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Top 10 essentials for maintaining your car at home

Trips to the garage can’t be avoided. MoT tests, tyre changes and various other jobs require specialist tools and the right kind of training – so they’re best left to professionals - but that’s not to say you can’t do some work yourself. If you want to get your hands dirty this set of 10 items will get you set to do most car maintenance tasks at home.

Obviously you’ll need to have a workshop manual to follow and a second pair of hands is often handy. But this gear should set you up to tackle all routine maintenance and servicing jobs, from changing spark plugs and oil to renewing brake pads and discs. 

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Hilka three tonne low profile trolley jack – from around £55

Most modern cars come with a scissor jack, which is fine for roadside tyre changes but far from ideal for maintenance. They’re not particularly stable and require quite a bit of effort to raise and lower. A trolley jack is more stable and better suited to use in your garage. Ensure the one you choose is rated to take the weight of your vehicle.

You can spend anything from peanuts to hundreds on a trolley jack, but for occasional at home use around £50 will get you something reasonable. Jacking up the car is essential for brake and suspension maintenance and for oil changes. You’ll also need some axle stands – see the next item in our top 10.

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CaptainT    on 31 December 2017

I bought one and promptly creased up the longitudinal frame on my 1975 BMW 2002tii. The "pad" is small enough (like the one in your picture) to neatly fit between the vertical side pieces. Why don't these come with decent "soft" pads? I found the same or similar problem with the axle stands. They all curve up at the edges making for a good high pressure on a flat part of the car. It seems a bit of a "faff" placing wood pads on the things and hoping nothing slips!

C A Nicholson    on 31 December 2017

I understood bleeding brakes and changing brake fluid needed diagnostics computer connected on modern cars with ABS. Before buying an oil filter remover check if you can use one, Peugeot & others with 1.4HDi are not a cartridge filter. I think the Clarke toolkit is an overkill for most people with modern cars as many jobs are better done by a garage, I prefer to get a good basic setup and add things as needed for each car I own, some jobs that used to be simple on older vehicles can easily go wrong on these stupid modern cars and then can be very expensive to fix, garages are used to doing some of those tasks and are aware of what can go wrong. When I get a new care first thing I access every bulb so I know how to do it at side of road and make a kit of all required bulbs and fuses required also spare wiper blades, only bulb could not change was front flashers on Peugeot Bipper Tepee as requires removing front bumber assembly to release headlights for access. Get all topup fluids so they are there when required. I have built a new Triumph Vitesse from scratch in the eighties, bought new chassis, body panels and any bits I could get new, completely rebuilt 2 engines for it and rebuilt gearbox with all new bearings but too old and ill now and would not attempt it on a modern car. Most people with interest should be able to change oil and filters, fit new brake discs, pads, shoes, wheel bearings, battery, spark plugs, radiator and such parts but remember you won't get service history stamped. Dealers will reduce trade in value without it but go back with all records stamped and won't increase value, I found that out.

Harrovian    on 31 December 2017

I would suggest using better quality items, for example Melco axle stands by Thomas Meldrum, made in Sheffield, England, not China. King Dick, another old British company make much better tools than Clarke, yes more expensive, but much better quality, so just buy what you need and they will last a lifetime.
I would echo the comments above about care when working on new cars, they do not lend themselves to DIY, but one can do some jobs if you take care.

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