Congratulations! You just purchased your first Jeep. Now what? You are going to be responsible for maintaining and repairing your new vehicle and need to begin collecting tools and knowledge on how to do so.
My first vehicle was a 2001 Jeep Cherokee. It was 2WD and only had an automatic. It had some problems. The guy that sold it to me even lowered his own asking price before I could make my offer! But it was my first vehicle and I had the inspiration to make this perfect by my own hands. Since I was still living with my parents at the time, the only tools I had access to were whatever I could find in my parents garage. Fortunately for me though, these old Jeeps aren’t built like newer vehicles – there isn’t a special “dealership only” tool needed for every repair. For a long time I was able to get by with just the simplest of tools and it was only about 3 years into working on my own cars that I began to collect more specialized tools and electric power tools to get the job done quicker and easier.
All of that to say, what tools should you purchase?
With these basic tools listed, you can perform the majority of repairs on your vehicle. You can replace control arms, replace alternator, replace valve cover gasket, replace battery, remove and install driveshafts, remove wheels, perform brake jobs, perform oil changes, service differentials, remove gas tank and fuel pump, etc. The possibilities are endless!
- Jack Stands
- Full Short and Deep Socket Set Metric and SAE
- 1/2 Breaker Bar
- Combination Wrenches
- Flashlight / Headlamp
- Various Extensions and Adapters
The above tools got me by multiple years of working on my Jeep. Almost everything that needs to be repaired or replaced as part of basic maintenance and repair can be performed with the above mentioned hand tools. No power tools required! Lucky for you as well – most of these tools can be a part of a bundled kit from your local home improvement store or found easily online. I must caution though – when it comes to sockets and wrenches, ensure that no numbers are skipped! Too many times have I purchased a basic kit that include 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm sockets, but for some reason leave out the 17mm one. And of course when you’re 8 hours deep into a repair – the 17mm socket is what you’ll need! Do yourself a favor and get a full kit that doesn’t skip any numbers.
When you start venturing into more complicated repairs, such as servicing axle shaft u-joints, replacing the steering box, or changing fluids on your manual transmission and transfer case, there are a few extra tools that will help you get the job done quickly and easily.
- E-Torx Sockets (Specifically E10)
- 15/16in Socket
- 30mm Socket
- 36mm Socket
- Flare Nut Wrenches
With the above tools, you are now able to complete more advanced repairs on your Jeep! The E10 E-Torx socket is required to remove the transmission (it is the top two bolts on the bellhousing). The 15/16in socket is used on manual transmission jeeps with the AX15 for the drain and fill plugs. The 30mm socket is used for the drain and fill plugs on the NP231 (NP242 may use allen wrenches) transfer case. The 36mm socket is used on the front axle nuts. And finally the flare nut wrenches are used to loosen and tighten brake and fuel line nuts.
With these extra few tools, I was able to perform an automatic to manual transmission swap on my 2001 Cherokee XJ, as well as convert it to a 4WD vehicle – all with basic hand tools that you can find at your local stores. What new vehicle can you even say that about anymore?
Of course, there are always a few more tools that might be needed depending on what you’re working on. Some parts of your jeep will need more specialized Tools
- Harmonic Balancer Puller
- Pitman Arm Puller
- Tie Rod Pickle Fork
Now look, you may be able to find ways around using these special tools, but you’re probably going to do so in a way that isn’t really recommended. The above tools are usually ones that can be rented at your local auto parts store, so they’re not really required to be on-hand if you live near one. But as I have found, rented tools can often be damaged or just not quite what you need for your vehicle. As a result, I usually end up purchasing every tool I need to use on my Jeep so that I will be more prepared for any future repairs.
Finally, how could I forget about the few miscellaneous items you’ll need to do the job right? Manufacturers always have torque specs for certain high-importance bolts and often might require some Loctite in certain places as well.
- Blue Loctite
- Red Loctite
- RTV Black Gasket Maker
- Torque Wrench
Blue Loctite should be used on any bolt that might be under high vibration or torque. For example, I put blue Loctite on my brake caliper bolts, control arms, axle nuts, etc. Red Loctite is used in very specific applications, usually related to the engine or transmission on a vehicle. Red Loctite cannot be loosened without the use of heat. The only place I currently know that requires red Loctite on Jeeps is the flywheel/clutchplate bolts.
RTV Black Gasket maker can really be used just about anywhere a gasket is needed. Most common places I use it are the differential covers, but I’ve also had success with using it on the water pump and thermostat housings (although this is typically debated on whether this is required if you already have a paper gasket, and other RTV colors may be better suited for different situations). Finally a torque wrench will be used to ensure that the most important bolts get tightened or “torqued” to the spec required. You should be using the torque spec on any suspension bolt, wheel lugs, brake bolts, and any other bolt or nut that is vital to the safe operation of your vehicle.
Good luck with your vehicle, and happy Jeeping!