Mechanics use a number of advanced power tools for their everyday work. What must-have tools for mechanics would you need or want if you could choose? Most professionals in the field would agree that the answer is actually not “everything on the truck,” but instead “whatever makes your job easier.”
If you’re a budding or DIY mechanic, you may not need a full diagnostic station or enough tools to fill a 12-foot-wide toolbox in your garage. On the other hand, if you’re a master mechanic and vehicle restoration expert, you just might need all that space and tools to work on everything from brakes to body panels. That said, there are some tools that practically every mechanic needs.
Comfort and practicality are two major considerations when a mechanic assembles their toolbox. Of course, no toolbox would be complete without a set of comfortable and durable combination wrenches and a complete ratchet and socket set, not to mention other essentials: various screwdrivers, pliers and air tools, among others.
Power tools, including tools such as a impact driver and a high-voltage cordless drill/driver, should be in every mechanic’s arsenal. Although you’ll have to recharge the batteries on portable power tools, you’ll be able to take them where no air line or extension cord can, such as cramped areas in the engine bay or beneath the dash. Power tools are incredibly durable and versatile and, with the right adapters, are able to use an incredible number of attachments.
Specialty Ratchets and Extensions
Combined with a complete socket set, specialized ratchets can make a number of tasks much easier. Here are just a few of the types of ratchets you can choose from:
- Flex head ratchets can adjust to awkward angles and make spinning out a loosened bolt a breeze.
- Along the same lines, bent-handle flex-head ratchets enable you to apply good torque on an awkward or tight fastener, while the offset handle puts some distance between you and unforgiving hard parts, such as that exhaust manifold you left some of your knuckle on once.
- Long extensions and flex adapters, particularly locking versions, can make a number of jobs more comfortable. After all, why double over the fender if you can spin out a fastener while standing up?
Heavy-Duty Air Tools
These also fall into the category of “must-have” tools for mechanics, particularly when it comes to impact drivers, air ratchets and air hammers. Inexpensive versions may get the job done most of the time, but they will almost certainly let you down when the going gets tough, such as loosening stubborn suspension bolts or hard-to-reach exhaust bolts. A high-power impact driver or air ratchet can power through many otherwise tedious manual procedures. A high-power air hammer can make short work of removing rusted-on brake rotors to rotting exhaust systems.
With the right tools you can get the job done well, but with a few specialty tools, you can often get a job done with greater precision, speed and comfort, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional mechanic.
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Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.