Maybe you spend a few hours a year working on your classic automobile or maybe you spend every day in your garage perfecting it. In any case, there are a few tools and equipment that every garage should have. Some are straightforward, while others will make your neighbor envious. Having the correct tool for the job makes the job not only possible, but also pleasant.
For this list of important tools, we’ll presume you already have a few essentials covered. While a solid set of screwdrivers is a must-have in any garage, they aren’t on the list because they should be. Not every tool on our list is absolutely required. Some are more of a luxury and may be termed dream tools for designing the ideal home garage. It all depends on how far you can stretch your money.
1. Fire extinguisher: The next item on our list is a tool that, while we hope you never need it, no garage should be without. It’s preferable to have a fire extinguisher and not use it than to require one and not have it. Make sure it’s rated for both electrical and chemical fires (Rated B&C).
2. First-Aid Kit: This is another piece of gear we hope you never have to use. However, let’s face it: when working in the garage, smashed knuckles and other injuries are nearly unavoidable. Any car contains a lot of difficult nuts, sharp edges, and hot surfaces, so having a technique to repair oneself in the event of an accident is a good idea.
3. Good Lighting: Being able to see what you’re doing is, without a doubt, the most important factor. For every budget, there are numerous lighting alternatives for your garage workstation. Overhead fluorescent, shop lights on tripods, and hand-held work lights can all be useful, but we recommend starting with a hand-held work light to illuminate your vehicle’s deepest corners and cracks.
4. Torque Wrench: Not every nut and bolt needs to be tightened to the maximum degree. Some specs are extremely precise. Many engine bolts, including lug nuts, work best when properly tightened. Many old cars will necessitate the use of a torque wrench that can handle torque-to-yield fasteners. Not only are they tightened to a specified torque, but they’re also tightened at a specific angle. Torque wrenches must be used with caution and calibrated on a regular basis. If you’re going to use the wrench mostly for engine work, get one with a half-inch drive and a torque reading of at least 150 lb-ft. A good torque wrench will set you back $100-$250, but high-end digital ones can cost $500 or more.
5. Breaker Bar: The breaker bar is the last hand-held wrench equipment we’ll recommend. Sometimes you just need a little more help. “Give me a long enough lever and a fulcrum to place it on, and I’ll move the planet.” We believe Archimedes was talking about loosening a difficult head bolt on an old core engine when he said that famous phrase. If you don’t already have one, go out and get one. They’re inexpensive and can prevent you from breaking other tools or your knuckles when a stubborn nut bolt refuses to budge.
6. Socket Set: It’s time to start using the tools. A decent socket set is more essential than any other instrument. This is a set of tools on which you should not scrimp. Do yourself a favor and invest in a solid set with a variety of possibilities. You’ll save a lot of money if you buy the full set rather than buying each piece separately. A good set will include both long and short-handled wrenches, as well as a variety of standard and metric sizes. A complete range of deep-well sockets is available in both standard and metric sizes. Swivel-head drive adapters, T-bar drive handles, and a speed wrench can all come in handy in those uncomfortable and unusual situations. We strongly advise you not to scrimp on this purchase because it will most likely be one of your most frequently used tools. Craftsman, Kobalt, and Snap-on are all excellent brands to consider. If you get a low-cost set, you will pay the price afterwards.
7. Torx-Head, Allen-Head, and Ball-Head Drivers: While these types of bolts and fasteners are less common in classic American automobiles, they are present in older foreign cars and are fairly common in today’s autos. Although Torx-Head, Allen-head, and Ball-head drive sets are not as popular as a normal nut and bolt, they are essential to your socket set. These, believe us, will come in handy.
8. Floor Jack and Jack Stands: If you’re going to work on your car at home, a good floor jack and jack stands are essential instruments. To properly handle your automobile, get at least four jack stands (not two in the front and a floor jack in the rear), and make sure they can support the weight of your vehicle. Unless you operate on smart vehicles or Fiats, you’ll need at least a 2-ton or 2.5-ton jack, as well as two-ton stands. It’s entirely up to you how you lift your car to gain access to the underneath. All we know is that putting that weak jack in your trunk isn’t going to get us under a car. Is it possible to use it to change a tire? Sure. Is it possible to get under the car?
9. Trim Fastener Remover: No tool is more useful for jobs in the interior of your car than a trim removal tool. It can help you remove delicate inside elements quickly and safely. For $20, you can get a 5-piece set and save a lot of money and misery by not having to replace marred or scratched trim pieces Trim tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they a recipe for disaster!
10. Timing Light: This is a very basic instrument that is simple to understand how to operate but has a significant impact on the performance of your car. It is, without a doubt, a must-have for any mechanic. Timing lights are inexpensive and make a significant difference, making them well worth the investment.
11. Power Tools: There are far too many to name here, but every garage should have at least one cordless drill for drilling holes, screwing in dash parts, and even polishing your car. A dremel tool with a high speed is also very useful. Use it to buff out small pieces, trim plastic components to make them fit better, or grind off that rusted out or stripped fastener that’s tough to remove. With all of the dremel attachments available, the options for utilization are practically limitless.
12. Vice-equipped Workbench: Not every project takes place behind the hood. To complete a task, you may require a clean, open workstation. Can you picture having to rebuild a carburetor somewhere else? A workbench may seem obvious, but if you want to create a good working environment, you’ll need one. When you need an extra set of hands or to keep something in place while you work on it, a solid vice will come in handy.
13. Storage Tool Chest: These can be costly, but nothing is more aggravating than looking for a tool you need but can’t find. A toolbox is an excellent way to arrange your tools and will help you become a more efficient mechanic. When it comes to acquiring a tool chest, there are so many alternatives that you must first examine your needs and budget before proceeding. Professionals frequently utilize Matco and Snap-on tools, but we found that Craftsman creates a great product that isn’t too expensive. You can also consider acquiring a tool trolley if you have the funds. It’s good to have them by your side.
14. Multi-meter: A multi-meter can be used to measure electrical flow in your vehicle. It is usually capable of measuring voltage, current, and resistance. If you’re going to work on any of your car’s electronics or wiring, you’ll need a multi-meter, whether you’re testing the alternator or putting up a sound system.
15. Code Scanner: If your car was manufactured in the last 30 years or so and includes an electronic control system with an onboard diagnostic system that records irregularities in the programmed operation parameters, this instrument is a must-have. If you do, this is an invaluable tool for retrieving codes that will tell you exactly what the problem with your car is. Code scanners range in price from cheap to absurdly costly. There are even readers designed specifically for certain car manufacturers, such as BMW and Mercedes code scanners.
16. Battery Jump Box and Battery Tender: If you own a classic car or other collectible vehicle, chances are you store it or at the very least don’t drive it every day during the winter. We have a number of options for storing your automobile, one of which is to use a trickle charger to keep your battery charged when it is not in use. We also believe that every car owner should have a portable jump box, for when their battery dies. You can really store it in your trunk to avoid being stuck on the highway. Many jump boxes also have miniature air compressors in case your tires require additional inflation.
17. Air Compressor and Air Tools: Having an air compressor for automobile work may seem like a luxury, but it can open up a world of do-it-yourself alternatives formerly only available to professional garages. A decent compressor can drive a variety of equipment such as grinders for body work or as an air socket in addition to inflating tires and blowing clean parts. When shopping for an air compressor, look for one that produces at least 90 psi and can provide up to 6 cfm to run air tools.
When it comes to air tools, the mid-priced instruments are generally the finest choice for your jobs. When it comes to air tools, you get what you pay for, but the more expensive ones are only necessary if you plan on using them on a regular basis. While an air compressor and attachments are good to have, they can be a costly investment and may not be necessary for the ordinary home garage.
18. The lift: Is an ultimate garage tool and without a doubt, the best garage gadget! Prices have plummeted dramatically in recent years, and lifts can now be purchased for $2000-$3000. We understand that this is still a substantial sum of money to spend on garage equipment for a home, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed. By obtaining easy access to the underbelly of the car, it may make a lot of repairs much easier. However, be sure that your garage has enough clearance to hoist a vehicle into the air
19. Engine Crane, Stand, and Vehicle Dollies: If you’re serious about putting together a well-equipped home garage and you have the room, you might want to invest in an engine crane so you can work on your vehicle’s engine outside of the vehicle. Cranes start at under $200 depending on your needs. You might also wish to spend the extra money on a load leveler.
Now that you’ve removed the engine from the automobile, you’ll need an engine stand to mount it on so you can work on it. A 500-pound stand will do for most V-8 engines, but if you’re building a big-block, you may need a 750-pound or even 1,000-pound support.
Another option is to purchase a set of dollies. If you need to relocate the car, you may find it difficult to do so with the engine removed. These jacks make it simple to move the car out of the way to make room.
20. Shop Vac, Broom, and Cleaning Supplies: The last items and equipment on our list may not be as exciting as air tools or a lift, but they are just as vital. Having an impressive garage necessitates keeping your garage and workstation tidy. Aside from the looks, keeping your garage clean can help you and your vehicle stay safe. You don’t want to trip over spills, inhale odors from old greasy rags, or have dust, shavings, or other debris settle on your freshly painted surface. Keeping your tools clean will help them last longer and save you money on replacement prices.