Read these 9 Mechanics Tools Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Tool tips and hundreds of other topics.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: A big benefit of using a socket set tray: when you unhook a socket wrench and take it out of the tray, it is very easy to tell that the tool hasn't been put back, thanks to the "hole" in your set. If you've ever wondered if you mislaid a socket wrench, this feature will come in handy. If you don't see any blank spaces your socket set, you can rest easy. Otherwise, you can go back to the work area and take another look around for your missing tool.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: The most common need for a good set of beginner metric wrenches is for budding car repair enthusiasts. If you own a foreign car, especially Japanese models, you will be forced to use metric wrenches to get your repairs and modifications done properly. You may be able to get by without a metric wrench set on simple household chores by using pliers, but on a vehicle designed to drive down the road at more than fifty miles per hour, you want the tools designed to do the job safely and correctly.
There are plenty of ways to gather info when it comes time to put together a beginner set of automotive tools. Are you stuck trying to figure out what kind of socket set to get? Car repair experts recommend you purchase a complete socket set, including swivel sockets, extensions, and other accessories.
If you want to get a look at what might be lurking in such sets, you can check out the tool list offered to students taking automotive courses at the local community college or vocational school. Instructors often make a comprehensive tool list. Check out the one listed by DeAnza College and you'll see a long list of tools, including the all-important socket wrench set, all listed under "general tool set". Mechanics tools aren't any good to you if the set is incomplete or missing the one item you need to finish the task at hand, and when it comes to car repair, substitute tools or makeshift solutions aren't always an option.
If you have too many socket wrenches and accessories to keep track of properly, it's time to organize your set for your own sanity's sake. A socket rack tray is just what you need to properly organize the set, and keep your tools ready to use just when you need them. Some models come with 80 or more clips to help you organize the set on the tray. Once your tools are secured to the tray with the clips, you can take the entire try to the vehicle for handy access to all your socket tools.
A crowfoot socket wrench is used the same way an ordinary socket wrench is, but it is not cylindrical. The head is open-ended to allow flexibility in tight spots where you can't completely rotate a socket wrench. These are excellent for car repairs, especially work done underneath the vehicle, or under the hood where there are many tight fits. The one universal problem with using the crowfoot under the hood is that it's easy to drop the wrench as you try to navigate tight spaces. It's helpful to attach a lanyard to the wrench and wear it around your wrist. If you lose your grip, you can simply pull your arm out of the tight spot, and re-grip.
If you are assembling a tool kit for car repairs and modification, you'll want to pick up some additional automotive tools that can help with the installation of electrical add-ons such as car stereos, speakers, and other aftermarket extras. A fuse puller, a wire crimper and stripper, plus a hot glue gun and box cutter will compliment the socket set and wrenches you should already have in the tool kit. You should also get some extra hardware including screws, fasteners, and other items that can come in handy when installing a stereo, radar detector, car alarm, and other equipment.
Getting ready to do that first set of repairs, maintenance, or part replacements? You have purchased the right set of wrenches, socket set, and other tools and you're ready to go, right? There's an old saying for those wise enough to heed the experience of those who have fixed before you: "Start early". Heeding these simple words will save you a major headache. Why? Because experienced mechanics know that regardless of how many tools you have, you will be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle at some stage in the repair. By starting early, when you finally hit that empty space in the tool chest, you can head out to the auto parts store while it is still open. It's such a simple concept that many forget until the car is in pieces, and the auto store is closed for the night.
If you are planning to start changing your own oil, you should purchase an oil filter wrench to make the job go much easier. You can use a 'strap wrench' which is recommended by some, or the socket oil filter wrench. Some feel the socket version gets stuck on the oil filter too frequently, but it's really a matter of taste. Whichever tool works best for you is the one to stick with. Some cars are designed so that the socket tool is the better choice because of limited range of motion. Whichever type you choose, know that this is a specialized tool designed with the oil filter specifically in mind, rather than an all-purpose tool.
Some will wonder why they need such a tool at all, until actually trying to change the oil,
but a major problem for tool-less oil filter removal is heat. If you don't mind waiting for the car to cool down after driving into position for the oil change, you won't burn your hands trying to remove it. But who wants to wait that long? The oil filter wrench takes the waiting time out of the equation.
Depending on the make of your vehicle, you may need to purchase a set of metric wrenches or a set of standard wrenches to get the job done. If you plan to do work on any vehicle, and not just your own, it's good idea to purchase a set of combination wrenches to get your mechanics tool kit started. A set of combo wrenches has both kinds, and will greatly increase your flexibility in making repairs for different types of vehicles.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|