- 8 Min Read
- By: Christian Schaefer
Top 10 Tools On Sale At FCP Euro Right Now
Learning to work on and repair a vehicle comes with a new sense of excitement and fulfillment. Suddenly, the fear of breaking things is overwhelmed by the confidence of knowing how to follow directions and turn a wrench. Those internal feelings are a large part of what anyone needs to have to be brave enough to attempt their own repairs. The other part people need to have is the right tools. Confidence and knowledge are great, but there isn't a point in attempting without the correct tools. Thankfully, Cyber Week is here, and there's no better time to stock up on all of the tools you'll need to fix your European ride. Check out this list to get the lowdown on some of our favorite deals on tools.
The basis for every automotive toolbox should be a ratchet set. They're very versatile, with the ability to swap out attachments for different situations and different fasteners. European cars come built with a handful of different fasteners that are never used on any contemporary American car, nor anywhere else, really. That can make finding the right sockets and bits a bit of a challenge, especially if it's in the middle of a job. However, if you get the right toolset, you'll never have to worry.
This European toolset from CTA Tools is one of those toolsets. It was put together specifically for European vehicles and comes with a wide range of funky sockets you may need while repairing the suspension on a BMW or performing a water pump replacement on a Mk4 Golf. The set features 69 pieces, including internal and external Torx sockets, hex-bit sockets, and a variety of short and deep 6-point sockets, all held together in a nice folding case that makes it perfect for a new garage or as an emergency travel kit. Each socket is a ⅜" drive to match with the included ratchet and its extensions. This set is a great place to start with many sockets needed to repair any European vehicle, but don't stop with this toolset. The ⅜" drive ratchet isn't the smallest, so acquiring a ¼" ratchet and assorted sockets is the best way to back this setup.
If the European toolset is the first buy for a home toolbox, this set is number two. Ratchets are great for removing bolts from threaded inserts but are worth nothing when an independent nut is on the other end. Without a wrench to counter hold the nut, the bolt would just spin round and round without ever coming out. Beyond that, there are plenty of situations where a ratchet doesn't fit or make sense to use. A wrench is really the only other choice, making it essential in any toolbox.
This set is a fine starting point when building out your toolbox. It's a fifteen-piece metric set, so it'll have the majority of sizes used on European vehicles as well as late model American vehicles. They're chrome-plated, meaning they won't corrode or rust, and they come on a plastic rack for easy storage, too. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball, and if you can use a wrench, you're on your way to fixing your vehicle.
Oh, spark plugs. They're a small but important part in the way any engine runs. They're also a great way to get into servicing your own vehicle. On many applications, the spark plugs are easy to get to, requiring minimal removal of surrounding components. Once you reach them, you have to get them out, which can be easier said than done. Spark plugs are often mounted deep in the cylinder head, right against the top of the combustion chamber. That makes reaching them possible with only a long ratchet extension. Loosening them isn't the tough part though, it's pulling them out of the spark plug tubes that can be tricky.
It's a good thing they make a tool for such a job. In this case, there is a specific spark plug socket that will apply to just about every modern spark plug. The plugs used by manufacturers today require ⅝" 6-point socket, which this one is. What separates the spark plug socket from a standard one is rubber set inside the socket that grabs the upper part of the spark plug. The rubber holds the plug in the socket, making removal and installation a snap. The threat of cross-threading the cylinder head is significantly reduced
As you can see, our MX808 here at FCP Euro sees a lot of use!
Vintage cars use various warning lights to inform the driver of an issue, but they're generally vague and point to an area rather than a specific problem. It wasn't until the OBD system was enforced that drivers began to get some specific information. The US-made the OBD-II system mandatory for all vehicles beginning in 1996 and has run with that system ever since. When that system detects a fault, it triggers the check engine light on the dashboard, alerting the driver of a potential issue. The only way to figure out what caused the light to come on is through a code scanner or reader.
That's where the Autel MX808 comes in. Autel manufactures all different types of scanners, from the most basic reader to professional-grade units. The MX808 fits somewhere in between and offers a lot of useful services. For starters, it functions as any code reader would. Plug it into the vehicle, and it automatically reads the VIN to detect any manufacturer-specific codes. Beyond that, it will read every other code and come back with whatever the problem is. The MX808 helps during servicing, too. Modern Mercedes and BMWs require the electronic parking brake to be retracted for servicing, and the MX808 can make that happen. It can also help code new fuel injectors, bleed the ABS, reset and program tire pressure monitors, program keys, and read live data in real-time. Anyone servicing their European car made in the last ten years would benefit greatly from having an MX808 in their toolbox.
As much as we love to tell each other to "send it," there are plenty of moments where that doesn't apply—especially when building an engine or refitting a set of wheels. Manufacturers have specific values that certain bolts and fasteners need to be tightened to for safety and longevity. Too loose, and the fasteners can back out or fall off. Too tight and fasteners snap, leading to another world of problems. All of that can be solved by knowing how much to tighten it and when it reaches that tightness.
That's why anyone performing repairs or services on their vehicle should have a torque wrench at their disposal. Working on cars, while fun, is a serious business that can lead to injury if not performed properly. Having a torque wrench on hand to ensure each fastener is tightened to the correct torque is a major part of proper service work, and it will eliminate the risk of too loose or tight fasteners.
Cold winter months hamper an engine's ability to start. The molecules in every component are moving slower, making tolerances tighter and fluids thicker. It also hurts the battery's ability to produce enough amperage to start the car. A lightly drained battery or one that has worn from its original state will be crippled by the cold into long cranking or even a no-start situation. Having to fiddle with the battery is already enough, not to mention the cold weather you might have to work in. As FCP Euro's Content Director has experienced many times in these situations, it's a lifesaver to have a portable jump pack.
A portable jump pack is exactly what the name implies. You hook up the jump pack to the battery in a pinch, turn it on, and then start the car. The NOCO GB40 featured here is our favorite piece on the market and for good reason. As a jump pack alone, the GB40 is a compact and lightweight package thanks to its lithium battery pack. It packs 1000-amps into its small stature, distributing that electricity through spark-proof connectors. Built into the side of the pack is a 100 lumen LED flashlight to make working in the dark easier and a USB outlet to charge a phone or tablet. It's saved more than a few of us here at FCP Euro, so we know it'll do the same for you.
Wrenches and ratchets are excellent for smaller fasteners that don't require too much torque. However, the easiest way to go about removing fasteners is with an impact gun. They can generate immense torque and blast out bolts so quickly it'll feel like cheating. We couldn't recommend a cordless impact enough here, as we use them daily. But we also use them with the right supporting tools, and that includes special impact sockets. The impact sockets are made from a chromium and molybdenum steel-alloy, more commonly referred to as Chromoly. It carries a far stronger impact resistance, making it suitable for the requirements of an impact gun.
This set here should set up a toolbox for life. It features nineteen different sizes in two different lengths allowing for different uses depending on the situation. Plus, it also includes a universal joint for those extra tight spaces. They work in every socket application, too, not just with an impact gun, and the set comes with some fairly large socket sizes that not every traditional socket set would come with. Each set piece fits nicely into the included plastic case, leading to easy clean up and transportation.
We all find time to work on our cars when we can. Unfortunately, the early sunset that the winter brings around cripples the available time for those of us who work a 9-5, and unless you have a garage, the moonlight isn't enough to work with. We do have the technology to work around that, though. A good LED light is enough to light up an engine bay or behind a dashboard in the darkest conditions and is obviously useful in more than automotive servicing applications.
Watch any of our DIYs, and you'll likely see Gareth or Mike holding one of these Astro Pneumatic LED lights. They're thin and relatively lightweight, allowing them to be positioned in some very tight spaces. The main set of LEDs is capable of up to 650 Lumens but can be reduced down to just 60 with the recessed dial mounted on the backside. The base of the light is a strong magnet mounted on a swivel so it can be set in a position and hold itself there. Then, as it hangs there, you can check the green LEDs on the side that indicate battery level. If the surrounding surfaces aren't magnetic, no worries, as there's also a built-in hook. We have them all over our shop and use them regularly. We love using them, and you might, too.
Brake jobs are some of the best repair or replacement DIYs anyone can do to their car. The brakes are simple to understand and don't have too many moving parts to be accidentally damaged or installed wrong. With that said, caution should always be brought to a brake job as those components carry the most important function of a vehicle. Having the right tools for the job always decreases the risk of a problem, so do yourself a favor and pick up a set of flare nut wrenches.
The brakes are operated by the master cylinder forcing hydraulic fluid through the brake lines and into the caliper. For various different reasons, the caliper's bleeder screw or the brake line fittings will need to be loosened or tightened. Normally, that isn't a problem, but those components have a tendency to round off easily. If you so much as look at them with a standard wrench in your hand, they'll immediately round themselves off. That's where the flare nut wrench comes in. It's a mix of a box and open-end wrench, with a head that grips the nut on all sides but has a cut in it to get around a brake line. The headache and wallet ache that these wrenches can save during a brake job cannot be understated.
As mentioned above, brake jobs are some of the easiest jobs to perform at home. They're straightforward and can be used to teach aspiring minds how to service a vehicle properly. However, we aren't always lucky enough to have a helping hand, which can create some hiccups. A traditional brake bleeding procedure requires two people; one to operate the brake pedal and the other to open the bleed nipple. It's impossible to do alone and necessitates the purchase of an assistant. In this case, that assistant is the Motive Power Bleeder.
The power bleeder allows any brake or clutch bleed to be performed by a single person with the use of pressure. The power bleeder's main tank is filled with brake fluid and then is pressurized via the handle on the top of the tank. The tank line is connected to a sealed cap that fits onto the master cylinder reservoir. Once a bleeder is cracked open, the fresh pressurized fluid pushes out the air and old fluid from the brake line. The Motive kit linked above comes with an anodized aluminum reservoir cap that will fit most European vehicles. Otherwise, it can be used on any type of vehicle with the correct reservoir cap.
While these aren't all the tools you'll ever need, we think that this is a great place to start. Beyond these, there is a whole world of specialty and manufacturer-specific sockets and wrenches to add for whatever you may work on. Follow along with our blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tool content, and DIYs on how to use those tools to fix your car.
Owner of a flat-six swapped 1998 Impreza 2.5RS and a 1973 Porsche 914. Horizontally opposed views, only.