16 Tools to Get You Started Working on Your Own Car
Wrenching on your own car can be satisfying and cost-saving, but you'll need these basic tools to get started.
Whether you're restoring an old Jeep or you've got brand new Prius, you can eschew the dealer or auto shop for some tasks and start doing your own car maintenance. You'll find working on your own car saves time and money—and if something breaks you'll have the confidence and know-how to fix it.
That said, you can't just drag your basic around-the-house toolbox out to the garage. An auto mechanic's tool set differs from woodworking and general DIY tool you may have already accumulated; here are the basics you'll need to get started..
A socket set is arguably the tool you'll need most in order to work on your car. A proper mechanics tool set will include standard and metric sizes and 3/8-inch, 1/4-inch, and even 1/2-inch drivers and sockets. Extensions and thin walled sockets are also useful for certain situations. This DeWalt socket set is full-featured and a great kit for beginners and grease monkeys.
2.Pliers and Wirecutters
There are a ton of electrical projects you can take on with a vehicle, such as, installing a stereo head unit, speakers, or wiring new headlights. You'll need pliers of various sizes to achieve this, as well as wire cutters and wire strippers. Craftsman and Milwaukee Tool offer a full-range of hand tools to get the job done.
Setting nuts to the proper torque is often over-looked by beginner mechanics. Over torquing a nut can cause the bolt to shear off and also makes it much more difficult to remove when needed. Use a clicker-type torque wrench to ensure you are tightening to the proper specifications. To adjust the torque simply turn the bottom handle and align the top of it to the specified torque which is imprinted on the tool. Tighten until you hear two-clicks and then you're done.
Never use a torque wrench to remove lug nuts, instead use an impact wrench or breaker bar—you risk screwing up the settings on your torque wrench otherwise.
A wrench set is an invaluable addition to any mechanical tool box. We like this ratcheting wrench set from Craftsman, which features an open-ended side and a ratcheting box end so there's no need to remove the wrench on each turn.
A screwdriver set is as useful around the house as it is in your garage, but you may need to expand out what you already have. Get a complete set that includes a larger flathead which can double as a small prying tool, and the very small screwdrivers delicate enough for electronic work.
6.Dead Blow Mallet
A dead blow mallet is many times the only solution when it comes to removing stuck bolts. A few smacks with this hammer—and maybe a little heat—will loosen almost anything. This mallet is covered in molded poly to prevent marring metal surfaces.
Working into the night is common during the winter, and you need a good work light to prevent losing parts and to spotlight your project. This LED flood light from Milwaukee Tool runs off their M18 battery and can be rotated 240 degrees.
Latex gloves are preferable to regular work gloves as they are disposable and you are working with clean gloves every time you start a project. Reusable work gloves get greasy and grimy real fast and there's no easy way to clean them.
Zip ties are great for bundling cables and wires together and away from hot and moving parts. They also keep everything nice and tidy which makes it easier to work on a vehicle, as opposed to staring into a rat's nest. Buy a bundle of zip/nylon ties of various sizes so you've got plenty of options when needed.
A multimeter is necessary to check whether you've got a hot wire, as well as how much juice is running through it. It removes the guessing game and is vital for tracking down those gremlins that seem to infiltrate the electronic systems of many cars. This Klein digital multimeter is easy to use and has a nice large display.