How to choose your first car mechanic tool set

Choosing your first car mechanic tool set can be difficult, with tens of thousands of tools available for mechanics of every level, the selection process can be overwhelming. A starter tool set, however, can get you up to speed in no time. There’s no need to break the bank, either—with just a few basic tools, you’ll be able to tackle hundreds of DIY auto repair jobs. Factor in how much you’ll save and learn by doing the job yourself, and you’ll see that this investment pays for itself. Here are the basic tools you’ll need to how to choose your first car mechanic tool set, whether you’re shopping for a complete set or you’re building one yourself.


Generally, a set of combination wrenches should range from 1/4‑inch to 1‑inch SAE or 8 mm to 19 mm metric. Larger or smaller wrenches might be needed for certain parts, but you can get them separately to add to your wrench set as needed.


A socket set is going to be your most-used tool. Most DIY mechanics start with a general-service 3/8‑inch drive set. Socket sizes should range from 1/4‑inch to 1‑inch SAE or 8 mm to 19 mm metric for your first set, as well as a 5/8‑inch spark plug socket and various extensions. Later, as you see the need, expand your set with a 1/4‑inch drive and 1/2‑inch drive. A 1/4‑inch drive socket set is faster, and a 1/2‑inch drive set gives you more leverage.

Torque wrench

Use a torque wrench to keep things together without damaging anything. A 1/2‑inch torque wrench, rated 20 ft-lb to 150 ft-lb or 27 N-m to 200 N-m, covers a range of auto repair steps. Consider a 250 ft‑lb or 340 N‑m torque wrench for high-torque axle nuts. To access some low-torque parts, consider a 3/8‑inch torque wrench.


Squeeze something with a basic assortment of pliers. Start with needle-nose, sliding-joint, and locking pliers and a diagonal cutter. As needed, consider brake spring, kiwi, water pump, or split ring pliers.


Some screws and bolts require a Phillips, Torx, or flat driver. At minimum, #1 and #2 Phillips screwdrivers will be very useful. A Torx driver set will be necessary if your vehicle needs it.


Knowledge is your most valuable tool. By learning from YouTube videos, online forums, and online repair manuals, you can maintain, diagnose, and repair your vehicle yourself. When in doubt, ask someone for help before getting in over your head.

Digital multimeter

From checking the battery and alternator output to checking fuses and relays and switches, no mechanic should be without a digital multimeter.

Power tools

An impact gun makes removing wheels and brakes quick and easy, and an angle grinder with a brush cup can clean corrosion in seconds. Power tool options vary, such as air tools or cordless tools, depending on your budget, workspace, and goals.

OBD2 tool

Many check engine light problems you can fix yourself, but only if you can read the diagnostic trouble code. Some OBD2 tools can pair to your laptop or smartphone to show codes and live data to assist your diagnosis and confirm the effectiveness of repairs and adjustments.


One rule of thumb the professionals follow is to buy the tool if you need to borrow or rent it more than three times. Really, there’s no sense in spending money on something you’ll use just once, not to mention the fact that you’ll need to find a place a store it. Once you’re on a roll with your basic mechanic tool set, there are a few tools that can make certain jobs much faster or easier. Check us out next time when we talk about our favourite time-saving tools.

By Benjamin Jerew

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