If you fancy yourself a bit of a mechanic, or if you are just someone who prefers to do things for themselves and save a buck, and want to do your own basic car repairs, you’re gonna need some tools.
Here are the basics.
You gotta have wrenches. You know, the standard combination wrenches that combine a box end and open end in one tool. If you are going to be working exclusively on newer vehicles you can get by with just a metric set. For anything else you will need both metric and SAE. Basic sets will go from 8mm to 19mm and 3/8″ to 7/8′. Those will handle most things.
Sockets wrenches. There are so many options. If you are just starting out an inexpensive 3/8 drive set will do much of what you need to. But it won’t be long before you will want to have at least a 1/2″ drive to go along with it, and some complete sets of sockets in the same sizes as the wrenches above. You will also want regular and deep sockets. And some 6 point sockets as well. Keep a list and buy the ones you need as the need arises.
Screwdrivers. Bunches of them because they are relatively cheap. Start there and invest in some good ones if you see the need.
Standard pliers – get a couple sizes and don’t buy the cheap ones. They will give up just when you need them most.
Channel lock pliers (or water pump pliers) for grabbing on to bigger things that regular pliers just won’t handle.
Vise grips. A couple of sizes. Vise grips will grab hold of some things when everything else you try fails. You don’t need the real high buck ones here, but don’t get the real cheap-ohs. They tend to fail right when you need them as well.
Needle nose pliers – long ones, short ones and small ones. Again best is nice, but good is good enough. Mostly.
Hammers. You should at least have a standard claw hammer, but in addition you might well want the old stand by – the ball peen hammer, and you’ll want one that has a little more oomph as well. About a 2 pounder should do a lot for you.
A rubber hammer because sometimes you have to wallop stuff you don’t want to dent.
At least one breaker bar – but preferable one to match each drive of socket you own. Sometimes you need more leverage than you can get with a ratchet, and if you push a ratchet too far it will break.
Pry bars – the ones that look like standard screwdrivers with a bent end. They come in handy a lot.
Flashlight, headlight, shop light. You need to be able to see what you’re doing.
A multimeter. Like it or not sooner or later you’re going to need to figure out something electrical. There are many affordble choices that will do the job.’
Extensions for your sockets. They are needed more often than you might think. Get at least one 3″ and one 6″ to match each ratchet.
Swivels for your socket sets. Depending on how much work you are going to be doing these may not be necessary, but they are invaluable when the situation arises.
A good floor jack. Goes without saying.
Jack stands. Never. Never. Never get under a car that isn’t supported. Don’t just trust the jack. Use the stands and test them. The life you save might be your own.
This is a good list to get you started. From there, the sky is the limit. So many tools, so little time.