Essential List of Must Have Tools for a Mechanic [2023 Update]

As a mechanic, when someone trusts you to fix their vehicle it is a job that must be done right. No matter your level of experience, be it apprentice or veteran, to perform the job correctly, you must have the appropriate tools.

If you are wondering what those tools are or just looking to add to an already solid collection, you have come to the right place! Below is a list of important tools for any mechanic who works on cars, from basic to the more unique…

1. Ratchet & Socket Set

Along with your digital torque wrench, you’ll need a full ratchet and socket set to loosen and tighten nuts and bolts. Make sure the set includes a few socket extension bars and 3/8’’, 1/4’’ and 1/2’’ ratchets with their matching sockets. This is not a place to save money, invest in a good set and it will serve you for life.

2. Ratchet Extender

Sometimes getting your ratchet with into an area to loosen or tighten a bolt just isn’t possible, typically in the engine compartment where space is limited. A ratchet extender allows you to work in these otherwise impossible spaces by attaching your socket to one end and ratchet to the other.

3. Wrench Set

A staple for any mechanic, a metric wrench set that goes from 6mm up to 24mm will likely become your most used set of tools.

4. Digital Torque Wrench

A digital torque wrench allows you to pre-set the required torque and displays the rising torque level as you crank. Fastening bolts on vehicles without a digital torque wrench could be a disaster. You risk shearing a bolt completely off and ending up with unevenly connected parts.  They also include many sensors that alert you when your pre-set torque is reached. The result is every component on your vehicle put together with the correct amount of tension.

5. Hammer

Although there are many different types of hammers, car mechanics should have at least a couple hammers on hand.  Good options include:

  • Dead Blow Mallet – Bolts can often become stuck which is why you’ll need a dead blow mallet on standby just in case.
  • Ball Peen Hammer – If you need to perform precision automotive bodywork such as removing dents, a ball peen hammer is a must.
  • Body Mechanic Hammer – Used by alongside a curved anvil known as a dolly to remove dents from car panels.

6. Screwdrivers Set

Are there any jobs these days that don’t require the use of a screwdriver? It doesn’t seem like it! Screwdrivers are especially prominent in auto repair jobs, for which you’ll need the following types:

  • Flat head
  • Crosshead head (Philips)
  • Torx
  • Allen

Skimping on your screwdriver types isn’t advised as you increase the chance of striping the screw. Also, make sure you purchase a variety of sizes for each head type, and different screwdriver lengths for those harder to reach workspaces.

7. Pliers

Many jobs will require the use of pliers. I could be anything from removing small parts to holding onto objects. We recommend you have a few different sizes and possibly a pair of long-nosed pliers as well.

8. Car Jack & Jack Stands

A car jack is a must if you plan to work on the underbelly of a vehicle on areas such as the brake pads, tires and gas tank. However, they are not designed to hold the vehicle in place while it is being worked on, this is a job for jack stands. You will need a minimum of 2, but if you want the entire vehicle raised from the ground you’ll need 4.

9. Ramps

Although they don’t provide the same level of clearance as a car jack, ramps are still useful to perform quick maintenance jobs such as an oil change.

10. Wheel Chocks

For added safety, invest in some wheel chocks to make sure the vehicle doesn’t move backwards or forwards while it is being worked on!

11. Wire Strippers

Needed when performing maintenance on a cars electronics system. They are the best way to strip the insulation from wires of almost all sizes.

12. Wire Cutters

A simple pair of wire cutters is a must have when working on one of the many electrical projects possible on a car.

13. Wire Terminal Crimper

Wire crimpers join two pieces of wire back together by deforming them in a way that makes locks them together. This process is known as a crimp.

14. Tape

There are two types of tape you need when working on a vehicle, electrical tape and duct tape. The former is used when you need to hold something together that will have a current running through it, such as lighting wires. The latter is for areas where you require a firmer hold.

15. Automotive Stethoscope

Around the world, people with cars making peculiar noises are taking them to a local car mechanic wanting to know what the problem is. As a mechanic, diagnosing the issue can be tricky. Inexperienced mechanics may simply guess the issue, fixing random parts in the hope the noises go away. Anyone with experience, however, will be using an automotive stethoscope. They often come with headphones, transmitters and microphone clamps which used together in the vicinity of the noise should determine the root cause of the issue.

16. Extendable Magnet

Extendable magnets can retrieve fumbled screws, nuts, wrenches and other objects you accidentally drop down hard to reach areas.

17. Pry bar

A good pry bar will prove its worth to you very early on. Whenever anything needs removing, prying or breaking they will be your go to tool. Don’t expect a cheap pry bar to last long so save yourself the trouble and start with a quality model.

18. Tire Pressure Gauge & Inflator

A vast amount of jobs performed by car mechanics revolve around working on tires. Throughout a job, you may find yourself adjusting the tire pressure 10 plus times so it is vital you have an accurate pressure reading to work from. Some pressure gauges also feature the ability to inflate the tire at the same time as taking a reading.

19. Circuit Tester

Circuit testers are used to check if an electrical system is wired correctly by checking for a complete electrical pathway between two points. They are crucial when working on cars due to the importance and number of the electrical systems involved in operating a vehicle.

20. Battery Carrier

Car batteries are awkward to get a hold of without making a complete mess of your hands. They also tend to weigh a tonne which isn’t ideal and doesn’t make them very easy to manoeuvre. For this, you’ll need some trusty battery carriers.

21. Battery Charger

Car batteries can go flat for several reasons. Some possible causes include; old age, leaving the car electronics on without the engine running or extreme temperatures. Battery charges have come along way, not only can will they recharge a dead battery but they can also increase their reliability and longevity.

22. Jump Starter

Jump starters are the easiest and best way to charge a dead battery. Yes, you could jumpstart a car using another vehicle but it is a much longer process and isn’t as straight forward. You’ll find yourself using it often and when not in use they can be easily stored away and out of sight.

23. OBD II Scanner

An OBD-II or ‘onboard diagnostics II’ is a tool that performs a self-diagnosis and report on a cars onboard computer system, essentially determining what is wrong with the car.

24. Funnels

A standard funnel is a must for pouring the various vehicle fluid types such as windscreen washer fluid, radiator fluid and air conditioning coolant directly into their intended location without making a mess. For filling the transmission fluid, a longer funnel is preferable.

25. Flexible Funnel

If you need to do an in-house oil change, you will need one of these! The flexibility of the funnel allows you to direct the oil exactly where you want it to go.

26. Head Flashlight

It always helps to have some focused light shining directly on the area you are working on. Inexpensive and durable, they will allow you to work completely hands-free so you can focus solely on your work.

27. Magnetic Socket Organizer

Storing you sockets can get messy during a job when you are constantly switching out one size for another. Simply putting them back on the floor between uses is a great way for them to go missing. A magnetic socket organizer features magnetized compartments that will secure all your sockets and ratchets as well!

28. Magnetic Bolt Tray

If you always seem to be missing a bolt, this is the product for you. Simply throw all your odds and ends into the tray and carry on working without having to worry about anything going missing.

29. General lighting

It can’t hurt to have some extra light illuminating your working environment, especially when working on the smaller scale jobs that demand a steady hand and precise movement.

30. Pressure Washer

Once all the hard work is finished and the vehicle is fixed, it’s time to clean it up. For the cleanest finish possible, you must go with a pressure washer. Use a PSI setting in the range of 1200 – 1900 to avoid damaging the paint and leave a sparkling clean finish.

Did we miss any other important tools? Let us know in the comments below…

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