly, improving your cash flow and eliminating the need to take on new debt.
DAT has partnered with OTR Solutions so you can factor your invoices with ease and receive payments within just 24 hours. With a quality factoring service you can cover your expenses for new jobs, such as fuel or maintenance, and avoid taking on new debt. Instead of getting caught up in the finances and billing, factoring lets you concentrate on driving and growing your business.
49. Market data
Carriers and owner-operators need accurate insights to make the right business decisions every time. Otherwise, it can be easy to make the wrong choice without even realizing it. Historically, gaining insights meant doing a lot of independent research, but DAT makes it easy.
With DAT’s RateView Analytics, you can see average spot and contract rates for any lane, see seasonal trends, and even use our add-on forecasting model. As a result, you’ll be able to navigate market volatility and confidently bid on RFPs.
Plus, you can read reviews on potential business partners written by carriers and owner-operators just like you! This way, you’ll know who is worth working with and won’t waste your time with unreliable or slow-to-pay shippers and brokers.
50. A comprehensive, easy-to-use mobile app
There’s nothing more frustrating or time consuming than switching between 10 or 15 different apps, so make sure you have an all-in-one trucking mobile app like DAT One on your phone. With DAT One, you’ll be able to access everything you need in a single location. Whether you’re after a large load board or factoring services, DAT has you covered.
Not only are we home to the largest load board in the country, but we also have a host of tools to help you at every stage of your journey. To use DAT One, you only need to download one mobile application, but it’s really 15 apps in one! You can share your location with customers, view drivers’ locations in real-time, factor freight, and find truck stops, parking, weigh stations, and fuel price information. You can even view current market rates, see accurate rate predictions, and more. In short, DAT One will save you time and money and help you make a better impression on carriers and brokers.
See everything DAT One has to offer for yourself
Ready to take advantage of DAT One and its end-to-end solutions? Download the DAT One mobile app. You’ll be able to find nearby amenities and services, and if you purchase a DAT subscription, you’ll gain unlimited access to the app and the load board so you can experience DAT’s full power.
Get the digital tools you need for your truck tool box!
Physical tools are just one part of effective truck tool boxes. Digital tools are just as important for success on the road. The DAT One mobile app combines 15 different tools in one, giving you all the tools you need in the palm of your hand. Download the app today!