For any driver, there comes a time in which they’d be wanting to tackle some repair and maintenance jobs themselves. Depending on your level of expertise it may be the case that you’ll only want to do the basic jobs on the car. However, regardless of your level of experience, there are tools that are essential for you to carry out your tasks. These can then used in conjunction with handy guides and tutorials online.
A robust tyre inflator and pressure gauge
In terms of maintaining your car, one of the areas that many people fall short on is making sure that their tyres are at the correct pressure. The issue with this is that underinflated tyres can be pretty dangerous. Moreover, there is the issue that there is more rolling resistance on the wheel which therefore increasing fuel consumption which will have a big impact on your wallet. Lastly, having a tyre that is underinflated will put uneven wear on the tyre. The end result of this is that you’ll end up having to replace your tyres much more readily than you would if they were inflated to the proper pressures.
Thankfully tyre pressure gauges are relatively cheap and accurate. They work by simply being inserted into the valve stem on your tyre in order to get a reading. This can then be compared to the recommended pressures that are located within your vehicles hand book. A word of caution is to make sure that in order to get the most accurate reading possible is to take the pressures when the tyre is cold. A great option is the Tekton Digital Tyre Guage. This has an illuminated display for ease of use in any lighting condition as well as giving readings in Bar, PSI, KPa and Kg/cm3. That way, no matter what kind of units of measurement you are used to, you will be covered. Better still, it has a replaceable battery so that you don’t need to buy a new one each time the battery dies. This is available to people in the USA. For those in the UK, the DBPower tyre pressure gauge is a great option as it also comes with a seatbelt cutter, LED flashlight along with some other handy tools all rolled into one.
When it comes to tyre inflators there are two variants namely electrical and foot pump. Whilst foot pumps used to be the more common variant, the electrical variety has shot ahead and has overtaken the more conventional pump.
For the UK and USA, a great tyre inflator is from P.I Auto Store. As you’d expect from a digital tyre inflator, it is extremely accurate and you can set the pressure to the value that you like. It is also extremely quick and plugs into your car via the cigarette lighter with its 12 foot cable. If it were to be the case that your tyre is completely flat, it is able to pump it up to 30psi in just under 4 minutes. There is also a bright LED attached to it should you need to carry out an inflation in the dark. It can be purchased here in the US, and here in the UK.
An appropriate torque wrench
For any kind of work that you’re carrying out on the car, it’s crucial that any bolts that have been removed are tightened up properly again. This is due to the fact that if they are too slack then the vibrations during normal travel can cause them to loosen. Likewise, if the bolts are too tight, they may become permanently stuck or even snap when you have to remove them again. This is especially true when it comes to wheel bolts and nuts. Due to this, it is also recommended that you use a torque wrench. This is able to tighten the bolt to the appropriate rating set down by your car manufacturer. This will either be in Nm (Newton metres) or lbft (foot pounds). However, not all torgue wrenches are created equally and you should always opt for one that has been calibrated and ideally comes with a calibration certificate.
Just because a brand says it has been calibrated doesn’t mean it has. The result of this is that you could effectively be throwing your money away on an item that doesn’t tighten bolts properly. In the USA, the best torque wrench you can get via Amazon is the Tekton 24335. This has a range of 10 to 150 foot lbs, or if you prefer to measure things in Newton metres it is 13.6 to 203.5Nm. It has an accuracy of +/- 4% so you’re guaranteed peace of mind when you use this. It also comes with its own carry case to help protect the product. It should be noted though that whilst this has a wide range of torque, you should always make sure that your car is within the range that you need. This information will be available in the owners manual. You can read the reviews about it here.
For shoppers in the UK, the Silverline 633567 torque wrench is the best seller on Amazon. It has a range of torque of 28-210 Nm so it is ideal for a wide variety of jobs on your car. Like the Tekton, it also comes with its own carrying case. However, it also comes with a 125mm extension bar which is ideal for those that are wanting to remove the wheels from their car as the nuts and bolts can be receded into the wheel. You can read its reviews here.
An all purpose tool kit
Another key component for any DIY car maintenance and repair job is an all purpose tool kit. This is in effect a tool kit with parts that can be used not only on your car, but also around the home as well. Thankfully Draper have came up with a solution to this with their 95 piece tool kit. In it you’ll find a variety of hex (allen) keys, along with spanners of varying sizes. There are also a wide variety of sockets which is ideal when used in conjunction with the torque wrenches discussed above since each bolt on the car will have varying sizes. The wide variety of sockets in this kit should have you covered. There are also two plier variants included, one of which is long nosed as well as a set of wire strippers. There is also a universal screwdriver included which has a variety of screwdriver bits to accompany it. You are also able to purchase other bits from elsewhere and use it in the included screwdriver. These different screwdriver bits can be extremely handy should you need to remove any of the internal fascia’s in the car since these are normally held down by screws of different sizes.
Axle (jack) stands
For anyone that’s wanting to do any work underneath the car such as draining its oil, it is crucial that axle (jack) stands are used. These work by properly supporting the vehicle as opposed to merely propping it up with a car jack. Axle stands work by supporting the car at one side and then on the other side hence why they come in packs of two. When supporting a car in this manner, make sure you are locating the axle stands at the appropriate position for your car. This can be found in your cars handbook or online. It is also recommended that you use chocks when putting your car on axle stands as these will aid in stability of the wheels still on the ground. Draper offer the same axle stands in the USA and also the UK, just be sure to select an option that is right for the weight of your car. In the USA, these chocks come highly recommended and in the UK, these ones are highly recommended.
I hope that this overview of essential tools has been helpful and will aid you in maintaining and repairing your car.