Looking at a professional mechanic’s toolbox, which can easily weigh over a tonne, you might wonder if you need as many tools for DIY car maintenance and repair. The simple answer is, “No, you don’t need that many tools,” but there are a few essential tools, whether you’re maintaining your new car, repairing your used car, or restoring a classic car.
Cars are complicated, but many automakers have ceased to release printed manuals, as each year, make, and model takes up more room on the shelf. If you can find printed or online car maintenance or auto repair manuals, the wealth of information might seem overwhelming, but knowledge is indispensable as you maintain and repair your vehicle.
Pro Tip: If you ask your trusted mechanic nicely, they might print out a few pages of the manual for you.
The basic mechanic’s tool set includes ratchets and sockets, combination wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, hammers, punches, chisels, and maybe a toolbox. Some tool sets come with a mix of metric and imperial tools, not always necessary. Today, most vehicles use metric, but if you work on something older, something you know is SAE, or certain lawn and garden equipment, you might need inch tools.
Pro Tip: Don’t choose the cheapest mechanic’s tools you can find–choose strength, reliability, and comfort.
No mechanic should be without a couple torque wrenches. Indeed, every single fastener on your car has a torque specification, and you wouldn’t want your brake pads falling out for applying incorrect torque. Torque is important, and you want to neither overtorque nor undertorque anything. Overtorque can lead to damage and undertorque can lead to poor sealing or lost components.
Pro Tip: Two torque wrenches–3/8”-drive and 1/2″-drive torque wrenches covering between 10 and 250 ft•lb–cover most car maintenance and auto repair.
Lifting something as heavy as a car can be dangerous–never put any part of your body under a vehicle that isn’t fully supported by jack stands. On a level surface, block the wheels opposite the lift, then lift with a hydraulic jack. Finally, set the vehicle down on the jack stands. Check your owner’s manual for appropriate lift points to prevent damage to your vehicle or yourself.
Pro Tip: Jack, ramps, and jack stands should be rated for the entire weight of your vehicle, a good margin for error.
The check engine light lets you know there’s a fault, but you can’t afford to guess at the problem. Fortunately, scan tools are readily available and easy to use. OBD2 scan tools can interface with many vehicles. This Bosch OBD2 Mobile Scan Tool Bluetooth dongle can convert your tablet or smartphone into a powerful diagnostic tool.
Pro Tip: Most OBD2 scan tools offer basic OBD2 functionality but may leave out manufacturer-specific capabilities, which may cost more to add.
The average Canadian drives over 15,000 kilometres every year. To keep running strong and efficient, car maintenance needs to be regular. You don’t have to spend time going to a mechanic, though. With a few tools and a little Know How, you can tackle many car maintenance and auto repair tasks yourself.
Check out all the hand tools available at napacanada.com or trust one of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car maintenance tools, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
By Benjamin Jerew