Tools what should always be in the car
“I’m not a mechanic, I don’t understand technology, why do I need tools?” many drivers say. But then even non-doctors do not need home first-aid kits. Or not? Basic skills in handling iodine, a bandage and peroxide are enough to treat a cut or abrasion – no one goes to the hospital for trifles. It’s the same with a car: minor breakdowns can be fixed on your own and without special knowledge – if you had the right tool at hand. Let’s think about what tools an ordinary motorist needs and why.
A balloon is called a wrench for wheel nuts. Without it, you can’t unscrew the flat tire, so the wheel wrench is included in the car’s factory tool kit – by the way, check if it is in place.
The regular wheel wrench is not very large – its length is chosen so that an adult can tighten the wheel nuts with the prescribed force and not twist the thread of the studs. But if at the tire fitting the nuts were tightened from the heart with a pneumatic wrench, it will not work to unscrew them with a regular wrench. Therefore, it is better to buy an elongated balloon wrench or an advanced telescopic balloon with a retractable handle. With this tool, you will accurately unscrew the soured nuts without jumping on the wrench and broken studs.
Keep in mind that the dimension of wheel bolts and nuts on different cars is different: on passenger cars, wrench nuts of 17, 19, 21 and 22 mm are usually used. A universal option is a cross-shaped balloon wrench, where there are all running sizes. The diameter of the holes for the nuts in alloy wheels is also different – the wrench may be too thick for your wheels. Therefore, try on the wheel wrench immediately after purchase, without waiting for the actual use. By the way, an alternative to a balloon can be a long collar and a suitable socket head.
Why is a reliable balloon wrench so important? A punctured wheel is the most common breakdown on the road, and it is the unscrewing of the wheel nuts that causes the greatest difficulty in replacing it.
A 10 mm key is the main assistant to the motorist. They can unscrew a lot of small fasteners in the car, including battery terminals. Sometimes the car needs to be de-energized – for example, when the alarm fails or after an accident. Without the right key, you just can’t do it. Do not forget that you need two keys: with one you will hold the bolt, and with the other you will unscrew the terminal nut.
If the battery needs to be completely removed (for example, to replace or charge at home), you will have to unscrew the mount. Its nuts can be either 10 mm or 12 – so the 12 mm wrench should also be in the glove compartment. Other running dimensions of automotive fasteners: 8 mm (interior elements, small clamps), 13, 14, 17 and 19 mm (suspension and engine parts). You can buy wrenches either individually or as a set, in a convenient case or case.
In order not to break the edges of the nuts, use box wrenches. But this is not possible everywhere, so ordinary open-end wrenches also need to be kept in stock. A universal option is open-end combination wrenches.
Tools: what should always be in the car
Pliers are a truly versatile tool: they can fix a bolt, unscrew a nut, squeeze a clamp, and cut a wire. In the “field” repair, they are indispensable, so they must be in the car.
Do not confuse pliers with pliers: the latter have thinner and longer lips, no recesses and large ribbed notches for gripping fasteners. Pliers are a more specialized tool for small parts, which is useless in a travel kit.
Although what everyone (including sellers in stores) calls pliers are combined pliers. The classic pliers found in the factory toolbox do not have cutting edges – they are designed exclusively for power gripping. But for universal use it is better to take a “combine” – pliers with notches and side cutters can do much more than “classics”.
A screwdriver is a basic automotive tool: most interior elements are fastened with screws and self-tapping screws. For example, in order to change the cabin filter, in many cars you will have to unscrew a few screws securing the glove compartment – this cannot be done without a screwdriver.
Usually, screwdrivers are divided into slotted (flat) and Phillips. But everything is a little more complicated – there are at least 2 common types of Phillips screwdrivers. Without knowing this, motorists turn the screws with what is at hand, tear off the edges, and then blame the curvature of the hands. It’s all about the wrong tool though.
Two main cross slot standards: classic PH (Phillips) and more modern PZ (Pozidriv) with additional grooves to prevent edge breakage. Accordingly, screwdrivers also differ: PZ has a slightly different shape of the sting to cling to these grooves. The PZ slot is easily identified by the four notches on the screw head.
By inserting a PZ screwdriver into a PH slotted screw (or vice versa), you will immediately feel how loose it is and how easily it will tear off the edges with effort. Therefore, you need to have both types of Phillips screwdrivers in stock. Well, and a flat slotted SL, of course – it is always relevant. Just do not bend the plastic trim with a slotted screwdriver to replace the radio or hide the wiring of the DVR – there are special pullers for this purpose.
In addition to the cross slots PH, PZ and flat SL, there are Torx (asterisk) and Hex (hexagon) screws in the car. And they all come in different sizes … Therefore, you need a whole set of screwdrivers. Or you can buy a combination screwdriver or a screwdriver with interchangeable bits.
Spark Plug key
A Spark Plug wrench is found in many standard automotive tool kits. As the name suggests, it is needed to unscrew the spark plugs. On the road, the candle may fail, the engine will start to triple, the Check Engine will light up on the dashboard … You should not go to a car service on your own with such a breakdown: lambda probes with a catalyst may also break, which will increase the cost of repairs at times. It is better to call a tow truck, or replace the candle on the spot – for this you need a candle key.
The regular “candlestick” (if it is in the factory set) is a tubular wrench, which is not very convenient to use. Much better show themselves T-shaped wrenches with a cardan and candle heads with a magnetic or rubber insert inside, which holds the candle, preventing it from falling out. With this tool, changing spark plugs is much easier and faster. Spark plug wrenches come in 2 standard sizes: 16 and 21 mm – find out what size plugs are used in your engine before buying a wrench.
Auto tool kit
If you not only drive a car, but also service it yourself – at least change consumables like brake pads – then you cannot do without a good set of tools. But even for people far from car repair, the tool will come in handy on a trip. Having broken down far from home, you will be fully equipped and will be able to ask for help from other drivers – more skilled, but less thrifty (most do not even have pliers with them).
Before buying a car tool kit, remember what you already have. For example, if you have a hammer, pliers or screwdrivers, it makes no sense to duplicate the same items in the set – find an option without them, since the choice is great. If you previously bought a set of wrenches, choose a good set of sockets instead of a universal tool set, where the same wrenches make up a third of the items. And if you have nothing, then look for a large box with the maximum variety of tools – it will be more convenient to carry everything in one suitcase.
Socket heads differ not only in the size of compatible bolts and nuts, but also in the mounting (connecting) size. Traditionally it is indicated in inches, the most common options are 1/2″, 3/8″, 1/4″. You can only do it through an adapter.
1/2″ sockets are standard large square sockets. Designed for a long collar and a serious effort, the size range in sets: from 10 to 32 mm. Used in the repair and maintenance of the engine, transmission and chassis.
1/4″ sockets are small square sockets for working with small parts and forces. Size range in sets: from 4 to 14 mm. They are used when servicing individual units, due to the small size of the ratchet, it is convenient to work with such a tool in a limited space.
3/8″ sockets are in between, usually complementing 1/2″ and 1/4″ in larger sets. Standard size range: from 9 to 19 mm. More compact than large square sockets and ratchets, but can drive bolts with relatively more force.
What else to put in the trunk
A hammer or sledgehammer may seem like a tool rather than a car tool, but it’s a regular tool for car maintenance, especially when removing soured parts. Add plastic zip ties, duct tape, and gloves to the list—very important items for on-the-go repairs. In addition to tools, the car should always have “emergency” accessories: a jack, a compressor, a tow rope, cigarette lighter wires or a booster, a reflective vest and a first aid kit. And you can put all this stuff in a convenient tool box – the driver’s personal treasury.