- Car Care & Maintenance
The Best Tools for DIY Car Maintenance
The great thing about the advent of the internet and video streaming sites such as YouTube is that anyone is able to make their own videos and share it with others. The same can be said about online guides that are now able to be posted on forums, or shared as ebooks. Regardless of the way in which you find the information online, you’ll be needing an essential list of the best tools for car maintenance and repair. There’s a lot of information out there that can be daunting, which is therefore the reason why this Hub was created.
Use YouTube and a Car Repair Manual
As mentioned above, YouTube is a great resource for those wanting to see how they should carry out any repair and maintenance procedure.
Further, for nearly every car there is a repair and maintenance manual available for it. These are generally at the low end of the price scale and therefore make a great addition to any would be DIY mechanic.
Overview of tools
- Safety is key. Be sure you have adequate footwear, gloves and eye protection. Also consider using a mask if you'll be using any chemicals during the repair procedure.
- A hydraulic jack will be needed to lift the car.
- Jack Stands are crucial to support the car.
- Visibility is key. A proper light will make sure that you can see what you're doing at all times.
- Any removal of components will mean that the bolts holding it in place will need to be re-tightened. A torque wrench is needed for this.
- A socket set will ensure you can remove and tighten any bolts
Safety is paramount
Before you undertake any work on your car, it is important to know what your limits are.
There are parts of your car that are in less than ample positions and you can easily injure yourself if you do not take the proper precautions. We have alluded to the need of using jack stands below. However, the safety aspect takes place well before you even pick up a tool.
It is also recommended that you use safety goggles should it be the case that you're draining oil or the coolant system on the car. Likewise, it is highly recommended that you wear gloves when working on your car. Other than the fact that it can get your hands extremely dirty if you don't there is also the safety issues.
Over time there may be parts of the car that start to rust and become jagged. Should you end up breaking the skin on a jagged area it could lead to infection. Similarly, you could be removing a component on your car that is in close proximity to a heat pipe. From personal experience, it can be a large shock should your hand touch this pipe. Gardeners gloves should be more than adequate to provide protection.
Regardless of how in-depth the work is going to be, the majority of time you’ll be needing to jack the car up. Even if it is the case that you’re changing the oil, you’ll still need to get the car high enough off the ground to be able to undo the reservoir as well as being able to change the filter over. Depending on your car manufacturer, your car may already have a jack included in the boot. Whilst this is the case that you can lift the car up with this jack, this is more for the intention of swapping over a wheel. This is not designed to hold up the car for long periods of time and therefore it should not be used when carrying out maintenance work due to the risk of injury that it comes with.
Thankfully it is possible to get after market hydraulic jacks that safely and securely lift up your vehicle. They are extremely easy to use and slide right under the jack point on your car. All it involves is you pushing down the lever in order to raise the car. There are a wide array of hydraulic jacks available online.
Thankfully Amazon has a wide array of them at various prices. For those with small to medium sized cars the Liftmaster is an ideal choice of jack. It is able to lift up to 2 tons which is ideal for the majority of users and is comprised of high gauge steel for peace of mind in terms of safety and also durability. Despite this, it is also very lightweight which is great for moving it around your garage.
Axle (jack) Stands
The benefit of axle stands is that allows the even jacking up of a car. Whilst the hydraulic jack is great at supporting the car, it will be tilted to one side. This might be fine for some tasks, but in cases where you need to have the car on an even plane axle stands are a better option.
These work by jacking up the car so you can then lower back onto these stands, with one being on each side of the car. This is especially helpful in cases whereby you need to work under it to repair a part of the car such as the exhaust since it won’t be tilted to one side. There are a variety of these available which can be dependent on the weight of your car. As a rule of thumb, you should always choose an option that is heavier in weight than what your car is since it’ll be supporting the car for quite some time depending on the work you’ll be carrying out.
When it comes to the best axle stands, Torin make a fantastic choice. As you’d expect, they come in packs of 2 (one for each side of the car) and is comprised of high quality, heavy duty steel. It has a double locking mechanism on it which adds to the peace of mind and safety aspect of the use of the axle stands. This then allows you to carry out your work with confidence that everything is safe. They are also low cost so you won’t be spending the earth when you buy them. They are available in a wealth of different sizes which would be based on whether you have a small car, or an SUV.
If you’re planning on carrying out any work on the braking system on your car then it is a necessity that you take off the wheels. When putting them back on, you have to make sure that they are put on at the correct torque. This will either be listed as foot pounds or in Newton metres (Nm)in your cars handbook. The issue is that with any car, there are constant vibrations and if you don’t secure the bolts for your wheel tightly enough then they have the tendency to come loose which is extremely unsafe. Likewise, if you tighten them too much, when it comes to you taking them off again for whatever reason they may actually snap which would cost you a lot of money. This predicament isn’t exclusive to your wheels, but it is the area which is covered the most when using the example of why you need a torque wrench.
Your car book should have the specific torque measurements you need for the wheels, as well as the measurements needed for other parts of the as the such as bolts holding on part of the suspension.
Due to the fact that you need a precise measurement of how tight a bolt is on the car, the only way in which you can be really sure if the bolt is secure is to use a torque wrench. These are very easy to use and have a gauge on them that you adjust by twisting the handle on them. When you have reached your desired torque that you have preset, the wrench will click indicating that the bolt is now at your preset.
If you’re going to be taking off the wheels of your car as well as doing other work on it, then it is best to get a torque wrench with as wide a range as possible. A prime example of this is the Tekton 24340 torque wrench which has a range in foot pounds of 25-250. With its long handle this is ideal for those that are needing to take off wheels as well as carrying out a wide variety of other jobs on the car. It has been calibrated and has an accuracy of +/- 4% so you’re well within the safe limits when torqueing a bolt.
However if you’re doing work in the engine bay, there’s a chance that you’ll also be needing a smaller torque wrench which could up costing you more money. In terms of ‘smaller’ this can be the size of it as well as the torque at which you need the bolts tightened to. In this case, if you already have a wide array of ratchets, you might not want to spend even more money on an array of torque wrenches. The solution to this is to use a digital torque adapter which connects directly onto your ratchet. A great adapter comes from Powerbuilt which has a range of 29.5-147.6 foot pounds, or 40-200Nm. This will easily allow you to adapt your own ratchets into torque wrenches.
As mentioned above, there’s going to be a wide variety of bolts that you’re going to have to take off when it comes to your car. For this, you’re going to need a high quality socket set to be able to remove and tighten them back up again. When you’re buying a socket set, it is recommended that you purchase a set that is comprised of Chrome Vanadium.
It is extremely light and yet strong at the same time making it an ideal option for working on a car. It is best to get as big as an assortment as you can afford since you may otherwise end up spending a lot of money over time buying additional sockets for the needs on your car. The thing about it is that you’ll be able to work on on other things around the house as well.
Thankfully, Stanley offer the perfect solution in their 145 piece socket set. In it you’ll find a wide array of sockets. However, you will also get a variety of hex (Allen) keys as well as a screwdriver which has changeable screwdriver bits. The benefits of this is that it limits the need for you to go out and buy an additional screwdriver set which could end up costing you more money. If you bought this kit, you could easily pick up a screwdriver bit set which can be less than double figures and use it with the screwdriver provided in this kit. It also comes with a variety of spanners, which are again ideal for use not just on the car but around your home.
I hope that this Hub has been useful to you and has provided you with the information you need about the best tools for car maintenance and repair.