When I first started automotive school, I really didn’t know anything about tools. The school provided a list of tools I’d need, and I just had the Snap-On guy order it all for me. If I had known more about tools there are a few things I would’ve gotten differently, but that’s the past now. There have been several tools, however, that were not on the list that I didn’t know I would need, that are very vital to being a mechanic.
1. Torque Wrenches
Some mechanics ignore torque specs, but I prefer to follow them when I can. There are a lot of nuts and bolts that need to be tightened a certain amount for everything to work well. This is especially crucial inside engines, and it’s a good check for lug nuts to make sure everything is tight.
2. Torque Sticks
When putting wheels on, and using an air wrench to put the lug nuts on, you don’t want to overtighten them, but you want to make sure they get tightened enough. My air wrench is stated to put out 700 lb. ft. of torque, but most wheels I need only torque to 80 lb. ft. Torque sticks are basically tuned springs that stop the tightening when it reaches the designed amount. I have ones for 80 and 100 lb. ft.
3. Swivel Impact Sockets
Most of the time you can get a socket straight onto a bolt, but in some places, especially on brake calipers, there are other parts preventing you from doing that. Swivel sockets let you get into those hard to reach places. My most used swivel sockets are 14 and 17mm, because all Toyotas use those sizes on their brake calipers. These save so much time, keeping me from needing to use hand tools for those awkward locations.
4. Oxygen Sensor Sockets
The wires leading to oxygen and air/fuel sensors are part of the sensor, so you need these sockets with slots cut out of them to be able to remove and install the sensors. I got two, both 22mm, one a regular deep straight design, and the other an offset, to make sure I can always get to the sensor. The straight one also has a hex shape on the end so a wrench could be used to turn it if you couldn’t get a ratchet in the hole.
5. Die Grinder
Die grinders are used for cleaning and grinding various parts, I primarily use them for cleaning the corrosion off wheels and the rust off of brake pad holders. My Matco angled die grinder is one of my dirtiest tools, and gets used pretty heavily. Without one I would need to use files or sandpaper by hand, but this gets the job done way faster.
6. Air Hammer
One of the most valuable tools in terms of time saving. When you need to hit something a lot of times, you can either wear yourself out swinging a hammer, or just pull the trigger on this with whatever hammer or chisel bit you need. My Matco air hammer is stated to make almost 3500 blows per minute, which really saves you time and energy. There are often parts that just to not want to come out or off of others, so I just get this out and hit them hard for a minute, and they come off. Just wear earplugs.
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