I’m a mechanic for well over twenty years and I love my tools. I’m sentimental about them, some I’ve had since I was a boy, others remind me of people, places, jobs that went well, jobs that turned to crap.
Over my career, I’ve bought expensive tools, cheap tools, and ones in-between. I’ve inherited some of my grandfather’s tools which I love to use.
When you swing wrenches for a living you need good reliable tools that save you time.
Dealers pay by the job, the quicker you nail the repair the more you earn, saving time is everything. Having a good tool that’s fit for purpose makes the difference between making money on a job or not.
Most applications will employ Metric size fasteners but older vehicles and older equipment like lawn tractors etc. may use SAE also known as Imperial or Standard size.
I have a ton of SAE wrenches and sockets that haven’t ever been used, but when you need them you need them and so you’ll see both types listed in socket and wrench sets.
A good quality tool if cared for will last a lifetime, it’s an investment. This page is dedicated to solid tools at fair prices, many of which I own.
The pictures on this page link to Amazon.com and Emanualonline.com where you can check the price and delivery of products. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
When working on your vehicle it’s advisable to have an up-to-date workshop manual. While most vehicle components and procedures are relatively similar, having the inside track on a particular procedure can save you a ton of time, work, and money.
I use eManualOnline because their wiring diagrams and workshop manuals are pro-grade, instant download, don’t cost a ton and they’re yours to keep. Nice!
The Autel is a great little code reader for the money. I’ve used their products for years, never hand an issue yet and mine have had a few knocks in their time. The Autel is a fault code reader but also looks at freeze frame data which can be helpful when chasing an intermittent fault.
It will of course clear engine fault codes also. Note – This code reader won’t read non-engine faults like airbags or ABS faults, it only reads engine fault codes. It won’t activate components for testing purposes, or reset service messages, calibrate systems, or set EPB (Electronic Parking Brake) in service mode.
If you need to do that type of work you’ll need Autel’s bigger brother the MaxiCOM.
The Autel MaxiCOM is a shop-level tool. It is capable of reading, clearing fault codes, coding a new battery, placing EPB module in service mode, and calibration after the repair. It is also capable of activating ABS modulator solenoids when performing a full brake bleed procedure.
Armed with this you’ll be fit to read any code on any control module – engine, airbags, ABS, transmission, etc. It’s bidirectional so you’ll also be able to activate components through the tool which is excellent for diagnosing component or switch issues.
It resets service messages, calibrates systems, codes injectors, runs DPF regen on diesel vehicles, and much much more. You won’t need another scanner.
The NOCO jump starter pack is a serious tool, don’t let its size fool you. This little guy fights way above its weight. Capable of starting a diesel truck engine and yet small enough to fit in your glove box.
It features smart design and technology, it won’t allow you to connect backways and it features a no spark technology, meaning it doesn’t arc when connected to the battery, nice!
It’s powered by the latest technology lithium battery. But it’s got a few more tricks, it’s a fast charger too (2 hours), which means you can use it to charge your car, truck, boat, mower, snow blower battery as well as jump-start them.
Other features include – a charge port for charging your phone or iPad, comes with an eight-mode hand lamp (500 lumens), a 12v 15amp port to power air pumps, or whatever.
I’m a fan.
Schumacher OBD-L Memory Saver or KAM tool. Important to fit the memory tool before disconnecting the battery. Modern cars don’t like being without power. The Schumacher is easy to use with its 3 step guided procedure.
Gearwrench is a pretty solid performer, I have lots of their tools and they work just fine. This is a 56 piece 3/8 inch drive ratchet with the six-point socket set. Typical mechanics use 1/2 inch, 3/8 and 1/4 inch drive, ratchet, and socket sets, however, a good 3/8 set is a great allrounder.
Six-point sockets sets grip better than 12 points, and that’s an advantage when working on older cars where fasteners may be corroded. This set covers all the main socket sizes in both Metric and SAE and includes two extensions a 3 and 6 inch and a swivel extension.
Regular size sockets 6-19mm
Deep sockets 6-19mm
Regular sockets – 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″, 13/16″, 7/8″, 15/16″, 1″.
Deep sockets – 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″, 13/16″, 7/8″.
This is a 3 piece wobble extension (3, 6, and 10 inches), these guys are really useful when working on hard-to-reach fasteners. The wobble allows approx. 17-degree offset which doesn’t sound like a lot but makes the world of difference when trying to access fasteners square on.
This is the one tool I use every day because it’s just so versatile. It’s a 3/8 inch drive ratchet with a 180-degree pivoting head and telescoping handle. Need more leverage, pull the collar, now you have the power to bust open bolts with minimum force.
Can’t work on modern cars without a good Hex and Torx bit set. This Gearwrench master 84-bit set will have you covered. It includes 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch drive.
Hex/Ball End Hex/Tamper Proof Torx/E-Torx/Torx in Metric and SAE.
A breaker bar or cheater bar is a must-have for those stubborn bolts, like lug nuts and suspension work. This 3/8 and 1/2 drive combo is ideal for the DIY’er, it’s strong and versatile.
I use a Teng torque wrench, it’s tough easy to use, and reliable. A torque wrench is used to tighten fasteners like lug nuts, cylinder head bolts, front covers, oil pans, etc. Mechanics will need a 1/2 drive and a 3/8 in drive.
Teng is my favored torque wrench, 3 sizes are available. This is the mid-size model, it’s a 3/8 inch drive and ranges from 3.5 ft. lbs. (5 Nm) to 36.5 ft. lbs. (50 Nm). This is the type of torque wrench ideal for tightening plugs, front covers, etc. It’s 14 inches long, easy to use, durable, and will go the distance.
This is the baby Teng torque wrench and is not used a whole ton in workshops. It’s a 1/4 inch drive and it uses an inch-pounds (in. lbs.) scale as opposed to ft. lbs. Inch is obviously a finer measurement of torque. The wrench itself covers 50 to 250 in. lbs. It is used for tightening small fasteners, engine covers, interior fasteners, etc.
Speed is everything, this Gearwrench 16 piece ratcheting flexbox head multi-point wrench set comes with all the most common metric sizes (8-25mm).
Gearwrench 28 piece box end wrench set. This is a six-point which grips the fastener head more securely and is less likely to slip. I used 6 points to open fasteners that 12 points can’t.
Gearwrench 20 pieces durable screwdriver set – Philips, Flathead, Torx stubby, and mini drivers. You won’t need another screwdriver, this is the set.
You’ll find a ton of uses for Tekton Prybars with angled tips, they are great for suspension work or where you need to apply leverage in a confined area, saved me a lot of time over the years. The Tekton uses steel caps, so you can apply hammer shock treatment without damaging the handles.
3 lengths – 12, 17, and 25 inches with
Gearwrench 7 piece hook and pick set, you won’t believe how often you’ll use these guys. I use mine every day for so many applications from stripping down components, cleaning, fishing for lost fasteners, disconnecting wiring harnesses and the list goes on.
I can’t work without good light, if I don’t have good light I find the job goes downhill quickly. Enter build this tough mechanics light, I’ve had several of these lamps, not because they break but because I lose them.
I’ve bounced mine on the ground so many times, and it survived. They are a real MacGyver of a lamp, magnet, hooks, led area light, and spotlight.
Every mechanic needs a dead blow hammer, this hammer is perfect for manipulating soft metals that would otherwise be damaged by a regular steel hammer. The two-pound Neiko hammer is up to the job and colored brightly, so it never gets left behind.
Vice grips are like an extra pair of hands. This 5 piece will have you covered. The original American-made grips were the best, but you can’t get them anymore. I have an original set and the quality is outstanding, if you get the chance to buy an old set, grab them with both hands.
Can’t be a mechanic without good pliers set. Gearwrench makes a good four-piece, it includes square nose pliers, channel locks, Needlenose, and side-cutting pliers.
DeWalt Max XR cordless 20v Impact wrench makes any job a pleasure. It has the power to bust open rusty fasteners and is an excellent tool for the truck of your car. DeWalt makes great products, this is the latest in brushless tech and they go on and on.
I wrote a post about Impact wrenches and what I look for, I also cover a little about why I think the DeWalt is the business, you can check it out here.
An impact wrench needs specialized sockets, ordinary 1/2 inch sockets will fit but they aren’t a match for the power of the DeWalt. Impact sockets are specially hardened for the job.
Antivibration gloves are important, using impact guns for prolonged periods can damage nerves in the hands and arms. It’s a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and as yet there’s no cure. If you intend to use an impact wrench for a living, please do wear anti-vibration gloves.
The Vgo is a good quality glove, it’s tough, offers anti-vibration protection, is breathable, and is touch screen capable.
This useful tool can save a ton of heartache, it’s great for siphoning gas, diesel, brake fluid, coolant, and engine oil. The tubing slips down the engine dipstick tube and is capable of emptying the oil in jig time. Saves crawling under the engine and messing around with covers and drain plugs.
Strong comfortable and versatile creeper by Pro-Lift. Folds to a seat in seconds. Working on your back is difficult, make life a little easier on yourself and you’ll find the job moves like butter.
A half-ton transmission jack adaptor turns your regular floor jack into a transmission jack. Locking chains help secure the transmission to the jack. The adaptor makes fitting a ton easier as the angle of attack is adjustable. Be sure the adaptor size matches your jack.
Pro-Lift 3 ton ratcheted axle stands. Strong, easy to use, you’ll never need to buy another.
The Stinger is a simple, strong, and dependable engine and transmission support. Rubber padded feet and threaded adjustable handles with chains.
A No-spill funnel makes filling and purging air from the coolant system easy. If you’re going to flush or change your coolant, this tool will make you look like a pro.
Quality Ares aluminum nine-piece 3/8 drive oil filter set that will cover most vehicles, both cartridge and canister style filters. Set includes eight filter cups and one universal filter tool.
Remote hose clamp tool made by Astro. Some coolant hose clamps are impossible to access without the use of this ingenious tool.
Ethylene Glycol coolant tester, easy to use and durable. Take a sample of the coolant, read the floating discs to check coolant strength, simple!
I love my refractometer because it does it all, measures both coolant types – ethylene glycol and propylene. Measures the freezing point of windshield washer fluid. Not only that, it measures the specific gravity of battery acid which indicates the state of charge. It also measures Urea strength in DPF fluid.
OTC makes good tools, you don’t use a compression test kit every day but when you need it you want it to be reliable. That’s especially true when diagnosing major engine issues.
This kit is easy to use, reads in psi and kPa. Comes with a 10mm adaptor, 12mm adaptor, 14mm on 12-inch flex hose, 14mm long reach on 12-inch flex hose, and 18mm adaptor.
A large dial with a quick coupling connection at end of a 25-inch flex hose.
This inexpensive puller tool could save you a ton of heartache. Used to remove stubborn wiper arms from their spindles.