Mafia Secrets
‘Boss Man’ breakdown tips
The top 10 items to carry in your cab to get back on the road

By Bryan Martin, contributing writer

How many stories have we all heard about truckin’ across western Nebraska and the air pressure needle starts falling down, red light comes on, parking brakes start setting up, and there the truck sits for about seven hours waiting on a road service tech to show up with a $10 part and fix the air leak?

Or the time the ol’ boy was rolling across Nevada in the middle of the night and the truck just shut off. Lights still work, but the engine won’t start. Four hours later a tow truck shows up and drags you to the dealership garage in Vegas, where they repair a broken wire end and get you back on the highway … $1,000 later.

Even though I may not have trucked an incredible amount of miles in my life, I have covered some highway and had my fair share of “shoulder time” getting my truck back in operation. (OK, OK, yes, I have a habit of running older, higher mileage rigs.)

But here are my recommendations for 10 items you should keep in the truck, regardless of the year, make or model of your truck. (Of course, we will assume you already carry basic hand tools.) These items may very well allow you to get back on the road, or at least “limp in” to the next repair shop.

Spare fuel filters. When your truck gradually loses power and then stalls and dies, many times it will be a plugged fuel filter or a filter full of water. If you have a spare filter, filter wrench and a half-gallon of fuel to fill the filter, you can get back on the road quickly.

Can of starting fluid. If you run your truck out of fuel, even after you get some fuel in your tanks and fill the fuel filters with fresh fuel, you may have to tease the engine with some starting fluid. This will help get it running and keep it running until the fuel system pressurizes and will run on its own. This is especially a characteristic of most electronic engines after they have been run out of fuel.

Hide-a-key.Hide a key somewhere on the chassis, for that embarrassing time you accidentally lock the keys in the cab at the truck wash. This will not only save you time, but also the $75 fee for a locksmith!

Basic assortment of brass fittings and ferrules. There will be times a plastic air line pulls loose, or you need a brass union to bypass a faulty air drier. I always keep some unions, splices, ferrules, bushings and nuts for emergency fixes. With basic tools, they have saved me more than once!

Fan belts.When you replace your fan belts every three to four years, save the old ones. Throw ’em in the side box. If an alternator or air conditioning compressor throws a belt, you can grab the tool box and an old belt and be going again in a matter of minutes.

Air governor. These inexpensive air pressure control devices often quit with no warning and for no apparent reason. If your air pressure builds past 120 psi, or won’t build at all, more than half the time it may be a bad governor. They are easy to replace; however, you will need some Allen wrenches, as well as basic hand tools to install the new one.

Basic electrical terminal kit and a test light. Broken wire end on a starter solenoid? Bad trailer plug connection that shuts down the tail lights on your trailer? With a 12-volt test light and some crimp on wire ends, many times you can locate and fix the electrical issue yourself and not be at the mercy of a road repair.

Spare headlight bulb.Keep one in the truck for when one burns out. It may not be a situation that puts you out of service but, if nothing else, it will stop all the CB radio comments that you hear every 10 minutes: “Hey driver, did ya know you got a headlight out?”

Glad hand seals. Every once in a while when you get to that freight drop yard in Timbuktu, you latch onto the trailer, plug the light cord in, hook up the hoses, and release the trailer brakes. Then you hear that air leak from hell, and no matter how many times you reconnect the glad hand, it won’t stop hissing. A $1 glad hand seal can cure the leak in about three to four minutes.

Bar of Dial soap (or comparable). What the … have I lost my mind? This is a lifesaver if you break a fitting off in the bottom of a fuel tank or you run a stob through an aluminum tank and puncture it. Peel the soap out of the wrapper and shove it over the fitting or in the hole. It will usually stop or slow down the leaking fuel until you can collect your thoughts and evaluate the situation. We all know that fuel spills on the ground can get ugly real fast.

There you have it. This is my down-and-dirty MacGyver-type road fix list. I got more for ya; Boss Man could’ve easily done a Top 20. Maybe we can do a breakdown tips part two someday – so stay tuned. And my winter wish for you is that you would gather all of this stuff up, keep it in your truck, but never suffer a breakdown and never need it. LL