What Every Home Mechanic Needs

July 2015 Feature Brady L. Kay

Some jobs are best left to the professionals, but not every repair or install needs to be done at your local shop. You could be saving time and money by doing some of the regular maintenance work yourself and now is a good time to make sure you have the basic tools you’ll need. I contacted the tool man, Chris Duke, to see what tools he would recommend for the at-home mechanic. Duke has helped many people be able to do their own projects through his show, Motorz, which airs each week to 125 million households around the U.S., Canada and beyond (www.motorz.tv).

“Everyone should know how to replace a tire and check the oil, but people don’t realize just how easy it is to fix simple problems with your truck and save yourself a trip to the shop,” said Duke. “All you need is a little instruction and a box with the necessary tools.”

Here are 10 suggested tools that Duke says every truck owner should keep in his toolbox.


1 Adjustable Wrench

Also commonly referred to as a “Crescent Wrench,” which is a brand name. Works in a pinch when you don't have a complete socket set. You can even keep one in your glove box.

2 Standard & Metric Socket Set 

Used for just about every job, make sure you have the most complete set of sockets you can afford, along with a ratchet and small to long extensions. You don't need to get 1/2-inch sockets unless your budget allows, but definitely pick up 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch socket sets.

3 Screwdrivers

"One size fits all" doesn't always work here, because you don't want to strip the heads of those fasteners. Get the most complete set of Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers you can find, and get some short ones too. These aren't expensive, especially if you buy a pack of them.

4 Cordless Drill Driver

There's nothing more time-consuming and frustrating than having to wrench! Pick up a few socket adapters for your 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch sockets, too.

5 Needle-Nose Pliers 

You will always need to grip something, especially in tight spots. While it's great to have regular pliers around, the needle-nose is most useful.

6 Pry Bars

Get a few at different lengths. Having some extra leverage is always a good idea when you can't get something to budge!

7 Breaker Bar

Some bolts just don't want to move, no matter how hard you try. When you need the extra torque, use a breaker bar. Many times even power tools won't work when a breaker bar will.

8 Torque Wrench

Once you've removed parts, you need to make sure you put them back on per the manufacturer's recommended torque specification. This is a required tool for those lug nuts, too.

9 Hammers

Every tool box should have a rubber mallet. It's the ultimate persuasion device. Unless you're a carpenter, a regular claw hammer won't do you much good, so keep that in the house for hanging your pictures. Get a ball peen hammer, which is more applicable to automotive work.

10 Work Gloves

Get a good pair that fits your hands right. They'll save you from bloody knuckles, torn skin, metal splinters and more. 

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