The home mechanic is a dying breed – and that’s a darn shame, if you ask us. Everyone should get to experience the satisfaction of fixing or modifying their own Volkswagen, and many routine maintenance jobs are so easy that you could save a significant amount of money for very little time and effort at all. A jug of pure synthetic oil is pricey in relative terms, but nowhere near as expensive as taking your car in for every oil change.

Unfortunately, fixing or modifying your Volkswagen requires a significant amount of stuff, and it can be hard to come up with a complete, thorough accounting of everything you’ll need. So, that’s what we’ve tried to do for you here. What follows is a list of the best tools and gear that every VW owner should have if they have aspirations of fixing their own vehicle.

1. ANCEL VD500 OBD II Diagnostic Scanner
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If there’s an active dummy light on your dash and you’re not quite sure why, your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) system can point you in the right direction. That’s what makes a OBD scanner like the VD500 such an indispensable tool for Volkswagen owners. This OBD scanner is geared specifically toward Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, and SEAT vehicles. Because automakers these days use a lot of secretive, brand-specific codes, this ensures that you’ll have the best chance of being able to interpret what your VW is trying to tell you. Use it to read and erase codes related to the engine, transmission, brakes, electronic stability control, and other systems.


2. Jump-N-Carry JNC660 Portable Jump Starter
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Waiting on the side of the road for a good Samaritan to come along is so last year, and it seems like hardly anyone carries jumper cables these days. Why not carry your own portable jump starter with you wherever you go, so you’re ready in the event of an unexpected dead battery? The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 is an outstanding option – a bit higher in price than some of its competitors, but well worth the extra cost thanks to its excellent reliability and longevity, not to mention its whopping 1,700 peak amps of current. That’s enough to jumpstart just about anything, and you’ll be happy you made the purchase when it’s the dead of winter and your buddy’s pickup just isn’t enough to get your old Passat going.


3. Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set
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You might already have one of your dad’s old socket sets lying around. But if you don’t, or if it’s old and beat-up and missing a few critical sockets, take a look at this Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. It features 116 sockets in all, covering all the most common, practical metric and SAE sizes, plus a number of open-end wrenches, allen wrenches, screwdriver bits, and other very useful pieces. It’s not the most comprehensive socket set out there, but it’s a darn good start. Craftsman has earned an enviable reputation when it comes to hand tools, but if you’re still concerned about the possibility of a failure, keep in mind that the set – with the exception of the screwdriver – is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.


4. Tekton 3/8-Inch Click Torque Wrench
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A torque wrench is an essential tool for the home mechanic, ensuring that you can tighten fasteners down precisely to the manufacturer-recommended torque spec. Those torque specs are important. They’re how VW ensures that each and every part on the car is fastened down with the proper amount of clamping force so things won’t rattle apart or separate while you’re driving. This Tekton torque wrench is a reliable one, with a click-type mechanism to let you know when you’ve reached your set torque limit, and a selectable range from 10 to 80 lb-ft. And with a 3/8-inch drive, it’s made to fit the most frequently used sockets in automotive repair.


5. ABN 2-Pound Dead-Blow Mallet
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A dead-blow mallet is a must-have for any serious home VW mechanic. Basically, it’s just like a regular mallet, but it’s typically filled with small metal beads that help absorb tremors and minimize bounce, while mitigating the damage caused to soft surfaces. This one from ABN performs the job admirably, with a soft, non-marring rubber coating to further minimize damage. You can use it to safely persuade stuck components to unjoin themselves, or even use it to make minor bodywork repairs – if you know what you’re doing.


6. COB LED Work Light

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LEDs have been absolutely transformative for illumination in the modern day. They’re compact, efficient, and cool – hence products like this COB LED work light. It’s magnetic and incredibly compact, with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, so you can stick it to just about anything made of ferrous material – and that makes it perfect for wrenching on your Volkswagen. Even better, these lights are so inexpensive that you can buy multiple and set them up to provide whatever sort of illumination pattern you need. LEDs are notoriously reliable and long-lasting, so you’ll probably never have to worry about replacing a bulb, and they provide an incredible amount of illumination for their size.


7. 3-Ton Low-Profile Heavy Duty Floor Jack
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It’s inevitable that eventually, in the course of working on your Volkswagen, you will need to get up underneath it. That’s when you need a good floor jack. This 3-ton heavy duty jack from Pittsburgh might seem like overkill; after all, your VW probably doesn’t weigh anywhere near 3 tons. But in general, the higher the rating, the less likely you are to experience a failure, which in the case of a floor jack can be dangerous or even life-threatening. This Pittsburgh jack is a low-profile design, able to fit underneath even moderately lowered cars with ease, and it features a dual parallel pump system that minimizes the number of pumping motions needed to raise the car.


8. Torin Big Red 3-Ton Jack Stands
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Remember when we said overkill is a good thing when it comes to floor jacks? That goes double for jack stands; they’re the things your vehicle is actually going to be suspended by for substantial periods of time. Getting a safe, trustworthy, reliable set is crucial for your safety. These Torin Big Red jack stands fit the bill. Made from alloy steel and finished with an attractive red coat, they can be set for anywhere from 11-1/4” to 16-3/4” in height, with a ratcheting mechanism to hold your car aloft safely without slipping. And, like the floor jack listed above, they’re rated for up to 3 tons of weight, giving you and your GTI plenty of overhead.


9. Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter
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Any time you have an electrical issue with your Volkswagen, it helps to have a trusty multimeter to help diagnose faults. A multimeter can help you measure voltage and resistance at different points on your VW’s electrical system, so if you have a short or an open circuit, or a sensor appears to be reading incorrectly, you can trace the problem to its source more quickly. This Fluke 101 digital multimeter isn’t the fanciest, most sophisticated option on the market, but Fluke is a well-regarded and dead-reliable brand. You can use it to measure the usual voltage and resistance with it, as well as capacitance and even frequency.


10. Ryobi 18V ONE+ 3-Speed Cordless Impact Wrench
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Back in the day, when you wanted to send a rapid burst of torque through a fastener, your only option was a pneumatic impact wrench. But those tools require an air compressor, which isn’t necessarily something that everyone has. Say hello to your new best friend: the Ryobi 18V ONE+ 3-speed impact wrench. This bad boy runs off of Ryobi’s standard 18-volt lithium-ion batteries, generating up to 300 lb-ft of torque and providing as many as 3,200 impacts per minute. It has three different speed settings and it’s reversible, so you can use it to unfreeze stuck fasteners or drive fasteners on with plenty of thrust. Perhaps best of all, its compact, battery-reliant design makes it very maneuverable, so it’s easy to get into tight spaces.


11. Oil-Dri Loose Absorbent

It happens to everybody once in awhile; you’re working diligently on your car, wrenches swinging and tools flying, when suddenly, you knock over that jug of old motor oil you forgot to take in for recycling last month. Oil spills are a particularly nasty mess. That’s why pros keep some sort of oil-absorbent material on hand to spread over a spill, and soak up as much of that filthy oil as possible, and many of them rely on Oil-Dri Premium Absorbent. Made from processed Montmorillonite Clay, this 32-quart bag of absorbent can soak up as much as 3.2 gallons of oil, which should last you a good long while. It won’t completely prevent staining – nothing can – but if you want the best tools available to fight an oil spill, this stuff is up there.


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