Now we’re not saying you need to carry these around in your boot at all times (though it wouldn’t be a bad idea). We are, however, suggesting that if you own a car, you should at least own these five tools. You’re going to call on them one day, and when that day comes, you’ll be thankful.
Tools do a job, but tools also save the day, so make sure you’re stocked up accordingly. The last thing you want is an expensive and embarrassing recovery thanks to a part that you could have fixed with ease, if you only had the tools to do it!
01 A basic socket set
Nothing fancy, just a ratchet and some sockets ranging from 6mm to 22mm, standard stuff. Oh, and make sure you have an extension bar, too. The, when you need undo that tight nut, or get to that bolt a spanner can’t reach, you’ll be able to twist into loosening submission.
A decent, yet basic, socket set can be had for about £50 (don’t scrimp, as a broken ratchet is worse than not having one at all) and it takes up no space in the boot.
Need to change your brakes? Socket set has you covered. Need to take off an engine part? Socket set has you covered. Need to rebuild the whole damn car? Socket set has you covered.
02 Ratchet spanners
There are spanners, and then there are spanners. Here we’re talking about the latter, because we’re talking about ratchet spanners. Invented by the car gods, ratchet spanners take the ‘back and forth’ tech of a socket set, but build it into a spanner.
So say you’ve got a nut that you can’t fit a socket onto. Fine, you use the spanner. But then it becomes a laborious task of turn, remove spanner, re-seat spanner, turn again.
Plus, by doing this, the spanner often slips, or you run the risk of rounding off the head. Not with a ratchet spanner. Get it on there, and then away you go. Click click click, turn, click click click, undone. Bosh!
Always handy, but it’s not a case of just buying the first set you see. Do not scrimp on your screwdrivers. Cheap ones will, nine times out of ten, be weaker than the screw they’re trying to remove, so they’ll shear and break. Buy ones with decent, high-strength tips.
Also, make sure they’re magnetised – that way they grab the screw with magnet magic rather than just letting it fall into the abyss that is your engine bay.
Oh, and make sure you get a full set. You will be surprised how many different sizes of screw there are, so make sure you have the driver to match. Don’t just buy two and call it a day, you’ll regret it!
04 Combination/Bull-nose pliers
They grip, they crush, they cut, they are the multi-tool for the motorist (though to be honest, a decent multi-tool wouldn’t be a bad thing). A pair of combination pliers will be there to get you out of any sticky situation.
You can bend metal, you can crimp leaky pipes, you can bend stubborn or rounded nuts and bolts into submission. You can make anything your underling with these. As ever though, don’t scrimp on these.
Spend the money on a decent pair and they’ll last a lifetime. Cheap out and you’ll end up with a pair the rusts, or snaps when put under pressure. And that’s of no use to anyone.
05 A hammer
It is a blunt and unintelligent tool, but that doesn’t mean the humble hammer doesn’t have a place here. It doesn’t matter how perfectly engineered something is, how much R&D has gone into it, how expensive it is. Sometimes a bloody great wallop with a hammer is the only remedy.
A hammer can also twist sharp edges into submission, it can knock heavy parts into place, it can push metal into the position you want it. It is a versatile tool. Just make sure you don’t hit your own thumbs with it. You don’t want to end up on A&E because of a sticking brake drum, do you?