You have taken our advice and started learning to work on your own car. Slowly but surely, you are building up a collection of tools, equipping yourself to tackle more and more jobs. Your toolbox is full of the basics now – spanners, sockets, screwdrivers. But there is always room to grow. Beyond those standard hand tools, what kind of key items should you keep in your garage or shed? Here are five essential non-spanner tools that are worth investing in right now.
If you’ve done any spannering, you know this scenario well. You are laying underneath the car, ready to fasten something back into place, but you’re one nut short. Now it’s time to play the home mechanic’s favourite game – crawling all over the driveway on your hands and knees looking for the lost nut. As fun as this game is, especially when it is wet and cold, this can all be avoided by purchasing a magnetic tray. Right side up or upside down, you can stick this thing anywhere, and toss each fastener in it as you undo them. There are few better ways to spend a fiver. Never again will you need to spend hours hunting down that runaway bolt.
Flexible claw grabber
Perhaps you’re working on top of your engine, removing the throttle body. Three of the bolts have come out and are safely in your magnetic tray. But as you are twisting the last one out, you lose your grip and it falls into the abyss. You know what I mean – that no-man’s land of pipework and brackets on the back of the engine that is impossible to reach with your hand, either from up top or down below. Enter the flexible claw grabber. Once you’ve sighted the errant bolt, simply aim the flexible claw grabber at it and pull it out. Not convinced? This tool has even been known to save runaway 10mm sockets. Mind-blowing, I know. But it really is that useful.
Rust hates you and your car. And sometimes it will do everything it can to prevent you from undoing nuts and bolts. There are some different methods you can employ to work these things loose, but sometimes it is not worth the effort. This is where the inimitable grinder comes in. It will make quick work of the stubbornest of fasteners. True, you may not always have the room you need to get the cutting wheel into position. But on a lot of the worst offenders, such as suspension fasteners, a quick zip with the grinder will get you back on course in no time. Get a few different grinding and cutting discs, and you will find yourself making use of this tool far more often than you think.
Even in the brightest of sunshine, there are places inside your engine bay or under your car that remain cloaked in shadows. Sure, you could use your phone’s torch to help illuminate things, but you don’t want that falling into the abyss or getting coated in a layer of bearing grease. Thankfully, there are loads of different torches available for these purposes. They use rechargeable LEDs, which means they last for hours, and many have flexible bases so you can point it in any direction you need. What’s more, they are often magnetic, meaning you can stick it on to things and keep both hands free while you work.
The wide variety of uses for this thing might just surprise you. As far as obvious uses, a wet/dry vacuum is useful to have for cleaning your interior, because it is much more powerful than a standard vacuum. But it can do so much more. Maybe you’re dealing with a leak, and have wet carpets. The wet/dry vac will help to pull a lot of the water out. If you’ve attacked something with your grinder and made a mess on the floor, it will make quick work of sucking up all the rust and debris. Swap the hose round, and it becomes a blower, cleaning dirt out of different crevices. You can even jam it into your tailpipe to help check for exhaust leaks. No industrial-sized units needed here. Get a small one, and you’re good to go.
A good collection of tools goes well beyond a set of spanners. Equip yourself with these five things, and you’ll find they really are indispensable when working on your car.