If you work on your car, truck or utility vehicle, standard open and box-ended wrenches can handle many tasks. But neither of these is enough to cover every job, therefore turning to specialty wrenches and other tools will help you get the job done. We’ll examine the additional wrenches every weekend mechanic should own, as well as a few other tools of the trade.
Which wrenches do you have? Chances are you own a line wrench, which is ideal for working on the brake and fuel lines. A flex-head or gear wrench features a pivoting handle for maximizing leverage for loosening fasteners and spark plugs. Perfect for reaching most tight areas are offset wrenches. Beyond the basics, the following types of wrenches are also quite useful:
1. Torque wrench. Tightening a bolt takes a certain amount of finesse. Do this wrong and you could damage your car. This is where a torque wrench comes in handy. This type of wrench enables the user to set the torque to the fastener to match the specifications of the job. The best of this kind include onboard memory storage, a simple-to-read LCD display, and precision torque accuracy. An audible buzzer tells you when the torque target zone is approaching and achieved, leaving no guessing on your part.
2. Crows foot wrench. Today’s engine compartments are as tight as they come, which means most standard tools simply cannot work in tight areas. Fortunately, a crows foot wrench can, as they attach to any 3/8-inch drive extension bar to remove nuts and bolts in most out-of-the-way places. Its flare nut design makes it ideal for removing power steering and brake lines too.
3. Impact wrench. It appears to be a cordless drill, but an impact wrench is ideal for removing nuts and bolts. Also known as an air wrench or an air gun, this is the tool you want for mounting wheels on a car. An impact wrench utilizes an air compressor and has a variable speed trigger for controlling the tool’s speed.
4. Fan clutch wrench. As the name suggests, this wrench is designed specifically for removing fan clutches on cars. They have a U-shaped opening on one end, with some designed to include a square opening on the opposite end, ideal for serving as a clutch holding tool while another tool is used to turn the hex nut.
Essential Tools of the Trade
Beyond combination, ratcheting, box-end, flex-head, and specialty wrenches, every mechanic’s toolbox should include certain specialty tools of the trade.
For instance, a wireless automotive stethoscope is great for detecting odd noises. The one drawback is that you won’t find noises that occur only when driving. A battery carrier is essential for securing a car battery and safely lifting it from its place. Finally, no weekend wrencher should be without an underhood light, which is essential for seeing in the dark recesses of any engine compartment.
Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on specialty wrenches, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.