There are some essential tools that no garage should be without, whether you plan to tackle a large-scale project or just handle basic maintenance on occasion. No matter the size of the job you’re working on, having the right tools on hand can be the difference between success and frustration. Here’s a look at five essential tools that should be in every home garage.
1. Socket and Driver Set
Nuts and bolts are the basic fasteners of car construction, and a good socket and driver set is a must-have for your tool kit. Make sure you have a full range of metric and imperial sockets, along with quarter-inch and three-quarter-inch drivers. This tool set should be enough to handle all but the most esoteric of bolt sizes you might encounter during a project. While you’re at it, pick up a set of socket extensions for accessing hard-to-reach fasteners.
2. Floor Jack and Jack Stands
Getting your car off the ground to access the undercarriage greatly increases the amount of maintenance projects you can perform on your own vehicle. A safe floor jack that’s low enough to fit under your car but tall enough to give you the clearance you need to work is an essential tool for your home garage. Don’t forget to also add a pair of jack stands to safely hold your automobile while you are underneath it. Never rely solely on a jack when working on a car project.
3. Screwdriver Set
You’re likely to encounter three types of screws while maintaining your car: Phillips (plus-sign head), flathead (slotted head) and Torx (six-point star). The first two are the most common, while the latter always seems to crop up at some critical juncture in a project when it’s least expected. It’s a good idea to have a full set of screwdrivers that can handle each of these screw specifications, with both short and long handles so you can get the tools where they need to be with minimal hassle.
4. Inspection Lamp
You can’t fix what you can’t see, and all the overhead lighting in the world won’t help you peer into the depths of your engine bay or up into a brake caliper from beneath the car. An inspection lamp with a long extension cord is an essential tool for accurately diagnosing and fixing a problem with your car, and you’ll greatly appreciate the additional illumination.
5. Torque Wrench
No home garage is complete without a torque wrench. This simple device allows you to tighten fasteners to their original factory torque specification. This is crucial for two reasons: You always want to make sure a wheel lug is tight enough to withstand normal driving, and you never want to over-tighten a sensitive component and risk damage. Dialing in the right torque with a torque wrench gets both jobs done without any need for guesswork.
With these tools in tow, you’ll be prepared for whatever your repair jobs have to throw at you. Remember: A craftsman is only as good as their tools.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.