In this article, we’ll cover the Tools Every DIY Mechanic Should Have! If you’re thinking about working on your own car, you’re going to need quite a few tools! Being a mechanic and buying tools is a never ending process, so you’ll be seeing your collection grow continually over the years. These suggestions will get you off to a great start!
Why should you trust me? I spend 40+ hours a week working on cars. It’s how I make my living, so you could say I have some experience in the field. My dad is also a mechanic, and owns his own automotive shop, so it kind of runs in the family!
A Toolbox – Whether it’s a small tool bag, or a massive rolling cabinet, you’ll need a place to put your Tools! Every DIY Mechanic should have a tool box or tool bag. Larger boxes allow room for more tools, and better tool organization options, while smaller boxes are easier to move to where you’ll need them. Your needs will most likely dictate which one is right for you.
Ratchets and Sockets – Of all the Tools Every DIY Mechanic Should Have, these will probably get used the most! A good set of ratchets and sockets will be a life saver when it comes to working on your car. I suggest avoiding the large tool sets offered by major retailers (you know, the ones advertised as 200, 300, or even 400 piece mechanic’s tool sets). These usually contain many tools you don’t need, and will likely never use! Instead, purchase what you need, when you need it. You’ll save money, and have a much higher quality tool collection if you do. The GearWrench 80550F (pictured) will give you most of the basic sockets you’ll need in both 1/4 and 3/8 drive sizes, as well as a few bonus items!
Long Handled / Flex Head Ratchets – If you add a set of long handled flex head ratchets to the GearWrench set mentioned above, there won’t be much you can’t get done! The long handles allow you to generate more torque for large or rusted nuts and bolts. The flex heads allow you to squeeze them into more places at different angles, which wouldn’t be possible with a regular ratchet. The Pittsburgh Pro ratchets found at Harbor Freight (pictured) work great, and are a solid value.
Wrenches – Wrenches are good to have, as you won’t always be able to fit a ratchet and socket where you need to, and sometimes you’ll need a wrench to hold one end of a fastener while you loosen or tighten the other end with a ratchet. Combination wrenches are a great place to start, but if you have the budget a set of flex head ratcheting wrenches are indispensable. Line wrenches are a great thing to have as well, since a standard wrench won’t usually work on fuel, brake, or air conditioning lines.
Screwdrivers – You’ll probably need to remove some screws at some point, and you’ll need an assortment of screwdrivers to do it! A set of standard screwdrivers is a great start, but if you want to make your life easier, go for a ratcheting model with interchangeable bits (pictured), or even a cordless 1/4in hex impact driver! The ratcheting screwdriver and bits is relatively inexpensive, but saves some time. The cordless impact driver is a little spendy, but offers a lot of versatility. With a couple socket adapters, you can even use it to remove nuts and bolts!
Assorted Pliers – No list of Tools Every DIY Mechanic Should Have would be complete without them. You’ll need an assortment of pliers for squeezing, pinching, and pulling on things. Nothing too fancy is required, a basic pliers set like the ones made by Channelock are a great choice, and adding a basic set of “Vise-grip” style pliers isn’t a bad idea. Lastly, a set of oil filter pliers (also made by Channelock, and others) will help you remove any stubborn oil filters you encounter.
Ball Peen Hammers – Mechanics usually don’t like to admit it, but sometimes the answer really is “smack it with a hammer!” Specifically, a ball peen hammer. They come in different weights, so you’ll probably at least want a small one for more delicate tasks, and a large one for removing brake drums and other parts that need more “persuasion”.
Oil Drain Pan & Funnel – Odds are your first foray into working on your own car will be an oil change, and you’ll need somewhere to put the old oil. An oil drain pan is exactly the thing you’ll want to have! A funnel comes in handy for both disposing of the old oil, and filling your car with new oil!
Floor Jack & Jack Stands – you’ll probably need to raise the wheels of your car off the ground at some point, maybe to rotate your tires during that oil change we mentioned? To do this, you’ll need a floor jack rated for your car’s weight, and an equally rated set of jack stands! The 3 Ton Daytona Professional Steel Floor Jack from harbor freight is a great choice, and you can pick up a matching set of jack stands while you’re there!
Shop Rags and Hand Cleaner – OK, these may not be tools per-se, but you’ll thank me when you need them!
If you know of more Tools Every DIY Mechanic Should Have, feel free to list them off by leaving a comment below!