If you’re interested in working on your car at home, you should get started by making sure that you have some key tools.
You can build your tool collection as you go, but there are a few essentials that will help you to get started. While it’s handy to have some power tools, you also need some basic hand tools for a range of tasks.
The good news is that many manual tools are affordable, and you can often buy a couple of useful sets to get you started. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start building your tool collection.
Here are some of the things you’ll want.
A set of wrenches will come in handy for any mechanic. You’ll find that you need them for many tasks.
You should have a few different sizes so that you always have the right tool for the job. It’s not too difficult to choose a good set, although you might want to avoid anything extremely cheap.
Wrenches made from titanium or steel with a high percentage of vanadium will last the longest. You can also look at ratcheting wrenches, which have one open wrench end and one ratcheting box end.
A torque wrench is invaluable for torquing bolts accurately. If you do it too tightly, it could ruin the bolt and make it difficult to remove the nut. A torque wrench helps to prevent over-tightening by giving you guidelines to torque within the proper parameters. You can adjust the torque wrench by turning the bottom of the handle to the correct torque. When you use the tool to tighten a nut, it will click when you reach the right tightness. This handy tool should be in every home auto mechanic’s toolbox, and it’s worth investing in a good one.
A set of screwdrivers is useful not just for working on cars and other vehicles, but also for using around the house. You never know when you might need to tighten up a cupboard hinge or remove the battery cover on something. You might already have a screwdriver set, but it’s worth considering whether it would be useful to have some more. You should have a range of sizes and different styles, including flat and Phillips screwdrivers. It’s worth having both large screwdrivers that you can use to pry things open or off things, and tiny ones for precision work.
Rasps and Files
Rasps and files give you the tools you need to reshape and file down materials, as well as get rid of anything unwanted. They come in different sizes, and rasps have a coarser surface. Rasps are made for use with wood and feature individual teeth on their surface, but they can have a variety of applications. Rasps and files are usually inexpensive, and you can buy them double-sided so that they’re more flexible. Choose a few different sizes so that you can cover large areas you need to work on but also get into small spaces without any trouble.
Pliers and Wire Cutters
If you’re planning on working on the electrics in your vehicle, you’re going to need some wire cutters and some pliers. Wire strippers are also useful. A few different sized tools will ensure you’re able to work on different things without worrying that you have something too big or too small. Pliers can also be useful for a number of others tasks. If you need to grab anything fiddly and pull it out, it can be handy to have a pair of pliers to get a better grip on it. Get at least a couple of different sizes, so you have options.
Sockets and Ratchet
A socket set and ratchet are must-haves for any home mechanic. You should have lots of different socket sizes so that you always have the right one for any job. Using a ratchet, you don’t need to reposition your tool, like you need to do when using a wrench. The socket also provides more stability, so you’re much less likely to slip when you’re working. You’ll need sockets and ratchets for tightening all kinds of fastenings. A jointed or flexible head ratchet is especially useful if you need to work in tight spaces, allowing you to adjust the angle of the handle. Shallow sockets help you get into smaller spaces, while deep sockets can help you reach the nut on threaded bolts and recessed fasteners. Find yourself a set of sockets that gives you plenty of options to choose from.
Sometimes you have no choice but to use brute force on some things. If you can’t remove a stuck bolt, a dead blow mallet can come in handy. A couple of good hits can help to loosen things up can end your standoff. Choose a mallet that’s covered in molded poly or something similar. This will mean that it won’t leave marks on metal surfaces.
Precision Hooks and Picks
When you’re working on electrical tasks, you can find that some electrical connectors are difficult to disconnect. Using pliers to do it can ruin them, but if you have some precision hooks and picks, you’ll find it an easier task. You can wriggle into small spaces, and they’re useful for grabbing onto things that might be out of reach.
It’s also useful to have a powerful light for working on any projects. There are a few different styles that you might use. Some lights can sit on the floor or any other surface, and you can tilt them in the right direction. You might also want a stick light that you can hold in your hand. You can use it to look under your hood and under your vehicle. Another type of light you might find useful is one with a hook so you can hang it somewhere convenient.
Here is a helpful Youtube video outlining some of the most valuable hand tools for the home mechanic:
Start building your tool collection, and you’ll soon have all the essential mechanic hand tools. You don’t have to buy everything at once, so you can spread the cost.