So far in the essential tools seires I have talked alot about expensive tools and how you get what you pay for. Not every tool requires you to remortgage your home though, there are plenty of smaller very important tools that you can fill out your toolbox with. Today we are going to look at three tools you will use all the time, none of which cost more that $30
A Big Ol’ Dead Blow Hammer
Have you ever taken all the lug nuts off a wheel, only to find the wheel and hub have become one? If you have you know how much of a pain it can be to get them to separate. The best thing I have found is to use a nice and heavy dead blow hammer. These hammers are made out of plastic and filled partially with bb’s. When you strike with the hammer all the bb’s fly from the back of the hammer to the front, causing the hammer to not bounce and all the energy to go into the object you are hitting. Of course dead blows come in handy in other situations as well from fabrication to “clearancing” fender wells for bigger tires. The plastic nature of these hammers means that they will wear with age, but a good dead blow will only run you $10-$20 depending on size and should last for years.
Basic OBD2 Scanner
Anyone that works on cars regularly will end up investing in an expensive scan tool at some point in their life. As cars get more and more complex, and manufacturers veer ever farther from the basic OBD2 standards set in 1994, an expensive and complex scan tool becomes necessary. That being said nearly every technician I know keeps a cheap handheld scan tool around in their tool box or car. I can’t tell you how many times I have been working on a car, have a few sensors unplugged and have to turn the key on for whatever reason, instantly setting codes. I’m not going to break out the expensive tool when a simple handheld scanner can clear those codes in seconds. It’s also a good thing to take to the track with you. Once, before replacing the defective first year radiator in my Fiesta ST, the car got too hot at the track and disabled the throttle. Even after cooling down the car was still stuck in a fail safe mode. It had set a cylinder head protection code and as long as that code was in the system, I had no throttle. Luckily I had my pocket scanner on me and was able to clear the code and drive home. No you’re not going to completely diagnose a car with it, but for around $25 it should be a part of everyone’s tool box.
Most people will associate the above tools more with dental work than automotive work, but make no mistake, these tools are just as useful in an engine bay. These are the type of tools that once you have them handy you will find all sorts of uses for. The most common thing I use them for is removing old o-rings. They also work great for cleaning out the heads of philips, torx, or allen head bolts prior to removal. Take heed though, it is really easy to slip and end up stabbing yourself with these things, and I can tell you from experience it does not feel good. Try and get ones with good non-slip handles, for your hands sake. You will end up breaking one of these at some point, but for an average cost of $10 for a set, they are easily replaceable.
Next week in Essential Tools we are going to get back to spending money. Things get rusty and bolts break when working on cars, that makes next week’s tools very important. Drill bits and a Tap and Die set.