Half the battle in making a good auto repair is having the proper tools at your disposal. While many seasoned mechanics will have an entire arsenal of tools that can attack any auto-related problem whatsoever, the average mechanic must do with a little – or a lot! – less. Here are a few suggestions as to the five “must have” tools that any DIYer or pro should have in their garage:
Hydraulic Jack – Simply put, you must be able to get at the damaged part to be able to repair it. For parts best accessed from beneath the car, a hydraulic jack makes this process both easy and, more importantly, safe. Hydraulic jacks come in a variety of sizes and are much easier to deal with than the slightly less expensive automobile ramps and far safer than any automobile jack.
Socket Set – The jack-of-all-trades in the mechanic’s tool chest, the socket set – hopefully both metric and standard – will allow you to get a start on most auto repair problems by removing the offending part from the car. Replacing it, however, is an entirely different matter. For that you will need the next tool in the list.
Adjustable Torque Wrench – Not only does this tool allow you to remove the necessary bolts that hold on a part but it also allows you to replace it with exactly the right torque that the manufacturer recommends. This ability will save you endless headaches in broken bolts, stripped threads and any number of other issues in everything from the Ford Focus to the Chevy Corvette – not to mention every brand of foreign car.
Vise Grip/Needle Nose Pliers – Yes, we know that, technically, these are not the same tool but, in a philosophical sense, they are. Look, just have pliers that can get in close and grab a small thing and also have one that is a little more robust but can hang on for dear life. You’ll be a happier mechanic and much saner person for the effort.
Hand- Operated Vacuum Pump – Extremely useful, this versatile machine will let you test everything from vacuum lines through the vacuum-controlled sensors where they run to the motors themselves. In short, it is an excellent tool for finding a leak, helping to bleed brakes or flush out old power-steering fluids.