If you own a car you will know that it will always require some servicing and maintenance. This has to be on a regular basis, otherwise problems can develop which would be very costly to resolve. These are the top tools for DIY work on your car. I have always taken my car to the dealer or more recently to independent specialist garages for all service and repair jobs. However, I have realised that with the right tools and knowledge, it is possible for vehicle owners to carry out the majority of these tasks themselves.
It is definitely worth thinking about doing your own work where feasible as this can lead to huge cost and time savings over a long time. Before knowing what I know now about this subject, I didn’t care much about what is involved. With improved knowledge, my perspective has changed and I now appreciate the benefits and satisfaction of knowing that my car is in good running order at all times.
Quick cost comparison
Here is a comparison of typical costs for the basic task of carrying out an oil change.
|Main Dealer||£150||Typically exorbitant prices|
|Independent garage||£120||Preferred to dealer|
|Fast fit garage||£100||Use at your own risk|
|Do It Yourself||£40||5 litres of oil, oil filter + your time. You know exactly what work has been done.|
Note that for bigger or major services these garage costs will ballon accordingly. Even though it is typically cheaper to carry out your own service where possible, it is more important that you will be learning useful skills and that you know exactly how the work has been done.
There are plenty of horror stories of fast fit places charges large sums for work that is not needed. In one example, a motorist went for a repair which should have cost about £20 but came away with a £300 bill! The customer then went on to successfully sue the garage for discrimination.
A selection of top tools and equipment which would be useful including the ones I currently use are shown below. If you are interested in the product you can click on the image to view on Amazon.
Socket Set – 1/2 inch
This high quality Bahco S240 24 piece socket set is highly focused and I love that it does not come with random bits like screwdriver bits. It has a solid 1/2 inch square drive with 10mm to 32mm sockets, capable of taking on most tasks. Also included are a breaker bar and T-adapter. This kit is very sturdy and well made.
Torque Wrench – 1/2 inch
This Silverline toque wrench comes at 1/2 inch size and has a torque range of 28-210 Nm, making suitable for tightening wheel lug nuts to the correct specification and suspension work. The wrench also comes with a 3/8 inch adapter and 125mm extension bar.
Safety is first whenever you are working under the car. A good trolley jack like this Clarke Strongarm is suitable for lifting a car weighing less than 2 tonnes; a lot safer than tyre change scissor jacks which come with many cars. Make sure to use at least a pair of axle/ jack stands (see below) to hold up the vehicle when jacked up.
Axle or Jack Stands
Never work under a car which is only supported by a jack. Axle/ jack stands like these Silverline 763620 3 (Tonne) with a ratchet mechanism are safer to use and definitely worth investing in. Using the dedicated jack points under the car, slowly lower the vehicle on to the stands prior to carrying out the work. Ensure to purchase stands with a rating suitable for your vehicle’s weight.
Tyre inflator/ air compressor
One of the most basic maintenance tasks is making sure that the tyres are inflated to the correct level. If not done correctly it could lead to premature and or uneven thread wear or poor fuel consumption. A 12 volt air compressor like this Ring RAC610 can be used to inflate tyres anywhere as it is powered by the car cigarette socket. This is also convenient as it saves trips to the garage. Also useful in emergencies when you need to inflate a tyre
Brake and Clutch bleeding kit
Changing brake fluid is something that sounds very difficult but can be done easily with the correct tools. The Gunson G4062 Eazibleed kit together with a spare wheel can be used for bleeding brake fluid and can be performed by just one person. The kit can also be used for bleeding clutches.
It is recommended to change brake fluid every two years because it is hydroscopic. This means that the fluid absorbs water over time, reducing its boiling point and effectiveness, making brakes feel spongy. Dot 4 fluid is recommended for most vehicle and has a minimum boiling point of 230ºC.
These are some of the basics for car maintenance/ service. Other equipment will be needed depending on the work needing to be done. It is also useful to have a manual specific to your car which provides the relevant step by step guides.
A practical actionable strategy which can be used to lower long term recurrent costs and direct the savings to investments. Following these tips along with buying a car the frugal way can help in progress toward financial independence.