Automotive Restoration Tools and Equipment

The first-time restorer is faced with a bewildering array of tools needed. A complete inventory would be expensive and confusing, but the good news is you don't need every tool made for every project. Just focus on the ones you do need for the job at hand.

automotive restoration tools

Hand Tools

Always buy the best hand tools you can afford - they reduce fatigue and last a lifetime. Quality tools will be kept and used for generations to come.

tools needed for old car restoration

Read: Best Hand Tools For Automotive


Air Tools

Air tools deliver higher torque and are more powerful than traditional hand tools or electric-powered tools. They will dramatically decrease the amount of time and energy needed to finish your project car.

DIY old car restoration

Read: Top Ten Automotive Air Tools

best garage air compressor

Read: Garage Air Compressor Review


Engine Tools

In addition to basic hand tools, engine building requires some specialty tools as well.

tools needed for automotive engine build

Read: Tools Needed For An Engine Build


Automotive Body Tools

There is no shortcut or "easy way" to do restoration-quality bodywork. Learning to weld and use body tools properly requires practice and discipline.

tools and equipment needed for automotive restoration

Read: Tools Needed For Automotive Bodywork


Welder For Automotive Repair

With the exception of fiberglass-bodied cars, replacing body panels requires welding. If you are sincere about restoring old cars, learning to weld should be considered.

Read: How To MIG Weld Sheet Metal

best welder for old car restoration

Read: Best Welder For Automotive Restoration


Garage Shop Equipment

A good quality hydraulic floor jack will give you years of use. After 25 years of service, my old floor jack stopped holding pressure. Rather than buy a replacement, I decided to repair it.

Read: Repair An Old Floor Jack


Jack Stands

I have two different pairs of jack stands, which come in handy because I don't always need four, and two are smaller than the other pair. The two pairs are often used together for supporting an entire vehicle.

best jack stands for automotive repair

Read: Best Jack Stands And Lifting Procedures


Jack Stands vs Ramps

For DIY oil changes, car ramps seem to be more popular than jack stands. Personally, I prefer jacks stands over ramps. I use a floor jack at the proper factory lift points, then place a jack stand as close to the jack as possible.

repair an old floor jack

Always Use Jack Stands When Working Under A Car


Portable Work Stand

When you're working on a large body part like a hood or fender, you need a safe and stable place to set it down on. That's what portable work stands are for.

work table for garage projects

I bought a folding work stand years ago, and it's helped me repair doors, bumpers, hoods, fenders, and some non-automotive projects as well. When not in use, it folds up flat and can be stored out of the way.

tools and equipment needed for car restoration


Garage Work Light

When doing mechanical repairs, work lights on a stand make the job easier and more enjoyable. But when doing body work and painting, lighting is critical.

best work light for garage projects

Shop: Work Light On Stand


Drum Brake Tools

Many automotive techs don't have any experience with repairing drum brakes. Several specialty drum brake tools are required, not only to do the job, but to do the job safely.

drum brake shoes overhaul

Read: Drum Brake Tools


Slide Hammer

The many uses for a slide hammer include pulling out dents and removing rear axles. Basically, it's a long round shaft with a sliding weight, which produces force without actually striking the panel.

tools and equipment needed to restore an old car

GearWrench offers a nice slide hammer kit which includes five different components for different pulling uses. Included is a screw and hook attachment needed for dent pulling, as well as two flange adapters for pulling rear axles. The slide hammer weight is 5-1/2 pounds and the rod is 5/8-18 thread.

tools needed to repair body panels

I originally purchased my slide hammer for body work, but has since found many other uses, such as removing stubborn bearings and seals. The picture above shows a slide hammer with special attachment for removing cam bushings from a motorcycle engine side cover.


Angle Grinder and Attachments

Although mainly used for body work (like grinding down welds), 4-1/2" angle grinders have many other uses. With a cut-off wheel attachment, it makes quick work of shortening bolts or cutting off rusted muffler brackets.

Bosch angle grinder with flap disc

Read: Best Angle Grinder For Automotive

Read: Angle Grinder Attachments For Automotive Repair

If your next project calls for cutting more than a couple pieces of thicker metal, you'll love the speed and precision of a portable band saw.

best portable band saw

Read: Milwaukee Portaband Saw Review


Kneeling Pad

Kneeling on a concrete floor or outside on wet ground gets uncomfortable after a few minutes. There is enough padding in this rubber kneeling pad to cushion a 200+ pound size person. I also use it as a butt pad.

best-kneeling pad for automotive work

Shop: Mechanics Kneeling Pad


Misc Garage Equipment and Supplies

Common supplies needed for automotive repair and restoration include shop towels or rags, aerosol penetrant sprays like WD-40, disposable gloves, and hand cleaner.

best gloves for automotive repair

Tip: Buy gloves in the size larger than you think you need.


Camera/Mobile Phone

Taking pictures before and after is extremely helpful during any project. A digital camera is nice to have, but a mobile phone works just as well.

screen protector for mobile phone

TIP: Put a with a screen protector on your mobile phone!