Working on cars is a fulfilling activity if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. You can complete most jobs with basic tools that you probably already have around the house. This is more than sufficient for anyone who only does this casually. If you’re going to get serious, though, here are seven items you need to add to your collection.
1. Torque Wrench
For casual mechanics, arm strength and your average socket wrench are enough to secure various nuts and bolts. Sometimes, though, these connectors need to be tightened down to the correct torque. Having a torque wrench handy will let you ensure you’re tightening things properly without using too much force and potentially damaging nearby surfaces. If you’re changing a lot of tires or doing a lot of very delicate work, invest in a torque wrench for your tool collection.
2. Work Lights
If you’re only working on cars during the heat of the day because you can’t see what you’re doing once the sun goes down, it’s time to invest in some work lights. It’s time to upgrade the overhead lights in your garage. Invest in some portable hanging lights or flashlights you can use when you’re working in awkward places where the overhead lights won’t reach.
3. Dead Blow Mallet
Sometimes you need to knock a nut or bolt loose. A dead blow hammer is a good choice for this because it absorbs the impact, reducing rebound. It’s also made from a soft polymer plastic so if you happen to miss your target, you won’t do a ton of damage to the surrounding area.
4. Air Compressor
An air compressor is one of the most versatile tools in your garage. You can use it to clean your space, power your devices, inflate your tires and paint your car. If you’re serious about working on cars, invest in a high-quality air compressor. It also works for carpentry, painting and nearly any household hobby you can think of.
Electrical problems can cause massive issues with your car, especially if you don’t have the tools to help you. Invest in a high-quality multimeter to monitor electrical circuits and detect shorts, leaks and ghost drain that would be impossible to find without a tool like this.
6. Impact Wrench
Don’t bust your knuckles trying to break loose a stubborn bolt. Instead, buy an impact wrench to go along with your air compressor. These tools are incredibly valuable, not only for ease of work but also for speed. If you’re concerned about tightening things down too much, grab a set of torque bars that will work with your impact wrench.
7. Repair Manual
When you start getting serious about working on cars, after a while, they all start to look the same. Now and then, you will come across a vehicle that throws you for loop, and that is where repair manuals come in handy. If you find yourself in a bind, don’t guess — pick up a repair manual for the make and model you’re working on. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches in the long run.
Bonus: Extra 10 mm Sockets
This might sound silly, but hear us out. Buy as many 10 mm sockets as you can afford because you will use them for everything and you will always lose them. Keep some extras on hand.
Augmenting Your Tool Collection
The average casual mechanic might be able to get away with working with whatever they have around the house. If you’re planning to turn your hobby into something a bit more serious, you need to upgrade your tool collection.