A craftsman is only as good as his tools, and the same is true of amateur mechanics. While many auto maintenance jobs that require lots of tools should be left to the professionals, there are definitely some tools and devices that drivers might want to keep handy in the garage to help make things easier when it comes time for quick fixes and repairs. Most of these tools can be found at any auto parts store, and buying them in advance will likely save some hassle down the road.
It may sound simple, but perhaps the most useful tool you can invest in is a funnel. There's no need for anything fancy, just a regular plastic funnel will do. Considering the vast amount of fluids in a car and how easy it is to change most of them, a funnel might just be the tool you use the most. Spend a few bucks and have one with your other automotive tools so you don't have to go searching for one every time you need to change the oil.
On that note, having a set of rags and shop towels is a good idea as well. Whenever you see a mechanic in movies, they're usually wiping the grease off their hands on a towel. These are great to have handy whether you're performing an oil change or buffing the hood after a wax.
Those will serve you well for the easy jobs, but what about slightly more complex tasks? It's safe to say that a jack and set of car stands will be one of your most-used tools. So many issues require getting underneath the car that it pays to get a set of these and learn how to use them properly. Be sure the jack is rated to support the weight of your car and get high-quality car stands that you can trust will be up to the task.
If you plan on really getting into the nuts and bolts of your car, invest in a very bright LED light of some kind. These are very useful for seeing into dark areas, of which there are many. Try to find a flashlight that has a clip of some kind, or better yet one that can be mounted to your head. Having your hands free to use other tools will be invaluable.
So what will you likely have in your hand as you have that light clamped to your head? The most likely answer is a wrench or ratchet of some kind. These are easily the most useful tools when it comes to vehicle maintenance, but keep in mind there's not a lot of room inside a vehicle. Be sure to get wrenches that can be adjusted and with various handle sizes and shapes. This will allow you to get into just about any area of the car, including hard-to-reach areas. A nice set of sockets will also ensure you can take off just about any bolt, which is invaluable when it comes to many auto repairs.
Many auto repairs deal with the electrical system, and a great tool to have with regards to these types of fixes is the voltmeter. Voltmeters measure electrical resistance and are a reliable way to tell whether or not something is getting an electric charge. Alternatively, you can buy a test light, which can be attached to various parts of the car to test the electricity. Either way, you need something to deal with electrical issues, and these are relatively inexpensive investments that save plenty of time and money.