Whether you're looking for an emergency set of basic tools or something more comprehensive, a good tool kit can save you lots of stress – but who makes the best?...

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A good tool kit can last a lifetime, paying for itself many times over by helping you to tackle jobs yourself and avoid costly bills.

To find the best, we tried seven kits, testing a selection of the tools from each in various situations, including whether they can remove the awkward-to-reach, deeply set bolts around the battery of an old Mercedes SL.

We tested smaller kits that you might want to keep in your boot for emergencies, as well as larger kits that are designed to live in your garage. We’ve factored in the apparent quality of the tools and cases, plus how fit for purpose the kit and its range of tools is. Value is, as always, considered too.

Top 8: tool kits

8. Black and Decker Accessories Roll Bag

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How many pieces? 77

The Black and Decker kit is a compact tool kit, and has sockets that range from 6mm to 17mm. However, there’s no socket extension like rival sets offer. And, while there’s a ratchet screwdriver with a whole host of attachments of perfectly decent quality, we favour tool kits from other makers for their selection of tools and emergency bits and bobs.

The Black and Decker is very recommendable if you’re after a screwdriver set with a set of sockets for occasional use, but otherwise the others in this test offer a broader range of tools. 

What Car? Says three stars

7. Deko Socket Wrench Auto Repair Set

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How many pieces? 192

The Deko tool kit is great value for a comprehensive tool kit, but there are telltale signs of cost saving. Some of the socket bits don’t fit their cubbies in the case very well, and the Allen keys fall out of the case every time.

Even so, the kit gives you a really good array of tools that are perfectly fit for purpose and feel like they’ll last a long time. However, the socket extension was only just long enough to reach the deeply recessed bolts around our car battery, and it kept getting caught on the battery and surrounding bodywork.

What Car? Says three stars

6. Sealey Mechanic’s Tool Kit

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How many pieces? 144

The Sealey tool kit has a good range of mechanic’s tools, but it doesn’t have the useful household additions that some others have, such as a tape measure or hammer.

That said, all the sockets, pliers and spanners you’re likely to need for most home mechanic jobs are included. They feel good quality and very durable, and that perception of quality is backed up by a lifetime guarantee.

Our biggest gripe is that the kit arrived with most of the smaller pieces loose from the case. Most of them never clip in firmly enough to stay put when the case is moved around.

What Car? Says three stars

5. Hi-Spec Home and Garage Mechanic’s Tool Kit

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Price £94.99 | Buy from Amazon | How many pieces? 122

This Hi-Spec kit strikes a good medium between being a general home tool kit and a mechanic’s tool kit, complete with a variety of socket extension bars and joints that allow easy reach to our fiendishly awkward battery-securing bolts.

It does sacrifice some of the tools that a more advanced mechanic might find useful, but it includes all of the sockets, extensions and joints that you’re likely to want, and the voltage detecting pen can be a really useful addition when dealing with electrical problems.

The tools don’t feel as high quality as some here, though, and some of the bigger tools are prone to falling out of the case when you open it.

What Car? Says three stars

4. Draper 32027 Mechanic’s Tool Kit

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How many pieces? 127

It’s not so ideal that some of the tools included in this Draper kit are prone to falling out of the case when you open it, but the tools themselves feel like the best quality here – both the metal and plastic parts feel really heavy and well-engineered.

Don’t let the modest tool count shortage fool you, either. This kit includes all the tools you’re likely to want, including sockets, wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers and more. It also comes with a lifetime warranty. If you value quality over sheer spread of tools and useful features, this is the best of the comprehensive tool kits. 

What Car? Says four stars

3. BEST BUDGET BUY: Hi-Spec Auto Mechanic’s Tool Kit

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Price £38.99 | Buy from Amazon| How many pieces? 67

Being only 30cm wide and weighing 2.6kg, this compact Hi-Spec tool kit is something of a happy medium between roadside kits and the pricier, more comprehensive kits.

For the money, it’s a good one: the tools feel well made and have a lifetime guarantee. There’s a really good spread of screwdriver bits, not to mention a socket extension – although that’s too short to pass the test of the battery-securing bolts of our test car.

Still, if you’re after a home mechanic’s kit that’s small enough to store easily and is likely to last many years despite a low price, this is a great option.

What Car? Says four stars

2. RECOMMENDED: Halfords motorists tool kit

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Price £24.00 | Buy from Halfords | How many pieces? 47

This is a different proposition from the more expensive kits here, because it’s designed to be kept with you for emergencies.

Having said that, it does have a selection of sockets from 8-17mm, as well as an extension arm with which access to our battery securing bolts proved no problem.

More than that, the kit includes a tyre pressure gauge, jubilee clips, a torch, electrical tape and the ever-useful cable ties, along with the more usual screwdrivers and pliers, making this a compact but super-useful little kit to keep to hand. Considering its size and price point, this is fantastic value and could be a godsend if you’re attempting a roadside fix.

What Car? Says five stars

1. BEST BUY: Vonhaus Socket and Tool set

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How many pieces? 256

The Vonhaus set is a really comprehensive toolset that includes a socket set with an extended arm, which made light work of reaching the deep-set bolts around our old car’s battery. The tools also mostly feel hefty and well made, and come with a two-year guarantee.

If we’re looking for niggles, the plastic locks on the hefty case feel like they could wear and break fairly quickly. It’s also a shame that the sockets aren’t labelled in the case – you can’t see which socket is the size you’re after until you take it out.

Otherwise, the tools are arranged neatly and sit tightly in place, and for the money this is an extremely comprehensive kit.

What Car? Says five stars

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