Many people wisely refrain from using the term DIY (“do it yourself”) and car mechanic in the same sentence; that is unless that sentence is: I hereby pledge that I will never become a DIY car mechanic since I value my safety, sanity, and budget.
However, there are some people who truly are cut out to be excellent DIY car mechanics; either because they operate or repair complex machines at work, or have proven their maintenance and installation acumen around the house. If you count yourself among these rare special individuals, then here are six essential tools that you need in your DIY arsenal:
Make sure you get a wrench set that contains standard sizes and is backed by a lifetime warranty. While these aren’t cheap, just be thankful, you aren’t doing aircraft repair. Aircraft part supply company AERO In Stock sells propeller wrenches for around $60 each (which is a good deal if you’re an aircraft mechanic, but quite pricey if you’re a DIY car mechanic!).
Ratchets can be a mechanics best friends. Whether you buy them in individually or a set, make sure that you get at least the three most common sizes: 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2″.
To make sure you can continue you with your repair job vs. head to the store, make sure that you get both long and short sockets.
In addition to basic staples like flat-head, torx and Phillips-head screwdrivers, make sure that you get both stubbed and thin screwdrivers; both of which are essential for fitting into tight spaces. And of course, everything needs to be heavy-duty. What may be fine for putting together a wall unit, may not be strong enough to handle more rigorous car repair jobs.
You may be surprised to learn that there are several types of pliers — and you want to have all of them at-the-ready if needed. At the very least, make sure you have vice grips and both long and short needle nose pliers.
Arguably, jack-stands aren’t a tool. But why argue? The fact is that you absolutely need to have a suitable jack-stand that provides back-up support in case your jack fails for any reason. We aren’t just talking about protecting your car here: we’re talking about protecting your health and safety, and maybe even your life!
The Bottom Line
If you have the patience, skill and space to safely and properly handle some car repairs yourself vs. head to a mechanic, then you can save thousands of dollars over the life of your car. Just remember that having the right high-quality tools will go a long way to ensuring that your experience is successful, safe and satisfying.