While some repairs are well past the abilities of the average car owner, even the least mechanical person can do minor maintenance and on-the-road repairs if they have the right tools. Here are some things you should have on hand to help keep things running smoothly on the road.
Sure, it’s an obvious thing to have on hand, but it’s also something we tend to forget to put back in our cars before the first frost. If you have a long ice scraper that you take out of your car during the summer months, keep a small one in the vehicle in case there’s an unseasonable cold snap.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Keeping the correct tire pressure makes your car handle better and ride better while reducing tire wear and the chance of flats. Dial gauges and digital gauges are the most accurate, but even checking your tires with a cheap pencil gauge every week or two can make a big difference.
A lot of power needs to be transferred to get enough electricity in the battery to start the vehicle, and that means using cables with heavy gauge wire. Skip jumper cables designed to plug in the cigarette lighter and get a set with large clamps and thick cables that attach directly to the batteries.
Why should you have a knife in your car? If you get something stuck to your car, whether it’s a bag that has melted to the exhaust or a cable that has wrapped around a driveshaft, it can be cut away so you can get back on the road.
Wrenches and Sockets
Even if you aren’t much of a mechanic, being able to tighten down a loose bolt can save you trouble down the road. A set of wrenches, a set of sockets, and a ratchet are enough to do minor repairs and maintenance. If you want to change your own spark plugs, get a spark plug socket. It will have a rubber liner that grips the plug so it can be easily removed from the engine.
Look around the engine bay and interior to see if your car uses any special fasteners and buy tools accordingly. Chrysler products often use security screws for small parts, while many German cars use bolts requiring 12 spline sockets.
Jack and Jack Stands
If you do any maintenance to your car, it’s likely that you’ll need to lift it off of the ground. While a scissor jack is usually included with your vehicle for changing flats, a jack and a set of jack stands will make lifting your car easier and safer. Why do you need both? The seals in the jack could fail, dropping the vehicle on you. Jack stands are mechanically fixed to keep your car in the air.
There should be one of these in your car alongside your spare tire, but a standard lug wrench will give you more leverage, making it easier to remove the wheels. By using a wrench that stays in your garage, you won’t pull out your car’s wrench and forget to put it back, leaving you without a way to change a flat.
When in Doubt, Leave it to the Professionals
It’s not hard to learn how to change an air filter or check the oil, but it takes a lot of know-how and specialty tools to do body work. If your car needs body repair, rustproofing, an alignment, or just some detailing, bring it in to Merton Auto Body. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop staffed with ASE-certified technicians, so you know the job will be done right.