It goes without saying that there are thousands of different tools for working on cars – but for the majority of the jobs you can undertake at home you don't actually need that many.

Here's our list of 'essential' tools you should kit yourself out with before attempting to get involved with the oily bits. 

Socket Set

A socket set should be at the heart of any tool kit. You don't need a set with a million pieces, just a good selection of sizes and try and find one with a good range of extension bars. 

You can guarantee the nut you need will be just out of reach! You'll see you can get metric and imperial sizes – you'll need a metric set unless your car is very old! 


A set of spanners is invaluable. Either get a set, or if buying singly go for 8, 10, 13, 15, and 17mm – You can get the others as and when required but most jobs on most cars require these sizes. Go for combination spanners where one end is open, and the other is a 'ring'.

Adjustable Spanner

For those times when you don't have the correct spanner, or just need a duplicate of one you already using, an adjustable spanner can come in very handy. 



A set of decent quality pliers is ideal for removing stubborn components – split pins, recalcitrant clips etc. You may also find a set of needle-nose pliers come in useful as they can get to areas regular pliers can't.


Most of you will have some of these anyway, but it's wise to get a collection of both flat-head and cross-head screwdrivers in a variety of sizes and lengths. Short stubby ones will come in very useful, as will long-bladed 'drivers. If you can stretch to it, particularly if you're planning to dismantle interior components, some Torx drivers will be invaluable.

TORX bits

There are few things more annoying that discovering your car's held together with Torx bolts/screws and you don't have any Torx bits! Don't even think about trying to wedge normal screwdrivers in them and hoping for the best as you'll run the risk of ruining the head, making it impossible to remove. 

Allen Keys

Similar to Torx bits in that you really need the correct tool for the job if you encounter any Allen head bolts. They're cheap and readily available.


Give any stubborn fixing a liberal dose of lubricating oil and it will – in theory – make it easier to remove! 

Latex gloves

Dirty oil is carcinogenic, and working on cars is a messy business. Get some latex gloves (they're cheap) and wear them. 

Trolley Jack

If you're going to be working under the car then you'll need a jack. The standard issue jack is fine for changing a flat tyre in an emergency, but a simple trolley jack is a much better, safer bet. Don't even think about jacking up the car to work on unless you have some axle stands! 

Axle Stands

As mentioned above these aren't optional, they're essential. A good sturdy pair of axle stands should ALWAYS be securely sited under the car whenever you're going to be either getting under it, or even if you're just removing a wheel. You do not want the car on top of you, and it does happen. 

The following items aren't essential, but will come in handy as your DIY skills increase and you tackle more adventurous jobs:

  • Mole grips
  • Brake piston wind back tool
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Water pump pliers
  • Jubilee clip driver
  • Pry bars