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Basic Mechanical Tools List For Your Home Auto Shop

If you run a small auto shop from home, or simply like working on cars as a hobby, it’s likely that you’ve built up a collection of tools over the years.

Maybe you only need certain ones because you’re only doing a certain type of work. Once in a while you may have run into a time when you wished you had a particular tool, but otherwise you think you have the basics covered.

We’ve created this basic mechanical tools list to ensure that no shop is left without the instrument needed to get the job done.

The Home Workshop Tools You Need

Just like every good workshop, you already have the staples - hammers, wrenches, pliers, screw drivers - but what you need beyond that sometimes takes a little more time to figure out.

Typically, learning what you need comes when you’re in the middle of a project and realize you don’t have the right tool for the job. Then you spend more time and energy searching for it before you can move ahead.

This list for auto mechanics is meant to prevent those moments. And while what you need will depend on the type of work you’re doing, it’s never a bad idea to have tools available for the projects you can’t foresee.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Air compressor
  • Painting supplies
  • Dent and scratch tools
  • Jacks / ramps
  • Scanner / reader- multimeter
  • Sandpaper/ Abrasives
  • Ventilation
  • Lighting
  • Safety / maintenance items

Air compressor

You’re guaranteed to have a few tools in your shop that need to be powered by an air compressor.

One most notable use is with paint guns. Many spray guns require compressed air in order to atomize the paint, forming the necessary spray to coat a vehicle.

Besides paint guns, there are dozens of other tools that require compressed air, such as:

  • Impact wrench- the socket wrench that delivers high-torque with little effort. Removing wheel bolts with this tool is simple and easy. Other wrenches, such as an air ratchet, will also need compressed air.
  • Sanders- power sanders save you time and enormous amounts of energy. They use compressed air to spin the motor at higher speeds without burning up the motor as you might with an electric sander.
  • Drills- air drills provide power and torque for many auto jobs. The compressed air creates the force needed to create this torque.

While there are many other tools that require an air compressor, these few are considered the basics of any auto shop. We’d recommend a 60-gallon tank for most projects.


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Painting Supplies

You might not need a full paint gun, ventilation, wet lights, paint box, etc. but there are a few items that every shop should have.

  • Tape
  • Masking Liquid
  • Masking Papers

All three of these are useful to protect the interior and windows of your car while painting, since the mist produced by paint guns would otherwise damage these areas significantly.

Even if you’re not painting regularly (or at all), you should have these items in your shop to protect parts of the car from other types of damage. Whether it be from rust that you’re sanding off, mud from your shoes, or grime from your hands- these items will be put to good use.

Other painting supplies you may need in your home shop include:

  • Spray gun
  • Paint thinner
  • Buffer
  • Wax
  • Scratch pen
  • Sample paint (for small scratches or chips)
Even if you aren’t anticipating full paint jobs, you’ll need these items on hand for those unexpected dings and scratches.

Dent/ scratch tools

Dents from hail or small accidents happen regularly. They’re simple enough to fix if you have the right tools. To fix those small repairs, make sure you have the following in your toolbox:

Because of the frequency of scratches and dents in parking lots, and from certain kinds of weather, you’ll end up using these more than you might think.

Lifts

Most people own a car jack to replace their tires, and it often comes as a standard tool in that spare tire pocket in the trunk. But mechanics need so much more than the standard jack. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Jack- a sturdy one, with a good height range
  • Jack stands (a couple of them)- to keep your car up and securely locked in place for long periods
  • Ramps- ramps are great for things like oil changes, or brake jobs, and are a very secure way to work under your car. The drawback is when you need movement of the wheels for things such as a suspension job.

Consider getting multiples of each of these, as you’ll find you’ll use them more often than you think. Add a car creeper to this set and working under the car will be far more comfortable than expected.

Scanners / testers

There are several useful scanners and readers that you should be on any mechanical workshop tools list.

When the signal lights begin to pop up, you want to be able to read the computer diagnostics. When your tires are low, you’ll need to know the current PSI of your tires and keep it from reaching too high a pressure as you fill.


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Here are the basic scanners and testers that you should have in your workshop include:

  • OBD scanner
  • Ignition spark tester
  • Radiator pressure tester
  • Tire inflator with PSI gauge
  • Battery tester
  • Multimeter
These items are necessary for the most basic vehicle maintenance and should be kept operable and updated to ensure proper readings.

Sandpaper/ Abrasives

Whether you’re sanding down the body of a car for a paint job, getting rid of scratches or rust, bringing headlights back to life, or taking off old paint, sandpaper is a must.

You’ll need several types of grits, since each will have their own uses. Using the incorrect sandpaper can damage the look of your car and require much more costly repairs.

Ventilation

An indoor workspace will require ventilation for most jobs, but especially for projects with fumes, such as:

  • When using thinners
  • When painting
  • Sanding
  • Removing rust
  • Oil changes

A good quality fans and some open windows and doors should be enough for most projects. For projects with stronger fumes you can install exhaust fans on the front and back walls of your workspace.

Lighting

Safety should always be a concern when working on cars. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and you or your car will see the damage that poor lighting can cause.

There are dozens of different lights to choose from, but you should have an array available in your shop for various jobs. The most essential is a good overhead light that is water and dust proof.

Other lights to have on hand:

  • Flood lamps
  • Head lamps
  • Under the hood lights (with a hook or magnet)
  • Magnetic lights (for under the car)
  • Paint booth lights
  • Rechargeable/ portable lights
  • Detailing lights

Tool Maintenance/ safety

To ensure that all tools are working correctly, both for functionality and safety, keep them cleaned and neatly organized. Doing so will also help them last longer, which saves you money.

Maintenance and safety items include:

  • Rags
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Face masks
  • Wire scrubbers
  • Degreaser

Of course, there are more items to keep around your shop for cleaning and safety, but these are the basics that every shop should have.

Miscellaneous

You’ll find that there are a lot of small, random items that seem insignificant, but are used more than anything else in your shop.

These items should always be on-hand:

  • Nuts
  • Bolts
  • Extension cords
  • Dolly
  • Scissors
  • Funnels
  • Fuses
  • Electrical tape
  • Jump starter
  • Hand cleaner
  • Oil drip pan

Bonus Tools for a Home Workshop

While no shop is complete without the basics, there are hundreds of other tools that you might need or want to carry out projects. The necessity of these items will depend on the type of work you are doing, and the level of skill you must have to use them.

  • Paint booth
  • A lift
  • Air sander
  • Air screwdriver
  • Air hammer
  • Air ratchet
  • Pry tools
  • Etch scriber pen (to mark each part as you disassemble)
  • Magnetic pads (for screws and other small pieces)
  • Ratchet extender
  • Nut splitter
  • Hooks & picks (for wiring)
  • Wire terminal crimper
  • Wire connectors
  • Mold removal tools
  • Car creeper
  • Brake bleeder
  • Vacuum pump
  • Flexible magnetic pickup (for dropped screws)

While we could continue adding tools to this list, this a good basic list to get your home shop started or updated. What you need will depend on the skill level and type of the work you’re doing, so buy the items you’ll need the most first. After that, it’s a right of passage to keep adding more to your garage.

When upgrading or stocking your home workshop, go to Auto Body Toolmart. They have everything you need and more to keep your shop running.

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