It seems like with each passing year, fewer and fewer pickup truck drivers choose to wrench on their own vehicles. That’s in large part because of the persistent perception that modern vehicles are just too complicated and specialized to effectively be maintained or repaired at home. There is some truth to that; there are plenty of complex, high-tech systems on our own vehicles that you couldn’t pay us to touch.

But be that as it may, there are still plenty of jobs that are well within grasp for the willing home mechanic, and some compelling reasons to try and take those things on ourselves. Changing your own oil, for instance, or swapping out brake pads takes nothing but a bit of patience and a few basic hand tools, but the cost savings vs. taking your Ram to the dealer can be pretty big. On top of that, there’s the satisfaction and the sense of appreciation that comes with fixing your own vehicle, which is hard to replicate.

If you’ve ever entertained the notion of wrenching on your own Ram, this article is for you. Here, we’ve tried to hit all the basics, and come up with a comprehensive list of the best tools and gear every Ram owner needs to work effectively on their own truck.

1. Bosch 1200 Enhanced OBDII Auto Scanner
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In the mid-1990s, the auto industry in the US switched over to a new standardized system for reporting vehicle faults: OBDII, or On-Board Diagnostics II. If there’s an active dummy light on your dash, or something feels just a little bit “off” with the engine or brakes every time you drive, chances are pretty good your Ram has diagnosed and flagged the issue through OBDII. The only real difficulty for the home mechanic is accessing and interpreting those messages, which is where the Bosch 1200 OBDII scanner comes in. This handheld device plugs into your Ram’s diagnostic port and pulls data directly from the computer. You can use it to read and identify fault codes related to the engine and emissions, transmission, HVAC, brakes – pretty much anything that’s in some way wired. Just as important, it can recognize a huge number of brand-specific codes from a range of different manufacturers, so if your Ram has something going on, this tool will likely be able to tell you.


2. Jump-N-Carry JNC660 Portable Jump Starter
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Listen: every battery dies eventually. It’s just a fact of life. Still, there’s no good reason why an unexpected dead battery should hold you up while you wait for a tow truck or a good Samaritan with jumper cables. The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 is, simply put, one of the best, most reliable portable battery jumpers available today, with thick, heavily insulated leads and up to 1,700 peak amps of cranking current. That’s way more current than your Ram’s battery puts out, but while it may seem like overkill, you actually want a unit that can provide way more juice than required – especially on a frigid winter day.


3. Craftsman 450-Piece Mechanics Tool Set
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Craftsman has a well-deserved reputation for making some of the best prosumer-grade hand tools available, and in fact, the brand is so confident in their wares that many of them ship with a limited lifetime warranty. That includes this 450-piece mechanics tool set. The kit, which ships in a durable three-drawer plastic case, includes just about everything you’ll ever need to tackle most at-home vehicle repairs and maintenance procedures: 191 sockets, 175 screwdriver bits, 16 wrenches, and a whole lot of other pieces that will make your life easier. Maybe your current socket set has gotten too long in the tooth, or over the years, you’ve misplaced half-a-dozen sockets and hit a wall any time you try wrenching on anything. Whatever the case may be, this Craftsman tool set will make sure you’re well set up to wrench on your Ram, with custom-molded drawers that make it easy to keep organized.


4. Tekton 3/8-Inch Click Torque Wrench
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The only thing worse than over-torquing a bolt is under-torquing it. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Regardless, if you plan on turning a wrench on your Ram, you’re going to want a good, reliable torque wrench like this one from Tekton. It’s a 3/8”-drive wrench, able to accept the sort of sockets most commonly used in automotive repair, and it has a click-type torque indicator where the wrench “clicks” as soon as you hit your selected torque limit. The wrench has a torque limit range of 10 to 80 lb-ft, which covers the fastener torque recommendations used by most automakers, and it even comes with a nifty red plastic carrying case so it doesn’t get so badly jolted that it gets knocked out of adjustment.


5. ABN 2-Pound Dead-Blow Mallet
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A dead-blow mallet is a required tool for any home mechanic, and it can save you a lot of headache when it comes time to wrench on your own Ram. It’s basically a mallet filled with small metal beads that give it the unique ability to resist rebound and transfer as much force as possible into whatever it is you’re hitting. This ABN dead-blow mallet is just right for Ram repair duty. It’s coated in soft rubber to help mitigate the risk of marring soft metal parts, and at two pounds, it’s got just the right amount of heft for knocking things loose and persuading two sympathetically corroded parts to become unstuck.


6. COB LED Work Light
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When it comes to illuminating your work area so you can better see what you’re doing, LEDs have been an absolute blessing. This COB LED work light perfectly demonstrates why. It’s the ideal lighting companion for working on your Ram, with a built-in magnet that lets you stick the light to anything made of steel or iron, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that gives it as much as 5 hours of useful life on a full charge. It’s also durable and highly water-resistant, so you don’t have to sweat placing it too close to the action. But the best part is the price; the light is so inexpensive that you can buy multiple, rotating them in or out of service as the others recharge, or arranging them all to cast light into some really hard-to-illuminate recesses in your engine bay.


7. AFF 4-Ton HD Floor Jack
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In case you ever need to raise your Ram to get up underneath it, you could do a whole lot worse than this heavy-duty 4-ton floor jack from AFF. It’s a bit expensive as floor jacks go, but as a safety-critical item, we think it’s worth spending the extra money on a truly trustworthy jack from a reputable brand. This jack boasts a twin hydraulic system so you can raise your truck with fewer pumps of the handle, and it has a U-joint mechanism to help ensure smooth, safe, controlled descents. But honestly, the real reason we recommend this 4-ton AFF floor jack? Because AFF – or American Forge & Foundry – is a brand that we trust, and this is one floor jack that’s well worth the price.


8. Craftsman 4-Ton Jack Stands
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Just like Craftsman makes good hand tools, they do a stellar job with other vehicle repair stuff, as well – like these 4-ton jack stands. Made from welded alloyed steel with a tough-as-nails protective enamel coating, these jack stands are built to last, and they’re rated to hold up to 8,000 pounds. Personally, we wouldn’t trust our trucks to anything less. They also feature a modern ratcheting pawl mechanism to retain their height, so they’re easy to operate and have a very, very low risk of failure. As important as your floor jack is, your jack stands are arguably even more critical for safety, as they’ll be used to support your truck for extended periods. So while there are cheaper or lower-weight-rated stands on the market, we think these Craftsman stands are a worthwhile investment.


9. Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter
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Trying to track down electrical faults without a multimeter is like trying to solve a puzzle by candlelight; it can be done, but you’re working with a needlessly tough handicap. Might we recommend the Fluke 101 digital multimeter? Fluke is a well-known and trusted brand in electrical test equipment, renowned for their reliability and precision, and this multimeter is no exception. It offers all the necessary modes to do most electrical diagnostics work on your Ram, including AC and DC voltage reading, resistance, capacitance, and even frequency. Trust us when we say that it’s a heck of a lot easier than guess-and-checking your way to finding a short or open circuit somewhere in your truck.


10. Ryobi 18V ONE+ 3-Speed Cordless Impact Wrench
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While the impact wrenches of yesteryear all relied upon air pressure to get the job done, you don’t necessarily need that old air compressor any more – not when there are so many potent, high-torque battery-powered impact wrenches on the market. This Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless impact wrench is sufficient for most things you’ll ever have to do on your Ram, capable of supplying up to300 lb-ft of torque and as many as 3,200 impacts per minute. It’s perfect for getting frozen bolts unstuck, or for torquing fasteners on nice and firm.


11. Oil-Dri Premium Loose Absorbent

If you’ve ever heard the claim that pro mechanics keep kitty litter on hand to soak up oil spills, that’s not entirely made up. But more often, what they’ve actually got to soak up spills in the shop is something like this: Oil-Dri Premium Loose Absorbent. Made from processed Montmorillonite clay, this oil-absorbent stuff can be spread over a spill to soak up as much of the oil as possible, and then simply swept up and disposed of accordingly. It’s highly effective stuff – this 32-quart bag can absorb a full 3.2 gallons of oil – and while nothing can ever completely prevent staining on pavement, this stuff at least makes cleanup a whole lot easier and tidier.


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