It would be impossible to catalog each and every tool that you may need to perform all the operations included in this guide. It would also not be wise for the amateur to rush out and buy an expensive set of tools on the theory that he/she may need one of them at some time. 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 quality, name brand tools. Forged wrenches, 10 or 12 point sockets and fine-tooth ratchets are by far preferred to their less expensive counterparts. As any good mechanic can tell you, there are few worse experiences than trying to work on a vehicle or truck with bad tools. Your monetary savings will be far outweighed by frustration and mangled knuckles.
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:
In addition to the above items, there are several others that are not absolutely necessary, but are handy to have around. These include oil drying compound, a transmission 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 can accurately determine your list of 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 god for the average mechanic as a professional model. Just be sure that it goes to at least 1200-1500 rpm on the tach scale, and that it works on 4, 6, and 8 cylinder engines. A basic list of tune-up equipment could include:
- Tach/dwell meter;
- Spark plug wrench;
- Timing light (preferably a DC light that works from the vehicle's battery);
- A set of flat feeler gauges;
- A set of round wire spark plug gauges.
In addition to these basic tools, there are several other tools and gauges you may find useful. These include:
- Compression gauge. The screw-in type is slower to use, but eliminates the possibility of a faulty reading due to escaping pressure;
- A manifold vacuum gauge;
- A test light;
- An induction meter. 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 probably find a torque wrench necessary for all but the most basic work. The beam type models are perfectly adequate, although the newer click type are more precise.