Looking to Become a Backyard Mechanic? Here Are Some Must-Have Tools

  • If you don't know how to change a tire, well, you're in good company...

While many car owners used to change their own oil, swap their own tires, and do other general maintenance and repairs on their cars, that’s not so much the case anymore.

According to one study of 2,000 car owners in the U.S., about 25% of them say they realize they’re taking a gamble by driving vehicles they know require repairs. And close to four in 10 Americans don’t even know how to fix flat tires. 

About five in 10 – or 50% – admit they’re not sure they have the knowledge needed to change the oil in their cars, and two in 10 believe that using air pressure gauges to check the pressure in their tires is too tall a task for them. So, lots of people lack basic car maintenance know-how.

Do you want to work on your own vehicle? If so, you’ll need some essential tools to get started. If you’re unsure what you need right now, keep reading for a list of must-haves for DIYers.


Jack and Jack Stands

If you want to conduct maintenance and repairs on your vehicle, you’ll want to invest in a quality jack and sturdy jack stands. Ensure you get equipment that can accommodate the weight of your car. It’s unsafe, for instance, to use a jack and jack stand rated for two tons if your vehicle exceeds that amount of weight. So, get equipment that allows you to do the job safely.



Invest in a set of wrenches of various sizes and types. You don’t necessarily have to get everything at once, but start with adjustable wrenches and combination wrenches. A good idea is to flip through a repair manual for your vehicle to see what types and sizes of bolts your car contains. That’ll help you get a proper range of sizes when looking for wrenches.

A torque wrench is a good idea. You’ll need one to tighten bolts and nuts to exact specifications. If you plan to swap your own tires, a torque wrench will help you properly tighten the lug nuts.


Socket and Ratchet Set

You’ll also need sockets and ratchets. You should buy a set that includes various sizes. Ensure your sets include 1/4 “drive, 3/8″ drive, and 1/2” drive options. If you can get English and metric sizes, all the better. 


Oil Filter Wrench

You’ll need to remove and replace your oil filter when changing your oil. There’s a special tool to make this job more manageable, and that’s an oil filter wrench. Before investing in one, however, consider where the oil filter is located on your vehicle. Oil filters are not always that easily accessible. So, you’ll want to choose a tool you can easily use on your car.


Oil Drain Pan

Another tool you’ll need when changing your oil is an oil drain pan. It’ll make collecting the dirty oil easier. Find out where you can drop off used motor oil in your location.


OBD2 Code Reader

Have you ever seen a code appear on your dash and wondered what it meant? An OBD2 scanner is a device you can connect to your vehicle to determine what the codes mean. If you invest in a good unit, you can even get recommendations on how to fix the issue. Otherwise, you’ll at least be able to research what the code means and how to resolve it.



Another piece of equipment you’ll find essential is a toolbox. Can you imagine having your tools strewn about all over the place? Not a pretty sight. Getting one or more toolboxes will keep you organized, making it easier to get the tools you want when you want them without hassles. You’ll also keep your garage tidier, giving you room to do maintenance and repairs.

These are just some basic tools you want to help you perform maintenance and repairs. You’ll eventually add more tools and equipment as the need arises. But if you’re going to get started, the list above will offer some must-haves that any serious DIYer will want on hand.