With repair shops charging more and more for even simple fixes, you might be inclined to start doing some basic automotive work at home. After all, cars are pretty simple mechanical objects and a lot of tasks, like oil changes and brake repair, can easily be done at home with the right tools. When you are building your automotive toolbox, you probably won't need to start off with a lot of fancy items. Get the basics now, and then you can add to it over time as your automotive repair knowledge grows.
First, you will need a good selection of hand tools. A ratchet wrench (or socket wrench) set is essential to help you get stuff done on your car. You will be dealing with bolts of all different shapes and sizes, and you definitely don't want to get carpal tunnel from using a standard wrench. Plus, you shouldn't be using your automotive tools as exercise equipment. Your best bet will be to buy a set using metric measurements, but if you have an older car you may need a set that also uses English measurements. In addition to your ratchet wrench set, you will need an assortment of basic wrenches and screwdrivers (both flat head and Phillips head). Make sure to look for high quality pieces in a variety of sizes. You will encounter bolts and screws of every size and shape, so you want to be prepared with the right tool when the need arises.