Must-Have Menards Tools for Your Vehicle

/ / Car Accessories
Victor QuickDrive MAX tire inflator

Driving can be a stressful experience, with traffic, incompetent drivers, damaged roads and bridges, and foul weather each presenting a different set of problems. In addition, when your car breaks down, repairs can be expensive and their costs hard to estimate. Not all of us are comfortable fixing our cars, but just doing routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations can save you hundreds of dollars a year. It’s also good to be prepared for roadside emergencies with a few helpful tools. In her song “Mastermind,” Taylor Swift cautions, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A similar phrase, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail,” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but they both could be talking about making sure you have the right emergency supplies in your car.

John Menard started a construction company in 1958 to help pay for college and opened his first hardware store after graduation. Menards now has 330 stores across the Midwestern United States and also maintains a website where it sells appliances, paint, building materials, and other home improvement products. Menard’s also carries a broad selection of tools, many of which are helpful to have in your car for various emergencies. Building a kit with the five items here can give you peace of mind while driving, whether you’re making a quick trip to a record store to pick up Swift’s latest release or taking a cross-country road trip to visit the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Skil 20-volt impact wrench kit

Skil 20-volt impact wrench

Almost every seasoned driver has found themselves crouched on the roadside changing a flat tire at some point. This common situation can be tedious and dangerous, and improperly fastened wheel lugs can come loose and cause a serious accident. If you’re a fan of auto racing, you’ll notice that pit crews use pneumatic impact wrenches to loosen and fasten wheel lugs, but you don’t have to be on a NASCAR crew or lug a compressor around with you to take advantage of this technology.

The Skil PWRCORE 20-volt impact wrench kit normally sells for $169 but is occasionally on sale for far less than that. It comes with a 5-amp-hour lithium battery and charger, and the battery has two USB ports for charging a smartphone, battery bank, or other portable device. 

The impact gun has a 1/2 inch square drive with a hog ring and a maximum torque of 200 pound-feet, which is more than enough to remove and securely fasten any wheel lugs. It has three speed settings, including a reverse mode that stops rotation and impact when the fastener comes loose.

NOCO jump starter

NOCO jump starter

Another all-too-common roadside emergency is a dead battery, and when you’re stuck with a car that just groans at you when you turn the key, having a battery booster in your glove compartment can save you time and money. Menards carries the NOCO Boost Plus 1000-amp jump starter for $99.95, far less than the cost of one emergency roadside service call. It can provide as many as 20 jump starts on a full charge and will start vehicles with gas engines up to 6.0 liters and diesel engines up to 3.0 liters.

It can be charged via your car’s cigarette lighter using a USB adapter and the included micro USB cable, and has a 100-lumen flashlight so you can see to connect the clamps at night. It weighs just 2.4 pounds and will fit in the glove box of most cars, can hold a charge for up to a year, and will fully charge from empty in three hours at 2.1 amps. It also has a warning light that indicates if the cables are connected incorrectly, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your car’s electrical system if you make that simple mistake.

Victor QuickDrive MAX tire inflator

Victor QuickDrive MAX tire inflator

Having properly inflated tires helps extend the life and maximize the performance of your car’s rubber shoes, but loose or leaking tire valves or fluctuations in ambient temperature can cause small fluctuations in tire pressure. Instead of constantly searching for change among the loose french fries under your seats and dealing with unreliable gas station air compressors, consider picking up the Victor QuickDrive MAX tire inflator for $69.99. This portable compressor has a 10-foot power cord that connects to your vehicle’s cigarette lighter and a 16-foot coiled air hose to make it easy to get to all four wheels.

It has an LED light for nighttime use, a 3-minute countdown timer to prevent overheating, and a backlit digital LCD that shows you the pressure of the tire currently being filled.  It measures 10 inches x 8 inches x 6.75 inches and weighs 5.5 pounds. and is backed by a 99-year warranty.

LED safety flare

Performance Tool LED flare

A useful tool to have in your car for any kind of emergency that leaves you immobile on the side of the road is the Performance Tool LED safety flare that Menards sells for $12.99 each. This flare has 12 individual LED lights around the edge and three LEDs on top. It has five separate illumination patterns: all 12 red lights lit, 3 white lights lit, flashing, blinking, and rotating. It has a magnetic base and hook on the back so you can attach it to your car or truck, and will run for up to 50 hours on the three included AAA batteries.

It measures 8.3 inches x 5.2 inches x 1.5 inches high and weighs eight ounces. The single button is used to toggle between modes and turn the light on and off. The Menards website doesn’t have customer reviews, but Amazon buyers rated this emergency light 4.5 out of five stars.

Duracell 800 watt inverter

Duracell 800 watt inverter

If you use your car for camping or as a mobile office, a power inverter is a must-have piece of gear, and Menards carries the Duracell DRINV800 inverter for $129.99. This inverter has two three-pronged standard AC outlets and a 2.1 amp USB port, which can all be used simultaneously up to its maximum continuous output of 800 watts and peak output of 1,600 watts. You can connect it to your battery with the two direct connect clamps or cigarette lighter connector, each of which is three feet long. It measures 3.5 inches x 5.51 inches x 10.59 inches and weighs about 3.2 pounds. 

There is a rocker switch to cut off the power when not in use, a green LED to let you know it’s on, and a red LED to indicate overload or a short circuit. The cigarette lighter plug can be used when the total power draw is below 175 watts, and the cable clamps are to be connected when the draw exceeds that threshold. 

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