Every technician knows that tools are their single biggest investment…and a comprehensive set of pro tools goes far beyond the basics of a good set of wrenches, screwdrivers, and sockets. Here’s a quick rundown of the top ten tools every professional automotive technician will find useful:
1. Tite-Reach TR38V1 Ratchet Extender, $59.95
Many mechanics have run into tight underhood clearances where it’s impossible to reach, even the thinnest socket wrench. The Tite-Reach ratchet extender can be just the piece of equipment you need for those tight spots. Stick your socket on one end, your ratchet into the other, and you’ve got an extra ten inches of reach. You’ll spare the unnecessary hassle having to remove or disassemble another part to get to the one you need.
2. Craftsman 1049222 Universal Nut Cracker, $21.00
Got a hopelessly rusted or rounded-off nut that’s holding you back? Take the easy way out with a nut splitter. This good quality nut splitter won’t damage the bolt’s threads and will quickly break that nut so you can remove it and get on with work.
3. SK Hand Tool 32160 Power Drive Locking Extension Set, 1/4-Inch, 3-Piece, $44.69
So you’ve been cranking away on a nut that’s way down in some inaccessible place, you pull the socket wrench and extension out and…the socket is still stuck on that nut, or worse yet, it falls into some more even more impossible place. A locking extension can prevent that, with a spring-loaded collar that holds the socket securely in place. Good ones like this SK one will feature a knurled surface on the collar that can be used with greasy hands or even gloves.
4. ACDelco ACDARM602-4 1/2" Digital Torque Adapter, $55.91
You know that there are connectors on a vehicle that need the torque set to a very specific level, or you could end up with some real problems. Older torque wrench designs (or cheaper ones) can be problematic, but now digital adapters are available for your ½” drive ratchet or breaker bar. AC-Delco’s digital has a very accurate digital display of torque, with an LED readout and buzzer or beep to let you know when you’ve reached the desired torque.
5. Genuine Hotrod Hardware® Deluxe Gentle Pry Tool Set, $27.97
Don’t go after trim pieces and buttons with brute force with a screwdriver or a knife. Specialized pry tool kits can help you finesse delicate parts from door panels, radio fascia or dash parts. Hotrod Hardware’s kit includes V-notched and other specialized pry tools for gentle leverage on fragile parts.
6. TEKTON 2575 3/8-Inch Drive Crowfoot Wrench Set, $16.99
Handy for getting to tight spaces, crows foot wrenches are a real must. Connect them to a 3/8” drive extension bar and get to where you need to go – Tekton’s can be used with any ?” drive ratchet, extension or socket wrench. Just the thing for instances where a stubby wrench or a socket won’t work.
7. GTC CT8002 - Cordless Circuit Tester, $19.91
You probably know that today’s vehicles with CAN-network electronics can quickly be wrecked with a volt/ohmmeter probe that’s put in the wrong place. A computer-safe circuit tester from GTC can avoid that risk, with no ground connection or wire needed. Quality circuit sensors are safe to use around sensors, modules and even microcomputers.
8. Irwin Hex-Head Multi-Spline Screw Extractor, 25-Piece Set, $50.92
There are a few different styles of screw extractors and easy-out tools on the market, but one thing’s for sure – a broken-off bolt head or a stripped screw can stop you cold on any job. A quality screw extractor kit is a must, and Irwin’s design features a multi-spline feature that negates the need to drill a starter hole.
9. OTC 4650 Mirror/Magnet Set, $20.01
Chances are you’re going to drop a part in some impossible place. A mirror/magnet set, with extensions and swiveling mirror attachments, is a must-have for these tricky situations.
10. Bayco SLR-2120 120-LED Cordless Underhood Work Light, $88.92
Remember the mechanic’s incandescent trouble light (with cage and cord), or the fragile fluorescent ones of 20 years ago? One of the beauties of LED technology is that bright, sturdy lighting is now cheap and even rechargeable. The Bayco SLR-2120 is a perfect example, with a full array of LEDs and a 4.5 or 8.5 hour battery life, depending on if you use half-bright or full-bright mode. Dual spring loaded grippers make it easy to put the Bayco wherever you need it!
Nothing’s more frustrating than being stopped cold on a repair job because you don’t have the tool you need. Even aside from the make-and-model-specific tools (which help keep your tool man and dealership parts counters in business), a comprehensive tool set is a must for any mechanic!
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 10 Tools Every Professional Automotive Technician Needs and was authored by Jerry Renshaw.