The top 25 things you need to get “Garage Ready” in a hurry (Part 1-The Lucky 13)
So you say you want to be a DIY mechanic. Are you ready? Do you have what it takes? The first step is to make sure that you have all the proper gear and tools. It doesn’t take much nor do you need a huge budget to get ‘Garage Ready’.
Here is a list of essentials that every good garage should have. This list is not all-inclusive, however it should get you off to a great start! Some items on list are tools, some of them are used for safety, some are helpers, and others are used for cleanliness. As with everything, buy the best that you can afford. You really do get what you pay for, especially when it comes to tools. There is nothing worse than a sub-quality part or tool that breaks right in the middle of repair.
First we’ll start off with the tools.
Ratchet and socket set-This set of tools is probably one of the most important and most often used set in your toolbox. You definitely want to buy the best that you can afford. I recommend that you get a set that is both standard as well as metric. What I mean is the set will have sockets that are measured in millimeters and other sockets that are measured in fractions of inches. If the set does not have both types of sockets, you may have to purchase two separate sets. Another thing to consider is whether the ratchet set uses a 1/4″ or 3/8″ drive. The difference is that the 3/8″ drive allows you to use more torque and is used to tighten larger bolts or nuts.
Open-ended or crescent wrench set-These wrenches are also available in standard and metric measurements. They allow you to turn nuts and bolts that are in hard-to-reach places. They are also available in a combination type that that is open on one end and has a ratcheting function on the other end.
Screwdriver set- Get yourself a combination screwdriver set. The set will have straight edge/slotted as well as Phillips (cross-pattern) of different sizes. The difference in quality here will come down to the handles as well as the hardness of the tips.
Torque wrench-A torque wrench is also very important. This tool allows you to tighten nuts and bolts precisely with the right amount of torque. Torque is basically turning force and is measured in ft.-lbs. (pounds per foot) or Newton meters. Do not buy a cheap torque wrench. If you do you, will be replacing it sooner than you think. By using a torque wrench to tighten bolts, you will ensure that you don’t over tighten and damage vehicle parts.
Rubber mallet-You will use this tool to force a stubborn part if you need to move or remove it and because his rubber it will not damage the part.
Breaker bar- This is a very valuable tool and has saved my bacon more than once. A breaker bar is used to loosen very stubborn nuts and bolts. They come in varying lengths and I’ve seen from 17 in. long all the way up to 40 in. long. The longer the breaker bar is, the more torque it allows you to put on a nut or bolt using the concept of leverage. Do not use your ratchet to loosen stubborn nuts and bolts! It is not designed for this and you will break it.
Pliers set-Get yourself a pliers set. You should be able to find a set with varying sized handles as well as varied tips or noses. You use these for grabbing, cutting, pinching, and gripping. Make sure the set has needle-nosed pliers as well. These are invaluable.
Lock-grip pliers-These are also known as vice-grip pliers. You will use these to grab and hold nuts and bolts. They also come in handy when you need to turn a nut or bolt that has lost its hexagonal shape. This type of bolt head can’t be turned with a ratchet or wrench because those tools can no longer get a grip on it. This is definitely a cool tool!
Tongue and groove pliers-This type of pliers are also known as channel- locks. This type of pliers allows you to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts of varying sizes.
Plastic non-marring tools- These types of tools allow you to pry and leverage parts that would normally be damaged by metal tools such as screwdrivers. You commonly use these on the interior of your vehicle, such as when removing an interior door panel.
Floor jack- A good floor jack is a great tool to have. You have a jack that came with your vehicle and this is used for changing a flat tire. A floor jack is much more heavy-duty and has a higher lifting capacity. It has a handle and wheels so you can push it around easily. It can lift the entire frontend and or backend of your vehicle. You will use this to raise the vehicle to put it on jack stands. Note: Never, never, never go under a vehicle that is supported solely by a jack. The jack could fail and you could be injured or killed.
Jack stands- Jack stands are used to support the entire weight of your vehicle. Typically you would either raise and support the front of the vehicle (with 2 Jack stands), the back of the vehicle (with 2 Jack stands), or the entire vehicle (with 4 Jack stands). Do not buy cheap jack stands. You’re life depends on it. I recommend that the gross weight capacity of 4 jack stands is at least double the weight of you vehicle. Some jack stands have redundancy built right it and get this type if you can. They have pins as well as teeth to lock the supports in place. These are highly recommended. Note: When using jack stands, always use a floor jack as the next level of redundancy just in case a jack stand fails. Raise the floor jack so that it comes in contact with either the frame of the vehicle or one of the designated jacking points.
People are killed every year after being crushed underneath their vehicle because they did not observe a second level of redundancy while using jack stands. I recently read a heartfelt post in a forum written by a father whose son was crushed underneath a vehicle and lost his life. The father stated how much his son loved working on cars and had he taken proper safety measures, he might still be with us today.
What’s you’re life worth? You can’t put a price on it. You are priceless! Put in the extra effort to be safe.
Wheel chocks- Wheel chocks are triangular blocks that are used to prevent a vehicle from rolling while it is being jacked. These are very important for safety.
Here’s a quick checklist review for the first 13 items on the list:
1. Ratchet and socket set
2. Open-ended or crescent wrench set
3. Screwdriver set
4. Torque wrench
5. Rubber mallet
6. Breaker Bar
7. Pliers set
8. Lock-grip pliers
9. Tongue and groove pliers
10. Plastic non-marring tools
11. Floor jack
12. Jack stands
13. Wheel chocks
That should get you off to a great start! We’ll cover the remaining items on the list in the next issue.