It is a fact that regular maintenance and care can exponentially increase the life of a car and durability of its components. That being said, knowing how and what to repair in your car is critical.
Did You Know?
According to fueleconomy.gov, keeping the tires inflated to their recommended pressure can increase the gas mileage of a car by up to 3.3 percent.
There is always that sense of heavy discomfort when we have to leave our vehicles at the hands of professional mechanics. After all, for them, it’s just another client and no attachment to the vehicle in question; however, for us, our cars are one of our prized possessions. Anyone who concurs with this statement will understand how important it is to set aside a day in a week/month for cleaning, fixing, and revving up our dear ol’ cars. This WheelZine article discusses some essential tools every car owner must have.
Must-have Car Tools
An essential tool for lifting your car off the ground, a hydraulic floor jack is a must for every car owner. Be sure to know the curb weight of your vehicle so that the jack you choose has sufficient load rating to handle the weight of your car. The curb rating must be at least half or greater than the curb weight of the vehicle. Secondly, go in for a long-frame jack that can horizontally reach the jacking point of the vehicle. Thirdly, check whether the arm of the jack is long enough to vertically reach the frame member and lift the vehicle.
A floor jack should always be used along with two sturdy jack stands that must be placed at their factory-recommended slots. These additional supports ensure that you remain safe while working on the frame member of the car. Even though jack stands are effective, they may prove unsteady on asphalt floor. To resolve this issue, place the stands on some plywood.
You may think you don’t need it, until you find your car rolling ahead of you while you’re still repairing the underside of the car. This small tool has no other purpose but to act as a stopper and well … a lifesaver. Wheel chocks become indispensable if you ever find yourself having to fix your vehicle on a steep road. Make sure the chocks accommodate the size of the vehicle’s wheel and are the perfect fit.
A lug wrench is often called a tire iron as well and is by far the most commonly used emergency tire replacement tool. While the sockets help remove the lug nuts of the wheel, the prying end found on both L- and X-shaped lug wrenches are used for removing the hub cap of the wheel. However, using only a lug wrench to tighten lug nuts may not be enough and thus, a torque wrench must be used thereafter to be doubly sure.
Spark Plug Spanner
All you need is a spark plug spanner or a socket wrench that is equipped with an extension and plug socket. These are the ideal tools to remove a spark plug without damaging its threads or breaking the plug. Both tools must have a rubber grommet within the socket that lends better grip over the plug while extracting and replacing a spark plug.
An adjustable wrench can be made to unscrew any nut or bolt, which makes it an extremely handy tool to use for automobile repair. This tool in itself can spare you the need of having to buy several wrenches of different sizes. However, the thick head of this wrench makes it difficult to use this tool in constricted areas of the vehicle.
To restrict yourself to the torque specifications while tightening bolts and nuts, the clicking torque wrench is the most precise tool around. The clutch mechanism of this tool helps apply the right amount of torque upon threaded fasteners. Go in for a torque wrench that has a torque range of 100 ft-lb or more.
Pliers are multipurpose tools that can be used for cutting and unhinging stuck nuts, cutting and bending thick wire, and compressing material. You must always have a set of pliers that consist of a few wire cutters. Stock up on at least one or two types of needle-nose pliers that can be used for reaching the parts of your car that your fingers just won’t.
A screwdriver set that comes with several types of heads can make your life a lot easier while working on your car. Go in for magnetized heads as these bits make it easier to extract screws from inaccessible gaps in case you accidentally drop one while working.
You may not find yourself using hammers much, but once in a while, you may want to work the metal body of your car. Slight bumps and misalignments can be rectified by using the right auto body hammer and dolly. Your hammer set must include a rubber mallet, which is excellent for smoothing out dents.
Having a compact air compressor is a great tool to have around whenever you need to inflate your car tires. A small and compact 12-volt inflator can fill an average car tire in a few minutes and is extremely light to carry and easy to use. Such inflators can be extremely helpful in maintaining the recommended air pressure in the tires of your vehicle.
Ratchet and Socket Set
Having a ratchet and socket set will enable you to tune up your vehicle on a regular basis. A standard ⅜-inch drive ratchet is more than enough for repairing the nuts and bolts that come with a car. Always buy a set that comes with an extender, as it works great for reaching tight spots.
Keeping a few SAE and metric combination wrenches in stock is always a good idea. Where other tools fail to reach into tight spaces in the engine bay and other areas of the car, the smaller and thinner combination wrenches get the job done for you. Go in for a 12-point box-ended wrench set that has the sizes you need.
With a digital multimeter, you can check the amperage and voltage of the car’s battery and keep it optimally charged. This way, you won’t ever have to worry about your battery dying on you. Similarly, you can measure circuit resistance of the components of your car.
Not exactly a must-have tool, an impact wrench/gun can surely save you a lot of manual work by fixing nuts and bolts in a matter of seconds. While a cordless lithium battery-charged impact wrench will lend you more portability, a pneumatic tool or corded impact wrench will offer more power.
Oil Filter Wrench
An oil filter wrench is the perfect tool for removing a stubborn oil filter that refuses to budge. Often, when the car is worked on by professionals, the oil filter is screwed in too tight, which makes it exceedingly difficult to loosen it. In such cases, a plier wrench works wonders.
A flashlight is a must if your garage is not well-lit or you need to view the internals of your car more clearly. Always carry one in your emergency toolkit that you keep in the car. You may need it if your car breaks down while driving in the night.
Apart from these, an oil tray, creeper, and plenty of rags are some other essentials you will need while working on your car.