Once upon a time, fixing a car used to mean plenty of elbow grease and nothing more than the best tool kit you could buy. Today, it’s as likely to involve a laptop and a spreadsheet of fault codes. So while the more complicated repairs are best left to the experts, there are still plenty of jobs – such as changing the oil or brake pads – that you can tackle at home with a selection of the best tools. With the right tool kit and a Sunday morning to spare, you could save a small fortune.
A car tool kit is also invaluable on the road. If you break down, particularly in a remote area, it might be the difference between a quick repair and a very long walk. We’ve compiled a list of the best car tool kits for amateur mechanics. You’ll find many of them useful around the house, too.
All of our choices contain a comprehensive set of tools, but if you want to supplement them with additional screwdrivers, spanners or even a strong metal toolbox to keep them all in, we’ve got these covered, too.
The best car tool kits
Acclaimed toolmaker Black & Decker has squeezed no less than 77 pieces into a roll-up bag. These include spanners, sockets and Allen keys, plus flat-blade and Phillips screwdrivers, pliers and a ratchet. The components are well made and should last for many years of occasional use.
- Portable for the car
- High quality
- Only basic tools included
Alongside the usual sockets and spanners are wrenches, crows feet and a raft of adapters that'll make car work a breeze. Everything is expertly made and the tough carry case will keep everything neatly kept together.
- Exceptional quality
- Everything an amateur mechanic could reasonably need
- Others represent better value
Its plastic case doesn’t exactly feel premium, but this is an affordable tool kit that you could store at home or in the car boot. The tool sizes are metric, making it suitable for the vast majority of cars – and plenty of jobs around the house, too.
- Budget price
- Easy to carry around
- Good range of tools
- The trade-off with low price is lower quality
Best for professionals
In addition to the 1/4" and 1/2" sockets, you get deep spark plug sockets (1/4"), extension bars, 10" water pump pliers, 12oz ball pein hammer, circuit tester, and hex keys, to name but a few. At almost eight kilograms, it's a hefty kit, but it's not intended to be super portable and is indicative of the heavy-duty nature of the tools in it.
- Professional-grade quality
- Comprehensive set
- Not worth it for casual DIYers
Ergonomics are at the core of Wera products and each tool is produced to offer the maximum durability and comfort imaginable. It all comes with a hefty price tag, but for the ultimate tool experience, nothing comes close. The clever thinking also extends to how it's all packaged together, the Wera kit is surprisingly compact at 32.5 x 14.5 x 6.5 cm and only weighs 200g.
- Exceptional quality
- Incredibly compact design
- Really expensive
The Sealey name dates back to 1978 and the company is one of the leading suppliers to the garage trade. The zip-up bag contains pliers, sockets, mole grips, cable ties, a ratchet and a magnetic screwdriver. The kit is of decent quality and won’t weigh you down unnecessarily.
- Incredibly compact design
- Relatively affordable
- Limited choice
The best tool kit for easy storage
Larger options (15-18 inch) include a couple of extra bits, namely electrical tape, a retractable utility knife and two extension bars. Kielder is renowned for quality meaning that each tool will be expertly made too, great for peace of mind.
- Clever space-saving design
- Excellent quality
Car tool kits: what you need to know
A complete car tool kit is much cheaper than buying individual tools separately. A reasonably comprehensive kit for home car maintenance may cost less than £100 – or £50 if you need a portable kit for roadside repairs. Compare that with the hourly labour rate for your local garage and you’ll soon realise how much you could save.
What tools to look for
Assuming you’re starting from scratch, the basics to look for in a car repair kit include screwdrivers, a ratchet and sockets, spanners, Allen keys and pliers. Additional items you may need to buy – particularly for more involved jobs at home – include a hammer, car jack, tyre pressure gauge and inflator, battery jump-starter pack and hand degreaser. An OBD code reader is nigh-on essential for fault diagnosis with modern cars, too.
We’d suggest storing all of the above in your garage or shed, then keeping a portable tool kit in the car. Either way, a ready-made kit should be easy to carry, with its own case or bag providing easy access to the tools inside. Professional tool kits are of better quality, but vastly more expensive. So consider whether you will likely reap the benefits of a professional-grade set. Remember, there are perfectly decent sets for casual users. You can gradually upgrade your tool collection over time.
Why do you need one?
Buying a complete tool kit to suit your needs can be a very clever way of ensuring you can easily store and organise everything. Buying the best tool kit will ensure a solid selection of quality tools organised within a dependable toolbox. If you’re a total newcomer to the world of tools, a kit is probably the best value option for you too.
The best hand tool brands for full tool kits
The usual high-end brands present throughout this article all produce excellent tool kits full of excellent tools. Wera toolkits often ship in an excellent and tough tool roll designed to survive years of abuse while Facom toolkits ship in fancy module trays perfect for slotting into equally fancy tool chests. We’d choose Siegen as our premium toolkit maker of choice thanks to the excellent tool and toolbox quality.
Looking to the more affordable end of the spectrum and once again Draper and Sealey are prime picks for complete toolkits. We’d also include Makita and Black & Decker, while Rolson is the best option if you’re on a really tight budget.
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