Fixing a car is a tricky business, but newfound DIY mechanics are getting stuck in nonetheless; with news that sales figures for the infamous Haynes manuals are on the increase, it is clear that DIY car servicing is becoming more popular amongst car owners in the UK.
For those newest to the discipline, there are certain tools that make the process a breeze, irreplaceable items that can be found at any given mechanic’s side near 100% of the time. The following tools do not represent the totality of equipment that will enable you to exhaustively fix any problem your car suffers – notable absences include engine lifts, vacuum pumps, and ECU testing equipment – but the following entries are nothing short of crucial to own, whether you are an utter novice or a consummate pro.
Wrenches are an indispensable part of any home mechanic’s arsenal. The vast majority of fixtures and fittings on a car are attached with nuts and bolts, and, while you need a little more torque for external parts such as wheels, wrenches are the perfect tool for those hard-to-reach places in the engine bay.
Screws are less common for any mechanical parts of a vehicle but heavily used for interior trim and electronics. Having a good set of screwdrivers will enable you to tinker with the car’s wiring and interior paneling with no issues.
A trusty hammer will go a long way in fixing your car at home and can be surprisingly versatile. For starters, a good weighty hammer coupled with a breaker bar can help you dislodge the toughest of nuts by hand. Specialty hammers such as the slide hammer are crucial for removing bearings and repairing dents without risking damage.
4. Electric Impact Wrench
The first power tool on the list, and maybe the most important, the electric impact wrench enables you to quickly and safely remove and return torqued nuts, such as those that hold your car’s wheels in place. One of these by your side can save you significant time and energy, and remove worries as to how tight you torqued your wheel nuts by hand.
5. Ratchet Wrench
Ratchet wrenches are another way to get the job done quicker; they enable you to torque nuts by hand and to loosen hard-to-reach nuts without needing a full 360 degrees of turn to do so. They come in many different shapes and sizes, with ½” drivers for smaller nuts and ¾” or even 1” drivers for larger applications.
6. Socket Set
Your ratchet wrench and electric impact wrenches are useless without a comprehensive set of sockets for each driver size. High-quality sockets will last a lifetime and have a full set with preventing you from scrabbling around for the right size and wasting time that could be better-spent elbow deep in your engine bay.
For all the usefulness of the tools listed above, you cannot underestimate the usefulness of the humble mechanic’s glove. Vehicles are dangerous to work on, with sharp edges, hot elements, bare electrical terminals, and corrosive materials galore. A good pair of mechanics gloves can protect you from the worst of some of these hazards, ensuring you can continue work safely.
8. Hood Light
Less of a tool but much more of a utility, a high-quality hood light will bring you much-needed light to the darker crevices of your engine bay. This is an essential piece of kit for reducing the possibility of error, and of losing crucial connectors inaccessible places from fumbling around in the dark.