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7 Essential Tools For Every DIY Mechanic

Repairing, servicing and modifying your own vehicle is an extremely gratifying task, which can become quite frustrating when you find you don’t have the tools you need to complete the job.

As such, if you’re a budding home mechanic, wanting to work on your own vehicles, there are a few essential tools you should have to make your life easier when it comes to carrying out repairs and modifications. These tools will allow you to complete most of the jobs on your car, excluding the more niche jobs which require specialist tools.

Photo: Amazon UK - Connex Socket Set

1. Socket Set

A socket set is an absolute necessity for working on your car, as most of the fasteners encountered will be nuts and bolts. A decent socket set doesn’t need to break the bank, and this one just costs £25.64 at the time of writing. Just keep an eye on the 10mm socket - you’ll need this frequently but they’re sneaky little beggars and will take any opportunity to disappear!

Photo: Amazon UK - AmazonBasics Torque Wrench

2. Torque Wrench

When it comes to replacing a part on your vehicle, you’ll find that a lot of the nuts and bolts have a manufacturer required torque spec - this means how tight the fastener needs to be, to be safe and able to withstand the forces exerted on it through normal driving.

A lot of home mechanics go with the old simple rule of “FT” (f—-ing tight!) when working, especially on wheel lug nuts, but this isn’t always the best method as it can result in snapped or stressed bolts. It’s advisable to get yourself a decent torque wrench and follow the manufacturer recommendations on torque spec. This AmazonBasics torque wrench costs only £23.99 and has glowing reviews.

3. Hydraulic Jack

It’s all well and good working on the top half of your car, where you can stand and work, but a lot of jobs require you to get down and dirty underneath the car, or even require you to lift the car up out of necessity. When it comes to these jobs, you need a secure and reliable hydraulic jack, one which won’t fail and result in two tonnes of metal making a sudden reacquaintance with the floor as you work tirelessly to pump the handle.

You might be thinking “I have a jack in the boot of my car, I don’t need this” but trust us - those scissor jacks are often affectionately named “widowmaker jacks” due to their instability and likelihood of failure, and for that reason should only be used in an emergency. A good hydraulic jack could save you a lot of heartache, but please do learn the appropriate jacking points on your car - nobody wants a crumpled door sill!

The Halfords 2 Tonne Hydraulic Jack is a good value for money jack, though you might want to consider their “low profile” jack if you have a lowered car!

4. Axle Stands

While a hydraulic jack gets your car in the air, it shouldn’t be used to keep it there! There have been too many cases where a jack has failed whilst holding a vehicle up, resulting in the car coming crashing down, sometimes with fatal consequences. The job of holding the car in place once it’s up is given to a good set of axle stands, sometimes also called jack stands, which are a couple of solid pieces of metal with a variable height to hold your car exactly at the point you need it to be.

These are placed under solid points on the car, such as on the subframe, suspension mounting point or a chassis rail. Don’t rely on a large flat surface as being a suitable point - you’ll put a hole through your floor pan or engine sump by doing this! Always consult the internet or your owners manual if you’re not sure where to place your axle stands.

5. Ratcheting Spanner Set

While a socket set will work most of the time when undoing nuts and bolts, there are some times when a good old spanner just works better. To make things even easier, a spanner with an open end and a ratcheting closed end opposite will make quick work of many tasks. The set in the photo are our suggestion, and the ratcheting closed end is also flexible, making it easier to get into awkward spaces.

6. Screwdriver Set

If you’re DIY minded, you’ve probably already got a decent screwdriver set in your house. These are invaluable when it comes to car maintenance as you’ll find yourself needing a screwdriver regularly. Whether it be to undo the screws holding in your headlights, or to undo jubilee hose clips, you’ll be glad you’ve got a good set of screwdrivers to rely on. We personally recommend looking for a set with rubberised handles, to make it easier to keep your grip when you’ve got oily and dirty hands, and it’ll reduce fatigue when you’re fighting a tough stuck screw!

7. Haynes Manual

If you come from a family of ‘handy’ DIY folks, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of these in your Dad or Grandad’s garage! The Haynes Manual is a tried and tested source of knowledge and guidance on carrying out almost all of the jobs you can imagine on your car. They feature in-depth diagrams of exactly how the parts and pieces are put together, and step by step instructions on how to complete a job from start to finish.

A lot of folks nowadays rely on YouTube videos to show how it’s done, but sometimes there isn’t a good enough video showing how to do the specific job you’re stuck with. A Haynes Manual will quickly become something you rely on whilst building your knowledge of working on your car.

Don’t forget to search for your exact make and model! This link is for the Fiesta Mk7.5 2013 - 2017.

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