There is no getting around the fact that even the most reliable cars need maintenance at some point or another, while some cars (like vintage British sportscars for instance) need to be constantly tended in order to keep them in running order. Whether it's something as simple as an oil change or a full on engine rebuild, specific tools are needed to do the job correctly. Even though buying tools may seem expensive, if you are willing to learn how to use them and how to work on your car, you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself over the long run.
Floor Jack and Jack Stands or Lift
This is one of the most basic tools to have and allows the mechanic to access parts underneath the car and support it while the wheels are off of the vehicle. A floor jack and a pair of jack stands should be considered a basic necessity. A lift is even better, since it allows the vehicle to be lifted high enough for the underside to be easily access while you are standing up. Don't skimp on these parts, since they will be supporting your car while you work under it. Get the best quality jack and jack stands that you can afford.
Open-ended and adjustable wrenches are the cornerstone of any good collection of tools. Purchase a nice assortment of regular wrenches in metric and standard measurements. You should also have a set of offset wrenches so that you can access hard to reach areas. Adjustable wrenches are handy to have if you don't have the exact size open-ended wrench and offer the convenience of being able to change the wrench to fit different bolts.
Socket Set and Ratchet
A socket set and ratchet is another crucial set of tools that any home mechanic needs to have. There is a wide range of prices when it comes to these. Auto parts stores have inexpensive sockets and ratchet sets for as little £13 or you can shop at a store like Sears, where they carry higher quality Craftsman tools. On the high end are brands like Snap-On, which can cost more than £65 for a ratchet handle. Like wrenches, it is a good idea to have metric as well as standard sizes on hand.
Engine Hoist and Engine Stand
If you are planning on doing anything that involves removing the engine in order to rebuild it or have the entire car painted with the motor out, you will need an engine hoist. Once the engine is out of the car, you will need somewhere to put it, so an engine stand will be necessary as well.
Screwdrivers and Miscellaneous Tools
A good set of screwdrivers in a variety of lengths is also important to have on hand. Make sure you have flat head and Phillips tips. Another essential tool to have is a good set of Allen wrenches that will fit a variety of fasteners. Keep plenty of rags, cleaners and rubber gloves on hand.
Compressor and Air Tools
Though not completely necessary, a compressor is a great tool to have around. Aside from the fact that it allows you to easily air up your tires, you can use an impact wrench to release stubborn bolts and make quick work of removing the lug nuts on your wheels and any other nut that needs to be removed. There are many handy tools that are air driven, including air chisels and spray guns for painting.
Voltmeter and Electrical Tools.
The wiring on a vehicle is an extremely important aspect of car maintenance. Wiring is an area that many mechanics routinely spend time working on, tracking down shorts and other problems that are getting in the way of normal vehicle functions. A voltmeter will allow you to track down problems. Purchasing cutters and strippers, electrical tape and electrical connectors will allow you fix the problem.
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