What Do I Need To Start Wrenching?

Messages
7,778
Location
Oklahoma
I've always "found" tools, as opposed to buying them. Akin to a golfer, unless your sponsored, they usually find a club that works well for them and then stick to it. Before long, you'll have a bunch of different tools, and that's cool. The one thing I can suggest is organization. Have a way to keep your tools together and don't get the habit of leaving them laying around.
 
Messages
580
Location
st louis, mo
For the Harbor Freight tools, read the reviews on their site - the bad ones like the flare nut wrenches will have lousy reviews. Stick to the stuff with 4-5 stars and you'll be OK. The Pittsburgh Pro stuff at HF is usually pretty good, but watch out for the unbranded and super cheap stuff, that can be very questionable. I would say to get a big mechanic's set of pretty good quality, possibly a brand like Husky or Kobalt where you can do warranty exchange easily. Get one with 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2" drive. The advice to get an extension set is good, these are IMO the most important add-on that don't come in the big sets, but they will save the day on jobs where access is tough, like replacing a starter or a front motor mount on a transverse V6. You need a jack and a pair of jackstands. Having ramps is worth it, too, for changing oil.
 
Messages
25,951
Location
MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted by krismoriah72
I just read 3 pages of suggestions that nearly added up to a professional garage. Unless i read it wrong the guy has a 2017 nearly new fusion. Not counting the warranty the most he has to do is oil changes and tire rotations for a long time. For $48 he can get tire rotations every 7500 miles at walmart. To do this at home he needs a floor jack/jack stands and at the minimum an impact socket set and a breaker bar. For $20 he can get an oil change at the same walmart. To do this at home he needs at minimum the jack and stands above (which isnt fun at all) or a good set of ramps, oil filter wrench and pan. IMHO on a single car that is newer its just not sensible to tool up... if he works on family and friends cars i would vote different.
I don't see many tools that would be used in a professional garage, its all low to mid grade stuff which is all a DIY doing small jobs needs. He said he wanted to get into doing his own repairs now he has a garage to work in and doesn't mind spending up to 1K. He did not ask which shops can do the jobs for the least money.
 
Messages
73
Location
New Jersey
Get a good jack. Years ago I bought a AC Hydraulic jack and it's probably one of the best tool investments I have ever made. It's more expensive than a HF jack. I got in on a group buy on a Miata forum and i think it was just under 200. But it's been used SO many times. It's strong and sturdy, commercial grade. And get some good jackstands.
 
Messages
9,515
Location
Canuck living in California
I would not buy more tools than my abilities permit. Sure, if that's what you really want, a set of nice and shiny tools, then get it, but to start wrenching on cars, not much is actually needed. A simple tool set will get you oil changes and brake jobs along with a breaker bar, floor jack, jack stands and a set of screw drivers and/or torx bits. I was borrowing my dad's tools when I started and to this day I have a basic set, although it's growing slowly as I acquire less common tools for odd jobs from time to time. This is a similar socket set I started with probably 13-14 years ago. I then gave it to my younger brother and bought something similar and still have it and use it to this day. [Linked Image]
 
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Messages
36,465
Location
ME
Originally Posted by HangFire
Spasm3 makes a really good point. Flare nut wrenches, also flare nut crow's feet, are one place to never cheap-out. Get SK or Snap-On or some other high end brand. Also realize that some "Metric" vehicles still have SAE flare nuts, at least in the USA.
I might be an outlier here but I just cut off (rusted) brake lines 1/2 inch from the line nut and use a long 6 point socket on them. If that doesn't work I put some mole grips on there, and another set on the mating part's bracket because I'd bend it otherwise. New line nuts I run down with an open end wrench-- when it feels like it's going to start stripping, I stop. laugh OP would run away from the hobby screaming if his first serious mechanic job was rusty brake lines. Everything about the process sucks, except paying for parts I guess, which is super cheap.
 
Messages
13,088
Location
North Carolina
I don't think we told him to go buy a flare nut wrench set. We just said that budget flare nut sets are a waste of money.
 
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Messages
4,240
Location
Central Maryland
Originally Posted by eljefino
I might be an outlier here but I just cut off (rusted) brake lines 1/2 inch from the line nut and use a long 6 point socket on them. If that doesn't work I put some mole grips on there, and another set on the mating part's bracket because I'd bend it otherwise. New line nuts I run down with an open end wrench-- when it feels like it's going to start stripping, I stop. laugh OP would run away from the hobby screaming if his first serious mechanic job was rusty brake lines. Everything about the process sucks, except paying for parts I guess, which is super cheap.
A common DIY job is replacing a sticky caliper. As someone here recently pointed out on another thread, whenever you do this, you should replace the rubber brake hose at the same time, as the internals might be sloughing off material that caused the caliper piston to stick. I heartily agree. In some vehicles, that means using a flare nut wrench on a flare nut, without tossing the (hopefully) still good brake line. If the hose connection to the hard line goes through a bracket, and the bracket is shot (but not the hard line), again, flare nut without tossing the hard brake line. These are all jobs within the DIY realm. Replacing brake lines with NiCopp is not too terrible, I just did it on my Dakota. I had to buy an OTC ISO flare kit which was, what, $65 IIRC. Of course, pickups are often easier than sedans or SUV's. (Or minivans!) But I agree, not the greatest job for a beginner, without someone showing them the ropes. Fortunately, NiCopp is easier to work than the old lead coated steel lines. As to brands, I was trying to avoid getting into tool brand wars... let's just say HF has winners and losers. Make each tool selection carefully. With a high end brand, most any choice will work well, but you pay through the nose. With HF, or Chinese Craftsman for that matter, not everything is a winner. Or a loser.
 
Messages
26
Location
Michigan
Don't forget the beer. Some projects like a routine oil change are a one beer job, others take a whole day and may require a case if you have enlisted friends to help. My friends are really thirsty.
 
Messages
1,899
Location
NY, USA, etc.
When I was 16 and drove a 1988 Cavalier I started with a Craftsman Mechanic's Tool Set and a set of Craftsman screwdrivers. Always bought specialty tools as needed.
 
Messages
704
Location
Florida
If you want to do things right, start with some basic automotive courses at you local community college or tech school. It does not do any good to have a garage full of tools if you are not sure how to use them. Since you will be working on your DD and can't afford to screw it up you need to know what you are doing. After you have taken a few classes you will know what you can safely do to your car and exactly what tools you will need. I have take many classes over the years and the information you will get from the experienced instructors will prove invaluable.
 
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Messages
317
Location
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Here you go. All you'll ever need for both SAE and metric. Metrinch. Ok, maybe not all you'll ever need. But it is actually quite good and always gets left out of tool chats. Prices are pretty high on them now, but if you ever see it on a good sale or at a yard sale or something, they're not junk. If nothing else, I just think it's fun to mention them.

metrinch2362.jpg
 
Messages
317
Location
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Jack stands (at least in the U.S.) are rated in pairs. So 2-ton stands are rated for 1 ton each. I'd get jack stands rated 3 tons for the pair. In general, they usually don't cost much more, and they look beefier and make me feel better. 6-tons are even safer but may be annoying to use on typical vehicles since they're big. You could spend plenty of time just searching for what to look for on a good jack stand, such as the welds, and if the bottom corners are flat instead of just a V-shape, etc. It's not necessary to spend time searching for that stuff, but you could. If a person doesn't know how to safely jack up a vehicle, they have no business being under it. I've seen some otherwise-smart people do some very dumb things in this regard. Oh, and two words: Wheel Chocks. Ramps can be nice, (I'd trust wood much more than plastic Rhino ramps), but most of the times I lift up a vehicle I'm taking a wheel off anyway, so ramps don't help. A rubber mat, carpet, etc, to lay on instead of the concrete. A blanket will bunch up as you move on it. Blankets are lame. Don't need air tools unless doing something fairly serious. Still probably don't "need" them. If you need to cut metal for some reason, a $15 angle grinder turns into a cutter if you put a cutting wheel on it. A Dremel would be needed for more precise or smaller things. A scraper to scrape off old gasket material. Will probably need a bench vise. Or a friend with a really strong grip. Telescoping arm with a magnet on the end for when you drop things. You will drop things. Lots of garage light. Working without good light is annoying, and the gloominess makes me sad. frown OP is in Illinois, so PB Blaster/Liquid Wrench and a propane torch will become his best friends. Most tools you just buy them as you need them. And many specialty ones can be borrowed for free from auto parts stores. With a 2017, I hope you'll only have to do oil changes, and need a screwdriver to change the air filter.
 
Messages
36,465
Location
ME
For a first work light this guy from Lowes is pretty awesome, and $5! HF has one with a similar output. Both have pretty weak magnets and are cheap enough to stuff in a greasy corner. For example, doing brakes, I like to stuff a light in the fender liner so my site is lit from the side, as my body and the car's fender hide the light coming in from behind.
 
Messages
1,196
Location
San Antonio, TX
The first step is to get a good comprehensive tool catalog that has all the tools so that you can familiarize yourself with the nomenclature. Study up on all the different types of tools and ask yourself what they're used for. If you don't know what a specific type of tool is used for, ask somebody who is an expert at mechanics tools. The very best resource for getting educated about mechanics tools is the Snap-on catalog. A good source for buying quality mechanics tools is ToolsDelivered.
 
Messages
1,079
Location
Senoia, GA
Didn't read many of the replies past the first 3. My suggestion- 1. Get a HF 44" roller cabinet. Then go to Home Depot and get a 3/4" butcher block work surface, cut it down to put on top and use as a psuedo work bench top. 2. Work the yard/estate sales. Don't waste time at the sales where the prices are 93% of new. Move on. Look for Made in USA Craftsman stuff....only place you're gonna find it is used. 3. If #2 fails, get the Pittsburgh Pro stuff at HF. It's Tekton, as good as you're gonna get with the retail Asian made tools. 4. Look at FB Marketplace for used tools. Again, know what you are looking for brand/price-wise. 5. You'll want basic sockets in 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" drive. You can probably stick to metric sets for now. 6. Get some Rhino ramps, but only use them on concrete. Get an oil drain pan, filter wrench, etc. 7. Then buy tools as you need. Watch for used stuff online/etc. Pick it up when you see a deal, otherwise wait until you need it. Get a label machine like this https://www.amazon.com/Brother-PTD210-One-Touch-User-Friendly-Templates/dp/B013DG2FNW/ref=sr_1_3?crid=26P7SKH97ENS0&keywords=label+maker&qid=1548164877&sprefix=label+m%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-3 and make labels for your tool drawers so you can get started right by having things organized and know where they are. You'll want a LED Work light like this https://www.harborfreight.com/390-Lumen-Magnetic-Slim-Bar-Folding-LED-Worklight-63958.html
 
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