There’s nothing quite as satisfying as getting under the hood of a car, getting your hands dirty, and getting to work. While being a car enthusiast means you love hitting the open road, it also means you’re someone who loves to put some elbow grease into your vehicles.
And, as any self-respecting car enthusiast knows, it’s important to have the right tools on hand to handle any repairs, upgrades, or updates. Whether you’re a new car enthusiast or a longtime expert, here are the tools every self-respecting car enthusiast needs.
1. Universal Socket Set
Loosening and tightening different components under the hood is incredibly common when working on any vehicle. And it’s tough to know or anticipate what will need to be loosened or tightened in advance. That’s why it’s crucial to keep a universal socket set in your toolkit.
When you have a universal socket set, you’ll always have the right size to make the right adjustments. And you won’t have to risk stripping any screws, nuts, or bolts.
A good bit set with 16 or more pieces is incredibly handy to have in your garage. Look for a set that includes a power drill adapter, which will transform your drill into a power socket set whenever needed.
2. Vise Grips
Dealing with an older car can require a special set of tools. From rusted screws to stubborn license plates, you need a tool that can grab, hold, and remove whatever needs to be updated.
That’s why every car enthusiast needs a pair of vise grips. Vice grips, which are sometimes called locking pliers, are built to grab and hold onto just about anything. They can be an especially powerful help with any rusty or tiny screws.
Look for grips that have a pivoting lower jaw. These are a bit more expensive, but they help you grab onto non-standard shapes.
3. Torque Wrench
One of the first tools a car enthusiast should ever own is a torque wrench. Proper torque is crucial when setting nuts to a manufacturer’s specifications. Over-torquing a nut can cause the bolt to shear off, and it also makes it much more difficult to remove when needed.
It’s best to have a clicker-type torque wrench in your tool set. These are usually more expensive because they’re more accurate, but that accuracy ensures you’re tightening nuts to the proper specifications.
4. Dead Blow Mallet
It doesn’t have the friendliest sounding name in the world, but a dead blow mallet can sure come in handy – especially when you’ve tried everything to remove a stuck bolt. A few smacks with this type of mallet will loosen just about anything that’s stuck.
A dead blow mallet can get the job done without scratching up your car’s perfect surface. It’s covered in molded poly to prevent metal surfaces from becoming marred, making it a handy tool for any make and model in any condition.
5. Shifter Wrench
When you’re working on a car, especially an older car, there are times you might need to give something a bit of extra force to loosen or tighten it. That’s when a shifter wrench comes in handy.
Simply lock this wrench on a nut or bolt and give it a whack. If you spend a bit more to get a higher-quality shifter wrench, you’ll be able to handle jobs of all shapes and sizes thanks to their resilience and versatility.
6. Acetylene Torch
An acetylene torch packs extra power when the other tools in your kit can’t get the job done. This torch comes in handy when you’re trying to free frozen parts or cut off rusty bolts.
You’ll also need an acetylene torch if you’re cutting steel or working on any parts that need to be shaved down. Though it can be a powerful – and intimidating – tool to work with, it’s especially helpful for any car enthusiasts who are building a garage toolkit that covers every need.
If there’s a single universal tool that every car enthusiast needs, but might not think to buy, it’s WD-40.
WD-40 can do just about everything. It can loosen rusty parts, stop squeaking in its tracks, and free sticky mechanisms. When you think about all the moving parts found inside a car, you start to understand just how important it is to always have a can or two of grease on hand.
8. Impact Screwdriver
An impact screwdriver makes regular screwdrivers seem like a basic toy. Delivering a sudden, strong rotational and downward force, impact drivers are often used in mechanic’s garages to loosen screws and nuts that are frozen or over-torqued.
The great thing about this tool is that the direction can be reversed to tighten screws with torque that’s greater than what a regular screwdriver can deliver. If your normal screwdriver can’t handle the job, an impact screwdriver can.
Don’t have a magnet in your garage? It might seem like an odd thing to keep in your toolbox, but as most professional mechanics know, a magnet is incredibly helpful. Most car repair pros have a variety of sizes of magnets on hand.
Here’s why: what do you do when you accidentally drop a screw deep inside your engine bay? A magnet makes it easy to any metal object from any place it shouldn’t be.
Stock Your Garage With These Helpful Tools
Whether you’re building your very first toolkit as a new car enthusiast or you’re an older pro who’s worked on plenty of models, these are the essentials you’ll need in your garage. As you become more and more experienced, you can continue to add to this list of basic tools to expand your skillset and your repair abilities.