Car mechanics are a peculiar sort. They seem to nurture a certain level of disdain towards one another, and much like Salieri hated Mozart, each new mechanic you encounter seems to think that the previous one did a horrible job. Why is that? Could it be that car maintenance is an art form as much as it is a skill? Or could it be that, much like your math teacher, they only recognize one way to solve a problem, with utter disregard for any other approach?
One thing is for certain, though– the quality and scope of available tools will be the key elements that depict a good mechanic. No matter if you’re looking to acquire a new lifelong skill, or you’re an aspiring mechanic looking for guidance on the most essential tools you will need for the trade, you will want to invest in these instruments that professionals cannot live without.
Jack and jack stands
A car jack is an essential piece of equipment in the trade, and no matter if you’re replacing a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere, or opening your own shop, this is the first tool you’ll need. Always remember to support the jack with jack stands when elevating a vehicle and reaching under to ensure safety and efficiency.
A multimeter is vital for measuring voltage, electric currents and resistance, a mechanic’s best friend in fixing any electrical problem. It is important to invest in a quality multimeter that measures different values, specifically amperage (the strength of electric current displayed in amperes) for detailed readings.
Almost every car repair involves the use of pliers, and there are three kinds you should have at hand. Pliers are essential for brake work, changing hoses, working with connectors and more. You have your regular pliers, your vise pliers, as well as long and short needle nose pliers for reaching into tight spaces.
While regular pliers are useful to have, as a car mechanic you will most likely work with vise and needle pliers. Vise pliers are crucial for removing clamps and coolant hoses, while needle pliers provide all around versatility and are useful in any repair project.
If anyone tries to fool you, a spanner is just another name for a wrench. There are numerous wrench variations, each one serving a different purpose and coming in different sizes, and you want to supply your toolkit with every kind imaginable. Be sure to invest in quality spanners, such as Kincromewrenches that are durable enough to last you a lifetime, while affordable enough to buy in bundles.
If you are asked whether to buy standard (US size) or metric spanners, go for metric,as you are more likely to encounter problems requiring the use of metric measurements.
Much like their spanner brethren, screwdrivers come in many shapes, sizes and gauges. The essential pieces are Flat and Phillips screwdrivers, and you can expand your collection with stubbed, normal length, skinny, heavy duty, flathead and torx screwdrivers.
Now, in case the number of varying models didn’t scare you away, stubbed ones are great for removing sensors and reaching into tight places, and so are the skinny ones. You also need a heavy-duty screwdriver for extensive car repairs, as it is unlikely to break and can double as a pry bar.
Finally, the last tool a good mechanic cannot live without is a ratchet, three of them, to be exact. While there are numerous variants, you are most likely to need the three basic sizes in any given situation: small, medium and large. This is one of the most extensively used tools in the business, allowing you to loosen or tighten the bolt or nut attached to a socket – and everything in a car has a bolt, or a nut, or a socket.
Vehicle maintenance is a tricky business and a trade entailing years of learning and practice. While you should leave the heavy-duty repairs to a professional, you can easily learn the fundamentals of vehicle maintenance and save money and time by fixing minor car problems yourself, utilizing only these essential mechanic instruments.