For auto repair, you can’t get much more basic than a good wrench. If you are going to start building a tool set, you will need a couple different styles of wrenches and all different sizes. When it comes to wrenches you will find that there is a huge variety in them, but you really only need a couple types unless you get into the specialized wrenches.
The one thing that needs to remain consistent is the quality. Inexpensive wrenches are made of a soft metal that can actually bend around nuts causing them to slip off. When they slip off, a few things can happen. First, there is the possibility of rounding off the fastener that you are working on. Obviously we want to avoid that. The second is that after the wrench slips off, the jaws can crack, meaning that you will have to buy a new one. By the time you get done doing that, you will likely have spent more than one high quality wrench would have cost you. The third factor to consider is personal injury. When the wrench slips off, you will likely always end up hitting something hard with your hand, resulting in scrapes and cuts at best, with a broken bone being a realistic fear.
Almost all wrenches are available in standard of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) size or metric sizes. Typically you should know what type of fasteners the project you are working on typically requires. Most foreign vehicles use metric fasteners while domestic vehicles typically use both SAE and Metric, unless they are older models in which case they will often use SAE almost exclusively. As good practice I tell all beginning do-it-yourselfers to buy both sizes with long and short shafts as you will find that sometimes you need to work in a tight space, and at other times the extra leverage a long wrench provides is required.
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