In some cases, the journey to being a reputable and experienced mechanic starts with a small tool box that has just a few tools. However, with years comes experience that enough time to master which tools are needed to handle various automotive repairs. Nevertheless, as mentioned, every journey start with a small step; likewise, a novice mechanic should have the following essential tools.
While it may be viewed as an obvious choice, it is not something that every beginning mechanic will have more so in respect to quality. The best set would be those from Craftsman; the wrenches have a long life and long-term warranty. I have been using the Craftsman wrenches since I was 17. Personally, I prefer using the metric rather than the standard US size.
The Three Most Common Sizes of Ratchets
The common sizes of ratchets are the small (1/4”), the medium (3/8”), and the large (1/2”). The three sizes have various and extensive usage. Often, a Craftsman starter kit is inclusive of all the three sizes.
Sockets also come in three basic sizes and are available in the short (shallow) or the long types. Each type is a necessary tool for various basic repairs. Just like with the wrenches, the metric will be an ideal choice for all three sizes and length types.
Screwdrivers are the most common repair tools and every mechanic should invest in a Phillips and Flat screwdrivers. The screwdrivers should in an assortment of gauges and lengths. For instance:
a) Stubbed screwdrivers: Are ideal for working in tight space. They are particularly efficient in removing sensors.
b) Normal length screwdrivers: Are often for general use and are mostly placed in the first sections of the screwdriver shelves.
c) Long, skinny screwdrivers: While the standard type of screwdriver is prone to breakages, these screwdrivers are very handy especially when working on those hard to reach jobs.
d) Thick, sturdy flathead screwdriver: It is important to add a sturdy flathead in your screwdriver collection. It is a hammer that you can hit with a hammer and can also be an effective pry-bar for certain small jobs.
e) A small flathead screwdriver: Sometimes, some shops offer these screwdrivers as a free offer; but these screwdrivers are a bit costly. Flathead screwdriver can come in handy when you want something to keep the intake throttle open while doing tune-ups.
f) Torx Screwdrivers: Torx are star-head screwdrivers and are often found on sensors. Such usage will differ among different manufacturers, with some have a more general usage of the Torx screwdrivers than others.
Changing hoses, opening or tightening stubborn connectors are just some of the jobs that mechanics handle using a pair of pliers. The following are the common types of pliers that a mechanic should have:
a) Regular Pliers: It is common to find mechanics having several sets of regular pliers. However, the Vise Grips, and the Needle Nose are a better choice than the regular pair of pliers.
b) Vise Grips: They are an ideal choice for working on coolant hoses and other clamps. Vice Grips are also a handy pair for holding trunks or hoods up in the case where the hydraulic rods are not working.
c) Long and Short Needle Nose: The commonly used pair of pliers in the mechanic shop is the Long Needle Nose pair. However, the short version is also an effective toll for certain repairs.
Here’s a great video about tools for the home mechanic:
A hammer comes in handy when a stuck components needs a proper whack- such as in the case of a stuck rotor. Some of the hammer options to have include:
a) Ball-peen hammer: It is an ideal tool for brake work and other standard purposes.
b) Rubber Mallet: It is the perfect tool for working on surfaces that need a proper whacking yet causing limited changes to the surface (leaving it dent free).
Torque has no equal or substitute. Power tools are relatively had to come by for most novice mechanics. However, the Breaker Bar is an ideal tool for working on those tough to loosen bolts.
Pry Bar (assorted sizes)
Just like torque, leverage has no substitute. A pry bar is the tool you need to break apart components that just to do not want to part ways after thousands of miles together.
LED Flashlight and/or Headlamp
Diagnostics and scoping the various elements in the engines will need adequate lighting hence the need to have a headlamp or LED flashlight. The Headlamp will come in handy when you have to work late into the night especially when you have to go underneath the car and need both your hands free for work.
You can find a cheap and expensive version of this tool, but ensure that you buy a Multimeter that actually works without any flaws (can read amperage). The cheap version might lack the capacity to do efficient readings. You can click on the Multimeter picture below to go to activate a link to a good model.
A good number of bolts are never an easy reach. Having different extension will make it easier to handle the job, be it tearing out a transmission or taking off a part that is deep in the engine bay. Extensions are an important option for a good number of jobs.
On the other hand, some bolts might be within plain sight yet hard to reach. Swivels, which bring in flexibility when reaching those bolts will make the work easier.
Whether you are working on the brakes or the wheels, you will need an automotive jack to get the car offer the ground. The most important thing to remember when using the jack is placing in on a stable ground and ensuring that the jack will support the car.
As mentioned the jack needs adequate support and this is why you need to get a good jack-stand. Jack-stands are mechanical tools used to support the weight of a vehicle.
As you perfect your skills over the years, you will discover that your tool collection and understanding of the different uses of the various tools will increase. Just keep in mind that your tools support your craft thus pay for themselves. Each new tool you buy for each job translates to thousands of dollars saved over the years.