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Whether you like to wrench on your project car on weekends or make your living as a full-time automotive technician, owning a collection of high-quality tools is an essential part of getting the job done. Premium tools might not come cheap, but spending a little extra up front is worthwhile: the tools will last longer, work better, and can be used for a wider variety of tasks. From simple brake pad replacements to full-on engine rebuilds, these are 10 automotive tools worth your investment.

  1. SK Hand Tools 1/4-in.-drive thumbwheel ratchet, $24.99: Trying to squeeze a big-handled tool into tight spaces can be a frustrating and fruitless pursuit. Enter SK Hand Tools' thumbwheel ratchets. These little tools have a knurled rim that's easy to grip and can fit almost anywhere. Just pick the right size and get to twisting – great things can come in small packages.
  2. Mityvac MITMV8500 hand vacuum and pressure pump kit, $51.96: If you want to take on brake bleeds or vacuum tests by yourself, Mityvac's kit is a must. It includes a variety of attachments to fit diverse vehicles and components, and can quickly switch between applying vacuum and pressure, depending on the task.
  3. GearWrench 81229 three-piece offset-handle ratchet, $69.70: Sometimes a bent tool is actually preferable to a straight equivalent. They can help you get into spaces a normal tool wouldn't be able to reach. GearWrench's offset-handle ratchet is perfect for those tricky jobs, and includes deep-well sockets for reaching spark plugs.
  4. Craftsman 17-piece standard and metric flex socket set, $69.99: Flex sockets can be a huge help for fitting into tight spaces without disassembling other parts to get there. This set upholds Craftsman's reputation for excellent build quality: the sockets are nickel-chrome plated and machined for a solid fit on whatever nut or bolt you need to loosen or tighten.
  5. Torin T82040 trolley jack with jack stands and creeper, $88.99: For those jobs that take you underneath a car, you need jacks you're absolutely certain will keep you safe. Torin's trolley jack and jack stands are all rated to two tons and are easy to adjust. The included creeper has six wheels and is padded so you can stay comfortable during those longer jobs.
  6. Mac Tools Spinflex flex head ratchet, $144.99: A car's engine bay is filled with tight nooks and crannies that are hard to reach, so the flexible head on this ratchet makes it all the more versatile. The rubberized handle provides a great grip and can adjust positions for more torque or faster speeds.
  7. Chicago Pneumatic CPT-7748 air impact wrench, $183.03: Chicago Pneumatic is renowned for its quality and reliability. This impact wrench delivers a maximum of 922 ft-lbs of torque and 1200 blows per minute. Good luck finding a bolt this impact wrench can't undo.
  8. Steelman STE97202 wireless ChassisEAR kit, $211.69: Diagnosing certain problems requires taking a careful listen. The problem with a traditional stethoscope is that you can't use it while you're taking a car for a test drive. Steelman solves that problem with this wireless microphone kit. Simply attach the transmitter to the problem area, turn on the receiver, and go for a drive. The transmitters will let you listen to how the noise changes while the vehicle is in motion so you can better isolate the issue.
  9. Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless impact wrench, $242.81: While electric impact wrenches can't provide the torque that pneumatic wrenches do, they're much more versatile because they don't require an air compressor. Milwaukee's M18 impact wrench still turns a respectable 750 ft-lbs of torque and weighs less than six pounds, plus it has a handy light so you can get a better view of what you're aiming for.
  10. Proto 3/8" drive sealed head air ratchet, $323.13: When it comes to air ratchets, you really get what you pay for. While you pay a lot for Proto's tool, its titanium body is strong enough for the toughest jobs and light enough for easy maneuvering. Hook it up, squeeze the trigger, and watch those nuts and bolts come loose.
When you're building out your automotive tool collection, you want to find tools that are as practical as they are durable. The initial cost might be high, but the time you'll save and headaches you'll avoid make these tools worth every penny.

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