Seven must-have tools for every car enthusiast

Full-fledged motorheads and novices alike can all appreciate good mechanics. But what are the car enthusiast’s essential must-have items?

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There are very few people in the world who can genuinely say they dislike cars. Whether you’re a full-blown motorhead with a garage full of ongoing passion projects or a barely legal driver with an affinity for your old reliable, we can all appreciate the medley of bolts, metal sheet and engine that get us around. There’s something deeply fulfilling about taking care of your automotive. The satisfaction of repairing and maintaining your vehicle, and the rewarding freedom it brings is almost romantic.

Whether you’ve bought an old rusting classic to tinker and restore, or you’d rather get your own hands dirty and look after your car of 10+ years, here are the seven must-have tools for every car enthusiast.

1. Jump cables

As reliable as your baby may be, only the most optimistic of car owners would leave the house without jump cables. Tinkered cars that spend long periods without exercising the engine have a tendency to run the battery dry. Simply find another friendly motorist and a donor car, attach the jump cables and hey presto! You’re good to go. Follow the instructions below. If you don’t have access to a donor car, a good battery will get that initial engine start-up.

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2. Socket set

This is another essential for motorists in general. Various nuts and bolts around the car will always need tightening from time to time. Do you have a loud creak? The chances are your suspension is loose and the bolts need tightening.

3. Feeler gauge

Feeler gauges simply make your life easier. These gauges consist of small lengths of steel, each measuring different widths to easily identify the dimensions of various gaps in the car. Some gaps are more important than others. For instance, who can remember the ‘oh so reliable’ valve clearances on the A series engine of the Mini Cooper? Those types of cars need to have their gaps constantly monitored. Feeler gauges are also incredibly handy for setting the gap on spark plugs. When buying feeler gauges, it’s best to go for quality as any corrosion will skew measurements! RS Components stock their own feeler gauges in a professional standard line.

4. Torque wrench

And what do you tighten the bolts with but a torque wrench? Too tight and the bolt snaps, too loose and it runs the risk of falling off completely. Many bolts require different degrees of tightness and must be set to the correct newton-metre, which your torque wrench will duly enforce. Areas of the car that require fine-tuned tightening include the suspension, engine component and mounts, and wheels. For the more delicate jobs, such as the electronics you might want to invest in a finer torque wrench.

5. Trolley jack

Trolley jacks are an essential piece of kit for any budding mechanic or tinkerer. Capable of lifting several tons of vehicle, they allow for easier access to the chassis. Add a creeper for good measure and you can keep your back out of the grease and save your knee joints. Find out how to safely use a trolley jack – Safety is a priority when you have a few tons over your head!

6. Inspection lamps

Working blind is often frustrating, particularly if you’re straining your eyes to peer into the depths of the engine. A good light source makes all the difference, especially if you work in the garage. You could go all out and get a large inspection lamp or a more versatile handheld lamp.

7. Fluffy dice

Okay, so not strictly a must-have, but who knows of a Capri that doesn’t have a pair of fluffy dice? Fluffy dice, crosses or even a troll doll, these dashboard accessories give the car a sense of character by filling it with personal items. And that’s the true beauty of tinkering with any car. You can make it your own and fall in love with it.

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