by Staff Writer
Doing your own car repairs with your own automotive tools can be a satisfying and money-saving experience -- if you have the right auto tools. It can be a very frustrating experience if your collection of auto tools is missing some important pieces. Fortunately, there are a few basic automotive tools that will allow you to do most of the car repairs you're likely to tackle at home. Keep reading for information on some essential automotive tools that will help you keep your car well-tuned and on the road.
Floor jack: If you plan on doing your own auto repairs, then you should probably plan on getting underneath your car. While the jack that came with your car will raise your car just fine, it's probably slow and a pain to use. Floor jacks aren't car tools, strictly speaking, but they're certainly nice to have around. A decent hydraulic floor jack is very helpful when you're doing car repairs. Floor jacks are more stable than normal car jacks. They're faster than car jacks; plus, they have long handles, so you don't have to bend to the ground to operate them.
Jack stands: Jacks stands are hefty metal frames designed to hold the weight of your car. Once you've raised your car off the ground, you'll want to set it on jack stands. Don't ever slip under your car with your car tools when the car is only supported by a car jack or floor jack. Jack stands have stable, wide bases and simple constructions that won't break when you're under the car.
Screwdrivers: Screwdrivers, both Phillips screwdrivers and flat-head screwdrivers, are probably some of the first automotive tools you will want to pick up, especially if you plan on doing a lot of work under the hood. While you won't use screwdrivers as much as heftier auto tools if you're working on heavy-duty jobs, if you're doing things like checking battery cables or swapping out a reservoir, you'll definitely need the right screwdrivers to remove wires and brackets. Also, a good flat-head screwdriver makes a useful lever in a pinch.
Pliers: Having an assortment of pliers in your automotive tool set will help ensure that you never run into a bolt, clip or other fastener that you can't remove because it's at an odd angle or stripped. Pliers are the jacks-of-all trades of your automotive tool set. Needle-nose pliers work well for loosening clips on old hoses or pulling hard-to-reach fuses. Vise-grip pliers not only compound the amount of pressure you can put on a stubborn fastener, but they also let you lock down different parts, freeing your hands for some other task. A set of quality pliers should certainly be a part of your auto tool collection.
Ratchets: A ratchet set, also called a socket wrench set, isn't very versatile -- it only works on bolts -- but you're going to run into a lot of stubborn bolts if you're doing your own auto repairs. A quality ratchet set will give you the leverage needed to break loose tough bolts and will make removing them much faster as well, since you never have to remove the socket from the nut to turn it. Socket wrenches aren't terribly cheap, but if you have one among your other car tools, you will be able to tackle a wider range of repairs than you otherwise could, making socket wrenches well worth their cost.