Being a handy man and a Do It Yourself type of person provides a sense of accomplishment and pride that’s hard to find anywhere else. Working on your own car is for most people an odd thing, for others a necessity while for some it equals extreme fun and pleasure. Whether you are sticking to the basics of car maintenance and repairs (oil change, wheel switch) or you are undergoing advanced tasks such as engine work or interior adjustments, everything starts with the right set of tools.
Here is a list of essential hand tools you should have in your garage; once you check them all off the list, you may call yourself a prepared car guy.
- Jack and jack stand
You won’t always deal with issues right beneath the hood. Sometimes you will have to get underneath the car, as in the case of oil change procedures. Most vehicles provide way too little ground clearance for someone to squeeze beneath and still have enough space to work. This is why you should acquire a jack and at least two jack stands. Once you jack up the car, the jack stands should be slid right beneath to provide a solid base, ensuring the car won’t crash while you’re beneath. Make sure to check the maximum weight the jack and jack stands can handle; it should be at least 1.5 times the weight of your car, for safety reasons.
When dealing with cars, there is almost nothing you can really do without a set of wrenches. Most car parts are fixed using fasteners, nuts and bolts or fasteners (which we will discuss later on). So, what wrenches do you actually need for a well-equipped garage? Having a proper set of sockets and a quality ratchet will pretty much sort it out. When buying, make sure you choose a set built out of Chromium-Vanadium alloy; the mixture provides the highest tensile strength and features the lowest breaking risk under heavy tension. You may also find it useful to have a few classic wrenches for when you need to apply huge amounts of force (stuck bolts).
While most mechanical components can be dealt with using wrenches, electronic and electrical parts require mostly the usage of screwdrivers. Essentially, one should stock his garage with a set of flat and Philips screwdrivers, with at least three sizes. Using a smaller screwdriver for a bigger screw may damage the screwdriver, while trying the other way around may damage the screw, causing it to become difficult to remove. Rubber covered handles are recommended, as you will be protected from accidental electrical discharges. They also provide superior grip to plastic handles.
Pliers come especially handy when doing maintenance work on components with safety pins, such as brake calipers or wheel bearings. Also, various components may need to be pulled out from tight spaces, so a decent pliers will do the trick very well. Same as in case of screwdrivers, it would be highly recommended to choose a proper grip material such as rubber, both to avoid electrical discharges into your body and to preserve maximum adherence to the tool.
It may sound odd, but there are cases when you need to throw a few hammer shots before taking down a component. It is the case of drum brakes, which tend to fixate tightly on the socket. Since they won’t come off by hand, a few easy hammer knocks will loosen them up. Choose a ball pin hammer at around 8 oz.