16 Tools to Get You Started Working on Your Own Car

16 Tools to Get You Started Working on Your Own Car

Wrenching on your own car can be satisfying and cost-saving, but you’ll need these basic tools to get started.

Whether you’re restoring an old Jeep or you’ve got brand new Prius, you can eschew the dealer or auto shop for some tasks and start doing your own car maintenance. You’ll find working on your own car saves time and money—and if something breaks you’ll have the confidence and know-how to fix it.

That said, you can’t just drag your basic around-the-house toolbox out to the garage. An auto mechanic’s tool set differs from woodworking and general DIY tool you may have already accumulated; here are the basics you’ll need to get started.

1Socket Set

dewalt ratchet set

A socket set is arguably the tool you’ll need most in order to work on your car. A proper mechanics tool set will include standard and metric sizes and 3/8-inch, 1/4-inch, and even 1/2-inch drivers and sockets. Extensions and thin walled sockets are also useful for certain situations. This DeWalt socket set is full-featured and a great kit for beginners and grease monkeys.

2 Pliers and Wirecutters


There are a ton of electrical projects you can take on with a vehicle, such as, installing a stereo head unit, speakers, or wiring new headlights. You’ll need pliers of various sizes to achieve this, as well as wire cutters and wire strippers. Craftsman and Milwaukee Tool offer a full-range of hand tools to get the job done.

3 Torque Wrench

torque wrench

Setting nuts to the proper torque is often over-looked by beginner mechanics. Over torquing a nut can cause the bolt to shear off and also makes it much more difficult to remove when needed. Use a clicker-type torque wrench to ensure you are tightening to the proper specifications. To adjust the torque simply turn the bottom handle and align the top of it to the specified torque which is imprinted on the tool. Tighten until you hear two-clicks and then you’re done.

Never use a torque wrench to remove lug nuts, instead use an impact wrench or breaker bar—you risk screwing up the settings on your torque wrench otherwise.

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