The holiday season is fast approaching, and many are starting to wonder what to buy the "car guy" on their shopping list. People are holding onto their cars for longer periods of time, and more of us are going the DIY route when it comes to car repairs. The upcoming holidays give us the ideal opportunity to assemble a list of tools that will help a veteran or novice do-it-yourselfer maintain or repair a vehicle.
Below are the top five tools for any DIY garage:
A set of jack stands and a hydraulic jack:
Anytime you work on a car, you're likely to need a jack. A good hydraulic jack with stands allows the DIYer to safely lift a vehicle, permitting repairs to brakes, tires and under-car components. In most cases, a jack with a set of stands can be had for less than $150.
An OBDII reader:
The OBDII code reader is a useful tool for rookie and seasoned DIY car repair people. The code reader can pull trouble/diagnostic codes for almost all light trucks, SUVs and cars made after 1995; pulling these codes is the first step in determining the source of a "Service Engine" light or mechanical problem. Most code readers have a data cable which allows for easy updates, ensuring that it will be compatible with subsequent vehicle generations. An OBDII reader can be bought for less than $100.
The digital multimeter (DMM) helps DIYers pinpoint electrical problems with accuracy. Most digital multimeters can also be used on other electronic equipment, power supplies, appliances and wiring. A DMM can be bought for $50 to $100.
A shop manual for a specific vehicle:
Even the most seasoned DIYers need to look something up once in a while. A good repair manual gives model-specific how-tos and troubleshooting for most repairs, for less than $30 in most cases. These manuals include step by step processes, detailed photos, troubleshooting steps, wiring diagrams and useful tips.
An air compressor:
The air compressor is an often overlooked but essential part of any do-it-yourselfer's garage. A compressor can inflate both bicycle and car tires, and it also provides the air necessary to use air guns and other pneumatic tools. Some air compressors also include a 12 volt battery add-on which can jump start a car that has a dead battery. Shop models are pricey, but portable air compressors with wheels can be bought for $100 to $200 depending on features and tank capacity.
There are many things that belong in a DIY car repair shop, and the list above was meant to provide ideas for those who don't know where to start. Other car repair-related gifts, such as tool chests, torque wrenches, tool sets, shop lights, work benches, vises, first aid kits, fire extinguishers and safety equipment will be much appreciated by the budding mechanic on your gift list. With any of the gift ideas mentioned above, you'll make their holiday much happier, and they can make their car repair tasks much simpler.
About the Author: Alex writes for Toolorders, experts in everything and anything to do with tools!