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Beginner's Guide to Tools and Instruments

The Ten Essential Tools

Tim Allen once said, ''I have a thing for tools.'' More than likely, he has a different tool for every job. If you are someone that does mechanic work out of necessity, and not because you have a passion for the work, sometimes it's hard to know exactly which tools are necessary and which ones you can do without.


While those of us that enjoy working on vehicles usually try to accumulate as many tools as possible, there are ten no one should be without: 

*Make sure you know whether your vehicle has imperial or metric nuts and bolts and buy accordingly.

1. Socket Set

A socket set is the most important tool in a mechanic's shop because it is the tool used most. Some might argue a basic wrench set is more valuable, but wrenches are simply too limited. Make certain an extension is included with your socket set. If one isn't, buy one. Not having an extension can render your socket set useless in certain situations.

2. Wrenches

Because, unfortunately, a socket set doesn't work for every job. While regular wrenches are extremely useful, a crescent wrench can save you when you stumble upon a metric nut or bolt and your sockets and wrenches are standard imperial.

3. Screw Drivers

You need four: two regulars and two Phillips heads of varying sizes. Two or three times as many doesn't hurt a thing. Obviously you need a screwdriver for screws, but they are valuable for countless other reasons as well. 

4. Vice Grips

Vice grips are like having an extra hand because you can get ahold of something and they won't let go which means you can put your hands to use doing something else.

5. Hammer

Sometimes you need a square peg in a round hole, sometimes you just can't break that housing free from the block with elbow grease, or that bolt won't come out even though you've unthreaded the nut...

6. Multimeter

Electricity is as essential as gasoline to the function of your vehicle. Regardless of the obscurity of your car's electrical problem, you can find it if you have a multimeter.

7. Hydraulic Jack

While mechanical jacks will do the job, they are both hard work and can be dangerous. A hydraulic jack is fast, efficient and dependable.

8. Tape Measure

A tape measure is the best means of figuring lengths and dimensions and you'll be surprised how often you need to know them.

9. Fencing Pliers

Not regular pliers, fencing pliers. Fencing pliers are the Swiss Army knives of a mechanic shop. There are all kinds of jobs you will do on your car that nothing but fencing pliers can manage from torqueing on a fan belt to working corroded cable clams off battery terminals

10. WD-40 - It's the only non-tool essential tool. 

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