Top 10 tools every backyard mechanic should have

So, you have started dabbling in regular oil changes and even more advanced vehicle maintenance? Or perhaps you have started to think about doing modifications to your vehicle that are more complicated than simple bolt-ons? Well, you should have the tools to do the job.

Here is the thing though, there are thousands of different tools and tool brands out on the market, and marketing strategies will have you believing you need them all… you don’t. In fact, when you are starting out you really don’t need fancy tools at all. What you need are some basic fundamental tools that will allow you to complete the job efficiently and in a timely manner.

Ratchet and Sockets

The key essential to automotive work, a good set of rachet and sockets. You should have a ¼ inch, 3/8 inch, and ½ inch ratchet with the matching socket sets. This is probably the only item on the list where I’m going to tell you to spend the money on a good set, it’ll save you a lot of headaches later. Whichever set you go for, make sure it comes with a Socket Extension Bar or that you add one. It would be handy to have a short, medium, and a long extension.

Wrench Set

Much like the racket and socket set, it’s absolutely essential to buy a good wrench set. They are the bare minimum anyone looking to wrench on cars should have.

Impact Gun

Yes, an impact gun is essential, and yes you will thank me later. These days there are many different options, and it really comes down to your budget and preference. I will say the cordless models have come along way and you can rest assured getting a cordless one won’t leave you underpowered.


Pretty straight forward right? You’ll need a full set of screwdrivers for a variety of screws in different shapes and sizes!


You’ll need 3 different pliers to get you started including normal length, long-nosed, and cutter pliers. These are the bare minimums you should have to complete the basic jobs.


It’s recommended you have a couple pairs of vice-grips but you could probably get away with just one. They are very handy for a variety of situations and almost essential for working on tough nuts and bolts!


You’ll have to buy two, a smaller one and a bigger one. The small one will be handy for lighter jobs where you are afraid to use the big one because it’ll likely break something. The big one will be handy for incidents where you have to remove drum brakes or tie rods, things that generally don’t move easily.

Pry bar

Pry bars are extremely versatile and will help you perform so many tasks. For example, trying to remove a caliper? Pry bar it. Drive shafts, drum brakes, wheel caps, etc are all easily removed using a simple pry bar. Depending on your budget it’s also a good idea to grab a bigger pry bar that will be used for removing tough items such as ball joints and control arms. You can start with a small or medium sized pry bar and see how things go before moving onto a heavier duty one.


They are often overlooked but funnels are essential. You should get two different sizes, a small one for oil changes and a big one for transmission fluid.

Extendable Magnet

When you first start out, you’ll be focusing hard on the task at hand and getting used to working in a tight space. There is no doubt that you will drop a bolt or a screw somewhere and it’ll be impossible to reach by hand. An extensible magnet will save you a ton of time as you’ll be able to slide it in without having to tear things down. For example, say you’re replacing a spark plug and a bolt slips into the engine. You could take apart the entire head to get the bolt or you could just slide in the extensible magnet and retrieve your bolt! Happy wrenching!

About Meds

Ben is widely known as the car sales guy to his friends and family. He does not work at a dealership, although he has done so in the past. He currently works in fleet in the automotive industry and is a numbers guy. He currently drives a rather boring 2017 Ford F-150 as his daily, but his passion is his 2018 Ford Mustang GT. Disclaimer: he does not work for Ford, although he is a big fan.