No matter if you are a car guy, backyard mechanic, or just someone who wants to be prepared for when the unfortunate happens, having these basic automotive tools in your possession will help get you out of trouble. From socket sets to a quality drill, the tools listed below are a must-have!
To some, having tools that you may never use may seem like a waste of money. To us, a set of quality tools for working on your car is just as important as having good insurance. Why you might ask? Most times, when something goes wrong with your car, it can be fixed pretty easily if you have the right knowledge, and of course the right tools.
We are firm believers in having the right tool for the right job. By investing in a quality set of tools, you can get a lifetime of usage from them. That in itself is enough for most DIY-ers. But knowing how to maintain them is just as important if you want them to last. Luckily, we have created this list with that in mind.
Let’s go over the top 5 automotive tools that anyone who wants to start working on their car needs. It doesn’t matter if you are wanting to do routine maintenance, or are a professional mechanic, having these basic tools is crucial.
A quality set of sockets is high on anyone’s must-have tool list. For most jobs, a socket set ranging from 8mm to 21 will be enough to cover most basic jobs. From small hose clamps to lug nuts, a complete set of sockets will be enough to help you tackle most jobs.
On top of that, ratchets are also a very important component of a quality socket set. The ratchet is the actual tool that sockets attach to. Unlike the sockets which can get easily get lost, we recommend investing in a good 1/2” ratchet. Given that you won't lose it, it is a tool that should last a lifetime.
Once you get a good socket set, maintaining it the key to a long and trouble-free lifespan. As with any tool, they should be kept out of the elements and periodically cleaned. Most sockets will be made from corrosion-free, high-carbon steel.
The ratchet has a set of gears that should be oiled and kept free of dirt or debris. Quality ratchets will have a set of snap rings holding everything together. By removing them you can clean and visually inspect the gears at the same time. No matter if you bought a new ratchet or a second-hand one, knowing how to maintain and restore them is very important.
Jack and Jack Stands
A jack is a crucial piece of equipment for anyone wanting to start working on their car. Brake work, suspension jobs, and of course changing the wheels all require that you have a jack to help you safely lift the vehicle.
Those old jacks that came with your car from the factory are made poorly and not intended for repetitive use. A scissor jack for fixing a flat on the rise of the highway is fine, but doing extensive work on your vehicle will require you to have a high-quality, hydraulic jack. Not only does it make lifting your vehicle off the ground easier, but also much safer. The only downside is that a hydraulic jack is typically not portable, so it is better left at home.
Whenever getting your wheels off the ground, even if it’s just for a few minutes, using jack stands is mandatory for safety. Jack stand can be purchased separately, as a pair, or may even come with a hydraulic floor jack as part of a kit. We recommend spending the extra bit of cash on a set of jack stands if they didn’t come with the jack you purchased. When it comes to safety, it's not worth taking the risk.
Maintenance-wise, there are a few things that can be done to extend the life of both, your hydraulic floor jack and jack stands. As usual, maintenance and visual inspections are key for someone who wants to get the most amount of time from their tools. On top of that, keeping everything can help you spot any potential problems like oil leaks or stress cracks in the metal.
If you got an older jack or jack stands, a quick coat of paint can help them look new again. On top of that, the paint will extend its lifespan by not allowing the metal to rust.
The days of being able to fix your car on the side of the road with just a few tools are long gone. Cars have become a plethora of sensors and electronic parts, rather than being a mechanical part that could be fixed in an emergency.
Granted, the various sensors have allowed vehicles to become more comfortable and more advanced. But what happens when something goes wrong? How do you know which sensor to replace? Which cylinder is misfiring? The answer to all of those questions is to get a code reader.
All cars made from 1996 will come with an OBDII port. This means that that you can connect a code reader to your car’s ECU and see all the possible faults. There are several code readers online that will do the same job. Like with anything, however, some are better than others and the higher-end units will even recommend how to resolve the potential problem.
Like with any other electrical components, keeping your code reader safe and away from moisture is the key to having it last a long time. Periodic updates via a computer may need to be done to keep up with the latest technology on newer model vehicles.
Common hand Tools
Even if you don’t work on cars often, having a complete set of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, etc. will come in handy for sure. A tool kit is never finished. There is always that better screwdriver or a specific set of pliers that come out, but having a basic kit is enough to get you out of a sticky situation.
Some stores will even sell a “complete” kit to get anyone started on the journey of repairing their car. However, don’t expect them to last forever or to have everything needed. Another thing to keep in mind is that you get what you pay for. Quality always wins out over quantity when referring to tools. For example, there is no need to have several cheap screwdrivers that will strip the first time you try to get a stubborn screw out.
Storage and maintenance of common hand tools should be taken seriously as they can get lost or easily damaged. When left if left out in the elements, even the most quality tools can easily succumb to corrosion within a matter of days.
A toolbox, no matter how big or small it is, will help you keep everything neat and organized. The bigger versions will even come with locks on them to deter would-be thieves.
When working on your car, having a corded or cordless drill is a necessity. There are only so many jobs one can tackle with their bare hands. Sometimes, you just need the added strength that only an electric drill can provide. In today’s market, two types of drills are commonly used for working on a car. They consist of an impact driver and a normal drill.
Unlike normal drills, an impact driver does not have a chuck or adjustable head that allows you to insert drill bits or other various screwdriver heads in it. However, its main claim to fame is that it can easily remove stuck-on bolts and screws that regular electric drills can’t. This is done by using short “bursts” of power instead of the constant power that a regular drill offers.
You need to have the right tool for the right job. This statement is especially true for power drills. A quality drill is something that everyone should have in their toolkit. At one point or another, you will run into a job that only a drill will be able to complete. On top of that, power drills have an adjustable head that allows you to use different-sized attachments to tackle almost any job.
A drill, regardless if it is an impact or not, can be an expensive addition to your tool kit. It is a piece of equipment that you want to last a long time. Buy a quality drill from a reputable company, maintain it regularly, and it can last you a lifetime.
So, there you have it. The most common automotive and how to maintain them. If you plan on starting to work on your car, having the tools mentioned above are essential. Once you got them, keeping them in good shape is just as important. Preventative maintenance is key and knowing how to protect your tools from the test of time will give you years of worry-free service.
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