If you’re like most classic car owners, you love carving out time to work on your car. But the last thing you need is to reach for a certain tool — then have to stop what you’re doing and run to the auto parts store.

Worse yet is when you’re lacking a tool you need while you’re out on the road… a scenario that’s all too common when driving a vintage automobile.

Don’t get caught shorthanded! Here are the basic tools and supplies that should live in every classic car owner’s tool box.

Socket Set

Every garage needs a standard and metric socket set. We recommend a 3/8-inch drive socket set to handle most jobs. Throw in a couple of extensions to lengthen your reach into tight spots, and a ratchet to make turns easier.

Your basic kit should include:

  • 3/8-inch drive standard
  • 3/8-inch drive metric
  • 1/2-inch drive standard
  • 1/2-inch drive metric
  • 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch extensions
  • a ratchet
  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

Invest in a high-quality socket set, as you’ll rely on these tools quite a bit.

Wrenches

Start with a quality combination wrench set in standard sizes. Then add a torque wrench for those heavy duty parts. We recommend a higher range torque wrench with a range up to 150 ft-lb. Include an impact wrench for removing lug nuts and bolts.

You’ll also want an adjustable wrench set. Include three different sizes in your tool box for greater versatility.

Pliers and Vice Grips

Every garage needs a set of pliers. Start with these basic types:

  • Needle nose
  • Channel lock
  • Side cut
  • Wire

When you’re working on a classic car, there will be times when you need another pair (or several more pairs) of hands. That’s where vice grips come in handy. They’re like a pair of locking pliers that clamp down tight, a helpful feature when you’re trying to remove stripped bolts.

Multimeter

Trying to trace an electrical fault on a collector car? A multimeter makes it simple to pinpoint a problem. This useful tool allows you to track electrical flow from the power source, so you can find the point of failure.

Drill

While power tools aren’t always necessary, they can certainly make your life easier! Keep a drill with a screwdriver bit in your took box, and throw in an adapter for sockets while you’re at it. Choose a battery-powered drill for its portability.

Floor Jack and Stands

When you need to work under your classic car, you want to play it safe. This isn’t an area where you don’t want to cheap out: Invest in a high quality floor jack and stands to keep your car, and yourself, safe. A low-profile, 2.5+ ton jack and 3-ton jack stands will work for most projects.

Supplies

Along with a selection of tools, every classic car owner should have a few supplies on hand. These include penetrating oils — to help get those rusty bolts out — and lubricating oils to get parts clean.

Gloves are essential to protect your hands, as well as your car’s upholstery. Grip gloves also offer heat protection and help you hang on tight.

Finally, you’ll want to stock up on shop towels to clean up the inevitable oil, grease, and other spills.

Want to learn more about maintaining your collector car? Check out our other blog posts on collector car maintenance

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