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The Top 25 Things You Need to Get “Garage Ready” in a Hurry

The Top 25 Things You Need to Get “Garage Ready” in a Hurry

Do you have all the proper tools and gear to be a DIY mechanic? It doesn’t take much and you don’t need a huge budget to get “Garage Ready”.

Here is a list of essentials that every good garage should have. This list is not all – inclusive, however it should get you off to a great start! Some items on list are tools, some of them are used for safety, some are helpers, and others are used for cleanliness. As with everything, buy the best that you can afford. You really do get what you pay for, especially when it comes to tools. There is nothing worse than a sub – quality part or tool that breaks right in the middle of repair.

First we’ll start off with the tools.

Ratchet and socket set – This set of tools is probably one of the most important and most often used set in your toolbox. You definitely want to buy the best that you can afford. I recommend that you get a set that is both standard as well as metric. What I mean is the set will have sockets that are measured in millimeters and other sockets that are measured in fractions of inches. If the set does not have both types of sockets, you may have to purchase two separate sets. Another thing to consider is whether the ratchet set uses a 1/4″ or 3/8″ drive. The difference is that the 3/8″ drive allows you to use more torque and is used to tighten larger bolts or nuts.

Open – ended or crescent wrench set – These wrenches are also available in standard and metric measurements. They allow you to turn nuts and bolts that are in hard – to – reach places. They are also available in a combination type that is open on one end and has a ratcheting function on the other end.

Screwdriver set – Get yourself a combination screwdriver set. The set will have straight edge/slotted as well as Phillips (cross – pattern) of different sizes. The difference in quality here will come down to the handles as well as the hardness of the tips.

Torque wrench – A torque wrench is also very important. This tool allows you to tighten nuts and bolts precisely with the right amount of torque. Torque is basically turning force and is measured in ft. – lbs. (pounds per foot) or Newton meters. Do not buy a cheap torque wrench. If you do you, will be replacing it sooner than you think. By using a torque wrench to tighten bolts, you will ensure that you don’t over tighten and damage vehicle parts.

Rubber mallet – You will use this tool to force a stubborn part if you need to move or remove it and because his rubber it will not damage the part.

Breaker bar – This is a very valuable tool and has saved my bacon more than once. A breaker bar is used to loosen very stubborn nuts and bolts. They come in varying lengths and I’ve seen from 17 in. long all the way up to 40 in. long. The longer the breaker bar is, the more torque it allows you to put on a nut or bolt using the concept of leverage. Do not use your ratchet to loosen stubborn nuts and bolts! It is not designed for this and you will break it.

Pliers set – Get yourself a pliers set. You should be able to find a set with varying sized handles as well as varied tips or noses. You use these for grabbing, cutting, pinching, and gripping. Make sure the set has needle – nosed pliers as well. These are invaluable.

Lock – grip pliers – These are also known as vice – grip pliers. You will use these to grab and hold nuts and bolts. They also come in handy when you need to turn a nut or bolt that has lost its hexagonal shape. This type of bolt head can’t be turned with a ranch or ratchet because those tools can no longer get a grip on it. This is definitely a cool tool!

Tongue and groove pliers – This type of pliers are also known as channel – locks. This type of pliers allows you to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts of varying sizes.

Plastic non – marring tools – These types of tools allow you to pry and leverage parts that would normally be damaged by metal tools such as screwdrivers. You commonly use these on the interior of your vehicle, such as when removing an interior door panel.

Got Jack?

Floor jack – A good floor jack is a great tool to have. You have a jack that came with your vehicle and this is used for changing a flat tire. A floor jack is much more heavy – duty and has a higher lifting capacity. It has a handle and wheels so you can push it around easily. It can lift the entire frontend and or backend of your vehicle. You will use this to raise the vehicle to put it on jack stands. Note: Never, never, never go under a vehicle that is supported solely by a jack. The jack could fail and you could be injured or killed.

Jack stands – Jack stands are used to support the entire weight of your vehicle. Typically you would either raise and support the front of the vehicle (with 2 Jack stands), the back of the vehicle (with 2 Jack stands), or the entire vehicle (with 4 Jack stands). Do not buy cheap jack stands. You’re life depends on it. I recommend that the gross weight capacity of 4 jack stands is at least double the weight of you vehicle. Some jack stands have redundancy built right it. They have pins as well as teeth to lock the supports in place. These are highly recommended. Note: When using jack stands, always use a floor jack as the next level of redundancy just in case a jack stand fails. Raise the floor jack so that it comes in contact with either the frame of the vehicle or one of the designated jacking points.

People are killed every year after being crushed underneath their vehicle because they did not observe a second level of redundancy while using jack stands. I recently read a heartfelt post in a forum written by a father whose son was crushed underneath a vehicle and lost his life. The father stated how much his son loved working on cars and had he taken proper safety measures, he might still be with us today. What’s you’re life worth? You can’t put a price on it. You are priceless! Put in the extra effort to be safe.

Wheel chocks – Wheel chocks are triangular blocks that are used to prevent a vehicle from rolling while it is being jacked. These are very important for safety.

Now let’s cover safety, helpers, and cleanliness.

Lighting (overhead, flashlight, headband light) – You definitely need adequate lighting when working on your vehicle. I recommend a good overhead light for general lighting. You can pick up a fluorescent shop light from your local hardware store. Also pick up a couple of good flashlights, one large and one small. I recommend one of the newer types that use LED bulbs. They are brighter and use a lot less power, therefore you won’t go through so many batteries. Another very useful type of lighting is the headband light. This type of light is very similar to the ones that miners use and basically shines the light wherever you happen to look.

Telescoping magnet – This type of tool is worth its weight in gold. It is basically a small, strong magnet attached to a telescoping wand. It basically looks like a radio antenna. You will use this to pick up nuts and bolts that fall into hard – to – reach places. You will drop them and this tool will rescue you. If only they had one to pick up rubber O – rings…

Safety glasses or goggles – Protective eyewear is very important. It doesn’t matter what style you choose, just make sure that you have them. There aren’t too many things worse than working under a vehicle and having dirt and grime drop into your eye. They will also protect you from flying objects such as tools and tiny car parts.

Multipurpose lubricant – This is used when you need to loosen stubborn or seized nuts and bolts. It penetrates metal to metal contact. It also stops squeaks and drives out moisture. A common brand is WD – 40 but you can also of course find it under other names.

Anti – seize lubricant – This is used on the threads of screws and bolts to prevent the metal parts from seizing. This will allow an installed screw or bolt to be easily removed later. This will save you a lot of time and effort while performing maintenance on commonly replaced parts.

Brake parts cleaner – Brakes parts cleaner is not only used to clean brake parts as its name suggests, is used to clean almost anything with automotive grease and grime on it. It evaporates very fast and I am amazed almost every time I use it.

Oil drain pan – You will use this to catch dirty oil when you’re performing an oil change. I recommend the type that not only catches the oil, but you can also use it to transport the oil when you have to dispose of it. Make sure that the capacity of the oil drain pan is at least twice the amount of the oil in your vehicle. That way, you can change the oil more than once or for more than one vehicle before taking the oil in for disposal.

Gloves – I recommend that you have 2 types of gloves on hand. The first type is mechanics gloves. They are heavy – duty and typically have rubber grips on the fingers and palm. Purchase the best that you can afford so that they will last. The next type are latex gloves. They are thin enough so that you keep your dexterity and they help to keep your hands clean. Pick up a box of the heavier gauge type and stay away from the very thin ones. The thin ones are easily pierced and ripped and you will go through a lot of them.

Coveralls – Now this one is optional, but do you really want to mess up your clothes? You are going to get dirty, that’s for sure. Why not have clothes that are designated for that purpose. Coveralls will help you get into the mechanic’s mindset and it will keep your mind off of trying to stay clean and onto the task at hand.

Hand Cleaner – You need a good strong hand cleaner to remove all that dirt and grime. You have lots of different types of hand cleaner, but my favorite is the paste type. It comes in a little plastic or metal can and you rub it on your hands without using water. Once you rub it all over your hands and scrub away the dirt and grime, you simply wash it off with warm water and soap. It’s quite amazing. Don’t forget to get the dirt and grease out of your fingernails.

Shop rags – Pick a bag of shop rags. They are typically the size of wash cloths and are great at wiping and picking up dirt and oil. They are inexpensive and make sure you have plenty of on hand before making any repairs. Note: Make sure that you do not wash these rags with any other garments because they will bleed and you could end up with pink underwear.

Mechanics toolbox – Last, but certainly not least, is a good toolbox. They come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. You can spend a little or a lot. The difference between the cheap ones in the expensive ones comes down to 2 things. The first one is the thickness of the metal that toolbox is made of. The thicker the metal, the stronger and higher the weight limit of the toolbox. The second thing is the hardware for the toolbox. The slides, rollers, and handles make a big difference in the quality of the toolbox. Make sure that the one that you choose allows room for growth as you buy more and more tools.

Alright, here’s a quick checklist review for all 25 items:

1. Ratchet and socket set
2. Open – ended or crescent wrench set
3. Screwdriver set
4. Torque wrench
5. Rubber mallet
6. Breaker Bar
7. Pliers set
8. Lock – grip pliers
9. Tongue and groove pliers
10. Plastic non – marring tools
11. Floor jack
12. Jack stands
13. Wheel chocks
14. Lighting
15. Telescoping magnet
16. Safety glasses or goggles
17. Multipurpose lubricant
18. Anti – seize lubricant
19. Brake parts cleaner
20. Oil drain pan
21. Gloves
22. Coveralls
23. Hand Cleaner
24. Shop rags
25. Mechanics toolbox

It can’t be stated too many times, so I’ll say it again, buy the best tools and gear you can afford. You will save some green in the long run. Once you’ve accumulated all the items on the list, you’ll be well equipped to repair many things on your vehicle(s). Shop around. Browse the web to do cost comparisons and to get more details on what’s available in the marketplace.

Go out there and get some cool tools! You can complete any job with the correct tools. The right tools make the difference between an easy repair (“Wow that was easy!”) and a difficult one (“Oy vey, what a pain in the rear!”).

That sums up the top 25 things you need in order to be “Garage Ready”. There are a lot more tools and cool gadgets for you out there in the marketplace, but the top 25 covers the basics. That should get you off to a great start!

Have fun in your garage and be safe.