Created on: March 02, 2013
Choosing your first mechanics tool set depends a little on what tasks you hope to do to the vehicles, the vehicles themselves and whether they tend to be new or old. One big difference between new and old vehicles—apart from the increase in computer-controlled parts—is that new vehicles tend to require metric tools, while older vehicles (or British ones) use fittings that are imperial.
Some good general purpose tools are a set of combination spanners (for all those nuts and bolts), socket sets (1/2 inch is generally a good choice since it is strong and allows good pressure for whatever size head you put on), a set of screwdrivers (both flat and cross-head are useful), pliers (for cutting wire, holding and pulling) and a set of Allen keys.
For any work underneath the vehicle, or just changing the wheel, a good trolley jack is essential but make sure that it is rated for the weight of the vehicle you are working on. You will also need some axle stands if you plan on working underneath the car for any period of time since jacks are not designed for prolonged support.
Some tools that may be vehicle specific include spark plug spanners and oil filter wrench. Changing the spark plugs is a common task and without the specially designed spanner most plugs will be hard to removed. They come in two main sizes so get one suitable for your vehicles. An oil filter wrench is also useful if you plan on cleaning or changing this.
In terms of the electrics, jump leads are generally not recommended, since they can cause lots of damage and are dangerous. They are more suitable for farm vehicles and older machinery. A soldering iron is also useful if you plan on tinkering with the electronics.
For working on fluids a measuring jug can help you make sure the right amount of oil etc. is set aside, otherwise spillages can be messy, and damage may be done if you don't have enough of some fluids. A funnel with a built in filter is essential for ensuring that no debris enters the system. The filter and funnel can also be handy if the vehicle needs fuel supplied from a container.
General purpose consumables like a degreaser, water displacer (e.g. WD40), duct tape, electrical tape, oils and greases are beneficial, along with a good safety light on a long lead, that you can hang or set up to illuminate hard to see places freeing up your hands.
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