If you’re a DIY car owner, you probably already have a couple of basic tools. This guide outlines 11 essential fix-it items you should have to assist in an emergency or tackle minor repairs on your own. Some of these are no brainers, and some you wouldn’t think of before it is too late!
1. Safety Basics
Before doing any work to your car, gather personal protective equipment (PPE) like a sturdy pair of gloves and safety glasses. A reliable source of illumination like a hanging auto light, a headlamp or even a flashlight. Here are some examples of the varieties of light sources available for the DIY mechanic.
2. Drip Pan
Spilled oil and fluid is messy, unsightly and a hazard to the environment. Even the most careful mechanics have an embarrassing oil spill story, and they’d advise you to get a drip pan. Drip pans should be placed under your vehicle whenever you’re changing out fluids, moving major parts around and will catches all those corrosive chemicals before they leach into the soil or drain. If you do end up spilling some fluids, use sawdust or cleanup compound to take care of it right away.
3. Tire Sealant
A can of tire sealant can mean the difference between getting home safely with a punctured tire and having to put the spare tire on your car. It’s a temporary quick fix for small holes and will help you get to your destination. Next stop: tire repair shop.
4. Jumper Cables
A set of jumper cables should be stored in your vehicle at all times. Jumper cables allow you to jump start your car when the battery dies. Jumper cables are clearly marked on the handles, making it easy to see the proper way to connect them to the battery. We went in-depth on this topic here, FYI.
There are several different kinds of pliers, but they all share a similar function. They’re used to grip and grab hold of spark plugs, hoses, or otherwise hard to reach parts of your car. Always use the right tool for the job to prevent doing damage to your vehicle.
6. Ice Scraper
A true DIY mechanic doesn’t use a credit card to scrape ice off the windshield. Invest a few dollars into an ice scraper and keep it in your car, even under the driver or passenger seat.
7. Strong Chains
Some jurisdictions enforce the mandatory carrying of tire chains in the winter, so if you live in an area with heavy snow and ice you should definitely carry chains. Tire chains come fitted to your specific tire and give your wheels better grip on icy roads. The Coquihalla requires them now, and soon the Malahat will as well, you can bet on it.
8. Socket Set
A good ratchet socket set with both standard and metric measurement is invaluable for removing bolts to access parts under the hood you might need to maintain or repair. Any set should include 1/2-inch, 1/4-inch, and 3/8-inch sockets, which are the common sizes required for auto work.
A variety of screwdrivers will help you succeed with your DIY projects. Make sure you have multiple shapes and sizes few screwdrivers in multiple sizes and types. Screwdrivers do double duty, removing or tightening screws AND prying out pieces you need to work on or replace.
10. Wire cutters
A small pair of sharp wire cutters with a comfortable grip will help get all sorts of projects done. Wire cutters are necessary to installing a stereo, wiring new headlights or addressing any electrical issues in your car.
11. Owner’s Manual
Finally, make sure your glovebox has the owner’s manual for your car. It contains a wealth of information for the DIY’er like specs, measurements, tire pressure, and part descriptions.