If you love to work on cars, or just think you would like to work on your own vehicle, you definitely need a set of tools for that. First-timers and newcomers to DIY automotive tasks might be completely lost here, so we will try to be as descriptive as possible. Everyone else who is at least familiar with these tools can assemble them in a tool box and stash them in your makeshift automotive shop.
There is nothing better in this world for DIY car repair than a ratchet set. The numerous ratchet heads can undo any size nut or bolt on your engine or vehicle, with only the modest torque of your hands and the ratchet wrench itself. The best ratchet sets also contain “extensions,” long, bar-like pieces that fit onto the ratchet head and then you clip the sockets onto the ends of the extensions. These let you get waaaaay down deep inside the engine where your fingers can’t reach and/or your hands are too big to slink through. An added plus about ratchet sets is that they come locked in their own plastic tote, which makes it really easy to throw in your trunk and keep all of the parts organized and handy.
Adjustable Wrench, Several Sizes
When it comes to automotive stuff, you can never have too many wrenches or too many different sizes and kinds of wrenches. A rachet or socket set has its limitations, and when that happens, you reach for a different kind of wrench. Adjustable wrenches are next in line because their heads adjust to fit whatever nut or bolt you are trying to loosen. Their long handles also mean you will be able to reach just a little farther into the engine or under the vehicle than you could with the ratchet/socket wrench.
This differs from the standard pliers in that the needle-nose pliers has “jaws” with a very long snout-like appearance. This long “snout” gets into the tiniest and tightest of places to grab everything from washers and bolts to wires and the ends of hoses. There are also several different sizes of needle-nose pliers, but a standard size you can grip with one hand and one with really long handles are ideal for your automotive tool box.
While most vehicle components are generally held together with bolts, you may encounter some screws here and there. For these, you will need an array of screwdrivers. You will need both Philips head drivers and flathead drivers, both of which come in metric and standard measurements. If you have the money to make the investment in a pro set of both types of drivers in both metric and standard measurements, we strongly recommend this. Cars manufactured in the U.S. still use some parts from foreign companies, and foreign cars use some parts from the U.S., so it helps to have both measurement types.
Don’t be the guy or gal that uses his/her teeth to strip the ends of insulated wire. Not only does that not work very well on the wire, but it badly damages your teeth. Instead, buy a wire stripper tool that can cut and strip wires for you. There is a lot of electrical work running through modern cars, but the replacement wiring stores sell is not always the correct length or cut to install straight out of the package. Even if you do not think you will ever use a wire strippers, it is better to have it and not use it than to not have it and need it. (We suggest a wire strippers that can cut wires of several different diameters so you do not have to buy multiple tools that essentially do the same thing.)
Files, surprisingly, have a place in automotive repair. They grind down sharp metal edges and help trim sharp screw ends that may otherwise cut you to shreds while you are trying to fix something close to them. You can use them as “rust rasps” too; rust spots on your car can be filed away until the edges are not quite so jagged or dangerous. Eventually, you will probably find your own uses for files in your DIY auto shop, so pick up at least one for now.
If you are going to extend your new DIY automotive skills into auto painting and detailing, then you will need a few extra tools for that. One extra tool is a paint scraper. If you do not invest in power tools, then you will have remove auto paint by hand with a paint scraper. Be sure to get a metal paint stripper too, which often comes in spray can form. The stripper will make the scraper’s job a lot easier and a lot quicker.
Don’t Forget the Tool Box!
Finally, don’t forget the tool box for all of your tools. Unless the tools are purchased in sets and in their own closeable, lockable containers, you will need something in which to store all of your tools. If you know that you are going “all in” for this new hobby, we recommend a multi-drawer shop unit on rolling casters so that you can move it all around your vehicle without having to walk back to the box to get what you need every few minutes. You can have a portable tool box too, for any extra tools or for tools you need to take on-the-go.