From tools to care and maintenance products, this is everything you need in your garage.
It doesn't matter if you're a small-time tinkerer or a major car modder, there are certain must-haves for your garage that you can't do without. When it comes to building the ultimate garage man cave, these must-haves can make or break the final product, and not having the correct stuff in your garage can mean costly trips to the mechanic that you don't really want. Fortunately, modern garage essentials are just a click away thanks to online shopping, and the number of high-caliber products available to us means you'll almost never be found wanting. But where do you start, what do you need, and how do you go about building the best garage for home car maintenance? We've compiled the ultimate guide of garage essentials to help you out.
One of the most essential items you must have in your garage is a solid work table or bench. Think of this as the equivalent of your office desktop, a simple item but one that affords you the space to work on anything and everything, even non-car related things. It's important to make sure you consider ergonomics when choosing or installing a garage work table, as a sturdy table set at waist height will help prevent you having to bend or crouch excessively, avoiding muscle aches and back problems. This worktop should be free from dirt, smooth, and level, allowing you to assemble and disassemble car parts without losing small components in gaps and ruts, or without small pieces getting lost.
A garage is more than just four walls and the car in the middle. When it comes to building the ideal space for your mechanical delights, a quality garage door is of utmost importance. Not only can it transform the aesthetic of the space, but it's a prime security component to keep your favorite four-wheeled child secure.
We advise making sure a garage door can always be locked securely, but it's also important it's made of strong materials. This serves a two-fold purpose as:
A) a strong, quality door is less likely to be broken, and
B) strong, well-protected materials serve as excellent protection from the elements, keeping at bay rain, snow, and the cold.
A motorized door makes life more convenient, but so too can the type of door itself. A solid panel that lifts up might look great, but if your garage is small, this could rob you of storage space in a makeshift loft. For this purpose, a stylish, well-assembled roller door is a great, compact idea.
We're used to climate control in the cabins of our cars but climate control for your garage can be just as important, particularly if you live in a state frequented by Jack Frost. Cars are designed to operate best in a certain temperature range, and fluctuations in and out of this ideal spectrum aren't beneficial. Fluids can freeze, rubber hoses can get too solid, and seals can perish if they get too cold and brittle. Likewise, too much heat and moisture in coastal states can cause rusting of body parts. Fortunately, air conditioning and garage climate control are now available, ranging from AC units to underfloor heating. Keeping the space fresh and temperate isn't just good for your vehicle, either. Working on your car in a room that isn't too hot or cold is also important, as anyone who's bashed a hand working on a car in winter will attest to.
Possibly the most underrated piece of equipment you can invest in is making sure you buy the best floor jack for your home garage. Part of car ownership means that whether it's for changing tires or draining oil, you'll be jacking up your car at some point. When you do this, you'll require a strong, reliable floor jack. While there are many available that all look great and an abundance have wheels for easy maneuverability, at the end of the day, a great floor jack must have two key features: high lift, and a heavy weight rating. A high-lift jack is great for making sure you don't work in a cramped space, but the weight rating is most important. A jack that isn't rated to lift your car's curb weight could collapse on you, and we don't have to explain what happens when several tons of metal lands on the human body. It may seem like overkill, but always buy a jack rated for greater weights than what you'll be working with. You never know what your next car will be or when you'll work on a friend's truck, so always err on the side of caution. Ideally, a hydraulic jack is the best, capable of lifting the entire car high in the air to make it easy to work on, but these are expensive, so can be done without.
Equally as important as the jack itself are jack stands. Robust jack stands will support the weight of the car once jacked-up, adding an extra layer of safety. It's important not to skimp, always to research the best manufacturers, and generally avoid those with a poor reputation like a recent batch of Harbor Freight stands.
What happens once your car is in the air? Well, if you've only lifted up the front or rear end of your vehicle and you still have a wheel or two on the ground, the balance and angle at which the car is propped up means that there's the potential of it rolling off the jacks and stands, particularly if your brakes aren't engaged properly. A simple, but ultimately safe solution to preventing unwanted accidents, is to invest in a quality set of wheel chocks for your car. Chocks are small, inexpensive, and easy to store, but they are also important. The best ones are sturdy, have a strong wedge shape, and have a rubberized coating to make sure they don't slip on the floor.
Unless you're into heavy custom fabrication, the right power tools are something you won't really need much of in your home garage. But, there are a few that are always worth having:
More important than any power tool is a reliable air compressor. It's one of the most versatile tools in any garage, used for everything from pumping up flat tires and powering an air impact wrench, to simply using jets of compressed air to clean dust from inside your engine bay and in tight spaces. A good compressor for your car doesn't take up much space, but it's important to make sure the hoses are kept properly so they don't break.
Also handy, more to keep in the trunk of your car than in your garage, is a 12-volt air compressor. This is powered by your car's 12-volt power socket and is handy for reinflating tires on the road.
The old adage says "a bad workman always blames his tools," but a good workman wouldn't have poor tools to start with. You can never have a large enough toolset, but there are certain essentials to have on your list of items in your garage:
Crucially, it pays to spend on high-quality tools; cheap tools break often and don't last, adding frustration and often causing more damage than doing good. Look at a comprehensive craftsman tool set from an established brand to get you going, and build up from there.
Unless you're Richard B. Riddick, you can't see in the dark - make sure your workshop is well-lit. Great lighting in the garage is important for seeing fine details, working in tight spaces, and spending hours late into the night getting your project up and running. The best lights are LED ones which are bright without using much electricity. An LED leadlight is vitally important when working under the car or in the engine bay, so make sure you have one on hand. Various wireless LED lights also work, and those with magnetic mounts are ideal for mounting under the hood when you require both hands. When all else fails, a good headlamp is also a worthwhile investment so you don't miss anything in the shadows.
You can try all you want, but sometimes, bad stuff happens to good people and you need to be ready for all eventualities. When things go up in flames, a functioning fire extinguisher is a must-have for the home garage. You might think water is sufficient but electrical, oil, and gasoline fires call for something more, so a dry powder extinguisher that has been regularly serviced is a key piece of safety equipment.
Even if you're still resisting the surge of EVs, you need a battery charger in your life. Whether you have a faulty alternator, an old battery, or just don't drive your car over the winter months, you'll have occasion for a trickle charger on hand to keep your battery juiced and ready to go. Trickle chargers retain charge but don't damage the battery, but as always, it pays to opt for something highly rated rather than the cheapest option available.
We've already gone through a fairly comprehensive list of tools and garage car accessories, but when you have a garage full of stuff, you'll be desperate for somewhere to store all of it. These are just a few of your possibilities for item storage in a garage:
Mr. Miyagi knew his stuff - you have to keep your car immaculate and well protected, and for that, a comprehensive array of car care products is on our list of must-haves for a garage. You'll want more than just wax, though:
There is an abundance of marques manufacturing car care items in the USA, but it pays to go with quality producers such as Meguiars, Mothers, and Turtle Wax.
There are always more cool things for your garage than you'll have space for, but it's worth looking into them to make your ideal man garage must-haves part of your life. In addition to the obvious storage space for a car, here are the extra nice-to-haves we recommend:
The perfect garage is never complete, but the best ones are those that you pour yourself into to make your own. The must-haves in a garage will differ depending on your needs, but as long as you create a space where you feel at home, and as long as you don't compromise on quality, the ideal car-space is always attainable.
Some tools can be bought cheap, like hammers and pliers, but when it comes to spanners, screwdrivers, floor jacks, jack stands, and sockets, it pays to buy quality.
So you're just starting your home garage and want to know what's most important? Start with a quality floor jack, jack stands, a good set of spanners, sockets, pliers, and a few screwdrivers. The rest you can build up over time.
When you need to tackle an automotive-related fire, a dry powder extinguisher is best. But it's also worth having a bucket of sand handy, which is also an easy way to mop up oil.
When it comes to a well-lit garage, we recommend a wireless LED light with a proper diffusing cover. This uses less electricity, produces less heat, and gives you better visibility.
Bias aside, this is a tricky question to answer. Some expensive manufacturers aren't the best, and some cheap ones are brilliant. Generally, look for those with a strong reputation and impressive reviews. We've always been partial to Gedore equipment, but any reputable brand will do.