Few things you use every single day remain as mysterious as your car. If you’ve never worked in a mechanic’s shop, simply popping the hood can fill you with a sense of despair and a fear that you’ll screw things up long before you solve the problem. Most car owners know how to change a tire and possibly the oil, but that’s usually it. Anything more complicated will require an expensive trip to the repair shop. But if you’d like to increase your knowledge base and get to the place where you could handle some of the standard repair or maintenance jobs yourself, you’ve got to start with having the right tools for the job. Here are five of the basic tools needed for DIY auto repair.
The first tool will never be used under the hood, but will still probably be the most important thing you add to your kit. That would be a basic automobile repair manual. The industry standard is published under the Chilton’s brand, but you’ll find plenty of comparable options that will get the job done. Ideally you should purchase a repair manual that focuses on the model and make of your particular vehicle. The guidebook will break every task down into a simple set of steps, helping you understand the basics and move through a DIY auto repair job without making any missteps.
The next thing you’ll need is a standard set of sockets. You can pick up one of those sets designed for mechanics, but as a beginner that might be more than you need. The goal is getting your hands on a starter set, ideally with both metric and standard sockets. That should be enough for most of your basic jobs. If you find you want to tackle something more advanced you can just pick up additional pieces on a case by case basis.
Now you’ll need to get all of your screwdrivers covered. As with the sockets you don’t need every single size and shape on the market. As long as you get a phillips and flat head, and then add in hex and nut drivers and one with a star head you should be in great shape. Almost every DIY auto repair job will require removing tiny nuts and screws from under the hood. Armed with the right screwdrivers, you should have no troubles in this area.
At this point you might feel a little bit overwhelmed. But you will need a couple more items to make sure you don’t get a job started only to find you’re missing something crucial. So look into a set of wrenches. As with the sockets you’ll want both standard and metric measurements. But go with a basic set, which shouldn’t cost you much more than $30. Add in an adjustable wrench and an oil filter wrench and you’ll be good to go for most jobs.
Finally, look for a standard set of pliers. Every once in a while you’ll come across a bolt that your socket wrench won’t be able to handle. Perhaps it’s been stripped or worn out, and the wrench just won’t gript it properly. You can spend big bucks for the best automotive power tools, but a good assortment of pliers will do you just fine. Look for standard, channel lock and needle nose, and finish off your collection with a strong pair of vise grips. This should handle just about everything you’ll come across.