Recreational vehicles or RVs are like a home away from home. They are mobile homes you can take anywhere to have fun. They are really good for camping. In fact, RV camping is one of the most fun activities you can do in the summer.
Because an RV is basically a home on a vehicle, it is equipped with the basic amenities you typically have at home. For instance, nearly every RV has a kitchen, toilet, and bed. These basic amenities make RV camping so much fun because you enjoy camping without necessarily giving up all the comfort of home.
However, the comfort of these motorhomes and travel trailers comes at a cost. Time and again you will need to fix and repair things just like you do in your house. You will need to repair the lights, fix a running toilet, unclog the sink, or repair a hole in the RV siding. To carry out these repairs, you need a collection of RV repair tools.
What types of tools to keep in the RV tool kit?
Pliers are among the most important hand tools you should keep in the RV tool kit. In this article, I share the 8 most important types of pliers for RV repair.
1. Needle nose pliers
Needle nose pliers or long nose pliers are arguably the most versatile pair of ordinary pliers that you must keep in the rv. They have tapered long jaws that make it possible to grab objects in tight spots.
Because RVs are compact, they have several parts in tight spaces that you would only access with compact tools. A pair of needle nose pliers is one such compact tool. It helps you grip objects in hard-to-reach spaces where regular combination pliers cannot reach.
You can use needle-nose pliers in RVs to twist small fasteners, remove stripped fasteners, and manipulate electrical wires in small spaces.
Needle nose and long nose pliers come in different sizes and shapes. There are also locking versions that grab and lock onto an object so that your hands are free for doing something else. Needle nose locking pliers are particularly useful for removing stripped rusty fasteners.
2. Multi-tool pliers
RVing is more or less like camping. So, the tools you carry on a camping trip are part of what you keep in the RV tool kit. One very important tool for a camper is a pair of multi tool pliers.
Multi-tool pliers have many tools in one. Typically, the tools include a knife, combination pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, and many other integrated miniature tools. You can use multifunction pliers inside an RV to do many tasks including tightening screws with the screwdriver function, gripping things with pliers head, and opening packages with the knife.
Some of the most reputed brands of multi tool pliers are Leatherman and Gerber. However, there are some decent generic brands such as the Cranach tools multitool pliers. It is a good budget multi-function pocket pliers. I use it for survival camping but I know it can be useful for RV camping.
In short, multi-tool pliers are handy little tools for emergencies. Most of them come with a belt pliers holder so that you can always carry them with you for any outdoor activity.
3. Wire cutters/strippers
Whenever you are working on the RV electrical system, either to add or remove a component, you need wire cutters to cut wires. Wire strippers are handy for stripping back the insulation on insulated wires to make an electrical contact.
Wire strippers with integrated cutters are better than carrying a wire cutter and wire stripper separately. They cut and strip wire and don’t take up a lot of space in your compact RV toolbox.
There are two types of wire strippers; manual wire strippers and automatic wire strippers. Both get the job done and have integrated cutters. However automatic wire strippers are my favorite for automotive wiring. You can use them to strip multiple conductors of the same size simultaneously. This feature is really useful when terminating connectors.
If you want to learn more about how manual wire strippers compare with automatic strippers, check this article: automatic vs regular wire strippers.
4. Zip tie cutters
Zip ties are useful for securing things in an RV. They are common for managing cables to make an RV neat and safe. Unfortunately, when you don’t cut the cable ties properly, they could leave sharp ends that can become a new safety hazard.
Sharp zip tie ends can cause serious injuries. The good thing is that you can avoid the dangerous sharp ends by using zip tie cutters to trim off the zip ties.
Zip tie cutters are professional pliers for cutting cable ties flush without leaving sharp ends. They are a must-have for anyone using zip ties to fasten things and has to cut off the tails neatly. Zip tie cutters are more effective than twisting off zip tie tails.
5. Water pump pliers
As I mentioned, an RV is a home on a vehicle. So, you will encounter both home repair issues and car repair problems. One type of pliers that always comes through for car and home repair problems is a nice pair of water pump pliers.
Water pump pliers are a type of adjustable pliers for gripping different types of objects including hex, flat, and round shapes. Water pump pliers are best for plumbing. You can use them to grip adapter fittings and water pipes.
In an RV, water pump pliers are useful for installing and repairing plumbing fittings for sinks, toilets, kitchen, etc. The pliers also double up as an adjustable spanner for other RV repairs.
My favorite water pump pliers are the Knipex cobra. They come in different sizes from 4-inch to 22-inch but the most versatile is the 10″ cobra and here is why
6. Hand seamers
Most modern RVs are made with fiberglass siding because of inherent advantages such as good soundproofing and aesthetic beauty. This, however, does not take away the fact that most RVs have aluminum siding for obvious reasons. Aluminum is cheaper, easier to repair, and more durable than fiberglass.
If your motorhome, travel trailer, or camper has aluminum siding, there is a special type of pliers you must not lack in your RV toolbox; a pair of hand seamers or sheet metal bending pliers.
Hand seamers are specialty pliers with wide jaws for manipulating, bending, and straightening sheet metal. They are nice to have in the RV repair tool kit for making clean and accurate bends and seams on aluminum RV siding.
Hand seamers are your sheet metal brake outside the garage. You can use them to bend, straighten, and seam the edges of the metal siding when it is not possible to take it to the shop.
Sheet metal bending pliers come in a variety of sizes, typically between 3″ – 9″ jaw widths. The 3-inch is the most versatile hand seamer size but wider jaws are the best for light gauge aluminum. My favorite hand seamers for RV siding are the Malco S5R or S9R.
7. Wire crimper pliers
A wire crimper goes hand in hand with a wire stripper because it is not safe to connect stranded wires without terminating them. The loose wire ends can get in the wrong places and cause electrical shorting which can damage electronics on your RV or result in a fire.
Regular terminal crimps are the most popular for automotive and RV wiring. They come in a variety of shapes and configurations for different uses.
Crimp terminals also make easy and reliable quick-connect and quick-disconnect electrical connections. They also provide an easy way to connect to automotive connectors.
You need a wire crimping tool to attach a terminal crimp onto an electrical wire.
Wire crimper pliers are the most versatile crimping tools. They are portable, reliable, and do the job very well from just a hand squeeze. Every auto electrician uses them to terminate wires and so should you.
With good wire crimper pliers and good crimp terminals, you will be sure that the wiring of your RV is solid and safe from environmental factors such as moisture and vibration that may cause electrical failure.
8. Tin snips
Like the wire stripper and wire crimper combo, tin snips also go along with hand seamers. If you will be bending aluminum siding you will obviously need to cut it. No hand tool cuts sheet metal better than tin snips.
Tin snips are of different types and aviation snips or compound snips are the best. They come in three main styles: straight, left, and right. They are also color-coded yellow, red, and green, respectively.
Straight snips cut straight notches, left snips make cuts to the left, and right snips cut to the right.
Good thing is that both the left and right aviation snips can make a cut in either direction if you change your orientation when cutting. Also, both types of aviation snips can make straight notches and cuts.
So, either the red snips or green snips or both will take care of all the cutting you need to do on your RV aluminum siding.
Well, that is my priority list of pliers that should have a permanent place in the tool kit for rv. The list is not exhaustive. There are still many more types and sizes of pliers that can also be a great addition. For instance, you can have more than one size of water pump pliers, a pair of linesman pliers, and screw extractor pliers such as the Knipex Twin Grip.
Nonetheless, these 8 types of pliers are a good starting point for building the best rv tool kit.