Repairing and maintaining your own car at home can be challenging even when you have the right tools on hand. You definitely don’t want to realize you need a tool you don’t have when you’re right in the middle of the job!
No, you need to make sure you have all the right tools on hand before you start. The basic tools will help you tackle most automotive repair and maintenance jobs, but if you do find that you need a new tool in the middle of a job, take the time to go out and buy that tool – do not try to make do with a pair of pliers or whatever it is that you have.
You could end up doing more damage to your car and having to put in more work and money – or even pay someone else – to fix it. Make sure these tools are in your garage to avoid last-minute trips to the automotive parts store.
A socket set is among the most basic tools that any home mechanic can have. You’ll need a socket set with extender bars and ratchet handles to work on your car as well as small engines ranging from chainsaws and leaf blowers all the way up to riding lawnmowers.
It’s worth splurging on a good set. Make sure you get locking extension bars and a flex ratchet or a ratchet with a bent handle. You might also want to consider flex sockets that allow you to loosen and tighten bolts in difficult-to-reach places.
You can use a vacuum pump to change your own brake fluid or flush your power steering fluid. You can also use one to test vacuum lines for leaks or to test motors and sensors that are vacuum-controlled.
You’ll definitely need some good work lights if you plan to do your own car repairs. Magnetic lights are best since you can instantly attach them to any part of the car where you happen to be working. Headlamps are also a good hands-free choice. Choose the brightest lights for the most utility.
Fuel Line Disconnect Tool
Fuel lines are one of those things that you need a specialty tool to disconnect, and it can seem like it’s not worth making the trip to the parts store and spending the money, but it is.
You probably can’t disconnect your fuel lines without damaging the assembly unless you use a fuel line disconnect tool, and they don’t tend to be expensive, so it’s best to just buy one.
Oil Change Tools
Oil changes are one of the first things home mechanics learn to do, and they’re one of the most basic automotive maintenance chores.
You need to change your oil a lot more regularly than you change other fluids, and it’s a lot easier than changing brake or power steering fluids that are in vacuum lines. You’ll need an oil filter wrench, a drain pan, and a flexible funnel.
Spark Plug Pliers
Spark plug pliers have specially shaped, padded jaws that allow you to grip a spark plug and remove it easily without damaging the boot or wire. These pliers apply force to the clip inside the boot, so when you use them to grasp the top of the boot near the wire, you can easily dislodge the spark plug.
Out-of-Sight Needle-Nose Pliers
The problem with regular needle-nose pliers is that you can’t really see through your hand to get a good look at what you’re doing with the jaws. Out-of-sight needle-nose pliers have the jaws pointed to one side so you can see them while you’re working, without your hand getting in the way.
The emergency jack you use to change a flat tire isn’t suitable for general repairs and maintenance. Buy a floor jack that’s rated to hold up vehicles that weigh as much as your vehicle weighs. If you’re using it on multiple vehicles, consider the heaviest one when choosing a jack rating.
Jack stands give you something to prop your car up on after you have it jacked up, so you can keep it safely elevated and crawl underneath to do whatever you need to do. You should also make sure any jack stands you buy are rated to hold up vehicles of your vehicle’s weight.
A mechanic’s creeper is a flat backboard on wheels that you can use to slide in and out from under your elevated car. It’s certainly a lot easier than crawling and can be a lot more comfortable for your back. If you plan to spend a lot of time working under your car, a creeper can even save you from back injuries.
Are you planning to do your own car repair and maintenance? Make sure you have the tools you need before you start work, so the job can go as smoothly as possible.