Naturally, without the proper Tools and Equipment, it is impossible to properly service your vehicle. It would be impossible to catalog each tool that you would need to perform each or every operation in this guide. It would also be unwise for the amateur to rush out and buy an expensive set of tools on the theory that he may need one or more of them at sometime.
The best approach is to proceed slowly, gathering together a good quality set of those tools that are used most frequently. Don't be misled by the low cost of bargain tools. It is far better to spend a little more for better quality. Forged wrenches, 6-or 12-point sockets and fine-tooth ratchets are by far preferable to their less expensive counterparts. As any good mechanic can tell you, there are few worse experiences than trying to work on a car with bad tools. Your monetary savings will be far outweighed by frustration and mangled knuckles.
Certain tools, plus a basic ability to handle tools, are required to get started. A basic mechanics tool set, a quality torque wrench, and a Torx® bit set should start you off. Torx® and inverted Torx® bits are hexagonal drivers which fit both inside and outside Torx® head fasteners used in various places on many of today's cars. Begin accumulating those tools that are used most frequently: those associated with routine maintenance and tune-up.
In addition to the normal assortment of screwdrivers and pliers you should have the following tools for routine maintenance jobs (your car, depending on the model year, uses both sae and metric fasteners).
- Sae/Metric wrenches, sockets and combination open end/box end wrenches in sizes from 1 / 8 in. (3mm) to 1 1 / 4 in. (32mm), and a spark plug socket ( 5 / 8 in. and 13 / 16 in.). If possible, buy various-length socket drive extensions. Metric sockets will fit the ratchet handles and extensions you may already have ( 1 / 4 , 3 / 8 , and 1 / 2 in. drive).
- Quality jackstands for support. Make sure the jackstands are rated for the vehicle that you are supporting.
- Oil filter wrenches. These come in lots of different styles. Take advantage of the selection to make things easier on yourself.
- Oil filler spout or funnel.
- Grease gun for chassis lubrication.
- Hydrometer for checking the battery.
- A low flat pan for draining oil.
- Lots of rags for wiping up the inevitable mess.
In addition to the above items, there are several others that are not absolutely necessary, but handy to have around. These include oil dry, a long transmission fluid funnel and the usual supply of lubricants, antifreeze and fluids, although these can be purchased as needed. This is a basic list for routine maintenance, but only your personal needs and desires can accurately determine your list of necessary tools.
The second list of tools is for tune-ups. While the tools involved here are slightly more sophisticated, they need not be outrageously expensive. There are several inexpensive tach/dwell meters on the market that are every bit as good for the average mechanic as a $100 professional model. Just be sure that it goes to at least 1200-1500 rpm on the tach scale, preferably works on 4, 6 and 8 cylinder engines and includes necessary adapters for your cars systems. A basic list of tune-up equipment could include:
- Spark plug wrench.
- Timing light (a DC light that works from the car's battery is best, although an AC light that plugs into 110V house current will suffice at some sacrifice in brightness).
- Spark plug gapping tool.
- Set of brass and steel feeler blades.
In addition to these basic tools, there are several other tools and gauges you may find useful. These include:
- A compression gauge. The screw-in type is slower to use, but eliminates the possibility of a faulty reading due to escaping pressure.
- A vacuum pump/gauge.
- A digital volt-ohmmeter. A 12 volt test light is handy to have, but the digital meter is preferred for the complex electronics on today's cars.
- A simple continuity tester. This is used for determining whether or not there is current in a wire. These are handy for use if a wire is broken somewhere in a wiring harness.
As a final note, you will most likely find a torque wrench necessary for all but the most basic work. The beam type models are usually adequate, but the newer `clicker' type is more precise, and you don't have to crane your neck to see a torque reading in awkward situations. The `clicker' type is more expensive and should be recalibrated periodically.
Torque specification for each fastener will be given in the procedure when required. If no torque specifications are given, use the following values as a guide, based upon fastener size:
Bolts marked 6T
6mm bolt/nut: 5-7 ft. lbs.
8mm bolt/nut: 12-17 ft. lbs.
10mm bolt/nut: 23-34 ft. lbs.
12mm bolt/nut: 41-59 ft. lbs.
14mm bolt/nut: 56-76 ft. lbs.
Bolts marked 8T
6mm bolt/nut: 6-9 ft. lbs.
8mm bolt/nut: 13-20 ft. lbs.
10mm bolt/nut: 27-40 ft. lbs.
12mm bolt/nut: 46-69 ft. lbs.
14mm bolt/nut: 75-101 ft. lbs.